16 Gauge

(commenting on the fact that the Technoid doesn’t own a 16 gauge gun)


WHAT? No 16 gauge. GET A ROPE!

El Lago, Texas

Dear Jay,

I got a rope…. and used it to hang the 16. Devotees of the 16 claim that it shoots like a 12 and carries like a 20. In my experience it is often the reverse. While I don’t hate the 16 any more than I hate a puppy from a breed I am not particularly fond of, I don’t find the gauge very useful when compared to the other gauges and loads available today.

First of all: the 16 is not clay target gauge. Sporting and trap have settled on the 12. Skeet has settled on just about every gauge except the 16. You could use a 16 for clays, but since it is not popular over here, there are no high quality target loads available. Only Winchester makes a compression formed one piece plastic 16 gauge hull. The rest of the makers only have junky separate base wad hulls.

As to hunting, there is nothing that a light 12 or modern 20 cannot do as well as or better than a 16. My light 12 SxS game gun weighs 6-1/4# – definitely 16 gauge territory. My gun happily digests 1-1/8 oz, just like a 16 gauge field load. Shells and reloading components (especially high quality hulls) are readily available for my 12. The larger 12 bore barrel “should” permit it to outperform a 1-1/8 oz load from a 16 every time. If you don’t believe that large bores enhance patterns, then the 1-1/8 oz load from a modern 20 will equal the 16, again with far larger selection of ammo. In Britain, the light 12 has killed the 16. In America the modern 20 has done the same.

When I fly in somewhere to go hunting, I can get all the 12 and 20 ammo I want on site. Not so with the 16. Most of the 16 gauge ammo that I have found has been the low quality “dove and quail” promotional loads with single use hulls and with limited pellet size selection. I know that better 16 gauge shells exist, but they are seldom seen.

This isn’t to say that I would never own a 16. For a while 16 gauge Model 21s were bargain priced because they were unpopular. 16 gauge Hollands and Purdeys still are, sort of. If I could get a real deal on one of those, then I might put up with the inconvenience of the 16 just to get a classic gun.

Still, the bottom line is that with today’s modern shells, the 16 fills a gap which doesn’t exist. And that’s no ropadope.

Best regards,

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

Best regards,

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

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2 Responses to 16 Gauge

  1. Kirk in Nebraska says:

    You can drag out the past tense for your comment on Winchester CF hulls, it’s been a couple/few decades since they made those, but the rest of your somewhat painful comments hit pretty much too close to home. Big fan of 16s, but it takes reloading to make mine do what I want. For skeet league I went to a 303 in 20ga, hard to beat for cost and convenience. Pay the price, though, and RST will supply the variety and quality most of us need.


  2. Bill E. says:

    Finally, someone had the Temerity to speak honestly about the 16 gauge! I have a friend who is a die-hard 16 gauge fan. He is also the most professional and capable reloader I have ever known. He turns out perfect looking, lab tested ammo for all the various uses he puts a 16 gauge through. Everything from 3/4 oz loads of #10s for snipe to heavy goose load. Over the years, he has gone to extraordinary lengths to have all the various component combinations necessary to be able to load the 16 properly. With the lone exception of someone like my friend who is a very capable reloader; I agree completely with The Technoid.

    Although I have owned several 16 gauges in my past, and started with one due to the influences of Jack O’Connor; there is no good reason now for me to own one because I don’t care to reload anymore. I find it interesting to note that Randy Wakeman after owning several 16s came to the same conclusion as The Techhnoid due to the paucity of ammo available in that gauge.


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