Many shotgunners hold the 20 gauge shotgun in a special place in their hearts as many of them took their first shots with this gauge. It remains the choice today for many hunters and competition shooters.
The 20 gauge began life as a muzzle loader with a 0.615 inch diameter bore. Just as the 10, 12 and 16 gauges evolved into being packaged in paper cartridges and then today's familiar plastic hulls, so too did the 20 gauge, the only difference being that 20 gauge hulls are colored yellow. The choice of yellow as the color for 20 gauge shells was intentional. The yellow color draws the attention of shooters who might have different shotguns in different gauges to make sure they don't accidentally load a 20 gauge shell in the wrong gun and ruin their shotgun or possibly harm themselves.
The 20 gauge is commonly employed to hunt birds and small game as well as that ever elusive clay pigeon. Hunters and competitors indicate that the number one reason for using the 20 gauge as opposed to the more powerful 12 and 16 gauges is recoil. The recoil of the 20 gauge is described by many shooters as about fifty percent of a 12 gauge when fired out of a shotgun of the same type. The 20 gauge enjoys another advantage in that the gun itself can be lighter than the large shotguns without worrying about an increase in recoil. 20 gauge shotguns can be lighter than an equivalent 12 gauge shotgun by one, two or even several pounds.
Some shooters argue that the 20 gauge is a less effective cartridge due to the lighter payload and smaller charge. Counter arguments can be made by presenting the stories of many successful hunts being made with 20 gauge shotguns on animals as diverse as dove and deer. Consider the 20 gauge slug as a perfect example of how much power is contained in this cartridge. Tn terms of ballistics, the 5/8 ounce slug of the 20 gauge exiting the muzzle with a velocity of about 1,500 feet per second is essentially the same as the .454 Casull.
Shooters today will find a wide variety of 20 gauge ammunition for their shotguns. Shot sizes available range from large buckshot on one end of the scale to diminutive #8 and #9 on the other end, pellets which are great for hunting small birds and shooting skeet. Federal and Winchester recognize the market potential and value of the 20 gauge for personal protection at home, and are include it in their product lines for self defense. The 20 gauge is a great choice for applications as different as bird hunting in the field or protecting your house.