20-gauge shotgun

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20 gauge
A 234" 20 gauge shell loaded with number 7 1/2 birdshot
Place of origin United Kingdom
Production history
Variants212" (63.5 mm), 234"(70 mm), 3" (76.2 mm)
Bullet diameter.615" (15.62 mm)
Shoulder diameter.684 in (17.37 mm)
Base diameter.697 in (17.70 mm)
Rim diameter.766 in (19.46 mm)
Rim thickness.0484 in (1.23 mm)
Case length2.76 in (70.10 mm)
Primer typeShotshell Primer
Maximum pressure12,000 psi (83 MPa)
Ballistic performance
Bullet mass/type Velocity Energy
58 oz. Remington Slugger 234" 1800 ft/s 1575 ft⋅lbf
58 oz. Remington Slugger 234" 1580 ft/s 1513 ft⋅lbf
20 Pellets Federal 234" #3 Buck 1500 ft/s 874 ft⋅lbf
212 Pellets Fiocchi 3" #5 Shot 1200 ft/s 1748 ft⋅lbf
306 Pellets Winchester 234" #712 Shot 1275 ft/s 1382 ft⋅lbf

The 20-gauge shotgun, also known as "20-bore", is a type of smooth-bore shotgun that fires a shell that is smaller in caliber (.615 in (15.6 mm)) than a 12-gauge shotgun (.729 in (18.5 mm)). It is often used by beginning shooters for target practice and for hunting small game.


It takes 20 lead balls of the diameter of a 20-gauge shotgun bore to equal one pound, while it only takes 12 lead balls of the diameter of a 12-gauge shotgun bore to equal the same weight. A 20-gauge shotgun is more suitable for hunting certain types of game or for some hunters because it recoils less, and the guns weigh less and may be smaller.

Regarding the yellow body tube color 20-gauge ammunition usually has, it has been reserved in SAAMI documentation saying "SAAMI has reserved yellow for 20-gauge ammunition" "This ammunition shall have a body tube that is primarily yellow" "Yellow shall not be used for any other gauge/bore shotshell body" "No other recommendations are made as to the color of service body tubes for other gauges/bores" [1]


20-gauge shotguns are especially suitable for hunting game birds such as quail, grouse, turkey, and other game when using shot shells. A 20-gauge can also shoot slugs and buckshot and thereby become an effective deer-hunting gun. While shotguns loaded with slugs are generally less accurate than rifles, full-power shells often have better stopping power at short range due to the large mass of the projectile. [2]


A usually lower weapon weight makes a 20-gauge appropriate for young, elderly, or weaker shooters who may have a difficult time carrying, aiming, and firing a larger shotgun. In addition, 20-gauge shotguns generally have less recoil than 10-, 12-, or 16-gauge versions on average, when comparing standard hunting shells, due to the lower projectile payload. These parameters make the 20-gauge more pleasant to use on extended hunting trips for small game or upland birds, even for people capable of firing magnum-power 12-gauge hunting rounds.

It should be noted, however, that full-power 20-gauge shells fired from a light 4.5 lb (2.0 kg) weapon will have more felt recoil than reduced-recoil 12-gauge shells fired from a heavy 8 lb (3.6 kg) weapon.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "ANSI/SAAMI Cartridge & Chamber Drawings, 2019-04-23 Shotshell, PDF page 50 MISCELLANEOUS: BODY TUBE COLOR" (PDF).
  2. ^ "ANSI/SAAMI Cartridge & Chamber Drawings, 2019-04-23 Shotshell, PDF page 33 - 36 "20 gauge"" (PDF).

External links[edit]

  • [1]ANSI/SAAMI Cartridge & Chamber Drawings PDF links page
  • [2] ANSI/SAAMI Cartridge & Chamber Drawings, 2019-04-23 PDF for Shotshells