16 Gauge vs. 12 Gauge for Pheasants

16 Gauge vs. 12 Gauge for Pheasants

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Besides a bird dog, the most crucial piece for upland bird hunting is the shotgun. It needs to be accurate, durable, and enjoyable yet easy to carry. So, what outstanding features do you look out for when choosing between 16-gauge vs. 12 gauge for pheasants?

The 12-gauge shotgun is considered the best-all round pheasant gun. That’s due to its undeniable power and the availability of ammunition options as well as price. While it handles different loads to bring down late-season long tails, some hunters prefer the 16 gauge. Known as the ‘sweet sixteen,’ it’s placed second in popularity for upland birds to its bigger brother, the twelve.

Pheasant roosters can take a good hit yet keep moving. There’s a determination to survive that lies in the ringneck’s favor, continuing to fly elsewhere other than in your sights. Here’s a comparison of 12- and 16-gauge shotgun weights, actions, and barrel lengths to slow down these upland birds.

What’s the Difference between the 16 Gauge And the 12 Gauge in Bore Size?

Every hunter has a personal favorite shotgun, especially when you’re seeking upland birds. It could be you shot lots of clay, so you’ve gone with a 12 gauge, or one of your hunting enthusiast ancestors left you a 16 gauge. It could be you’ve never given your shotgun’s gauge or bore diameter size much thought, and you’re wondering if it matters at all.

Before getting into a 16 gauge vs. 12-gauge comparison, you must understand what shotgun gauges are. Unlike rifle calibers, the smaller the gauge number, the wider your gun’s barrel. Gauge gets determined by the number of equal diameter balls that you’d get from one pound of lead or steel.

For instance, a 16-gauge barrel measures .662 inches, and it would take 16 balls. A 12’s barrel has a diameter of .729 inches, taking 12 balls equal to that bore to form one pound. The small number equal’s larger bore shotgun sizing often confuses beginners. Besides the gauge, the gun you use to chase down wiry pheasant roosters comes down to comfort, a factor that doesn’t have to be costly.

A good upland bird shooter should mount quickly, swing smoothly, and carry easily. But what’s right for you may not work for another hunter, especially since pheasants occur in varied habitats and terrain.

16-Gauge vs.12-Gauge: Which One Is Better for Pheasant Hunting?

The 12-gauge shotgun is a common pheasant hunter’s companion, but some hunters swear by the 16-gauge. That’s true if they’re young, small-framed, or female. It shoots like a twelve, carries light, and offers comparable ballistic advantages. But while this gauge isn’t as popular among ammo makers and shotgunners as the twenty, it has its followers and loyalists.

Once upon a time, the 16 gauge outdid the 20 gauge, at least according to Federal Ammunitions archives for the 1940s. The ammo maker was selling twice the number of shells for the smaller bore, but the tide changed with the arrival of 3-inch shells. These loads eclipsed the sixteen’s performance, but that doesn’t mean it’s a slouch where upland quail and pheasant are concerned.