The last two hurdles in my sxs quest seem to be of very subjective natures so you many want to stand back!
I’ve decided to go w/ a Bill Hanus birdgun. I figure that the price is pretty nice for the quality of product, and the fact Hanus has an ongoing relationship w/ AYA should (hopefully) protect me from the occasional substandard gun. Also, the lower price will allow me to get a reloading set up and also pay for some lessons.
My last two conundrums are as follows:
1) 16ga vs 28ga (unconventional, I know) and
2) Chokes (what the heck are Skeet 1 and Skeet 2 anyway?)
So, on the questions of gauges, I like the 16 because it throws more shot and would seem to offer more options for reloading. I like that I would be able to take upland birds with a slightly reduced possibility of crippling. I don’t like that the gun is almost 6.5 lbs. I like the 28 for more aesthetic reasons: lessened recoil, lighter gun, cuter gun, and whatever notion of “elegance” comes with shooting a more moderate shot charge. For hunting, I also like the possibility of fewer pellets in the sauce. Also, it’s not a question of versatility (which the 16 would offer) since waterfowl hunting and clays scores are not a priority at the moment. I guess for me, the only negatives for the 28 are the lack of the positives of the 16 🙂
OK, and chokes…my thinking is that the 28 should be choked slightly tighter than the bigger 16? Also, after reading Brister it strikes me that even though most guns are over choked, that it is nevertheless easier to get a tightly-choked gun to open up (softer shot) than to do the opposite w/ a loosely-choked gun. If you were buying a sxs in each these bores and knew that upland bird hunting was the primary mission, which chokes would you choose?
David Durham, NC
I’m not much of a 16 gauge fan. I guess that you either are or are not, and I’m in the latter camp. Nothing personal against the cartridge, but I hate to buy anything that is hard to get components for. Before you commit to 16, take a look around at the hulls that are available for reloading and also at the wads on the market. You can get components and factory shells for the 16, but it’s a pain and the selection is limited. It also seems that anything that a 16 can do, a light 12 can do better. My12 gauge upland bird gun is a 1926 Webley & Scott 500 series and weighs and honest 6-1/4#. A 16 isn’t going to have any edge on that. I’m sure that all the 16 gauge afficionados out there are nice guys and gals, love their mothers and are kind to dogs. Nothing personal. It’s just not my favorite gauge.
I’d go with the 28 in a heartbeat IF (note big “if”) you intend to use the gun for suitably sized birds at proper ranges or “fun” clays. There is no way a 28 equals a 12 in the real world so you have to be ready for that. I would also stay away from the 28 if it were too light. It is really hard to shoot a gun that weighs much under 6#. Some makers, particularly the English, insist that the sub-gauge guns be sub-sized guns. If you are going to shoot the 28 well, it has to feel like a real gun, not a toothpick. Trust me on this. I had a Parker Repro 28 gauge two barrel set. Never could shoot it worth a darn, though others could.
My ideal 28 would be a 30″ (yup, 30″) gun coming in right around 6#. That’s light enough to carry all day, yet the long barrels will slow it down just enough to make it shootable. Remember too, the lighter the gun, the longer the stock. Order that stock as long as you think you can handle. Light guns need stock length to come firmly to the shoulder because they lack the weight necessary for stability when you pull the trigger. Since your SxS WILL come with double triggers (neither the Spanish nor the English make a decent single trigger SxS), measure your required stock length from the REAR trigger, not the front. Yes, I know how the gunsmiths like to do it, but I’m the Technoid and I know what’s best for you. SxS double trigger guns should always be longer than single trigger guns. Trust me on that. Also, you can always cut a long stock.
As to chokes, the old Wincester designations of Skeet One and Skeet Two (it was once called Skeet In and Skeet Out) was .005″ and .015″ in 12 gauge. A lot of this had to do with old fiber wad shells that didn’t pattern very tightly. With modern shells, those designations give a very useful performance spread. On a SxS field gun, I like 10 yards difference in my chokes. If you don’t get at least that, what’s the point of two barrels and two triggers? (unless its for driven shooting where identical chokes make sense) In the sub-gauge guns, using them for the ranges that they were intended for, I think that a 28 gauge with .005″ (skeet) and .015″ (modified) would be about right. That would give you optimal patterns at 20 and 30 yards, about right for a 28 gauge. The 28s I have tested have not been all that choke sensitive and seem to get good hits with just about anything. It’s a surprising shell for reasons I don’t fully understand. Still, if it were my field gun, I’d go .005″ and .015″. Briley can always screw choke it for you if you want that later. Briley’s screw chokes don’t change the balance.
I’d love to hear if AyA will make you a 30″ 6# 28 gauge. That would be quite a gun.
The Technoid writing for Shotgun Report, LLC
(Often in error. Never in doubt.)