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Thread: Good shotgun for small game?

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    Member AKsoldier's Avatar
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    Default Good shotgun for small game?

    I'm a relatively new hunter and all my past experience has been with rifles. I know next to nothing about shotguns, but I have begun to see the value of having a shotgun for hunting small game like Ptarmigan, grouse etc. close to home. Especially since much of the area where I live prohibits hunting anything with a rifle, even rimfire if I'm reading the regs correctly.

    I would think a 20 gauge would be sufficient for any game I would be after. I don't want to spend a fortune - just looking for something reliable that I can shoot some dinner with. I don't need an autoloader, but follow-up shots would be a plus. So I guess a pump would be ideal. Other that that, I'm not familiar with any of the brands as far as their shotgun lines are concerned.

    If any of you have some advice for me, I'd love to hear it. I'd like to keep the price at $400 or less and I'm willing to buy used if I can find something in decent shape. It's just going to get scratched up riding around on the fourwheeler anyway.

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    Default Shotgun advice

    There is a million shotguns these days Remington 870 $390 pump syn/blued is an awesome all around gun, Stoger semi auto $319 Bennelli owns that company also a good gun or my favorite Browning alittle more in price but to me the best shotguns by far. Hope this helps

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    The Remington 870 has been around forever and is probably the most popular shotgun for hunting small game and waterfowl. If you're going straight small game, I'd agree that a 20 gauge is the right choice. If you think you might get into duck hunting, get a 12 gauge and use it for both. I have the synthetic stock 870 that the previous poster mentioned for my duck gun, but I found a used wood stock 870 in 20 gauge at a garage sale for $100. Since it's such a popular gun, finding a used 870 is pretty easy. Check pawn shops or gun dealers such as Boondocks in Eagle River.

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    You've gotten some good feedback for small game and such (commonly refered to as "upland" game) a 20 gauge is pretty hard to beat for that.

    Used market is pretty flooded with reasonably priced pump guns. Single shots also work pretty well for the more budget minded and are generally as simple as guns get. I really think the autoloader is out of place for upland hunting (just my opinion) and the O/U and SxS guns are pretty spendy for most folks.

    I've had most of them and really like the Benelli Nova. Its a pretty new design and works very well. Its also pretty immune to use and abuse.

  5. #5

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    I like the benelli nova as far as an all around hunting shotgun goes. In 12ga of course. For all my small game hunting I use a mossberg 500 in .410 and its just a fun little round. I preffer a 20ga over under to anything for flushing grouse and running bunnies. Nothing like an over under for getting right on target and swinging.

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    Member AKsoldier's Avatar
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    Thanks for the advice everyone. I did some more research, and I read a lots of reviews. The Remmy 870, Moss 500 and Benelli Nova all got rave reviews from most of their owners and all are within my price range, with the Remington being almost too high, depending on where you shop.

    That's all water under the bridge though, because I found a deal I couldn't pass up at Chimo guns here in Wasilla. I got a Mossberg 500 12 gauge combo with both a 28" and a 20" barrel, and three different chokes for the 28", all for only $338.00. It's also got a pistol grip that I could use along with the short barrel for home defense, but I will use it mainly for hunting so I may never put the pistol grip on it.

    It may be a bit overkill for small game, but that's the beauty of a shotgun, right? I can just load it with low-brass game loads and shoot the small game all day, yet it's just an ammo change away from being perfect for something a little bigger. I'm going to take it out this afternoon and try the different chokes to get a feel for how they pattern, then see what I can bag this evening.

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    Dont let anyone tell you its overkill for small game. Use high base 2 3/4 inch # 4's and you wont have a single pellet in the meat. I like low base #6 for bird hunting. Now you weapon that you can use to hunt every thing in alaska with. The shotgun and slug is hard to beat at 100 yards and closer. You will be happy with your shotgun. Stay away from WD 40 and keep it oiled up. Have fun with your new shotgun!

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    Quote Originally Posted by AKsoldier View Post
    Thanks for the advice everyone. I did some more research, and I read a lots of reviews. The Remmy 870, Moss 500 and Benelli Nova all got rave reviews from most of their owners and all are within my price range, with the Remington being almost too high, depending on where you shop.

    That's all water under the bridge though, because I found a deal I couldn't pass up at Chimo guns here in Wasilla. I got a Mossberg 500 12 gauge combo with both a 28" and a 20" barrel, and three different chokes for the 28", all for only $338.00. It's also got a pistol grip that I could use along with the short barrel for home defense, but I will use it mainly for hunting so I may never put the pistol grip on it.

    It may be a bit overkill for small game, but that's the beauty of a shotgun, right? I can just load it with low-brass game loads and shoot the small game all day, yet it's just an ammo change away from being perfect for something a little bigger. I'm going to take it out this afternoon and try the different chokes to get a feel for how they pattern, then see what I can bag this evening.
    I think that here in Alaska that you'd not want to go with less than a 12-gauge if it's going to be your only gun. Why? Because it can double as a camp gun by just loading it with 1+ ounce slugs. As a second shotgun, the 16 gauge throws a better pattern than the 20 gauge and can be loaded light. It's a great grouse gun. But the ammo costs more unless you reload. Otherwise, make the 2nd gun a 20 gauge.

    Your 12 gauge is a bit heavy for grouse and rabbit, based on what ammo is available, but don't sweat it. Buy the lightest loads you can find that have either #7 or #6 shot in them, and consider #4 for rabbits (although I'd suggest a .22 for rabbits since it produces less blood shot meat to toss away.)

    If you load your own, the standard MEC 600 Jr Mark V is a great reloader to get going with and it's lots of fun. You can load 7/8 or 1 ounce loads for about 2/3rds the price per box of the purchased stuff, and you can do fancy stuff like insert X-Stream shot spreader wads to give you a better chance at hitting those short-shot-to-the-side grouse that you'll be sure to be running into. See http://www.ballisticproducts.com/bpi...streaminfo.htm.

    My "grouse special" rounds are Remington STS shells reloaded with 1 ounce of either #7 or #6 shot (whichever I have on hand), an X-Stream shot spreader inserted before the shot goes in, 16.2 grains of TiteWad powder (MEC #24 bushing), a (cheap copy) Windjammer wad (for 1-oz shot weight), and a Winchester W209 primer. This is an easy to shoot, economical, nice-patterning load that spreads out nicely for those close-in fast shots that ruffies like to present you with. My 12-ga is just a Rem 870 pump that I've had for eons. When hunting grouse, I use the Improved Cylinder (IC) choke exclusively and with the shot spreader, I get a pattern that covers about 40% more square footage at 10 or 20 yards ...which is why I don't go smaller than #6 for the shot. I want a wide pattern but also enough shot density to still get the birds effectively.

    Have fun!

    Brian

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    Thanks again for the advice everyone. I've only had my Mossberg a few hours and already it's putting meat on my table! I took my son down by the inlet to a place where I've seen some birds recently and I shot at one and missed - it was just taking wing as I pulled the trigger and I think the pattern was a little too tight as close as I was. About an hour later though we were heading back to the fourwheeler and flushed this guy out. It took wing and landed in a Spruce about 30-40 yards away and I promptly knocked it out. Sorry for the poor pic quality, but all I had was my cell phone and my son snapped the shot. And by the way - that field dressing tip worked perfectly! I'm a first-time go!
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    Well, My neighbor and I went out again this evening and scored three more. So far the trigger on my new Mossberg has been pulled four times, yielding three birds. (My neighbor shot one with his short-barreled home-defense gun without a choke. He was jealous of my Mossy!)

    Isn't it illegal to have this much fun?

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    Default You think your havng fun now?

    Quote Originally Posted by AKsoldier View Post
    Well, My neighbor and I went out again this evening and scored three more. So far the trigger on my new Mossberg has been pulled four times, yielding three birds. (My neighbor shot one with his short-barreled home-defense gun without a choke. He was jealous of my Mossy!)

    Isn't it illegal to have this much fun?
    Just wait till the bunnies start to change colors! I bought the same package at the BX last year and I won't tell you the price but they had a VERY good deal! I love the gun but I can't see a reason to ever use the pistol grip personally. After practicing with an m16/m4 it seems really natural to bring the but pad up to my shoulder regardless of the situation. It took me a little bit to get quick enough on the trigger to start hammering the bunnies but once you start realize precision goes out the window witha shotgun and the point of using it is to be able to just blast away and hit em on the run you start seeing success real fast! I shot bunnies through grass tussocks last year that I couldn't even see as they sprinted away. WAYYYY to much fun!

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    Yeah, I'm looking forward to getting some bunnies too. As for the pistol grip - I believe we can have the best of both worlds. I noticed Mossberg has a few tactical models out with what looks like the same pistol grip our 500's came with, and they have a stock similar to that on the M4 fastened to the back of the pistol grip. I'm thinking about ordering one of those stocks.

    Edit: I just got off the phone with Mossberg customer service. I was told the stock from the tactical model will indeed work on our 500's. It fastens to the back of the pistol grip that cam with our guns. I think I'll order one.


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    I will have to check that stock out, any way you could post a picture of it? Will you be able to reach the safety with your thumb while holding the grip?

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    Speaking of small game shotguns I've been thinking of picking up an over/under 20ga to tote around the woods. Does anyone have any experiance with the Mossberg Silver Reserve guns? I'd love a Browning Citori but I would be too scared to beat it up.
    Finally, Brad Childress is GONE!

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    Quote Originally Posted by LuJon View Post
    I will have to check that stock out, any way you could post a picture of it? Will you be able to reach the safety with your thumb while holding the grip?
    This is aftermarket, from Advanced Tech shotgun stocks but it looks exactly the same as the Mossberg design. I fired a Mossy 500 not too long ago that had only the pistol grip on it and I had no trouble reaching the safety lever. It was a bit more of a reach than with a standard stock, but I don't see it being a problem.


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    Quote Originally Posted by AKsoldier View Post
    Well, My neighbor and I went out again this evening and scored three more. So far the trigger on my new Mossberg has been pulled four times, yielding three birds. (My neighbor shot one with his short-barreled home-defense gun without a choke. He was jealous of my Mossy!)

    Isn't it illegal to have this much fun?
    I can't tell by the picture ...is that a ruffie or a spruce hen? If you've been getting ruffies, then keep yer yapper shut about where you're finding them! It sounds like a really sweet spot! I went out last night on dual duty ...hunt my favorite spot for grouse and also grab a load of firewood with the truck. Got the firewood but not the birds. Saw 2 ruffies though, both flushing from bad spots and going in bad directions. Got one shot off ...a clear miss. And I saw the feathers and blood from 3 birds that someone else got in there and it looked fresh (and found the skin/guts from a rabbit as well.) I know from experience in that spot that if someone goes in before you, then the birds are gone for awhile ...for half a day, sometimes less. I think I probably came by too soon after the other guy... whoever he/she was.

    Brian

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    Quote Originally Posted by tananaBrian View Post
    I can't tell by the picture ...is that a ruffie or a spruce hen? If you've been getting ruffies, then keep yer yapper shut about where you're finding them! It sounds like a really sweet spot! I went out last night on dual duty ...hunt my favorite spot for grouse and also grab a load of firewood with the truck. Got the firewood but not the birds. Saw 2 ruffies though, both flushing from bad spots and going in bad directions. Got one shot off ...a clear miss. And I saw the feathers and blood from 3 birds that someone else got in there and it looked fresh (and found the skin/guts from a rabbit as well.) I know from experience in that spot that if someone goes in before you, then the birds are gone for awhile ...for half a day, sometimes less. I think I probably came by too soon after the other guy... whoever he/she was.

    Brian
    Brian, all I've found so far are spruce hens. I have yet to see a ruffie. I probably won't even shoot at a ruffie if I recognize it to be honest. I would like that particular species to grow in numbers in my area.

    I have my doubts as to weather the two species taste much different, and since spruce grouse are so common here I'll just keep taking them home for now.

    I think you're right about the birds spooking for a while, by the way. I went out twice today. Once this morning with my son, and again this evening with my neighbor. Neither trip produced a single sighting, in the same area where we shot four of them yesterday. I guess not every day hunting can be perfect.

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    Default Nice Gun But Plug It

    AK SOLDIER.......Maybe you already did it, but that particular gun holds 6 shots right? if you use the 28 inch barrel for ducks and geese make sure you plug it. The gun can only be able to hold 3 shells, not trying to insult your intelligence but just a friendly word of caution.

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    Quote Originally Posted by alaskasupplyguy View Post
    AK SOLDIER.......Maybe you already did it, but that particular gun holds 6 shots right? if you use the 28 inch barrel for ducks and geese make sure you plug it. The gun can only be able to hold 3 shells, not trying to insult your intelligence but just a friendly word of caution.
    No insult taken. I did afterall mention I was a beginning hunter. As a matter of fact, you just missed being my first tip on the shell capacity for ducks and geese. I found that out this morning while researching online about increasing the capacity for my Mossy 500.

    For the record, my grouse getter currently holds 6. If and when it becomes a duck and/or geese getter, it will hold 3. Thanks for the tip anyway!

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    Quote Originally Posted by AKsoldier View Post
    Brian, all I've found so far are spruce hens. I have yet to see a ruffie. I probably won't even shoot at a ruffie if I recognize it to be honest. I would like that particular species to grow in numbers in my area.

    I have my doubts as to weather the two species taste much different, and since spruce grouse are so common here I'll just keep taking them home for now.

    I think you're right about the birds spooking for a while, by the way. I went out twice today. Once this morning with my son, and again this evening with my neighbor. Neither trip produced a single sighting, in the same area where we shot four of them yesterday. I guess not every day hunting can be perfect.
    The birds definitely do taste differently. The ruffies have white meat and are everything a chicken WISHED it were, while the spruce hens have red meat and to me, taste kind of like liver. I'm not a fan of liver, but 50% of the fam is happy enough with the spruce hens. My 8 yr old loves them and prefers them, while my wife and daughter tolerate them and say "close enough". Me? I don't eat spruce hens. I would if they were minced up and put into a gravy or a stuffing on Thanksgiving though, since that flavor (to me again) is where it seems to belong.

    I admire very greatly your ethics in improving populations of ruffies! Keep up the good work and keep your spot secret!

    In the areas where I hunted this year, I didn't see many birds, but they all WERE ruffies. My neighbor's kid the other day told me that we had 7 ruffies living on our property before we bought the house (we all have 2 to 5 acre lots), but they'd come over and 'processed' them into their freezer ...kinda PO'd me since we don't have many grouse in our area and it would've been nice to let the population grow. Can't believe someone shot game out of their own backyard ...MY (future) backyard that is!

    Brian

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