Lady’s Gun

Good morning, Oh Great Technoid Who Is a Constantly Flowing Font of Wisdom and Hyperbole,

Finally, Bruce, after almost thirty years of marriage, my wife has agreed to let me teach her skeet. She has always enjoyed rimfire rifle and pistol, but has shied away from any centerfire weapon due to noise and recoil.

Now’s my chance. I believe that the dynamics of a flying target will help mitigate her concerns, but there are still some real problems. The noise I can overcome with good earmuffs – not so the recoil. I’ve considered going with a semiautomatic 28 gauge, but I would like to keep the mechanics simple (O/U) and would prefer not to buy a 28 gauge unless she really gets addicted.

So…. Just as I shoot 24 gram loads in 12 gauge, are there any 6/8 ounce or even better 5/8 ounce light loads for the 20 gauge? I haven’t seen any wads for this, but I should think a small felt wad could be dropped in the shot cup as a filler.

The next problem of course is an appropriate powder charge. I doubt that I am the first to contemplate this idea, because so many folks are enjoying light 12 gauge loads. It seems to be a logical extension. This would be a real boon to get my wife into skeet and clays.

Thanks for your thoughts, Bruce.

Best regards,

Dear Kim,

Many ladies who are just starting out with shotguns have three problem areas: 1) noise, 2) recoil, and 3) weight of the gun.

1) Noise: good earmuffs are the sensible answer. The larger the earmuffs are, the more efficient. BUT then there is the “hair problem”. Muffs and hats can destroy a nice hairdo, so be sensitive to that. If she doesn’t like the muff idea (have her try yours in the house), then offer her those nice foam ear plugs. They work great.

2) Recoil: recoil is a basic function of how big a load in how heavy a gun. It is also affected by how the gun fits the shooter. Most stocks will initially be too long and too low for ladies. Actually, this is good. Long stocks reduce recoil by assuring a tight shoulder fit. Low stocks keep well away from the face. Not the best thing for accuracy, but not bad for recoil. The size of the load is very important too. The lighter the load, the less it will kick. You are definitely on the right track looking for the lightest possible load. All the current reloading recipes are listed on the various gunpowder makers’ web sites. In 12 or 20 you can surely find something light and slow. If you like factory shells, the 12 gauge Winchester low noise 26 gram feather light shells are in a class by themselves.

3) Gun Weight: This one is a problem. The lighter the gun is, the more it kicks. Yet ladies don’t usually have the upper body strength of a man, so until muscles get used to holding a gun, the heavy guns are a burden. This is where the 20 beats the 12.

When my wife was learning to shoot, I tried a light weight 12 gauge (6#6oz) with slow 7/8 oz loads. The gun was pronounced as too heavy and she said it had too much recoil.

Then we went to a 12 ga gas gun. Again, too heavy and she didn’t like the mechanical complexity. There was also an unspoken, but very real, fingernail issue.

Third time’s a charm and I got her a Beretta 686 O/U 26″ 28 gauge. Ten years later she still shoots it and still loves it. She shoots all the clay target games, including trap, and has hunted quail, dove and pheasant with great success. Both Browning and Ruger make very nice little 28s too. Thanks to the 28, I now have a wife who looks forward to going shooting. We have been hunting in Scotland, Colombia, Spain and throughout the US. If it weren’t for that little 28 gauge gun she and I would probably be playing golf right now and I’d be wearing those silly trousers with the little whales on them.

If you do get into 28 gauge you will quickly realize that those shells cost almost 50% more than store brand 12 gauge shells. Reloading is definitely the way to go and can reduce the price from $7/box to $2. At that price, you may become a 28 gauge shooter yourself.

There is one other thing about the 28 that you ought to be aware of. It’s addictive to men as well as women. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

That’s it from this flowing font of wisdom. Turning the spigot of knowledge off and returning to this idol’s idle idyll, I remain

Yours truly,

Bruce Buck
The Technoid writing for Shotgun Report, LLC

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2 Responses to Lady’s Gun

  1. J. J. Smith says:

    My wife also had complexity and nail issues with her first gun, a Beretta 20 gauge 391. She then tried a Beretta Silver Pigeon 28 gauge but the stock had too much drop. She finally settled on a 20 gauge Browning XS as. She prefers my handloads with 3/4 oz of shot @ 1150 fps but also shoots the Remington managed-recoil or Winchester WinLite cartridges. If we want to shoot while on vacation I have to plan ahead for her ammo.


  2. D. Chinn says:

    Bruce: Fingernails? Really? That comment was best left unspoken, IMHO, along with ‘mechanical complexity’ (does your wife drive a car?). A 20 ga. gas gun that fits is the ticket. One can’t even find 28 ga. ammo around where I live (thank goodness). By the way, my audiologist insists upon both foam earplugs and earmuffs when shooting rifle, pistol or shotgun, hairdo’s be dammed.


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