Upland Hunting Shotguns
The best gun for pursuit of all upland birds is an English made 20 gauge side-by-side choked IC and Modified.
Actually, we just said that to prove a point because nothing elevates blood pressure faster than a pundit making a blanket statement about a specific weapon being the preiminent gun for all hunters everywhere.
The truth is the best gun is the one you are comfortable shooting. That may be the firearm professionally fitted and shot relentlessly or other times it's just the shotgun tied to memories in the field. The gun that your dad used and his dad used. The gun used to teach your daughter to shoot. The gun that helped you pull off that miracle double in hurricane winds. The gun that cost a fraction of your hunting buddy's yet always manages to outshoot his.
And sure, all weapons have inherent weaknesses and strengths. But regardless of editorial comment, Uncle Buck will still field that rusty hogleg that hasn't seen oil since the embargo of '73. And who doesn't love seeing a five-and-dime bang stick outshoot the five figure Michelangelo? (except the guy who paid for the Michelangelo)
Simply put, a closed-minded shooting sportsman has a lonely gunsafe.
So, when you stumble upon the truly perfect upland gun for every situation and species, shout from the nearest hilltop in the hopes that it's weaknesses will be exploited forcing you to buy the next perfect gun. Thereby the cycle continues, and the world is a happy place. But seriously, if you do find the perfect gun, let us know at The Lodge.
Which Gauge Should You Use For Bird Hunting?
Besides just being an issue of comfort, the "what gauge?" question can't truly be answered without addressing shooting skill level.
Even the largest upland gamebird has a brain roughly the size of a pea. It hypothetically only takes one pellet straight to that bean in order to dispatch the bird. So, regardless whether you wield the pea shooting .410 or a 12 gauge bazooka, if you can connect lead to head the bird is dead.
There is no doubt that you can pack the most pellets in a 12 gauge shell. But, Annie Oakley didn't need more projectiles -- and neither do some hunters. The tradeoff for quantity of shot is normally the weight of the gun and recoil. A pound or two may not seem like much until you try hefting it around for 8 to 10 miles.
So, it's a balancing act. And once again, it comes down to what you are comfortable shooting and carrying. There are hunters who can consistently down roosters with a .410 and feel that anything else is overkill -- and for them that may be true. But, the 12 gauge is the most commonly fielded gun, period. In any given outdoor store you'll find the widest spectrum of 12 gauge shells, and it's likely that 2 out of every 3 hunters you come across in the upland field will be lugging 12s.
Effective and efficient dispatching of the bird is the most important issue, followed by whether or not you're able to lift your arms at the end of the day's hunt and then whether the bruising on your shoulder will allow you to hunt the following day.
Carry what you can shoot.