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Do 20-bore guns recoil less than 12-bores?

A reader wonders if he should switch

clayshooting with a 20-bore

A Rizzini RBEM Deluxe 20-bore

Q: Over the last three seasons, more of our syndicate members have switched from 12-to 20-bore guns. They’re nice and light and I’m thinking of following suit. Or does the 12-bore still have advantages?

Do 20-bore guns recoil less?

A: My word, you’ve opened a can of worms here! Entire books have been written about the advantages/disadvantages of small bores versus heavier shotguns, and still the arguments rage.

I enjoy days out with my 28-bore on shoots where its light loads can deal competently with the birds I expect to encounter. And it’s the same – or should be – with a 20-bore.

In the right hands it is a deadly little tool because, when all said and done, the pellets it fires travel at the same velocity as those from a 12, 10, , 8 or even 4-bore. Hence they impart the same lethality.

Some folk say it’s more of a challenge to kill high birds with a 20 (which it is ) but that’s only true of people who weren’t able to shoot to a high enough standard with a 12-bore before they made the switch.

Young and old shots who find the weight of a 12-bore something of a handicap should certainly consider using the smaller gun with its gentle 7/8oz shot charge.

However all too often I see 20-bore converts cramming 1oz and even heavier cartridges through them because they feel undergunned with the shells this useful small bore is actually designed for. In other words, they start using the same loads they turned their backs on with the “unfashionable” 12-bore.

By all means give one a go, but don’t expect it to make you a more proficient Shot.