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Thread: 20 Gauge Shot Size

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    Ft. Lauderdale, FL
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    Default 20 Gauge Shot Size

    What shot do you recommend for a 20 gauge for pheasants.

    I am taking my son with me for his first hunt and he will be using an 870 youth 20 gauge

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by EdgeWater View Post
    What shot do you recommend for a 20 gauge for pheasants.

    I am taking my son with me for his first hunt and he will be using an 870 youth 20 gauge
    JMO—But I believe #6 would be best -especially early season-again JMO-but like #5’s as best all season keep it simple size

    Remember to get first class ammo for him—Fioccie,Federal-copper-platted ect.

    Enjoy your time with your son—Remember having my little guy out when he was 12– He Turning 40 this year-will never forget the look on his face when dog brought back his first bird-and we still hunt and fish together all the time-

  3. #3
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    Oct 2016
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    That's kind of a "loaded" question. Lots of variables, probably the biggest one being shot material - lead, steel, some other non-tox? With steel, velocity matters more so than with others.
    Let's assume you want him to be able to poke at a 40-yd bird & bring it down if he manages to connect.
    Lead 5's (6's OK if you know shots will be close-ish). 1250-1350 fps. IC or MOD choke.
    Steel.... IC or SK choke. 1350-1450 fps....3's. 1450-1550....3's or 4's. If below 1350....2's.
    Bismuth 4's or 5's (4's pack a little more punch past 35 yards). 1250-1350 fps. IC or MOD choke.
    "Most pheasants in South Dakota don't react too well to #5s." -The Hunt for Red Rooster

  4. #4
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    Dec 2014
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    SE Iowa
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    I have been shooting Fiocchi Golden Pheasant #5 the last 2 years and they seem to be the best 20 gauge load for roosters I have found. I tried shooting the federal pheasants forever loads both the prairie storm and the wing shok. I felt the penetration on the Fiocchi's was much better, very few pcs of shot with balled up feathers and mainly pass through's.

  5. #5
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    Jun 2010
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    Quote Originally Posted by riverhunter55 View Post
    I have been shooting Fiocchi Golden Pheasant #5 the last 2 years and they seem to be the best 20 gauge load for roosters I have found. I tried shooting the federal pheasants forever loads both the prairie storm and the wing shok. I felt the penetration on the Fiocchi's was much better, very few pcs of shot with balled up feathers and mainly pass through's.

    Fiocchi Golden Pheasant #5

  6. #6
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    TX Panhandle
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    I killed more pheasant's with 7.5's long before 6's and 5's got popular. I agree the bigger shot hits harder but if he's a beginner, more shot in the air may help. Also, the higher end loads with 5's will have much more felt recoil with an 870. Either way they're all good and most of all...Good Luck to the young man.
    JMc
    Fritch, TX

  7. #7
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    NE Oklahoma
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    I have gone with the Golden Pheasant #6 instead of #5 for more density in my son's 20. Probably didn't need the extra pellets. I prefer 5's in everything else. Having said that, the 6's worked fantastic on pheasants. Fiocchi Golden Pheasant are excellent shells no matter what gauge.

  8. #8
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    Thanks everyone for the feedback and I am looking forward to the trip. I come up every fall from Florida to hunt with family and it means more having the boys there since my dad passed.

  9. #9
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    Jul 2013
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    I shoot 5s in prairie storm and never ever have a problem.

  10. #10
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    Dec 2008
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    Minnesoooota
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    Quote Originally Posted by EdgeWater View Post
    What shot do you recommend for a 20 gauge for pheasants.

    I am taking my son with me for his first hunt and he will be using an 870 youth 20 gauge
    That's always a special time for father and son, hope you guys create some lasting memories. I assume these will be wild birds rather than preserve?

    Now on to the shot size question and something to consider when selecting your ammo. With 12 gauge IMO 2-3/4 inch #5 lead in a 1-1/4 oz load is kind of the gold standard all around shot/load size for Pheasants. If you can find 1-3/8 oz possibly even better. #5 shot really does split the difference from #6 and #4 with regards to effective pattern vs pellet energy for clean kills. However, when talking 20 gauge we now have to take into account that any 2-3/4 inch 20 will contain fewer pellets because the load size will be either 1 or 1-1/8 oz, so pellet count will be reduced, meaning fewer pellets (larger #5 shot) in the pattern. Case in point a 1oz. load of #5 shot has roughly 170 pellets and the 1-1/4oz having 212, some 42 more usable pellets in the pattern. I know this may seem a bit technical, but if you were to pattern the two you would see a noticeable difference.

    So how do we compensate while still using the 20 gauge. We'll... a couple things. If using a 2-3/4 inch shell you can use #6 to up the pellet count which will hinder somewhat for clean kills at longer distances but will have an effective pattern and sufficient pellet energy out to near 35 yards. Any further your cripple percentage skyrockets. Or... you could go to a 3" 1-1/4 oz load of #5 which will effectively extend your range by giving you a "Sweeter" pattern (than 2-3/4" #5)and larger shot for penetration. Basically giving you the equivalent of that gold standard 12ga loading I previously mentioned. It makes the 20 more usable at a wider range of distances.

    That being said.... depending on how old or how big he is you will have to decide if the added recoil of the 3" will be too much or not. I will say the recoil will not be bad at all, but that is my opinion and not his. You be the judge. If the gun fits him reasonably well, felt recoil will be mitigated more so than an ill fitting gun would. Ultimately decide how far you should allow him to take shots and select the ammo accordingly. I do know that Fiochhi makes such a loading in 3": https://www.ganderoutdoors.com/fiocc...35-200822.html
    Last edited by birdshooter; 09-09-2019 at 05:43 PM.

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