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One Firearm for All Types of Hunting

If you’re new to hunting, the idea of buying many firearms for hunting can be intimidating. Can you use one firearm for all types of hunting? Yes, it is possible! Among the various firearms available, a shotgun is remarkably adaptable. Use it to pursue upland birds, waterfowl, turkey, small game, or even big game. One well-chosen shotgun can handle it all. Let’s explore why a shotgun can be the ultimate all-purpose hunting firearm and what to consider when selecting one.

Versatility of a Shotgun

The primary versatility of a shotgun is its ability to fire different types of ammunition. These shells or loads are specific to the game you are hunting. Here’s a breakdown of how different ammunition types (shells or loads) can be used for various hunting scenarios:

  1. Birdshot:

    • Ideal for: Upland birds (e.g., pheasants, quail), small game (e.g., rabbits, squirrels)

    • Characteristics: Contains many small pellets that spread out upon firing. This increases the likelihood of hitting fast-moving targets.

  2. Buckshot:

    • Ideal for: Medium-sized game (e.g., deer at close range)

    • Characteristics: Larger pellets that offer greater stopping power at short to moderate distances.

  3. Slugs:

    • Ideal for: Big game (e.g., deer, wild boar)

    • Characteristics: A single, large projectile that provides accuracy and significant stopping power. This load is suitable for larger animals.

Selecting the Right Shotgun

Choosing the right shotgun for all-purpose hunting involves considering several factors. Gauge, action type, barrel length, and chokes are all options to consider. Here’s a guide to help you make an informed decision:

  1. Gauge:

    • The 12-gauge shotgun is the most popular and versatile choice. It balances power and manageability, making it suitable for a wide range of game. For all purpose hunting, there is nothing better than a 12-gauge.

  1. Action Type:

    • Pump-Action: Reliable and versatile, pump-action shotguns are excellent for all purpose hunting. Pump actions can quickly fire many shots with minimal or no jamming.

    • Semi-Automatic: Offers faster follow-up shots and reduced recoil. Beneficial for waterfowl hunting where many birds may be taken in quick succession. This action can jam easier and need a little more maintenance.

    • Over/Under and Side-by-Side: These double-barrel shotguns provide an option of two different chokes. This offers versatility in shot pattern and range. This action is more for upland game and hunters that embrace heritage.

  2. Barrel Length:

    • 26 to 28 inches: A good all-around barrel length, providing a balance between maneuverability and accuracy.

    • Shorter barrels (20-24 inches): More maneuverable in dense cover, ideal for upland game and home defense.

    • Longer barrels (30+ inches): Better for waterfowl hunting and trap shooting. This action offers improved accuracy at longer ranges.

  3. Choke Options:

      • Interchangeable Chokes: Different chokes allow hunters to change the spread of their shot pattern. When buying a shotgun, it will come with choke options. You can also buy aftermarket chokes. These insert at the end of the barrel. See our general illustration on how shotgun chokes work. You can also refer to our article on shotgun chokes.

        Shotgun Choke Patterns

Recommended Shotgun for All Types of Hunting:

  1. Remington 870:

    • A legendary pump-action shotgun known for its durability and ease of customization.

    • Available in various configurations, including different barrel lengths and interchangeable chokes.

  2. Benelli Super Black Eagle III:

    • A premium semi-automatic shotgun renowned for its reliability and performance in harsh conditions.

    • Handles a wide range of loads, from light birdshot to heavy slugs.

  3. Browning Citori:

    • A high-quality over/under shotgun that offers the advantage of two chokes.

    • Excellent for upland game and clay shooting, but versatile enough for other hunting scenarios.

A single, well-chosen shotgun can be a great firearm for any hunter. A shotgun offers flexibility to adapt to game type and hunting environments. We hope this helps your understanding of the different factors of choosing a shotgun for all types of hunting. Remember to consider ammunition types, gauge, action type, barrel length, and choke options. A good quality, versatile shotgun is a great option for those new to hunting.

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