3-1/2″ 12 Vs 10 Gauge For Waterfowl

Dear Technoid,

Any advice on 10 gauge versus 12 gauge for waterfowl? I am undecided between a 3.5 inch Benelli Black Eagle and a Remington SP 10 gauge? Impressions are helpful?


Dear Rich,

The best gauge for “waterfowl”? Well, I dunno. If it is teal over decoys, any 12 is more than adequate. If you are pass shooting geese, you probably want all you can handle, but shotload alone doesn’t tell the story.

Personally, I find the 10 gauge guns a big clunky and like the way that the big 12s handle a bit better. A lot of that will depend on your size, stature and particular comfort level.

One of the most important reasons that I like the 3-1/2″ 12s better than the 10s is that it is very unlikely that you are going to practice very much with the 10, the cost of shells being what it is. That 3-1/2″ Benelli will shoot hot 2-3/4″ target loads well enough to let you practice a good bit on certain “waterfowl-like” shots at your local sporting clays range. A good bit of shooting practice with your waterfowl gun is far, far more valuable than hurling up another 1/8 oz of steel shot.

The 3-1/2″ Benelli has a good reputation just as long as you don’t try to use light target loads. It won’t work reliably with those no matter what Benelli says to you. That’s no big loss as there are plenty of 1-1/8 oz 3 dram target shells around and it ought to work OK with them. The occasional malfunction shooting practice clays isn’t going to matter anyway. The key is to practice with that gun so that you feel comfortable with it. Knowing how to shoot your gun is far more important than shooting the biggest thing you can lift. A little practice will also help you in your distance estimation- one of the most important skills that any pass shooter can develop.

Of course, if you want a 100% reliable 3-1/2″ waterfowl gun, there’s the 3-1/2″ Remington 870. If you don’t forget to pump, it won’t forget to work.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid
(Often in error, never in doubt.)

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