28 Gauge!

Dear Technoid,

My wife and I recently began shooting skeet and trap and have now begun playing at sporting clays. I recently got a new Beretta 28 gauge O/U and have fallen in love with it. My biggest fear is that my lovely bride will take it away from me. I guess I’ll have to get her one also in self- defense.

I have heard a lot of conversation about how versatile the 28 is and that the regular load of 3/4 oz. typically runs at about 1,300 fps. The loading data I have been able to find (Winchester, Hodgdon, etc.) in the standard powder manuals lists no 1,300 fps loads. I also understand that Winchester loads up to 1 oz. in the 28. This seems a bit much, and is probably slow, but I would like to get more/varied loading data for the new “toy.”

Can you give me some loading data – or point me in the right direction for same? Thanks in advance for your help. Keep up all the informative information.


Dear George,

Warning, WARNING! The 28 gauge can cause serious addictive problems. Approach with caution. Wear mask and gloves at all times. Take frequent breaks when working with it. Feel free to contact the 28 Gauge Addict Support Site at any hour of the day. We care and will help you overcome your cravings!

My involvement with the 28 gauge has been a long and sordid one. When my wife started shooting, I bought her a Browning Superlight in 12 gauge. She dealt with it manfully (well- you get the idea), but her heart was never in it. Then I bought her a Beretta 686 26″ 28 gauge and had it fitted to her. She simply blossomed and began to adore shooting. To this day, she uses that little Beretta 28 for everything from trap, skeet, sporting clays, quail, pheasants, chukkers, dove and even a backyard muskrat. Once the forend stopped splitting (three tries at fixing it finally got it right), the little gun has been dead reliable.

I liked it so much I bought the same thing in 28″ 28 gauge for myself, but the gun was too light for me to shoot well and I found a new owner for it. In addition to the two 28 gauge Beretta O/Us I have also owned 28 gauge Belgian Brownings, 28 gauge Browning Model 12 reproductions, a two barrel Parker Repro 28 gauge set and about four or so guns with skeet tube sets.

As to reloading, I don’t see much 28 gauge stuff at 1300 fps. Most of it is at a standard 1200 fps for a 3/4 oz load and I recommend that you concentrate on reloading that standard recipe. That certainly doesn’t mean that the factory Winchester one ounce 28 gauge loads don’t have a place in the scheme of things. I have used the Winchester 1 oz 28 gauge loads and watched a buddy of mine take a triple on Scottish grouse with a SxS English 28 gauge gun using those one ounceloads ( ! – I know, but I was there and saw it with my own eyes. He nailed two Lagopus Lagopus Scoticus with the first shot and one with the second. He also drank free for the rest of the trip.)

Personally, for general shooting with the 28, I would stick with standard 3/4 oz loads at 1200 fps. That is really what the gun was designed for. If you want to shoot one ounce, get a 3″ twenty or light twelve. There is just a ton of recipes that will give you good, reliable 3/4 oz loads at 1200 fps. My favorite 28 gauge powder is Alliant Unique. It burns a bit cooler than Winchester 540 and the precious 28 gauge hulls will last a bit longer. Hodgdon Clays Universal will also work, but I find the Clays powders to be a bit more sensitive to slight component changes than the Alliant ones.

Currently, I find that the best 28 gauge hulls for reloading are the Winchester AA and the new slick side Remington. I have not had much luck with Federal Reifenhauser hulls as far as longevity goes. Stick with red and green unless you get your empties for free (yeah, right- once fired 28 gauge hulls awaken the acquisitive instincts of even the dullest reloader).

Personally, I have not had very good luck with PC brand clone wads in the 28 gauge in winter. Lots of bloopers when it gets cold. Claybuster clone 28 gauge wads cause my hulls to develop a “spare tire” when I crimp. I am sure that it is just some adjustment that I haven’t figured out, but the Remington factory 28 gauge wads work so well for me that I don’t bother with anything else.

If you load your 28 gauge hulls with 3/4 oz of extra hard #8 shot at 1200 fps, you will be in a good position to shoot just about any clay target game. I will guarantee you that shell can absolutely crush a 40 yard crosser.

Best regards from your fellow 28 gauge addict,

Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid

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5 Responses to 28 Gauge!

  1. Ted Cherry says:

    Franklin… Well put, and reason enough for those that still like to shoot a 28ga. Are the 20ga shotguns really that much heavier and/or bulkier?


    • It depends on the manufacturer. The .410 and the 28 gauge may be on the same frame, with the 20 and 16 gauge on a larger frame and the 12 gauge on a still larger frame. Connecticut Shotgun on the other hand makes their RBL SxS 12 on a large frame, the 16 gauge on a smaller frame, and it appears the 20 and 28 are on a yet smaller frame. Their .410 bore is on what they call “a true baby frame.”


  2. Ted Cherry says:

    Isn’t it time for the 28 gauge to ride off into the sunset, as has the 16 and 10 gauge? A very popular 20 gauge will do the same or more, and the availabilty of factory ammo is (shot loads and sizes,etc.) more and very much cheaper. Not too many shooters like to reload? Is it the same fascination that some have with the .410 bore? Not being critical, just curious? 12 and 20 gauge are like vanilla and chocolate ice cream; everyone has these flavors. Whereas, the 28 gauge is like looking for chicken flavored ice cream. 🙂


    • I suppose there is no logic as to why the 28 gauge is still popular, other than to say that it can do substantial damage to birds (clay and feather) at distances far greater than one would assume it to be effective (35+ yds) or would expect from a 3/4 oz load of shot. Add that to the possibility of having a much smaller O/U or SxS in a 28 gauge frame, making the gun a delight to carry in the field is about as much reason as I can give.


    • Chris says:

      I just put out a lot of money for chicken flavored ice cream. I can’t wait to pick up my 28 gauge!


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