The shotgun is one of the most capable firearms in the world. For hunting small game, to game birds, and even big game, a shotgun will do the job. For home defense, the shotgun is more than capable and intimidating. Want a survival gun? The shotgun can cover it all in the most trying conditions.
The choices of action types, gauges, barrel lengths and stock configurations are an added incentive for owning a shotgun. Choose pump action, semi-auto, single or double barrel, or even lever action. The 12 gauge is the most common today, with the 20 gauge being a close second. There are others; the ole 16 gauge seems to have lost its popularity. Another, the 28 gauge, is primarily used by upland game bird hunters. The 10 gauge is a rarity in today’s times. Then there is the 410 which is correctly designated as .410 bore (slug diameter of the .410) rather than gauge.
Of the above gauges mentioned, 10ga is the largest, then 12, 16, 20, 28 and 410 in descending order based on the amount of shot or the weight of an individual slug (projectile) the hull/shell contains. On average, shell lengths are 2 ½ to 3 inches in length.
Your choice of action type will be driven by the intended use of the shotgun, whether it’s hunting, trap or skeet competition, as a home defense tool, or your young child’s first gun. Let’s first take a look at shotgun action types found on the market today.
Generally this action is a hinged, break-open type that employs a lever to open the action. It is designed to load one round and then unload the spent hull before reloading another live round. Companies such as Harrington and Richardson, Iver Johnson, and Chiappa are but a few that produce a single shot break open shotgun.
Lever-action shotguns are mostly out of the picture today, but do have their following. They operate similar to a lever-action rifle such as the classic Winchester 30-30. Every pull of the lever down and up unloads and reloads the chamber. Henry and Chiappa are the mainstays of producing these guns.
For the most part, bolt-action shotguns have become obsolete and are no longer produced. You may find one around from days gone by that was marketed by Sears, Westernfield, Stevens or Mossberg. While they may hold some nostalgic interest, there are too many other shotgun action types that are more practical.