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Choosing the Right Shotgun for Pheasant Hunting

Introduction To Choosing the Right Shotgun for Pheasant Hunting

 

If you ask one hundred different hunters what gun they prefer to hunt with, you’ll find almost all of them saying different options. Choosing the right gun for your hunts depends on the feel, gauge, weight, or if they like the gun brand. There are tons of different factors that go into picking your choice gun for pheasant hunting. However, there are some legal and safety requirements that you must follow. It is not allowed to hunt pheasants with rifles or handguns, but this isn’t something that would bring you much success anyway! Generally, some other requirements for hunting pheasant include safety. 

Guided Kansas Pheasant Hunting

Book your trip early and learn why we have the Midwest’s ultimate pheasant hunting location! Daily bag limits for the regular season is 4 pheasants per person, and we are sure to max that limit out for our clients.  10 Gauge Outfitters offers both guided small group and we also have corporate pheasant hunts for those larger groups and events available. For more details, check out our pheasant hunting page for more details.

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Gauge and Action For Pheasant Hunting 

When considering a gun for your pheasant hunt, the two main options for gauge types are 12 and 20. Most hunters will go with the 12 gauge option. However, hunters who want a shot with less recoil might choose a 20 gauge. They choose the 12-gauge option because they have more power and range. Those who prefer a 20 gauge may be younger hunters or people with smaller frames who want the lighter recoil. 

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Shotguns have various action types. The most common actions for pheasant hunting are pump action and semiautomatic. Here are some explanations of each action type. 

 

  • Pump Action: The pump or slide cycles the round manually. After firing, you pump the gun forward and back to cycle the new round.
  • Semiautomatic: After firing, the gun automatically loads the next round for easy firing. This is the best type of gun for easy follow-up shots. Semi’s also tend to have less recoil compared to pump action. 
  • Break Action: More commonly known as double-barrel shotguns, these are mechanically loaded after every two shots. They allow the shells to be loaded right into the barrel.
  • Over-Under: This type of gun has two barrels, one on top of the other. Similar to break action, the round is loaded right into the barrel. Some hunters prefer this gun due to their simplicity and reliability. 

 

Most hunters prefer a semi-auto 12 gauge shotgun. Testing out some guns before deciding on one is a great way to see which gun feels the best. 

Specification For The Ideal Pheasant Hunting Shotgun 

Birds bursting from cover only give you a few split seconds to react. You want to be comfortable with your gun to hit the tricky shots and make it look easy. Your hunting shotgun should be lightweight enough to allow you to walk and hold it for some hours. Yet it should also be heavy enough to absorb some recoil and be stable to ensure accurate shooting. It concerns your strength and what gun feels the most comfortable in your hands. If you are a smaller individual, you might want to consider a light 20 gauge weapon rather than the majority preferred 12 gauge. 

 

The more you hunt and practice with your weapon, the stronger you will become, and the better your handling skills will be. This will all lead to more successful hunts. So take your time finding the right brand gun, and practice at the range often.

 

Barrel length can impact where your shot goes and how you shoot. Having a longer or shorter barrel can also affect the weight and balance of your gun. Here are some other factors that are all impacted by barrel length.

 

  • Swing and Follow-Through: Gun length impacts how you track a bird mid-flight. A longer barrel tends to provide a smoother swing for better accuracy. 
  • Printability: This refers to how easy it is to mount your gun to your shoulder and get the bird in your sight. A shorter barrel can move quicker than a longer one. 
  • Recoil Management: Longer barrels tend to have more weight and, therefore, more forgiveness in terms of recoil.

Shot Size and Weight

When your shots hit birds, most hunters don’t care what they shoot! However, when shots aren’t falling on target, some hunters blame the ammo they are using. Most hunters favor a 2.75-inch shell length, with some shot sizes between 5 and 6. The standard shot weight is 1.25 ounces.

 

There is no go-to ammo that hunters use; most of the time, it is just whatever happens to be on sale that week. People do have their preferences once they have tried out multiple options. Some of the more popular brands include Federal, Winchester, and Fiocchi. Some hunters prefer heavier shots or copper-plated shots. If you spend more money, you can experiment with flight control wadding. Most of the time, ammo isn’t the make-or-break factor to getting a bird or not. It goes back to the old saying, “It’s not the ammo. It’s the hunter.”

Practical Pheasant Hunting Techniques 

Imagine walking through a field, and a pheasant comes bursting from cover. You only have fractions of a second to mount your gun and take the shot. Being smooth and fast all comes from confidence in yourself and your gun. This is where practice and time on the range pay dividends—getting that gun tight to your shoulder, having your cheek on the comb, and your eyes on the beak. Your gun handling skills and technique will all become second nature with practice. 

The worst is seeing pheasants jump early, way out of your range. That is why it is so important to consider some common field strategies. One of the most basic is to walk into the wind as much as possible. This ensures those birds don’t pick up on your scent so that the dogs can get a whiff of those birds! Depending on the weather conditions, like on some chilly days, you can walk in zig-zag lines, but on warmer days, you can walk briskly to cover more ground. 

Pheasant Shotgun Care and Maintenance

It is so easy to get home from a long hunt and just put that gun away till next time. This is one of the worst things you can do for the longevity and functionality of your weapon. Regular maintenance is so important to have a shotgun that shoots how you want it to. There could be anything from dirt in the barrel to debris blocking your action. Regular cleaning of your weapon is necessary.  

You want to clean and lubricate your gun to keep it as a long-term investment. Just like everything else in the world, the price of shotguns is going up. Yours is an investment in an amazing hobby, and you’ll want to keep it for a long time. Be sure to take good care of your weapon; some will last you a lifetime. 

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Summing Up the Gun Selection Process For Pheasant Hunting

Most hunters are drawn to a good 12 gauge semiautomatic shotgun with a reliable load in a 2.75-inch shell with 1.25 ounces of 5 or 6 shot. There are plenty of different gun options to fit your body best and how you hunt pheasant. Guns come with different barrel lengths that impact how your gun feels and how you shoot. Be sure to take some shots and test-fire some shotguns to find the right fit for you. 

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