Where To Buy 16 Gauge Shells
For decades, 16-gauge enthusiasts have had ammunition manufacturers make a 3-inch 16-gauge cartridge. That's a chicken-or-egg proposition because ammo makers are not inclined to develop new cartridges for guns that do not exist, nor are gunmakers inclined to build guns for ammo that doesn't exist.
where to buy 16 gauge shells
Browning is currently the only major gunmaker to offer a new 16-gauge, but its new Sweet 16 has only the traditional 2 3/4-inch chamber. Browning has its own brand of shotgun ammo, but it does not actually make its own ammo.
There is, however, a new 16-gauge is available with a 3-inch chamber. It is the Barrett Sovereign/Rutherford, a fine over/under shotgun on a true 16-gauge frame that costs $2,500. That's about $600 more than a Beretta 686 Silver Pigeon, Browning Citori or Benelli 828, and about the same as a Beretta 690 or a Grade III Weatherby Athena.
It is curious that an obscure gunmaker like Barrett would be the first to chamber a 3-inch 16-gauge. Only one reason makes sense. If a 3-inch 16-gauge cartridge ever comes into being, Barrett's guns will not be obsolete.
Whether a 3-inch 16 is truly a frontier is debatable. The 16-gauge was originally a 2-inch shell, and that configuration provided the 16-gauge's legendary payload to power balance. You could argue that lengthening the 16 to 2 inches was its 3-inch equivalent.
Nowadays it's hard to find a 20-gauge that doesn't have a 3-inch chamber, even though most hunters don't use 3-inch shells. It's like that with 12-gauge enthusiasts, too. Most of us snub 3 1/2-inch, 12-gauge shells because they deal out more punishment to the shooter than to the target but we still want guns with 3 -inch chambers because, well, just because.
Critics of the longer shells say they contribute to inconsistent patterns in both the 12 and 20, but look at all the high performance ammo you can get for 3-inch 20-gauges. There's Hypersonic Steel and all kinds of Hevi-Shot loads, as well as some wondrous turkey loads, and 3-inch slug loads for deer hunting.
If you want to hunt waterfowl with 16-gauge, you are generally limited to 15/16 ounce of steel leaving the muzzle at 1,350 feet per second. The speed is good, but the payload is not. And, one box costs about $23.
That is the load I used Thursday during the Purple Hull Duck Hunt at Bayou Meto WMA. The main things you have to remember with such limited firepower is that the lethal range is a lot shorter than it is with a 3-inch 12-gauge, or even a 2 3/4-inch 12-gauge.
Also, you have to lead ducks farther than with faster payloads with muzzle velocities of 1,500 fps or better. Repetition and experience have conditioned me to lead pheasants and doves properly with a 16, but for waterfowl, I am conditioned to the 12 gauge.
Gauge is determined from the weight of a solid sphere of lead that will fit the bore of the firearm and is expressed as the multiplicative inverse of the sphere's weight as a fraction of a pound, e.g., a one-twelfth pound lead ball fits a 12-gauge bore. Thus there are twelve 12-gauge balls per pound, etc. The term is related to the measurement of cannon, which were also measured by the weight of their iron round shot; an 8-pounder would fire an 8 lb (3.6 kg) ball.
An n-gauge diameter means that a ball of lead (density 11.34 g/cm3 or 0.4097 lb/in3) with that diameter has a mass equal to .mw-parser-output .sfracwhite-space:nowrap.mw-parser-output .sfrac.tion,.mw-parser-output .sfrac .tiondisplay:inline-block;vertical-align:-0.5em;font-size:85%;text-align:center.mw-parser-output .sfrac .num,.mw-parser-output .sfrac .dendisplay:block;line-height:1em;margin:0 0.1em.mw-parser-output .sfrac .denborder-top:1px solid.mw-parser-output .sr-onlyborder:0;clip:rect(0,0,0,0);height:1px;margin:-1px;overflow:hidden;padding:0;position:absolute;width:1px1/n part of the mass of the international avoirdupois pound (approx. 454 grams), that is, that n such lead balls could be cast from a pound weight of lead. Therefore, an n-gauge shotgun or n-bore rifle has a bore diameter (in inches) of approximately
The six most common shotgun gauges, in descending order of size, are the 10 gauge, 12 gauge, 16 gauge, 20 gauge, 28 gauge, and .410 bore. By far the most popular is the 12 gauge, particularly in the United States. The 20-gauge shotgun is the next most popular size being favored by shooters uncomfortable with the weight and recoil of a 12-gauge gun, and is popular for upland game hunting. The next most popular sizes are 28 gauge and .410 bore. Both the 10 gauge and 16 gauge, while less common, are still available.
Shotguns and shells exceeding 10 gauge, such as the 8, 6, and 4 gauge, are historically important in the United Kingdom and elsewhere in mainland Europe. Today, they are rarely manufactured. Shells are usually black powder paper cartridges as opposed to the plastic or wax cartridge and smokeless powder of today.
The table below lists various gauge sizes with weights. The bores marked * are found in punt guns and rare weapons only. However, 4 gauge were sometimes found used in blunderbuss guns made for coach defense and protection against piracy. The .410 and 23 mm are exceptions; they are actual bore sizes, not gauges. If the .410 and 23 mm were measured traditionally, they would be 67.62 gauge and 6.278 gauge, respectively.
Fellow gun writer Phil Bourjaily, along with the help of some engineers at Federal Ammunition, proved that the 16 throws the most efficient patterns out of all the gauges (including .410). And since several ammo manufacturers offer the 16 shotshell in a 1 1/8-ounce shot charge now, its payload is heavier than most 20-gauge shells and all 28-gauge offerings.
A busy sporting clays course on a weekend is a great way to increase sampling size. When prompted with free shells, free targets and new shotguns, volunteers were easy to find. We ended up with 20 testers of all shapes, sizes and experience levels. The highlight of guest shooters were the Toledo Swamp Rats youth clays team practicing for an upcoming match. Surveying all of our testers, only five had previously shot a 16 gauge while all had previously shot 20 gauge.
Out of 20 shooters just three preferred the 16 gauge. The most frequent reasons cited were recoil and muzzle jump. Nearly everyone perceived a bit more kick from the 16 gauge. Many of the more experienced clay shooters noted it was easier to get back on target faster for the second shot with the 20 gauge.
RST manufactures both 2" and 2 1/2" shotgun shells, as well as 2 3/4" shotgun shells that offer the widest range of loadings for classic and older guns for shooters seeking low pressure and high performance with reduced recoil.
My shoulder rocked back so much that the other folks at my local skeet range let out an audible gasp. As light as the Stevens 555E 16 gauge was, along with 1300fps loads and my 5-foot-5-inch, 150 pound frame, it was clear that we were a poor combination. Nevertheless, I shot a decent round of skeet with it and happily retired it along with every 12 gauge that already had been sold off, stored away, or forgotten about, and pulled out my 28 gauge. To be fair, this intro is only meant to bring light to the sub-gauges which have increased in popularity over the past years, a revival of sorts and rightfully so. Maybe I am a biased source having already cast the 16 gauge to the depths, but I hope less biased than those I know who are members of the 16 gauge shotgun cult.
The peak of 16 gauges in American culture were the 1940s and 1950s when almost a quarter of the shotguns sold were 16 gauge. The 12 gauge accounted for just over 50 percent of shotguns sold at that time according to author Layne Simpson of Shotguns & Shotgunning.
We even went so far as to crowd source the idea of 16 gauges on the Project Upland Community Facebook Group page. The biggest point taken was the design of the 16 gauge; those built on true 16 gauge frames were lighter than their 12 gauge cousins. In the case of many old American gunmakers, 16 gauges were even built on 20 gauge frames. However, gunmakers more recently in large production have been known to shortcut this process and build it on 12 gauge frames. Some argue why shoot a gun that weighs the same as 12 gauge with no added benefits and questionable loss in velocity and pellet count.
For those of you in the non-toxic world, things look both good and bad. Bismuth No. 5 is about $4 per box cheaper than 12 gauge with a 1 ounce load packing 1300fps. Steel on the other hand has very limited options. Where one can buy steel for as little as $10 box in popular gauges, the 16 gauge is more in the $20 plus category as popular cheaper loads like Federal Top Gun and Steel Game and Target are not available.
The A5 Sweet Sixteen by Browning is the first that comes to mind and weighs in at 5 pounds 13 ounces At an MSRP of $1739.99 these guns have certainly jumped in price over the years. Franchi makes a 16 gauge Instinct SL Over and Under Shotgun that weighs in at 5.8 pounds with an MSRP of $1729. Our friends over at CZ USA have the CZ Sharp-tail side by side that weighs 7.3 pounds with an MSRP of $1072. Last but not least is the Stevens 555E over-and-under which ate my shoulder for breakfast on the skeet range. Starting at an MSRP of $705 and weighing in at 6.2 pounds it is the cheapest option available. We probably missed a couple in the mix and encourage people to comment below with other new models being produced as we will update this over time.
A.J. DeRosa founded Project Upland in 2014 as an excuse to go hunting more often (and it worked). A New England native, he grew up hunting and has spent over 30 years in pursuit of big and small game species across three continents. He started collecting guns on his 18th birthday and eventually found his passion for side-by-side shotguns, inspiring him to travel the world to meet the people and places from which they come. Looking to turn his passion into inspiration for others, AJ was first published in 2004 and went on to write his first book The Urban Deer Complex in 2014. He soon discovered a love for filmmaking, particularly the challenge of capturing ruffed grouse with a camera, which led to the award-winning Project Upland film series. AJ's love for all things wild has caused him to advocate on the federal and state levels to promote and expand conservation policy, habitat funding, and upland game bird awareness. He currently serves as the Strafford County New Hampshire Fish & Game Commissioner in order to give back to his community and to further the mission of the agency. When those hunting excuses are in play, you can find him wandering behind his Wirehaired Pointing Griffon in the mountains of New England and anywhere else the birds take them. 041b061a72