12g Vs 20g Shotgun Caliber

Shotguns are a popular choice for hunting and shooting sports. But what’s the difference between the two most common calibers: 12g and 20g? For anyone looking to choose between these, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of each.

Both 12g and 20g shotguns have their advantages and disadvantages when it comes to shooting. The 12g is more powerful, but can be harder to manage due to its greater recoil. The 20g is more suitable for beginners because it has less recoil, but is not as powerful as its 12g counterpart.

So which caliber should you go with? In this article, we’ll compare 12g vs 20g shotguns and discuss which one is best suited for your needs. Read on to find out!

Overview Of Shotgun Calibers

The shotgun is a powerful tool, used in hunting and self-defense. Its shells come in a range of calibers, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Two of the most common are the 12-gauge and 20-gauge.

The 12-gauge is larger than the 20-gauge, like comparing an adult to a child. The 12-gauge shell holds more shot than the 20-gauge, so it’s capable of delivering more power on target. It’s also simpler to load, as you don’t need to aim it very precisely – just point and shoot.

The 20-gauge, on the other hand, is considered a “medium” caliber, being smaller and lighter than its 12-gauge counterpart. It requires precise aiming for maximum effect, but it produces less recoil when fired – making it ideal for smaller shooters or those who aren’t used to shooting large guns.

Both calibers can be used for hunting or self defense purposes. But choosing between them depends on the shooter’s needs and preferences. With that said, let’s look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of each caliber when considering which one might fit best for your needs.

Advantages And Disadvantages Of 12g

The 12-gauge is a powerful caliber, and its advantages are clear. It holds more shot, so it delivers more power on target. Plus, it’s easier to load and doesn’t require precision aiming. However, its size and weight can be a drawback for some shooters. Its recoil can be punishing for smaller shooters or those who aren’t used to firing large guns.

The 20-gauge is smaller and lighter than the 12-gauge, making it a good option for those seeking less recoil and greater accuracy. But because it’s smaller in size, it holds fewer shots than the 12-gauge – so it may not be as effective in some hunting scenarios. Additionally, because of its small size and weight, you’ll need to aim accurately for maximum effect when using a 20-gauge shotgun.

Overall, both calibers have their unique strengths and weaknesses. Choosing between them depends on the shooter’s needs and preferences – but either way, practice makes perfect when shooting a shotgun! With that said, let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of the 20-gauge shotgun caliber.

Advantages And Disadvantages Of 20g

The 20-gauge shotgun is a popular choice for those seeking less recoil and greater accuracy. It’s no surprise, then, that the National Shooting Sports Foundation reports that this caliber has seen an increase of nearly 12% in sales over the past year. But what are the advantages and disadvantages of the 20-gauge shotgun?

For starters, it offers reduced recoil compared to the 12-gauge. This makes it easier for smaller shooters or new shooters to handle more comfortably. Additionally, its smaller size allows for greater accuracy when aiming at targets – something that’s particularly useful when shooting clays or hunting birds.

On the other hand, its small size can be a disadvantage when it comes to power. Because it holds fewer shots than the 12-gauge, it may not be as effective in some hunting scenarios or against large game animals like deer. Plus, because of its light weight and smaller size, you’ll need to make sure your aim is precise in order to maximize its effectiveness on target.

Now let’s move on to compare distance, penetration and accuracy between these two calibers of shotgun.

Distance, Penetration, And Accuracy Comparison

When it comes to distance, penetration, and accuracy, the 12-gauge and 20-gauge shotguns vary significantly. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Distance: The 12-gauge has a longer effective range than the 20-gauge, due to its larger shot size and more power.
  • Penetration: The smaller shot size of the 20-gauge means it will penetrate targets less than the 12-gauge.
  • Accuracy: The lighter weight of the 20-gauge makes it easier to manage recoil, resulting in improved accuracy when shooting at targets.

The 12-gauge is better suited for long range shooting and larger game animals like deer, while the 20-gauge is best used for close range shooting and small game such as birds or rabbits. Each caliber offers advantages depending on your intended purpose – it’s all about finding the right balance between power and accuracy that works for you. With that said, let’s move on to discuss types of hunting applications for each caliber.

Types Of Hunting Applications For Each Caliber

Hunting applications vary depending on the caliber of shotgun you choose. Here are 3 key considerations to keep in mind when deciding which one is right for you:

  1. Distance: The 12-gauge is better suited for long range shooting, while the 20-gauge is better at close range.
  2. Penetration: The 12-gauge has greater penetration than the 20-gauge, so it’s ideal for larger game animals that require more power to take down.
  3. Accuracy: The lighter weight of the 20-gauge makes it easier to manage recoil, resulting in improved accuracy when shooting at targets.

When selecting a shotgun caliber for hunting, you must carefully weigh all these factors before making your decision. To ensure a successful hunt and safe experience, be sure to pick an appropriate caliber that fits your hunting needs and abilities. With this knowledge of hunting applications under our belts, let’s turn our attention to ammunition considerations for each caliber.

Ammunition Considerations For Each Caliber

Having considered the hunting applications of each caliber, let’s move on to the ammunition considerations. When purchasing shotgun shells, it’s important to select the right type and size for your firearm. The 12-gauge is capable of shooting a variety of load sizes, whereas the 20-gauge is limited in its selection. Depending on what kind of game you’re hunting and the distance you’ll be shooting, some shells may be more appropriate than others.

For example, if you’re using a 12-gauge shotgun for turkey hunting at a short range, a 1¼ or 1½ ounce shell might give you better results than a 3 inch magnum round. On the other hand, if you’re trying to take down larger game animals such as deer or wild hogs at longer distances, a 3 inch magnum shell will provide more power and penetration.

It’s also important to consider cost when selecting ammunition. Generally speaking, 12-gauge rounds are cheaper than 20 gauge rounds due to their greater availability. However, with proper research and comparison shopping, it is possible to find good deals on 20-gauge ammunition as well.

Before heading out into the field with your shotgun in tow, make sure that you have chosen a suitable load for your intended purpose. Whether it’s a 12 or 20 gauge shotgun loaded with slugs or shot shells – always make sure that your ammo fits your firearm and matches your hunting needs.

Maintenance Requirements For Each Caliber

Maintenance is key to ensuring the safety and efficacy of any firearm. Shotguns, in particular, require regular cleaning and lubrication to ensure reliability. Let’s take a look at what is required for each caliber.

First, it is important to note that 12-gauge shotguns typically have fewer moving parts than 20-gauge shotguns and thus require less maintenance. Here are the main steps one should consider when maintaining either type of shotgun: 

  1. Make sure all surfaces are clean and free from debris
  2. Oil the action periodically with a light gun oil
  3. Check for wear or damage on internal parts such as springs, firing pins and extractors.

It is also advisable to check the barrel for obstructions before each use. If shooting slugs, it’s important to properly clean the bore after each use, as these rounds can leave behind lead residue that can build up over time and cause accuracy issues. As always, make sure your gun remains unloaded until you’re ready to shoot it.

With proper maintenance and handling, both 12-gauge and 20-gauge shotguns can provide years of reliable performance in the field. Now let’s move on to exploring some recreational uses for each caliber.

Recreational Uses For Each Caliber

As the old adage goes, “A shotgun is only as good as what you do with it.” Both 12-gauge and 20-gauge shotguns provide plenty of opportunities for recreational use – from hunting to skeet shooting to home defense. Let’s take a closer look at some of the activities each caliber is best suited for.

For hunting, the 12-gauge has long been the go-to choice due to its power and range. It can handle most types of game, including turkey and waterfowl. The 20-gauge, on the other hand, is slightly lighter and easier to maneuver in tight spaces like wooded areas or blinds. It is also well suited for small game such as squirrels and rabbits.

When it comes to competitive shooting sports, both calibers have their advantages. The 12-gauge packs more punch and can reach targets at longer distances, making it ideal for trap and sporting clays events. The 20-gauge offers less recoil than its larger counterpart which makes it great for skeet shooting – especially when using light loads such as 7/8 oz or 1 oz shells.

No matter what your preference may be, there is no doubt that both calibers offer plenty of fun activities in the field or on the range. Now let’s move on to compare their popularity and availability in today’s market.

Popularity And Availability Comparison

When it comes to popularity, there is no denying that the 12-gauge is the standard. It has been around longer, is better known, and has a reputation for being the most versatile shotgun caliber. The 20-gauge, while still popular, simply cannot compete in terms of sheer numbers.

In terms of availability, however, the two calibers are much closer. There are plenty of options for both 12- and 20-gauge shotguns on the market – from basic pump actions to over/under models and even semi-automatic variants. This means that no matter what type of shotgun you are looking for, chances are good that you can find it in either gauge.

Overall then, both calibers offer plenty of recreational opportunities and easily accessible firearms. But which one is more affordable? Let’s take a look at cost comparison next.

Cost Comparison

Price is an important factor for many shooters, so it’s worth taking a closer look at the cost comparison of 12- and 20-gauge shotguns. Generally speaking, 20-gauge guns will be slightly cheaper than their 12-gauge counterparts, with basic pump actions costing around $200 less. This could be because the 20-gauge shells use less powder and shot than the 12-gauge.

However, that’s not to say that there aren’t more expensive options available in either gauge. Semi-automatic shotguns can cost up to twice as much as a pump action in either caliber, and over/under models can easily exceed $2,000 regardless of which gauge you choose. So if money is no object, then you can still find plenty of high-end shotguns in both calibers.

In the end then, when it comes to cost comparison between 12- and 20-gauge shotguns, there isn’t much difference between them. While 20 gauge may be slightly cheaper for basic pump actions and other entry level models, higher end variants are similarly priced regardless of the size of their shells.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The Recoil Difference Between 12g And 20g?

Recoil is an important factor when choosing a shotgun. How much kick do you want from your gun? That question can only be answered by comparing the recoil of different gauges. Today, we’re looking at 12g and 20g.

The difference between 12g and 20g is significant. Twelve gauge shotguns typically have more recoil than their 20 gauge counterparts. This is because the shells used in 12-gauge guns are larger and heavier, resulting in more force being generated when fired.

But this doesn’t mean that a 20-gauge gun will be easier to handle than a 12-gauge gun. It all depends on the shooter’s size and strength as well as factors such as the weight of the gun, type of ammunition used, and how it’s held. A smaller, lighter 20-gauge shotgun may still have more kick than a heavier 12-gauge model due to its increased velocity and higher chamber pressure.

So if you’re looking for less recoil, there are several things to consider before making your decision – including your own size and strength, the type of ammunition being used, and the weight of your chosen firearm. All these factors play an important role in determining how much recoil you’ll experience with each shot you take.

What Are The Legal Restrictions On Using Each Caliber?

Using certain types of weapons comes with certain legal restrictions. This article looks at the legal implications when using 12g and 20g shotgun calibers.

Legally, 12g can be used for hunting small game, large game, target shooting and a variety of other activities. It is also considered a standard self-defense weapon. In contrast, 20g has more limited uses, mainly for small game hunting or target shooting.

The legality of each caliber varies from state to state and country to country. For example, in the United States some states allow the use of both 12g and 20g for hunting small game while other states restrict it to just one caliber or the other. In some countries, such as Canada, only 12g is legal for hunting any type of game. It’s important to check with local authorities when considering either caliber for any purpose.

Knowing the legal implications of each caliber helps ensure that users are in compliance with their local laws when engaging in recreational activities or defending themselves properly.

How Loud Is The 12g Vs The 20g?

Noise levels are an important factor to consider when handling firearms. Shotguns come in many different calibers, and the noise they generate can vary significantly. This article will discuss the loudness of 12g and 20g shotguns.

The 12 gauge shotgun is widely regarded as one of the loudest weapons available. It produces a very loud bang that can be heard from quite a distance away. The 20 gauge is notably quieter, but it still produces a loud report when fired.

When comparing these two gauges, the 12g is much louder than the 20g:

  • 12 Gauge: 
    • Louder overall sound 
    • Can be heard from farther away 
  • 20 Gauge: 
    • Quieter sound overall 
    • Can still be heard nearby but not as far away

The difference in volume between the 12g and 20g is significant, making it important to consider which caliber would best suit your needs. The 12g offers more power but requires more safety precautions due to its louder report, while the 20g provides less power with less kickback but still produces a noticeable sound. Ultimately, both options have their pros and cons depending on your particular shooting needs.

Is There A Difference In The Spread Pattern Between 12g And 20g?

The spread pattern of a shotgun is an important factor to consider when determining what gauge to use. It affects the range, accuracy, and rate at which shells are fired. So, is there a difference between 12g and 20g? Like two sides of a coin, yes there is.

To be precise, the 20g has a wider spread than the 12g due to its larger caliber. This means that more shells can be fired at once with less accuracy than if using the 12g. If you’re looking for greater coverage over longer distances, the 20g might be your best bet. On the other hand, if you want pinpoint accuracy and fast firing speed, then you should probably go with the smaller 12g.

Choosing between 12g and 20g becomes a balancing act between coverage and precision. Think of it as finding harmony in chaos – each has its own strengths that must be weighed against one another. So take your time deciding which shotgun caliber will work best for your needs – it could mean the difference between hitting or missing your target!

Is There A Difference In The Amount Of Powder Used For Each Caliber?

The amount of powder used in a shotgun shell can vary greatly depending on the caliber. In particular, there is a difference between 12g and 20g shells. The primary factor influencing the amount of powder used is the size and weight of the pellets contained in the shell.

Generally speaking, 12g shells contain more powder than 20g shells. This is because they are loaded with larger, heavier pellets that require more thrust to propel them at a higher velocity. Additionally, due to their larger size, 12g shells have more space for powder than 20g shells do.

The amount of powder used in each shell also depends on what type of shooting is being done. For example, a 20g shell might be loaded with less powder for target practice since it does not need as much force to reach its target as a 12g shell would for hunting or home defense.

For hunting and home defense scenarios where maximum power is required, 12g shells are often loaded with more powder than 20g shells since they are better suited for hitting targets at longer distances and penetrating dense materials such as walls or doors. However, when using either caliber for competition shooting or clay shooting, both are typically loaded with similar amounts of powder since accuracy is the most important factor in this type of shooting. 

  • Factors affecting amount of powder used: 
    • Size and weight of pellets 
    • Type of shooting being done
    • Distance from target
    • Penetration needed
  • Calibers compared: 12g vs 20g 
  • Generally speaking: 12g contains more powder than 20g 
  • Depending on type of shooting: Both calibers may be loaded with similar amounts

The differences between 12g and 20g shotgun calibers extend beyond just the spread pattern; the amount of powder used in each can vary significantly based on factors such as pellet size/weight, type of shooting being done, distance from target and penetration needed. Knowing these differences can help ensure that shooters choose the best ammunition for their specific needs and maximize their performance when engaging targets at different ranges or under various circumstances.


The 12g and 20g shotguns are two of the most popular calibers available, but they have distinct differences. When it comes to recoil, the 12g offers a significantly stronger kickback than the 20g. It’s important to be aware of any local restrictions for each caliber, as some states may not allow the use of one or both. The loudness of each can vary between models, with the 12g generally being louder than the 20g. They also produce different spread patterns when fired, which is something that should be taken into consideration when choosing a shotgun. Finally, there’s a difference in amount of gunpowder used for each caliber—the 12g generally uses more than the 20g.

When looking for a shotgun, it’s important to weigh all factors before making a decision. It’s like shopping for a car; you have to consider what your needs are and find the right fit that fits within your budget and legal limitations. The 12g and 20g offer distinctly different experiences; one might be better suited for target shooting while another might be better suited for hunting birds or small game.

In conclusion, understanding the nuances between these two calibers is critical in making an informed decision on which type best suits your needs. It’s like deciding between painting with watercolors or oil paints: each palette has its own distinct characteristics and effects that will work best in certain situations depending on desired results.

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