Is There a One Gauge Shotgun Shell?

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The answer to the question of whether there is a one gauge shotgun shell is yes. One gauge shotguns were popular in the market hunting days.

 All shotguns are classified by gauge, and this is a measure that relates to the size of the shotshell designed for a specific diameter of the smooth shotgun bore. When you think about shotguns the first thing that comes to mind is what gauge you are using. Therefore the real question becomes, is there a one gauge shotgun shell? 

One of the earliest designs of shotguns was called the punt guns and they were one gauge and sometimes referred to as one-bore as they had a diameter of 1.669-inches which is 42.42 mm. The barrel length would extend up to eight feet. Despite all these massive measurements, you should note that the 1-bore punt gun was among the smaller designs of punt guns as some had up to four inches of bore size. 

The good thing about guns is that there is a whole new world out there to discover. A rich history behind every model and caliber that is used. Shotguns are not any different from rifles and handguns in history. 

Also, the previous designs of punt guns mainly featured guns with black powder muzzle-loaders, however, they used massive shells. Hence a one gauge shotgun can fire a full pound of lead. Earlier uses of punt would see hunters mount them on to a rowboat for commercial duck hunting, The idea was to hit as many birds with a single shot.

What are Punt Guns?

To understand a punt gun you must think of it as an extremely large shotgun that grew in popularity around the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The primary goal was shooting at large numbers of birds and waterfowl to meet the rising demand for commercial bird harvesting operations. 

The design of the punt gun is too large for one person to fire from the shoulder and could not even be carried by an individual. The difference with punt guns and other modern heavy artillery is that it takes only one individual to aim and fire at targets once mounted. In most cases, the mount would be on a watercraft. 

Early models are similar to the modern versions of shoulder weapons however later variations do not have the full-length stock. But they come with special mounting hardware that is fixed to the gun so that you can fit the punt gun to a pintle.

How Much Does One-Gauge ShotGun Shells Cost?

Following the history of shotguns, it has been several decades since shotguns larger than 10-gauge have been made and the same applies to one-gauge shotshells. Even though it is still possible to find one-gauge shotshells, they are completely sold as individual collector’s items and hence attract collector prices.  

The one-gauge fires a full pound of lead pellets and historically, it is the largest commercially produced ammo. In modern times, this feat belongs to the 10-gauge shotshells and has varying prices dependent on brand and material used. 

Another point to note on smaller gauge shotshells is that history shows the mass production of both the 4-gauge and 8-gauge ammo but they were also discontinued. It is even difficult to find the shotshell ammo if you have the shotgun that can fire. Most of these shotguns(8-gauge and 4-gauge) were fired using separate components sometimes instead of shells.  

The 1-gauge shotshells were massive and therefore the bore diameter of the shotgun (punt gun) had to be massive as well. Most Punt guns are custom built and therefore, there is no standard measurement for what a punt gun should measure. Hence the basic definition of a punt gun is a shotgun that is too big to be used normally, and one must use it in a fixed position when hunting for commercial waterfowls. Punt guns can fire up to 1–3 pounds of birdshot, as they are so large and can only be used when mounted on a flat-bottom hunting boat.

Understanding Shotgun Gauges

There are many variations of the shotgun, and the difference lies in the gauge number. The larger the gauge the number the smaller the shotgun bore. Common shotgun gauges are 28-gauge, 20-gauge, 16-gauge, 12-gauge, and 10-gauge. 

To determine the gauge of the shotgun, you consider the number of lead balls that are approximately equal in size to the diameter of the bore and must be relative to a pound. What this means is that taking the example of a 12 gauge shotgun, it requires 12 lead balls of the same diameter and size to the 12 gauge shotgun bore to weigh one pound. 

Today, the shotgun gauge is measured in the same way you would measure a caliber, and that is by measuring the inside bore diameter.

Hence, the gauge number determines the weight in fractions of a pound, and the diameter of a solid sphere of lead equal to the inside diameter of the barrel. So, another practical example is that a 10 gauge shotgun should have an inside diameter that is equal to that of a sphere curved from one-tenth of a pound of lead used.

Therefore as a prerequisite, each gauge of shotgun must shoot shells only of the same gauge. It means that a 10-gauge shotgun will only fire 10-gauge shells. The gauge that each shotgun fires is usually indicated on the shell and the factory ammo box as well.

Understanding How Shotguns Function

Shot String and Choke

The action that takes place when you fire your shotgun is not all that complicated but it is systematic. As the pellets leave the barrel they begin to spread and scatter. The spread becomes greater the further the pellets travel, both in diameter and length. It is this spread that we refer to as the shot string. 

All shotgun barrels have a choke that is aimed at controlling the shot string, and in turn, this will affect the shot pattern as you will notice when the pellets hit the target.

Basic terms to understand


Relates to the degree that the muzzle end of the shotgun barrel gets narrow. 

Shot Pattern

Relates to the spread of the pellets once you hit a non-moving target.

Shot String

This refers to the spread of the shot pellets once they leave the shotgun barrel. It is usually in three dimensions.

Types of Chokes Used in Shotguns

To determine the choke you need you must understand the distance between you and the target.  As we now know, the shot string can only be determined by the choke you use and this does not influence the velocity that the pellets travel. Therefore, choke does not influence the power of your shotgun, rather it controls the tightness of the spread the pellets will bear at specific distances. 

Cylinder Choke

In a cylinder choke, the shotgun barrel is unrestricted hence the shot string will spread much faster. 

Improved Cylinder Choke

An improved Cylinder choke is one that has a slight constriction therefore it will allow the shot spring to have a somewhat fast and fair spread. It is the perfect choice when hunting for rabbits, quail, or other small game at close ranges.

Modified Choke

A modified choke is a shotgun with a moderate constriction. Here, the pellets stay together for longer, and this makes the shot string dense and useful when hunting at longer ranges. It is the perfect choke when hunting for doves and geese. In the market today, you can also opt for the Improved Modified choke. IT is muchmore tighter than a modified choke.

Full choke

A full choke has the tightest constriction and will hold shot pellets together even longer. It makes the full choke perfect for hunting turkey, squirrels, turkey, and other game at 40-yard or longer ranges. Turkey hunters, you should look out for Extra Full choke to get even denser patterns at a long-range. Here are some of the best turkey chokes.

Safety Practices to Avoid Using the Wrong Shot Shells

Purchase and Use

When purchasing ammo for your shotgun you should get the only correct ammunition. Make sure you get the gauge for your shotgun as was designed. For example, all shotshells must be the right length for safe use. The data stamp you see on the barrel of your shotgun identifies the length of the shotshell that is safe to use. As a precaution, never use a shell that is longer than the indicated length.

Never mix ammunition when going to the range, or when storing ammunition after you finish your hunt. When using a shotgun, the most reported common mistake is using a 12-gauge shotgun with a 20-gauge shotshell. The danger is that a smaller gauge shell slides through the shotgun gauge chamber and down the barre. This in turn causes an obstruction. 


The danger of loading smaller shotshells cannot be underrated. The mistake is always quite costly and sometimes leads to serious injuries and eventually gun damage. The gauge stamped on the shell should match the one stamped on the gun barrel. If there’s no stamp on the barrel, ask a gun expert to help you feed your shotgun the correct ammunition.


One way to be safe is to never use old ammunition. The problem with using reloads is that they may have the wrong information or might just reload poorly. To be more cautious when using reloaded shotshells, ensure that you use the ones you have reloaded yourself.


You must know your firearm’s maximum projectile range as this is critical to your safety. By understanding the maximum projectile range, you can tell the distances that your projectiles can give a deadly blow or when it is a danger to others around you. 

During each hunt, the effective range determines if you will have a clean kill or assess the dangers before taking the shot. To get the effective kill range correct, you must determine the maximum projectile of your shotgun. Learning distances and range is part of responsible hunting.

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The name punt gun derives from the name of a small boat which is called a punt. So a punt gun is a small boat gun in other words. That is the origin of the name as it involved use on a small boat when hunting for commercial waterfowl. Hunters would shoot flocks of birds with one shot. Punt guns were large and therefore required the shooter to maneuvere the boat to aim rather than the gun itself. 

The recoil would always propel the punt several feet backward due to the large size and shotshells it fires. Punt gunning in most parts of the world is outlawed because of the dwindling decrease of wild game. 

If 1-gauge shotshells and shotguns are still available, they are not common, and their use may be prohibited. The amount is not standard as it is custom production.  

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