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Question by huntingmom. Uploaded on November 22, 2010
The smallest shotgun I know of is a bore 1/4 inch in diameter.
All about the weight of the gun, and also how it fits you besides the load..shoot snake, or rat bird shot loads in a 22, and there isn't much kick. Kick should be no problem with many calibers if you choose the right load, and have a good butt pad. A lot of kick can be perceived. I shoot a heavy, 20 ga. load in a very light 20 ga., and the kick is probably quite severe, and I don't like kick compared to some others as seeing it as kick being no problem. I even have a thin, rifle pad on a 20 ga. O/U that must have a punishing kick when I shoot heavy loads through it, but it is my bird gun, and when birds get up, I can go bang, bang, and not even feel the kick. It is because of the focus on the bird.
Sayfu poseted a great answer. You can also try a 28 ga. shotgun.
28 ga. and 410. Also you could use 2 1/2inch or lighter load shells
On 24 and 32 Gauge Shotguns
by ALOOF INC* on Wednesday, November 17, 2010 at 6:15pm
Friend Sherry in Scarborough, Maine asked whether I had any thoughts on the 24 gauge shotgun. I did and here they are"
Generally, the 24 gauge is paired with another odd size, the 32 gauge. In the US literature, the 24 and 32 gauges are obscure in the extreme. There is almost nothing on them. They are rare, especially in America. The last and possibly only 24s and 32s made in the US probably were several models of H&R single shots made up until about the beginning of WWII.
They are listed in my reprint efition of the 1940 Shooter's Bible. Oddly, several models have the bore denominated not only by their English gauge, but by their metric designations, 14 mm and 18 mm. As the metric system was almost unused outside of scientific circles in 1940 America, that tells me that they were intended for export, possibly to South America, although that is a guess. As noted below, they are not quite so rare in Europe, but Europe was not the usual market for cheap American single shots before WWII.
I am not aware of any of the better American double gun makers ever offering a 24 or 32 gauge. Of course, what I am not aware of would fill libraries, but I doubt Parker, L. C. Smith, Ithaca, Fox, Baker, or LeFever made a double in either gauge.
Oddly, the 1940 Shooter's Bible lists no American made shells for either gauge, but a little corner note offers shotgun shells in 14 (!), 24, and 32 gauge guns, but it does not mention the maker and the only shot size was #7. Prices were approximately three times as much as 12 gauge shell prices.
Briefly in about 1995, a company named American Arms had a flirtation with the two gauges. The company imported an Italian over and under which had interchangeable barrels in any gauges including 24 and 32 gauges. Kevin Steele wrote a "test fire" article on them for Shooting Times. Sales did not take off. As I recall, the 24 and 32 gauge guns were sold as a two barrel set and the deal included a case of Fiocchis in each gauge.
Fiocchi is the only current source of 24 gauge and 32 gauge ammo in the US, and they are only just barely available. You probably would have to contact Fiocchi directly. The Fiocchi shells are perfectly modern plastic shells with plastic wads, but, curiously, both have roll crimps. I believe the standard shell length is just 2 1/2 inches for the 32 gauge, not 2 3/4 inches. I have a couple of specimens of each just for reference. The last ones I saw had 1/2 ounce of shot in the 32 and 11/16 ounce in the 24. Ancient lore says both could be loaded with 3/4 ounces.
As rare as the 24 and 32 are in the US, in parts of Europe they are about as popular as any other small bores like the .410 and 28 gauge. In much of southern Europe small bores like the 24, 32, and .410, and even smaller, 9mm rimfire being another, are used for a particular kind of shooting. Apparently it is common for people to sit on the back stoop and shoot large numbers of migrating black birds off of wire roosting frames set up in back yards of farm houses. This is not wing shooting and may not be sport, but you shoot them when they roost on the wires and then make them into pies.
I have seen photos of a few rather nice guns in 24 bore. I once had a book with a very nice Italian 24 gauge double owned by Bugatti of car fame. The French Darne, a unique double with a sliding breech mechanism, was available in 24 gauge. Occasionally 24 gauge guns turn up, but as shells are so hard to find, they don't get much attention.
Ballistics Products Inc. and Precision Reloading both stock and offer shells and wads for both gauges and MEC makes a conversion for the 24.
Among shotgun bores smaller than the 20 gauge, only the .410 was what one could call popular. For many years the .410 was a popular boys gun and accounted for as much as 5% of the American shotgun market. The only other gauge smaller than the 20 gauge which ever got much attention was the 28 gauge. The 24 and 32 gauges bracket the 28 gauge nicely, and would be equally as useful, but only the 28 gauge was chosen as one of the gauges for Skeet competition. My guess is Skeet shooting is the main reason that the 28 survived
ALOOF INC* L-R: 10 ga, 12 gam 16 ga, 20 ga, 24 ga, 28 ga, 32 ga, .410 bore, and 9mm Rim Fire
November 16 at 5:46pm ·
The 12 ga. has the weight to reduced perceived kick, and a wide range of loads. You can shoot lt. wt., 1 oz loads for small birds and targets, and a much heavier load for game birds..kick should not be a problem. And the cost?...shells are a fraction of the cost of the lesser ga. shotguns sold, like the 28 ga. and 410's..even the 16 ga. shells are much more expensive. The only shells that are similar in price to the 12 ga. is the 20 ga. because of the number of 20 ga.'s that are sold.
410 smallest I know
A gas-operated autoloader in 20 or 28 gauge would be a good choice. The gas guns reduce recoil compared to pumps or O/U's, and with light loads it gets even better. Gun weight is also a factor, as mentioned in other answers. I shoot a Browning Citori 12ga, with 28ga subgauge tubes in it I can hardly feel the recoil.
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