Relying on the shot dimension and the load, one shotgun can take any fowl from a 2-ounce rail to a 25-pound tundra swan. However selecting the right shotshell for the job isn’t so easy, as a result of shot patterns are as particular person as snowflakes. That makes deciding on the proper shot dimension and cargo an train in likelihood. Each gun is a rule unto itself. Yours might carry out higher with barely completely different masses. Nonetheless, this information and shot dimension charts ought to function a great level to begin. 

Shot Measurement Information Desk of Contents

  • Shot Measurement Chart
  • Normal Guidelines for selecting shot dimension
  • Shot Measurement Chart for Frequent Sport Birds
  • Incessantly Requested Questions

Shot Measurement Chart

Shot dimension is measured by quantity. Because the quantity will increase, the diameter of the shot decreases. Right here’s a shot dimension chart to indicate the completely different diameters of shot and their corresponding numbers. 

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Normal Guidelines for Selecting Shotgun Shot Measurement 

A buddy and broadly traveled hunter who labored for Winchester informed me as soon as once I tried to pin him down on shot dimension: “There’s no magic shot dimension. If one pellet works on a specific fowl, the subsequent dimension larger and smaller will, too.”

True sufficient. Notice, too, that shot sizes fall inside .01 of each other, and SAAMI specs really permit some slight overlap amongst smaller sizes, which additional muddies the query of shot dimension. That stated, there are two foremost issues to think about when selecting pellets.

Smaller pellets sample extra overtly than larger pellets.

The distinction might be important. Just a few years in the past, once I visited the Federal take a look at lab, we patterned some 20-gauge dove masses with No. 7½ shot, then some No. 6 from the identical gun. The engineers predicted 4- to 6-percent tighter patterns. We had been stunned to see 15-percent tighter patterns with No. 6 over No. 7½. Your mileage might range, however larger shot ought to shoot tighter patterns in your gun, and smaller shot ought to provide you with extra open patterns.

Larger pellets go away fewer holes than smaller pellets.

On the ranges I are inclined to shoot birds, smaller shot makes extra sense, as they’ve loads of power up shut and are extra quite a few, growing the possibilities of very important hits and, per above, they shoot patterns that open shortly. However, that additionally means there’s extra probability of biting right into a smaller pellet once you eat the fowl. Not solely are there fewer massive pellets in a given weight of shot, and subsequently fewer of them within the birds I shoot, these massive pellets will penetrate deeper, so there’s much less probability of discovering them within the meat. For this reason, though I consider No. 2s are nice goose pellets, I shoot BBs at them, and why I typically shoot No. 2 at teal, though No. 5 and No. 6 make extra sense.

No matter massive or small, the pellets you wish to shoot are those that sample finest in your gun on the vary you count on to shoot your birds. Once more, I lean towards bigger shot, as I consider it builds in some margin for error if I’ve to take an extended shot than I supposed.

Shot Measurement Chart for Frequent Sport Birds

Shot size chart for game birds.
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You stack the chances in favor of a clear kill by selecting the optimum mixture of pellet dimension, shot materials, payload, and velocity for the fowl you’re looking. In my expertise, with the correct load, the shot sizes listed within the chart above will ship the products. Every, when used with a choke that places 65 to 70 % of the payload right into a 30-inch circle on the vary you count on to shoot, provides the optimum mixture of sample density and power for the species listed. Unhazardous-shot necessities, excessive worth tags, and sure looking situations can complicate decisions, however the information under needs to be a great place to begin.


Illustration of a goose.
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The Greatest Shot Sizes for Geese: 2,1,BB,BBB,T

Geese are wingshooting’s massive recreation, weighing as much as 15 kilos. Goose looking used to focus on refuges, the place lengthy photographs at just a few cautious geese a 12 months had been the norm. Now, Canada and snow goose populations are exploding, and plenty of hunters take them up shut over decoys. Tungsten-iron ammo has superior ballistics, though immediately’s metal masses supply glorious efficiency at a a lot lower cost.


Illustration of a duck
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The Greatest Shot Sizes for Geese: 3,2,1 (massive geese); 3,4,5,6 (small geese)

Geese coming into decoys current a midrange shot with their vitals uncovered, which often doesn’t require superheavy masses. My high decisions are metal and tungsten-iron for particular long-range purposes. Geese vary in dimension from underneath a pound to over thrice that dimension, however I can nonetheless prescribe a one-size-fits-all dose for over-decoy looking.


Illustration of a pheasant
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The Greatest Shot Sizes for Pheasants: 4,5,6

Pheasants occupy their very own class as America’s hardest upland fowl. Massive and powerful, they’ll take up shot and be lively cripples. That stated, pheasants should not bulletproof: In case you hunt in small events with good canine, you may shoot small-gauge or modest 12-gauge masses in good conscience. Encompass a South Dakota shelterbelt with an enormous group within the late season, nevertheless, and also you desire a heavy 12-gauge load.

Different Upland Birds

Illustration of a grouse
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The Greatest Shot Sizes for Upland Birds: 4,5,6,7,7.5 (grouse, chukars) 6,7,7.5,8 (doves, woodcock)

Doves, woodcock, chukars, Hungarian partridge, and grouse and quail of varied subspecies are the pure prey of the small-gauge shotguns Individuals love. A trim smallbore is smart for those who plan to hold a gun loads and shoot it solely a bit of, or if you wish to deplete shells with out struggling recoil fatigue. The two 3⁄4-inch 20 is sufficient for many upland looking.

Learn Subsequent: Shotgun Chokes Defined


Illustration of a turkey.
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The Greatest Shot Sizes for Turkeys: 4,5,6 (lead); 7.5,8,9 (TSS)

Think about a walnut balanced on a pencil and you’ve got an thought of the dimensions of the vitals in a turkey’s head and neck. Turkey masses are the exception to the 65-to-70-percent-in-a-30-inch-circle rule of thumb. You desire a dense cluster that fills a 10-inch circle to the sides, carrying sufficient power to penetrate cranium and vertebrae past 40 yards. A field can final a number of seasons, so even frugal hunters ought to spend money on high quality turkey ammo.

Incessantly Requested Questions

What’s the most deadly shotgun ammo? 

The bigger, denser, and quicker the pellet, and the heavier the payload, the extra deadly it is going to be. Nevertheless, for those who select pellets which might be too massive to your supposed quarry, you received’t have sufficient pellets in your sample to reliably put three or 4 pellets into the animal’s vitals. If the pellets are too small, you’ll have sufficient sample density, however not sufficient power to penetrate the vitals.  Additionally, recoil from quick, heavy masses makes them troublesome to shoot. Probably the most deadly shotgun ammo is the shell loaded with pellets that strike a stability between sufficient shot to place 3-4 dependable hits within the vitals, and sufficient power to penetrate deeply to these very important areas. The previous recommendation to decide on the smallest shot dimension that also offers satisfactory penetration nonetheless holds.

How far can a shotgun shoot? 

In the correct palms, a shotgun can shoot a great distance. The longest shot on a clay goal on file was made by English sporting clays legend George Digweed, who broke a flying clay at 130 yards. Nevertheless, 65 yards, half that distance, is a really lengthy shot for a shotgun, and one that’s past the ability stage of most shooters.  Shotguns are finest used on targets at 50 yards or much less, and most shooters do finest by way of killing cleanly and never lacking or wounding in the event that they restrict their photographs to inside 35 yards.

Is a 12- or 20-gauge higher for duck looking? 

The 12-gauge stays the usual waterfowl gun for good cause. It may be loaded as much as shoot very massive a great deal of massive pellets like BBs and BBBs at geese and swans, and down for small payloads of little shot for small geese like teal. A 12-guage can shoot extra shot quicker and extra effectively than can a 20-gauge. Whereas the 12-gauge is ballistically superior, a 20-gauge makes a really efficient duck gun for those who hold your capturing to ranges inside 40 yards. It’s also at the moment the “in” gun to hunt with, and there are many 20-gauge waterfowl fashions out there. In case you select the correct shot dimension and take good, high-percentage photographs, the 20-gauge might be very pleasant to hunt with on days you don’t need 12-gauge heft or 12-gauge recoil.

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