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Thread: Time for a new 20 gauge

  1. #1
    Member bnkwnto's Avatar
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    Default Time for a new 20 gauge

    I'm looking for a light weight 20 gauge for ptarmigan (no ground pounding) and I'm leaning towards a semi-auto. The problem I'm having is not many gun stores in Anchorage have very much of a selection. I like the feel of the Benelli montefeltro at Sportsmans but I don't need a pretty, shiny gun to carry in the willows. I have read good reviews on the Benelli M2 20gauge but I've never actually held one. So what do you guys recommend and where (close to Anchorage) should I go to check one out? I hate to order a shotgun without making sure it feels right. I picked up a Franchi at MT View and I liked the feel of it but I don't know anything about them.
    I've had my Winchester 1300 N*** 12 gauge pump since high school and I think it's about wore out. It's only had about a million shells through it. Plus, it's always good to get another gun.
    Thanks for the help.

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    Always nice to be shopping for a new upland gun. Although, I'm not a big fan of autoloaders 'cause they shuck hulls all over the ground and I don't feel the need for more than two shots, they are very nice guns to shoot. If I were to go with an autoloader I suppose I'd go with a Benelli or Beretta. I'd bet Sportsman's Warehouse has more autos than elsewhere, but have you shopped over at Great Northern Guns? Be careful at Great Northern Guns though 'cause they always have some fine doubles that might catch your eye and move you away from the autoloader! Enjoy the search! And make sure the gun fits you correctly.

    Jim

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    I really like my Ruger Red Label O/U 20ga. I've shot everything from upland birds to geese and cranes with it. Being an older gun, it is fixed choke Modified/Improved Cylinder. I find that combo works well for me. The gun has been trouble free for 25 odd years and lots of adventure. I too do not have a need for more than 2 shots on upland birds. I want to focus on each shot, and each downed bird. Most guys can not adequately mark birds well enough to shoot 3 at a time, especially in any type of cover. The chance to lose birds goes up.
    The old Remington 1100 LT were good guns in their day, and still are. I have not used a Franchi, but when held they feel light and fast. Might be a fun gun to own. I've used the Browning Citori Upland Special in 12 ga and it was very fast gun to mount and swing,. I'd think a 20ga would be awesome fun.
    I have never shot great, but seem to be able to hit what I aim at with a wide variety of shotguns. It is nice to handle a gun before you buy though. Good luck not only with finding the right gun, but finding birds too.
    ARR

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    Member GrizzlyH's Avatar
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    I picked up a new Rem 870 20 gauge ($800) last fall and pure love the gun. I like the pump even better than my Belgian Browning Auto 12. Nice and lite for carrying in the woods and nice smooth action. Just a wonderful gun in my opinion.
    I can do the impossible right away. Be patient, miracles take me a bit longer.

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    I bought two different 20 gauges for upland and small game. The first is a Beretta Silver Pigeon II O/U. The second for bad weather hunting is a Benelli M2. I chose the Benelli over the Browning Silver because of its light weight. I don't like the Beretta AL 392 autoloaders because of their overly complicated multi-piece forend cap. Which is prone to freeze in place if not cleaned. I don't mind cleaning and do so regularly but a shotgun shouldn't need a spanner wrench to take apart an overly engineered forend cap for cleaning. Not sure what Beretta was thinkin when they engineered that monstrosity.

    Sportsmans Warehouse is a great place to buy shotguns. Once you decide what you want to buy if it isn't available locally you can always order one through an FFL holder.

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    Member hodgeman's Avatar
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    I played around with a friend's M2 20ga.... sweet is all I can say. Lightweight and it pointed like a magic wand.

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    Member Hoyt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim McCann View Post
    Always nice to be shopping for a new upland gun. Although, I'm not a big fan of autoloaders 'cause they shuck hulls all over the ground and I don't feel the need for more than two shots, they are very nice guns to shoot. If I were to go with an autoloader I suppose I'd go with a Benelli or Beretta. I'd bet Sportsman's Warehouse has more autos than elsewhere, but have you shopped over at Great Northern Guns? Be careful at Great Northern Guns though 'cause they always have some fine doubles that might catch your eye and move you away from the autoloader! Enjoy the search! And make sure the gun fits you correctly.

    Jim
    One of these days, I'll have one of those fine doubles you speak of! Need to pad the bank account alot more, and then convince the wife it is an investment, not just another gun purchase!!!!! lol For now it's the Ithaca M37 sweet 16 pump!
    If I were to buy a new auto loader, this is the one for me.............http://www.benelliusa.com/shotguns/b...ltra_light.php they have one here at SW in Fairbanks. Sweet little 20!

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    Browning makes an "upland special" 20 gage pump with a short barrel. I use an upland special Winchester 1300 and the shorter barrels make the longer shot without a problem. usually, the upland models have 20-22 inch barrels. With a 3 in. 6 shot and an improved cylinder choke, I've made some 40-50 yard shots. Good luck with your shopping.

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    Member TMCKEE's Avatar
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    bnkwnto,
    I'm wondering why you're leaning towards a semi-auto. Nitro deserves better... I saw your pictures of him starting to show some signs of pointing. If you are going to try to develop that, then you should only be shooting birds that he points and not those that he bumps. So you don't need to shoot fast. Of course, if it wasn't and he's just flushing for you then I suppose you can shoot 'em as fast as he can mark 'em. Me personally, I'd never buy anything more expensive than an 870 or Mossberg 500 for ptarmigan, I'm too rough on my shotguns.

  10. #10

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    I share TMCKEE's question about a semi. We've to a house full of 20's including semi's, pumps, SxS and O/U. I keep reaching for my Ruger Red Label O/U (newer one with 26" barrels and interchangeable chokes), but have a soft spot for the Ithica 37 Featherweight. I'd probably carry it more, but I have to pry it out of my wife's hands to get a turn.

    I use the Ruger so much because it handles 3" when I need them, and the interchangeable chokes add to its versatility. If you want a semi, I'd base the choice on choke tubes and how reliably it functioned with both light 2 3/4" and heavy 3". Lots of them get "indigestion" with one or the other.

  11. #11
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    For upland birds my favorite shotgun is the old Winchester Mod 50. I bought another one for my daughters in 20 gauge not to long ago. They function great with minimal recoil and are relatively light weight. Down side is they are older and I wouldn't want to shoot steel shot through them. They are still available at reasonable prices if you watch the on line sites like gun broker. I will admit I have always wanted a red label as well but haven't bought one yet.

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    I own the Benelli Montefeltro in a 26" barrel. Love it. I put it through hell, and long ago quit worrying about the cosmetics. If you hunt long days you can really tell the difference b/t a 12 and 20. In considering O/U versus semiauto, I'd consider your quarry and whether you really need those extra shots. I bought my Benelli for hunting grouse Outside where you can have many grouse go up on a flush and find yourself SOL with an O/U after you've emptied your gun on the first bird. Re cold and jamming, I found that silicone spray applied daily nearly eliminates that problem.

    With all that said, I love O/Us due to their simplicity and reliability. There is a compelling argument that a good 20 gauge O/U is the way to go. It will probably be the next gun I buy.

    Last, My brother owns a Beretta Utica in the 26 inch barrel. He loves that gun, and it's a wash in my mind b/t the Beretta and the Benelli.

  13. #13

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    If you're on a budget but want a double, you might keep your eye open for a used Remington/Spartan SxS 20. Quality varies so I'd want to see it first hand before buying, but there are some good ones out there at reasonable prices. I picked mine up NIB from an individual for $300. Yeah, it's not finished as well as a $1500 gun. Yeah, it was a little stiff to open when I got it, but it smoothed out just right.

    Though I bought mine as a "knock around" gun, it's really grown on me. It handles and shoots well, and the action has smoothed out nicely with wear. I'm liking it so much that I'm seriously considering a refinish job to spruce it up. I'm even considering taking it along as a backup gun on my next trip south for pheasants and quail. Not bad for $300.

  14. #14
    Member AK Ray's Avatar
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    For upland fun you can not beat a light sxs or o/u. I have an old Red Lable 20 in skeet/skeet that is serious fun.

    However, if you want to have an "experience" while upland hunting then an old 16 is what you should be looking for. I recommend the "poor mans model 21" the Winchester Model 24 in 16 gauge with 26" barrels in IC/Mod. They shoot and handle like a dream. Side by Side snobs think they are ugly, but nobody that has ever shot one in 16 gauge will deny that they are a high performance weapon of death to anything with wings.

    They are becoming expensive, but they show up on gun broker frequently. Model 24's in 20 gauge are hard to find.

  15. #15
    Member bnkwnto's Avatar
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    Thanks for all of the responses. Iíve debated about getting a nice over and under but I think for my needs a semi-auto would work out best. Nitro (my pup) doesnít care if I shoot twice or five times. 90% of the time two shoots are all I need but Iíve been known to empty my pump before so I like having a few extra shells. If I do get greedy and shoot a triple the dogs always find the birds. Nitro doesnít like it all if I shoot and no birds fall. The look he gives when that happens is priceless.

    I mainly want a light weight 20 gauge because most of my hunts involve a lot of walking (usually on snowshoes). Some of my spots start with a 3-6 mile hike just to start hunting. I think a 12g is a little overkill and 20 gauge shells are a lot cheaper than 28 or 16 gauges. Iíll pick up a few O/U while Iím looking and Iíll know if I pick one up that has to go home with me.

    Iím hard-headed and I hunt when Iím off work not when the weather is perfect. I was leaning towards the M2 because everyone raves about how easy it is to clean and maintain.

    Especially now that I have my own dog the quality of the hunt is much more important to me that another limit of birds. Nothing like spending all day chasing birds in beautiful country.

    Thanks for the help Iíll keep looking and try out Northern guns. Any other gun shop you recommend?

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    I won't give you advice on whether you should get a semi-auto or pump but since you've been using a pump I'll recommend that you take a lookt at an Ithaca Model 37 Ultra-featherlight if you can find one. I bought one years ago with the idea of my then wife using it. She didn't but I have and it's the lightest, handiest little 20 gauge I've ever used. It points perfectly for me and is all I'd ever need for upland game. I fell in love with it the first time I carried it in the field.

    Did I mention it's light and carries like it's nothing?

  17. #17
    Member Hoyt's Avatar
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    I shoot a 1956 Ithaca model 37 in 16 guage. It has a fixed modified barrel. I love the gun. I have taken many birds with it. I will never part with it, even when I can finally afford to become a sxs snob! lol My bird hunting partner shoots a 1953 Model 37 in 12 guage...fixed modified as well. Super light weight, built the way things used to be built, and pretty easy to find replacement stuff for them (considering their age). Also they do not break the bank ($300-$600 depending). For the money, it is the most reliable, rugged, lightweight gun out there (of course in my biased opinion). Ithaca is also producing the Model 37 again. They are really nice looking guns, and all American made in Sandusky, Ohio. They cost more than the older ones, but are very nice looking guns!

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    You guys just reminded me that I have a NIB Ithica 37 20ga stashed. I forgot all about it. Years back when Ithica was going out of business, or there were rumors to that effect, I bought one just in case. I just went and looked at it and it is choked IC. I love my Ruger, but maybe I'll have to take that out of the box. Almost hate to as it still has all the tags attached and factory oil on it. Dilemmas. What's a guy to do?

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    Member rimfirematt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrizzlyH View Post
    I picked up a new Rem 870 20 gauge ($800) last fall and pure love the gun. I like the pump even better than my Belgian Browning Auto 12. Nice and lite for carrying in the woods and nice smooth action. Just a wonderful gun in my opinion.
    I about had my eyes pop out when I read this. You paid 800 dollars for a 870? Last time I looked they were around the 400 dollar mark.

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    Member akrstabout's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bnkwnto View Post
    I'm looking for a light weight 20 gauge for ptarmigan (no ground pounding) and I'm leaning towards a semi-auto. The problem I'm having is not many gun stores in Anchorage have very much of a selection. I like the feel of the Benelli montefeltro at Sportsmans but I don't need a pretty, shiny gun to carry in the willows. I have read good reviews on the Benelli M2 20gauge but I've never actually held one. So what do you guys recommend and where (close to Anchorage) should I go to check one out? I hate to order a shotgun without making sure it feels right. I picked up a Franchi at MT View and I liked the feel of it but I don't know anything about them.
    I've had my Winchester 1300 N*** 12 gauge pump since high school and I think it's about wore out. It's only had about a million shells through it. Plus, it's always good to get another gun.
    Thanks for the help.

    Hey man,

    My coworker has a Franchi from MVS, 12ga though. He loves it. Was a pump guy. He says when they go duck hunting now, it just rains ducks!! Very similar to Benelli in a lot of ways I here. Some have the same comfortec style stock. Just cheaper because you are not paying for the name, lots cheaper I beleive. Sara there at MVS is easy to deal with if you need to order. I often think about getting an auto, franchi would definately get looked at.
    On the other hand, Benelli just launched the new version of the take down auto, vinci, shoots 3.5 shells now. Plus franchi launched a new one, check out benelli's site. I had a ton of emails about all the new releases at the Shot Show. Happy shopping!!

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