The shotgun was one of the first firearms around, like the China fire lance. It was made out of a bamboo tube and it shot small projectiles like scrap metal, porcelain pieces or darts/arrows propelled by ignited gunpowder. Today’s shotgun has come a long way. There are several different types of shotguns, like pump-action (PA) often called slide action as well, lever-action (LA), bolt-action (BA), semi-automatic (SA) and break action which consist of single shot (SS), side by side (SBS or SxS) and over and under (O/U).
They hold between one (single shot) and so far to my knowledge sixteen (SRM Arms Model 1216) rounds in their magazine, resp. chamber.
Shotguns are available with different barrel lengths. You can get one with a 6.5” barrel (Serbu Super Shorty for Personal Defense) up to a 34” barrel (i.e. Browning BT-99, Perazzi DB-81, etc.) for trap shooting. It always depends on the intended use of the firearm.
The caliber of a shotgun is measured in gauge. There are 10-, 12-, 16-, 20- and 28 gauge as well as the .410 bore. Those are the most common. They are not determined by the actual diameter of the bore, more like how many lead balls of equal size making up a pound, which would fit the bore. In a simple fashion, a 1⁄12th pound ball fits a 12-gauge bore; a 1⁄16th pound ball fits a 16-gauge bore and so forth. It might sounds confusing, because the bigger the gauge, the smaller the bore. Or in other words; the smaller the number, the larger the gun. The only exception is the .410 which is a caliber and not a gauge.
Today’s shot shells have come a long way too. Modern materials and different loads allow a variety of different ammunition for lots of different disciplines. Shotgun shells come in different lengths and you can say that the longer the shell, the more powerful is (or can be) the load. Discipline wise there is trap- and skeet- as well as clay shooting for instance if you like competition shooting. It’s even an Olympic discipline. And then there’s hunting and thanks to different chokes that are available you can hunt almost anything with a shotgun.
What is a choke you ask? It is a screw in device that goes in to the muzzle (or the business end) of a shotgun. But watch out, not all shotguns are equipped with it. If a shotgun is not equipped with screw in chokes then they have a fixed choke which cannot be changed.
The different chokes are (from the widest pattern to the smallest) cylinder, skeet, improved cylinder, light modified, modified, improved modified, light full , full and extra full.
The purpose of a choke is to control pattern diameters at different yards. There are also rifled chokes that allow you to shoot rifled slugs at serious distances. That means you can even go deer hunt with your shotgun if you want. You can also go for bigger game if you desire, the 12ga. has plenty of power.
If you want to know what kind of choke you have, you need to look for the markings on the choke. There are either letters, notches or stars (imported shotguns).
To learn more about chokes check out Briley Manufacturing.
The available furniture for shotguns comes either in wood or synthetic. The variety of woods can blow your mind, simply because of the beauty as well as the price. Walnut is the most common wood type to build firearm stocks. But there are also others available, like maple, myrtle, birch, rosewood, Hawaiian KOA and mesquite. I’m sure there are other specimens out there, but these are the most common wood types for rifles, shotguns and pistol grips like the 1911 for instance.
The advantage of synthetic is that it comes in all kinds of colors. It’s also less expensive and a tick lighter than wood. Does it look as good as wood? Sure not. Does it get the job done? Absolutely. Therefore it’s really up to you what you prefer.
You might think by now that this all doesn’t sound that bad, but you are still not sure because of the recoil. Perhaps you have a small frame or just afraid of shooting it. To take this fear or rather uncertainty I will tell you this; most recoil you absorb with a proper stance. You can practice that stance with a broom handle at home until you are ready to try live fire. If you did that and the felt recoil is still too much you can either try a thicker recoil pad or an adjustable stock. Latter two options will change the length of pull (LOP – the distance from the trigger to the center of the butt) and should only be considered if that change is okay for you. Another option is to replace the whole stock with an adjustable one.
New shotguns retail between ~$180.00 and $200,000.00. Let alone serious collectors that pay a premium for limited editions, rare exemplars, consecutive pairs, engraved models, etc.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and shotguns can truly be creations of art. They serve many purposes that range from hunting, competition shooting, collecting to home defense. They are nice to handle and fun to shoot.
I wrote this article for people that are either new to shooting and/or on the fence to purchasing a shotgun but haven’t made up their mind yet. It scratches only on the surface but it is meant to give you a short overview about shotguns and the options that they offer you. To me they are the most versatile firearms that there are.
Just go online and have a look at AYA, Browning, Fausti, Mossberg, Remington, Beretta, Smith & Wesson, L.C. Wesson, Remington, Ruger, CZ, Benelli, Blaser, Mauser, Sauer, Krieghoff, Ljutic, Parker, Weatherby, Perazzi, SKB, Winchester, Purdey, Franchi, Wilson Combat, Perugini, Guerini, Fabarm, Zoli (just to name a few) and discover the beauty for yourself.
If you have any questions or want to order one please don’t hesitate to contact me via info[at]estrada-armory.com.