What Size Shot for Pheasant 20 Gauge?

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Pheasant hunting is not a complicated process. All you have to do is spot the fowls, disturb the area as you shoot after the fleeing birds. Like clay hunting, targets are in the air and moving, meaning shot placement depends on how tight or widespread your pattern is. 

The essential part of this kind of shooting is understanding what comes out at the end of your shotgun muzzle. In this guide, you will know all there is to know about pheasant hunting to help you expand your hunting knowledge. 

For starters, to get the perfect wing-shooting pattern does not mean having a tight pattern. It would be best to aim for the largest spread at any range you are shooting at. Therefore, the challenge is getting the most extensive spread while it can only exist at a specific range. 

Understanding Different Shot Size

The more we delve into shot sizes, you will discover many opinions based on different experiences that hunters have on the field. In my experience, using any shotshell size between the number 1 and 7 ½ for hunting pheasants leads to a knockdown and successful harvest. 

But there is more if you want to understand shotshells and what the numbers represent. To give you a clear perspective, if the number on the shotshell is higher, it means the diameter is smaller. An example is a shot size 8 that will have less than 0.8-inches of diameter and, therefore, a mass lesser than one grain. The reverse is true, and the number 1 shot size pellets will have 0.16-inches of diameter. 

It implies that a single shell can hold more number 9 shot pellets than hold the number 1 shot pellets. Also, in terms of velocity., the number 9 shot pellets will drop in velocity than a number 1 shot. Therefore, you will have a more powerful shot with fewer pellets when using number 1 shots over the rest of the numbers as it retains most of its punch over a longer distance. 

There are no limitations to what shot size you should use; however, most hunters prefer between the number 4 and 6 shotshells, especially when using a modified choke choice. It is the perfect combination that you can use throughout the entire pheasant hunting season. A modified choke offers either lead or steel hunting ammo options that do not affect your rifle’s performance. 

Uses of Different Shotshell Sizes 

Number 9, 8, and 7 ½ 

The smallest available size starts from number 9, descending to the number 1 shotshell. The last three are the smallest in diameter and are quite useful for clay shooting as they have a wider spread owing to the number of pellets. For upland game, you can have much success when hunting woodcock and grouse. 

Numbers 6, 5, and 4

Here you will have exceptional results when hunting pheasants, quail, rabbits, ducks, squirrels, and sage hens. They pack a powerful punch and have a heavy shot load in terms of ounces. These three are also effective when hunting larger fowls like turkeys. 

Numbers 3, 2, and 1 

These are the best for long-range waterfowl hun