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If Pheasant Hunting Was My Job

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December 09, 2011

If Pheasant Hunting Was My Job

By Phil Bourjaily

Fortunately, I hunt pheasants for fun and can shoot them with whatever gun I please. And, just as fortunately, market hunting for pheasants is illegal. However, if hunting pheasants was my job and I was paid by the head of roosters I killed:

a.) I would be going broke this year in Iowa.

b.) I would put aside my double guns and shoot my Benelli Montefeltro.

The Benelli is such a perfect ringneck gun. Sometimes I wish I didn't own it because there is no good reason to take any of my other guns pheasant hunting as long as I have it.*

Consider:

It is a 12 gauge.
16s are nearly the equal of 12s and 20s are surprisingly effective, but the 12 gauge outperforms the 16 and 20 with lead, and beats them by a wide margin with steel. 12 gauge ammo costs less and is available everywhere.

It is a semiautomatic. While it is true I can only remember killing one bird with a third shot in 30 years of pheasant hunting, it’s also true that when I hunt with a semiauto, the gun is never empty and broken open for reloading at exactly the time another bird flushes as it is with O/Us and my double.

It is light. Although my Benelli is a 12 with a 28-inch barrel it weighs only 6 pounds, 13 ounces – less than many 20 gauges on the market. It’s light enough to be easy to carry all day, but it has enough weight forward that it moves smoothly to the target. The light weight combined with 12 gauge semiauto firepower is what makes it perfect for pheasant hunting.

It is an inertia gun. Not only are inertia guns reliable, they have no bulky rings or pistons or any other gas system parts up front, just the magazine tube. As a result they have very slender forearms, making them sit low in your front hand and point naturally.

It reduces recoil somewhat.
I definitely notice the Benelli kicks less than a double gun on those rare occasions I shoot heavy, high velocity (1500 fps) pheasant loads.

As a side benefit, it’s a handsome gun, too, and mine came with very nice wood. That matters, because even if I hunted pheasants for a living, I would still want to look good on the job.

*Second choice might be a worn-slick 870 Wingmaster from the late 70s or early 80s when they really knew how to make them. I’d want one with a fixed choke barrel, as those tend to have thinner barrel walls and be lighter and livelier guns than the new 870s.

Comments (72)

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from JB101 wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Phil,
I have not yet had the pleasure of hunting with a Montefeltro, but I can attest to the feeling of carrying an old Wingmaster. My dad bought his 870 Wingmaster in 1979 with beautiful dark wood, rich blued metal and a 30" full-choked barrel. After 30 Years in the duck blind, it practically operates itself. While I can't hit a bird with the damned thing, my dad sure can! I'll stick with my Rem-Choked 11-87 meat gun, but I'm looking forward to the day when that old girl gets passed down. They really don't make 'em like they used to. He works his 760 just as quick. Deer, duck, grouse, moose... they don't stand a chance!

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from badsmerf wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Hopefully this winter will continue it's current state and the birds will all survive. NO SNOW! NO SNOW! Please, chant with me... NO SNOW!

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from DSMbirddog wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

I agree, we need a couple easy winters and dry springs to get a few birds back. More CRP acreage would help immensely.

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from JB101 wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Sounds good to me! Truck all the snow to my back yard.. I'll take it off your hands!

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from cliff68 wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Although I typically use an O/U my 20 gauge Montefeltro might well be the perfect pheasant gun. Especially for early season. When the birds get wild I switch to the 12 gauge. Don't think I've ever had a gun I can hit so consistently with and you don't even know you're carrying it.

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from Sayfu wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

That's my pheasant gun...one of them anyway, in a 20 ga. 5.4 lbs. of thin profile, easy carry, and I can shoot an 1 1/4 Oz lead load at 1,300 fps. Incredibly fine shotgun.

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from Brian Jackson wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

A little less weight would be nice, but I wouldn't trade my Beretta 391 for anything (except for maybe a Silver Pigeon or DT10). One of my friends who joined me in a trip to South Dakota for opening weekend this year had one of the new Benelli's, beautiful gun and was wonderful to shoot, though it did kick more than the Beretta.

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from ishawooa wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Fortunately I am able to hunt pheasants with a wide variety of shotguns. Some guns belong to me and some to a close friend who can afford pretty much any gun or anything including his own bird farm. My preference always ran toward my SBE until I decided the weight was slowing me down so I bought two Montefeltros in 20 gauge. Both guns and shells are lighter obviously. This pair seem to be my picks when I expect the shooting to be frequent and fast. I do prefer SxS or O/U but know in my heart I can kill more birds with my Benellis. Have you ever seen those guys in South Dakota with SBEs and extended magazines? That modified gun is superior to the 7 shot Model 12s of olden days. One funny story. Several years ago a gentleman from Spain flew in to hunt with us complete with his own custom built SxS valued at 25K. He looked at one of my Montefeltros and remarked "Nice utilitarian gun, very suitable for keeping in the trunk of your automobile to be handy at the time of need". I smiled as I realized that he was serious and not being condescending in his appraisal of my choice. A bit later a rooster flushed and he raised his exquisite double only to hear...nothing. Mysteriously the right barrel appeared to have a short or broken firing pin. I retrieved my other Montefeltro from my truck and loaned it to him until he could get back to his gunmaker on the coast of Spain.

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from wgp wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

wow, my feelings exactly except for me it's a Benelli M-1.

Love my O/Us but if I had to limit myself to one gun, the inertia-operated lightweight 12 semi-auto would be it. An old Browning A-5 would do it too, it just wouldn't be light.

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from Nic Meador wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Sorry Phil, but a Benelli M2 is the way to go, yes 20 ga. steel is less abundant but it's definitely a bit cheaper. Kent fast-steel is a very good pheasant load in #2 and #3. Also if you get into that occasional covey of quail like I do in Kansas, you can change out to #7 steel and not blow your birds up.

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from Harold wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

I shoot pheasants, geese and ducks with my father's old 870. He bought it new in the early 1950s. For some reason it fits me like a glove and I can hit better with it than with any other shotgun. My second choice is a Model 50 Winchester with a vent-rib barrel. If I'm not using those, I'll probably pack either my Browning Sweet 16 or Winchester model 12, both in 16 ga. The last two are upland game only since I only shoot lead in them. One of these days I really should get myself a modern shotgun!

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from buriti wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

If I had more brains than love for good guns, a Remington 870, in any grade, would be the logical choice.

As that is not my case, I only hunt upland birds, pheasants included, with proper side-by-side shotguns. If I am in North Dakota I will use a 12 gauge with 1 1/4 ounces of No. 4's, in Uruguay for perdiz I use a 16 or 20 shooting 7/8 ounces of No. 7's and on a preserves I use my dad's Beretta 28 gauge.

Please, read my blog at http://awildbeastatheart.blogspot.com

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from Michigan Gunner wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

It's been a good year. Even with the birds reported down in South Dakota, we would have made a lot of money with the birds we shot if we were paid, just a couple birds short of our five day limit. These were all wild birds on a working farm. I was using a pair of 16 ga. Winchester Model 12's. One with a 28 inch Mod choke and the other with a 26 inch Imp. Cyl. barrel. These old guns are just great. That said, your Benelli would be great too.

MG

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from dickgun wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Phil,
If you ever want to, or need to, shoot birds for a market you can move to Iceland where you can shoot geese, ptarmigan and seaducks without limit and sell the product. Amazingly enough, they have no shortage of the above as a result of hunting. There is no restriction on lead shot.
The country has tremendous physical beauty.

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from wingshooter54 wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

I'll take my old rebuilt Winchester model 12 16 gauge with 26" improved cylinder barrel...or maybe the Hinton sxs 16 that weighs 5 3/4lbs....perhaps the old Fox A grade 12 and let 'em get out a ways.....or the rebuilt Parker D grade 12....What the hell; it wouldn't be any fun if ya had to stick with one gun. I'll bet you'd never get Petzal to stick to one rifle.

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from z41 wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Browning Gold please, I bought mine on Friday afternoon $480. The next day I shot my first Ring, 1 shot, left to right crossing at 40+ yards, number 4's, dead. The gun has been a killer ever since. Some guns just feel right and shoot good, they're keepers. :)

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from BarkeyVA wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

I have hunted pheasants with my 12 ga. Benelli M1 Super 90 semi-auto but I much prefer my 16 ga. Marlin Model 90 O/U. At abot 6.5 lb it is a joy to carry and shoot. My most memorable experience occurred this year hunting pheasants at Outdoor Obsessions near Downs, KS. I killed the first two pheasants I shot at with my dad's old Springfield-Stevens No. 215 sxs hammer gun he bought new for $15 in the 1930's. They were the first pheasants taken with it in over 60 years. Dad said it was the only gun he ever got his limit of quail and a pheasant in the same day.

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from Jere Smith wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

I used my "New" gun this year A Remington 32 that I also shootg skeet with and got the limit with 3 Shells.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

I spend at least a month hunting pheasants in Montana every year. I have three guns available: 16 gauge Model 12 (my first gun which has been pretty much retired for obvious reasons), 870 3" magnum (purchased used in 1968), and Browning Light 12 (bought new in the Army circa 1972). Around 1975 I gave the Light 12 to my dad because it was TOO light. Being used to the big 870, I couldn't hit beans with the Browning. When he died in 1999 it came back to me. This year I left the 870 in the rack and hunted almost exclusively with the Light 12. I DO NOT like light shotguns and I'm telling you no one puts in longer days than I do hunting pheasants. My labs' feet were worn to bleeding after the first four days this fall and I was hobbling with a pulled calf muscle in my left leg and a pulled groin on the right. Funny thing though, I never noticed the gun wearing me out. And I always keep it loaded up with five lead shells too. That gun is 7 lbs 10 oz empty and even when it is fully loaded I find it too light to swing smoothly. Frankly, I cannot see what's all the fuss and bother with needing a super-light gun to hunt pheasants. Look at my profile photos. I'm no body-builder and I don't have any trouble carrying that "lightweight" Browning for six or seven hours at a stretch. And it doesn't have a sling either (the 870 does though). However I plan to remedy that this winter. There's no reason to not have that gun on my shoulder if the dogs aren't birdy. For those who hunt pheasants without a dog you'll just have to carry your gun at ready all the time ... and you can carry my deepest sympathy too. Plastic is going on that gun this winter too. I hunt too damned hard for that pretty wood.

Bottom line: If I put the 870 to work (only 2 3/4 loads), in spite of its burdensome weight (or rather because of it) I'm such a dead shot it's hardly fun. However, unlike most guys, I'm never in a big hurry to fill up the bag and leave the field. I shoot the Browning not because I do better with it but rather because I don't. I like a challenge and I like the time it takes to be challenged. For those who are worried about shotgun weight, get in shape, get a dog, and get a sling. For those who are worried about cycling shots quickly, don't be. I finally set my Browning to single shot this fall just to force myself to concentrate more on that first round. And it helped a lot! Pheasants are big birds that fly pretty much straight and not very fast (well, on a windless day anyway). I don't care how fast your gun can cycle rounds, that first shot is always going to be the best opportunity especially if you take your time. So take your time and just take one shot.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Oh my, looks like I offended someone? Pffft. Yeah, right...

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from Mark-1 wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Best pheasant and all around Upland gun I've owned: Mid-80's Browning 20-ga o/u english light with 26" barrels, fixed ic/m chokes. Nothing I've used/owned before or since has come close.

I *may* have been able to support me and family as a market hunter with that shotgun.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Sayfu, this fall I was having a lot of trouble with 1300 fps in my 12 ga and decided to splurge and give Prairie Storm shells a try. What a difference! They are motoring at over 1500 fps and I believe that was part of (or all of?) the key to my success with them. Federal's website indicates only 20 ga steel PS shells have 1500 fps. Hmmm. What are you using?

Of course the type of hunting makes a difference in the choice of gun and ammo. I hunt mostly over my flushing labs and usually in heavy cover so as often as not I'm shooting birds at 20+ yards with not much of an open window. I need the pattern and power of a hot load 12 ga in those conditions. If I was hunting in the open for birds that held well for my Brittany pointer (not much chance of that this year), a 20 ga or even 28 ga would probably work excellent. Light loads in the 12 ga would be find too. By the way, unless the gun is squeaky clean I can't get 1300 fps to cycle in my A-5 without changing the ring to light loads.

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from GuyGene wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

When I'm in the west hunting chukar, I like my Parker 16 gauge double. In Africa hunting various game birds there beside my African guide, I like my Winchester model 21 in 12 gauge. However, for our old South Dakota/Iowa, etc. ringnecks, the Brownings, Benellis, etc. work good.

Ahem..., sorry, all the above was just in my dreams!! In reality, I hunt with my Fox 16 gauge side by side.

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from white bison wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Yeah...and the vintage Winchester M50 has the same attributes, also is an inertia the Model 50's floating chamber (fixed barrel) transmits recoil energy to an inertia rod. In doing so, it is more efficient than a recoiling barrel. You can often find one for less than
$300...and a top one for less than $500. Yet it will do everything the Benelli would...at a fraction of the cost.
The way you guys like to promote the latest & most expensive guns...makes the suspicion that you gun writers are somehow "on the take"...?
Best Regards,
Tom from Cody

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from Bernie wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Interesting to read the enthusiasts of the Model 12 in 16 gauge! I have two of them, and they are some of my favorite pheasant guns. My absolute favorite is my Browning "Sweet Sixteen" that is 40 years old. Also love a Model 12 in 12 gauge, 30" barrel and bored out to Modified choke. Wish my legs and joints were as dependable as these guns!

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

I'd love to use my Model 12 16 ga but the stock is quite short. I want to preserve that gun anyway since it was my first and given to me by my dad and grandpa. Took it out for grouse this year but those were just afternoon road hunting trips. It is a fine shotgun. An 870 is a club by comparison. My brother hunts with a Model 31 Remington 16 gauge with a fixed modified choke. Now THAT old timer is a sweet pheasant gun!

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from Sayfu wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Ontario..Short stocks shoot better than long stocks IMO. The long stock thing is an old English notion. The English shot at driven birds and had time to get the gun up, wiggle the shoulders around, and get the stock snuggled up to where it felt right. The idea was a longer sight plane the farther back the eye was, and usually on a straight stock. Gun comes up much better same way every time on a shorter stock. You guys need to hang those old shotguns up on the wall, and get a new, much improved, shotgun to use. Benelli started it. They advertised that shotguns haven't changed for many a year, and we've created the new, modern, advancements. Now many manufacturers have advanced passed Benelli, with great features in the gas operated guns. And I still like my "intertia action" Benelli.

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from Sayfu wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

And Ontario..Do you hunt pheasants from atop an elephant with "Beaters" out whackin the corn flushing birds for you? Carrying a heavy, bulky gun after switching to a thin profile, light wt. gun is no fun. The swing factor, and staying on target can have to do with a gun's balance as well as weight. That is why I always want a gun with a barrel length of at least 28"...not for the sight plane, but for the swing factor.

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from Sayfu wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Ontario...I shoot Prairie Storm...in a 20 the FPS is 1,300. But I make up for that compared to you, by having a shorter stock, and lighter gun...going "bang" while your still trying to mount your gun. You need the extra 200 fps.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Well, Sayfu, with my struggling eyesight (I mean REALLY struggling) it takes much more than a split second for me to ascertain if the bird is a hen or rooster (unless it squawks, but once they've been hunted for a few weeks the roosters tend to keep their beaks shut when flushed). And as I said, unlike pointers my flushers usually aren't putting the birds up at arms length to start with. So, with all those factors, I'm seldom getting any 20 ga range shots. I still recommend you try the faster Prairie Storm steel loads and open your barrel up to IC. I'm betting you'll see quite a difference.

The stock on my Model 12 was cut way down for the tiny little old lady who sold it to my dad. My thumb and my nose regularly beat the hell out of each other when I was using it as a kid and I think I'm quite a bit taller now (6'1"). I put a slip-on on it but it's still way too short. Also, it has a fixed full choke and I regularly hunt federal refuges which require steel shot. I'm sure that barrel would handle #5 steel okay but why push it? If something happend, finding another barrel would be very difficult. And with steel the pattern through the full choke would be way too tight for the kind of closer range shots that gun would be good for. Perhaps I could have it bored out to modified but ... doing that to a vintage gun would be a hard thing to digest.

No elephants needed to carry me or my gun ... just my 59 year-old legs. But they are still great legs thanks in large part to the fact that I use them all the time instead of elephants ... or ATVs. I was running up and down the coulees this fall with about the same agility I did thirty years ago. And I do mean I use my legs ALL the time, not just during hunting season. I never take the elevator and try to take two steps at a time. I park as far away from Walmart as I can and I just walked to church and back. When I want a beer, I walk to the bar (nearly 2 miles one way) instead of the fridge. Walking everywhere takes time but it keeps me running up and down the coulees ... and away from the gym as much as possible (talk about a phony technocrap environment!).

The Brittany pup is showing a lot of promise as a pointer which has me thinking that I should pick up another buttstock on e-bay and put the Model 12 back to work. I figure the pattern density on that gun should be about the same as the Browning Light 12 modified at 20 yards. Would just be a smaller diameter pattern which is okay. If I miss more of them with the 16 gauge, that's fine. I just want the same probability of solidly knocking them down when I do connect (i.e. same pattern density and velocity as the Light 12). Any other thoughts on this?

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from Sayfu wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

I'm using Prairee Storm LEAD...that's why the fps difference. Sure glad Idaho hasn't changed that reg. I worry ever year that they are going to give in to the liberals that want to end hunting.

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from white bison wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

I've shot all kinds...some unusual& rare,...like the George Fox "Side-Swing" double where the barrels open to the side..Hollenbeck Drilling, and about all the old American Doubles...Lefever, Remington, LC Smith, AH Fox
Ithaca NID. As well as the semi autos. I tend to favor the vintage American Doubles, and the Winchester Model 50 is still a flawless cycling auto. If you get a "Featherweight", it weighs 7#, the standard 8#, and the Model 59 a little over 6#. I'll put the model 50 up against any fancy priced auto. (& likely beat it!)
Best Regards,
Tom from Cody

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from Sayfu wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

"fancy priced" is no more, given inflation, as what your older guns cost. Many folks just couldn't keep up with inflation as indicated by the posts on these threads. No, guns have improved as has everything else.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Try the faster steel loads. I had no problem at all shooting pheasants with 1500 fps steel on the federal refuges. See what you think of the extra speed. The pattern may be a bit smaller but the density should be about the same. For a real difference jump up to a 12 gauge and pick up the 1500 fps lead loads. Last year I used Federal Premium copper-coated lead with equally fine results. This fall I chose to buy a box of Prairie Storm simply because they were for some reason a buck cheaper. Seventeen dollars a box for the Premiums seemed a bit ridiculous. Frankly, I doubt the Prairie Storm shells were any more effective than Premium. Both were outstanding.

I think for me its been about the difference in the lead (as in "leed") rather than lead (as in "led") factor. The conditions were difficult this year and not many step-on-em-and-shoot situations. If my dogs flush up a bird at twenty to twenty-five yards it's liable to be thirty yards or more before I can tell if it's a rooster. Then I have to get the gun on target and fired. With my old man reaction time that means a few more yards. Consequently, much of the time that bird is going to be out there to the limit of my range before I get the first shot off. With the slower loads I was having an awful time getting the lead adjusted for these shots. Some of the birds were really clobbered way out there so I knew I was capable of getting a good pattern with the 1300 fps loads, but there were too many getting dinked or missed altogether. With the faster loads there's much less guesswork involved. Put the bead right on their nose at forty yards and they're smacked. By the way, the only downside I have found to using fast steel for pheasants (or geese for that matter) is that it seems to perform much more poorly than lead in real windy situations (which seemed to be about every day this year!). And, of course, they kick a lot harder.

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from Sayfu wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Ontario..I'm pullin your leg for the most part. Everyone shoots what they like, and can shoot well. If you have a gun you like, and appreciate, then why spend the money? I bought 3 new shotguns in my later years. Why? Not very smart purchases. I just did it because I like shotguns, but using one means I can't use on of the others. I hope steel improves, but more FPS does mean added kick. It is good that the shell mfgers are getting better performance from steel. I would think that steel would penetrate more than lead, and ruin meat. Even at close in ranges, and square hits with lead, I am amazed at the fact when you clean a bird there is little evidence that the lead did any damage...it is primarily the shocking effect that results in the kill. Most of the lead stays in the feathers.

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from clmadson wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Well, I'd argue that, for sheer efficiency in the execution of pheasants, my old Model 12 Featherweight, improved cylinder, is hard to beat, especially when combined with an experienced pointing dog. Relatively light and just about as quick with multiple shots (in experienced hands), the 12 Featherweight is immune to dirt, snow, sub-zero temperatures, and doesn't clack and clatter like an automatic.

But, gentlemen, surely there are other considerations here besides efficiency. I get a huge charge out of my Winchester 101 20 gauge in situations where pheasants mix with quail, and I have a special soft spot for my Model 12 sixteen-gauge super grade.

Defining the firearms esthetic for pheasants is a real challenge— an immensely tough bird, often pursued in rough cover and rougher weather. Not exactly a gentleman's bird, especially this time of year. So what gun rally matches the pheasant-hunting experience? I'd say a Model 12 or 870 with the blue gone off the receiver and trigger guard, some scratches in the walnut. I'd guess guns like those have killed more pheasants than all the Benellis ever built.

Deft choice of topic, Phil! Like hazarding an opinion on which breed of field dog is the best, the choice of a pheasant gun will be the subject of debate as long as there are ringnecks and people chasing them.

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from Owl W wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

All this talk of pheasant hunting has me itchin' to go myself... with any gun.

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from Sayfu wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

clmadson...How could you argue? You're going to pump a Model 12, and a gun that kicks less, weighs less, with less muzzle jump that you can just pull the trigger, and go bang,bang,bang not having to pump is more efficient? Please. And that model 50 Winchester the guy was hyping? I looked one up, and played the u-tube. Said the gun functioned fine, but weighed 12 lbs!!!!!!!! 12 lbs? I never would have guessed they ever made a gun that heavy. Some of you guys need to join us in the 21st century.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

I think I know what the fella was talking about when he said that he could fire a Model 12 almost as fast as an automatic. Just hang onto the trigger and a Model 12 will fire as fast as you can pump it. Model 97 does the same thing. Not exactly a safe feature! When we went out on the range at Ft Lewis to qualify for riot shotgun I noticed three Model 97s laying on the armorer's table. I picked one and told him to make sure everyone was watching when I got to the firing line. They gave the all clear and I had five rounds through that gun before anyone else could finish two. Took it back to the armorer and told him to lose some parts on all three of those when he cleaned them that night. He said roger that.

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from dale freeman wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

I think it's pretty clear.
We use the gun of choice.
If you'll remember he said "his gun of choice".
For years I used a Marlin .20 gauge S/S and loved it.
I now shoot a beautiful .20 gauge S/S Browning.
Needless to say, "I love it".

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from Sayfu wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Ontario. Was that you shootin on the Fort back in the woods when I often floated the Nisqually River? What stories I have about that place. I would put in way up above the old metal bridge, and on the edge of the Fort, and float down through some of that big timber (old growth fur I believe) and machine guns would be going off in the woods....squads of helicopters flying the river channel close over head at times. I'd come around a corner, and an Indian would be tending his set net along the bank. Like turning the clock back in time...Chuck Norris stuff going on there when I would go steelheading, or salmon fishing on the Nisqually. I had to get a permit from the Fort to fish the river.

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from sdditchpig wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

I made a rule, around this house, that being, no pheasant meat, will be put in the freezer, it all must be eaten, fresh. I am now sick, of eating pheasant. I am coyote hunting, the rest of the season. The finest pheasant gun, ever made, is , or should I say are. The beretta gas guns, before the 390 era. AL-1 through A303, fixed, or tubed, it dosen't matter.

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from sdditchpig wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Years ago, beretta also made a pump gun. It , never made it to the U.S. market however, because, beretta new, it wouldn't compete, with 870, model 12, ithaca 37, and even to some extent, browning bps. It is the beretta RS-200. It was built using, many AL parts. I think most of the RS's , went to Austrailia. I have one, and I'm sorry to tell you pump shooters out there. But you are all shooting second best.

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from RES1956 wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

The sad part about the wonderful dream of hunting pheasants for a living is that one would be unemployed for 9 or 10 months a year.
However, I would have a few essential items, Irish Setter boots, Filson chaps, cases of Kent Fastlead #5's, and my shotgun of choice, which would be a Maxus Sporting, 12 ga. While it is true that few single birds are killed on the third shot, the third shot has enabled me on many occasions to clean up a double and would be available for a triple, should the opportunity present itself.
Remember too that once you start doing something for a living that once was a hobby, the fun part goes away, at least that's what my wife says anyway,,,,

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from Bernie wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Sayfu--I don't know who told you that a Model50 Winchester weighs 12 pounds, but they are dead wrong. My late father bought one new in 1961, I loaned it out yesterday to a friend who killed his first goose with it. I don't know the exact weight but it certainly is less than eight pounds. I have a Winchester Super-X-1 that feels slightly heavier. I never have cared for the alloy receiver on the Model 50.

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from Brian W. Thair wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

The most important aspect to all of this is to get away from the office, get away from the house, and go for a walk in the fields on a crisp autumn day. You've done it so often that your clothes fit you as well as the shotgun does. Hurry less, enjoy more.
I was told many years ago that the birds were my excuse to go for a walk. Yeah? So?

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

No Ithaca fans on here? Surprises me. You fellas seem to think that light guns are prerequisite for shooting pheasants but no one owns a Featherweight? I always heard they were a fine gun.

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from Sayfu wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Bernie...Google it up. said when loaded it weighs 12 lbs. They show you the gun up close, the entire nine yards by a collector/shooter I believe. The video, U-tube doesn't lie. I typed in Winchester Model 50 I do believe, and the 2nd from the top was the u-tube describing the Model 50...no thanks, I'll take my Montefeltro with little felt recoil, thin profile, and weighing in at 5.4 lbs.

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from Sayfu wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Yep, did own one, and bought it for my wife to hunt pheasants. The Ithaca lt. wt. pump. Had the stock cut down for her to fit. Bottom eject, and worked flawless. It did not have a ventilated rib which I would have liked, but put my best hunting partner in the fields with me, and she walked many miles through grain fields and sugar beat fields around Moses Lake, WA with that gun, me, and our bird dogs.

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from ishawooa wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

White Bison: The first time I shot a Benelli Ultra-lite I mentally compared it to the Model 59. The latter was a favorite of an old, now deceased, friend who owned a pair and was probably the best bobwhite shot I ever knew.
I think his daughter took both of his Winchesters and probably pawned them in Memphis after he passed away. Oh well.

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from BigJim wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

I've been looking for a lightweight semi-auto to replace my old Mossberg.
What's the difference between the Ultra-lite and the Montefeltro?

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from Sayfu wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

BigJim...The ultra light comes with a 24", and 26" barrel in 12 ga. and is but 6 lbs. The Montefeltro offers a 28" barrel, and is 7.1 lbs. My choice would be the 28" barrel. The magazine tube has been shortened up some on both guns. Otherwise, the same gun it appears to me.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Ishawooa, I'm the end of the line too. Saddens me to think of my guns and my dad's guns eventually going to the Mounties' furnace. It's too hard to pawn guns up here or even sell them. Guess I could give them away before I kick off but that would just kill me sooner. Whoa! Talk about off topic. Sorry.

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from Sayfu wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Ontario...A thought about those Prairie Storm shells. When you use them, you are back to shooting full choke regardless of the choke in your shotgun. The flitestopper wad cup exits the barrel with the shot enclosed, and the choke has little to do with the pattern...tight! Don't think I want a tight choke except maybe the latter part of the season where shots are generally long.

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from ishawooa wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Honker: You have too many great stories to share and valued opinions to offer, therefore we can't have disposal of your guns being a problem anytime soon.

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from Sayfu wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

And I think I have Federal's flitestopper wad cup wrong. IT STOPS and pauses before exiting the barrel, and does NOT exit, and open up with the shot inside. The shot exits the barrel separated from the wad cup, and tight, with little influence from a choke.

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from RES1956 wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Bernie and Sayfu:
If your m50 has an alloy receiver, it's a m59 winlite, complete with a fiberglass barrel and brass trigger guard. M50's have a steel receiver and are great old guns.
I don't know if they weigh 12 pounds, but they ain't no lightweights.

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from Sayfu wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

RES1056..and the fiberglass barrel guns didn't last very long at all. The U-tube said the standard, loaded, weighed 12 lbs!! Yikes! It should come with wheels!

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from sdditchpig wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

I'll tell you my experiance with benelli guns. I have owned two. I had a 12 ga. sport once. When I would step in a low spot, or jump a ditch, the shock, would cause the bolt, to rotate, and back out, ever so slightly. If I didn't notise this, and close the bolt, the gun, of course, would not fire. Now, I was trying to train a big running setter once, and when he nailed, his first big wild ruddy, to the ground, I wanted that bird dead. Walked in, bird flushed, gun would not fire. Mr. benelli, went down the road.

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from Sayfu wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

sdditchpig...I brought this up before. All you need to do is look at the BLACK LUG on the bolt end to see if your gun would fire or not. If it is above center, it will fire, if below the gun was bumped hard enough, and won't fire. Solved my problem completely...all it takes is a look.

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from ishawooa wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

Honker I have two M-37s,both 20s, that go on at least 1 or 2 pheasant hunts each year. I bought them both years ago and actually the higher grade one belongs to my wife.

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from sdditchpig wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

Sayfu, If I have to look at the gun, to make shure it will work, does that mean, I can rule it out, as a self defence weapon in the dark, also.

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from Sayfu wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

Sdditch. I don't give much thought to self defense weapons. But you are right, it is a downside to the inertia driven Benelli's. But also realize it can happen to a gas auto as well. They are not "LOCKED", just harder force needed to unlock them. I got pretty upset, at not being able to fire mine just like you did yours. I got up several roosters, and the gun wouldn't fire. I had to train myself on how to carry it, and not hit the bolt lever changing hands for example. You can hear it happen as well as look at it. I've now come to grips with mine. Whenever I jump like you did, or do something that might cause the bolt to unlock, I look at it. And, you need to see there isn't a bunch of black residue where the barrel meets the bolt lugs. That can prevent the lugs from seating into place.

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from RandyMI wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

Just wondering how PB would compare this Benelli to the Franchi 620 VS in 20 ga.?

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from Sayfu wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

Bet he would say the Benelli is a better made gun...Benelli owns Franchi, and Franchi's are regarded as cheap Benellis.

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from 03sprg wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

Looks like I'll just have to soldier on with my ancient and technologically inferior, 1937 Model 21 WINCHESTER SKEET MODEL.I would retire it but save for a little wear it looks and shoots pretty much like it did when it left New Haven during the NEW DEAL. Man...I just got to get me one of those NEW FANGLED AU..TO LOADERS! Yea right! The better question would be "What would you do for a living if you didn't try to convince people every new model of gun is better than the last?"

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from jwg123 wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

Beretta 391 Urika 12 ga.light wieght,handles nice,versitile,used to shoot a model 12 20 ga.but as I've gotten older,slower,and blinder,less cripples with the 12.Just wish there were more birds around (wet springs)not evan a huntable pop.here in western IL and eastern IA now.

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from philbourjaily wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

03sprg -- The Model 21 is at the top of my short list of dream guns that I will probably never own. However,this post was specifically about the most efficient pheasant gun, and that is without a doubt a modern, lightweight semiauto. Efficiency isn't everything, and I too prefer to hunt pheasants with technologically inferior O/Us and doubles.

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from GuyGene wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

After reading the posts again, hey, we just like guns!!

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from Oshaukutaoutdoors wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

I came to own an Ithaca Mag10 in the late 1980s. That gun is heavy but smooth. I have harvested many geese and a turkey with it (I don't hunt turkeys anymore). I loan it to many others to use for their turkey hunting excursions. All-in-all that gun has harvested more than 30 tom turkeys in Wisconsin over the years. The pattern is amazing and I'd not trade it for any gun if I'm after geese or turkeys.

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from millertime wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

i have a Remington 870 exp mag 12ga and yesterday i shot a 21 inch tailed pheasant, it did the job and i love this gun. Very fun day with my buddy on his farm and one pheasant made the day!

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from Sayfu wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

Ontario...Not sure that the added 200 ft. withstands the scrutiny of a hit, or miss (difference between 1,3000 fps, and 1,500.) I suspect it is just the added hitting power, AND the added kick! Given the technique of pulling the trigger with the barrel moving I don't think you can credit that as the difference between a hit, and a miss. I will take the light gun every time. Maybe if I had pointing dogs, and relied on the point, and could carry my gun resting on my shoulder...maybe. But it is totally fatiguing for me to carry an 8 lb fatter profile 12 ga. than a thin profile 20 in the 6 lb range...and my Montefeltro is much lighter than 6 lbs. The gun barrel should not move that far. The mount should be at the bird, then it is a short move to the front according to the angle, and distance. If the gun is mounted where the eyes are looking, I don't see the poor swinging quality of the light gun being much of a problem. I hunted a lot of pheasants with a Belgium Browning 12 ga. O/U and worry about the beast pulling down my gun rack! Can't believe I hunted with the darn thing. Now I know why I won so many arm wrestling matches! And it weighs in just over 8 lbs.

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from JB101 wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Phil,
I have not yet had the pleasure of hunting with a Montefeltro, but I can attest to the feeling of carrying an old Wingmaster. My dad bought his 870 Wingmaster in 1979 with beautiful dark wood, rich blued metal and a 30" full-choked barrel. After 30 Years in the duck blind, it practically operates itself. While I can't hit a bird with the damned thing, my dad sure can! I'll stick with my Rem-Choked 11-87 meat gun, but I'm looking forward to the day when that old girl gets passed down. They really don't make 'em like they used to. He works his 760 just as quick. Deer, duck, grouse, moose... they don't stand a chance!

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from white bison wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Yeah...and the vintage Winchester M50 has the same attributes, also is an inertia the Model 50's floating chamber (fixed barrel) transmits recoil energy to an inertia rod. In doing so, it is more efficient than a recoiling barrel. You can often find one for less than
$300...and a top one for less than $500. Yet it will do everything the Benelli would...at a fraction of the cost.
The way you guys like to promote the latest & most expensive guns...makes the suspicion that you gun writers are somehow "on the take"...?
Best Regards,
Tom from Cody

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from white bison wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

I've shot all kinds...some unusual& rare,...like the George Fox "Side-Swing" double where the barrels open to the side..Hollenbeck Drilling, and about all the old American Doubles...Lefever, Remington, LC Smith, AH Fox
Ithaca NID. As well as the semi autos. I tend to favor the vintage American Doubles, and the Winchester Model 50 is still a flawless cycling auto. If you get a "Featherweight", it weighs 7#, the standard 8#, and the Model 59 a little over 6#. I'll put the model 50 up against any fancy priced auto. (& likely beat it!)
Best Regards,
Tom from Cody

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from DSMbirddog wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

I agree, we need a couple easy winters and dry springs to get a few birds back. More CRP acreage would help immensely.

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from JB101 wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Sounds good to me! Truck all the snow to my back yard.. I'll take it off your hands!

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from cliff68 wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Although I typically use an O/U my 20 gauge Montefeltro might well be the perfect pheasant gun. Especially for early season. When the birds get wild I switch to the 12 gauge. Don't think I've ever had a gun I can hit so consistently with and you don't even know you're carrying it.

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from Sayfu wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

That's my pheasant gun...one of them anyway, in a 20 ga. 5.4 lbs. of thin profile, easy carry, and I can shoot an 1 1/4 Oz lead load at 1,300 fps. Incredibly fine shotgun.

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from Brian Jackson wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

A little less weight would be nice, but I wouldn't trade my Beretta 391 for anything (except for maybe a Silver Pigeon or DT10). One of my friends who joined me in a trip to South Dakota for opening weekend this year had one of the new Benelli's, beautiful gun and was wonderful to shoot, though it did kick more than the Beretta.

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from ishawooa wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Fortunately I am able to hunt pheasants with a wide variety of shotguns. Some guns belong to me and some to a close friend who can afford pretty much any gun or anything including his own bird farm. My preference always ran toward my SBE until I decided the weight was slowing me down so I bought two Montefeltros in 20 gauge. Both guns and shells are lighter obviously. This pair seem to be my picks when I expect the shooting to be frequent and fast. I do prefer SxS or O/U but know in my heart I can kill more birds with my Benellis. Have you ever seen those guys in South Dakota with SBEs and extended magazines? That modified gun is superior to the 7 shot Model 12s of olden days. One funny story. Several years ago a gentleman from Spain flew in to hunt with us complete with his own custom built SxS valued at 25K. He looked at one of my Montefeltros and remarked "Nice utilitarian gun, very suitable for keeping in the trunk of your automobile to be handy at the time of need". I smiled as I realized that he was serious and not being condescending in his appraisal of my choice. A bit later a rooster flushed and he raised his exquisite double only to hear...nothing. Mysteriously the right barrel appeared to have a short or broken firing pin. I retrieved my other Montefeltro from my truck and loaned it to him until he could get back to his gunmaker on the coast of Spain.

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from wgp wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

wow, my feelings exactly except for me it's a Benelli M-1.

Love my O/Us but if I had to limit myself to one gun, the inertia-operated lightweight 12 semi-auto would be it. An old Browning A-5 would do it too, it just wouldn't be light.

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from Nic Meador wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Sorry Phil, but a Benelli M2 is the way to go, yes 20 ga. steel is less abundant but it's definitely a bit cheaper. Kent fast-steel is a very good pheasant load in #2 and #3. Also if you get into that occasional covey of quail like I do in Kansas, you can change out to #7 steel and not blow your birds up.

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from buriti wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

If I had more brains than love for good guns, a Remington 870, in any grade, would be the logical choice.

As that is not my case, I only hunt upland birds, pheasants included, with proper side-by-side shotguns. If I am in North Dakota I will use a 12 gauge with 1 1/4 ounces of No. 4's, in Uruguay for perdiz I use a 16 or 20 shooting 7/8 ounces of No. 7's and on a preserves I use my dad's Beretta 28 gauge.

Please, read my blog at http://awildbeastatheart.blogspot.com

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from Michigan Gunner wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

It's been a good year. Even with the birds reported down in South Dakota, we would have made a lot of money with the birds we shot if we were paid, just a couple birds short of our five day limit. These were all wild birds on a working farm. I was using a pair of 16 ga. Winchester Model 12's. One with a 28 inch Mod choke and the other with a 26 inch Imp. Cyl. barrel. These old guns are just great. That said, your Benelli would be great too.

MG

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from dickgun wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Phil,
If you ever want to, or need to, shoot birds for a market you can move to Iceland where you can shoot geese, ptarmigan and seaducks without limit and sell the product. Amazingly enough, they have no shortage of the above as a result of hunting. There is no restriction on lead shot.
The country has tremendous physical beauty.

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from wingshooter54 wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

I'll take my old rebuilt Winchester model 12 16 gauge with 26" improved cylinder barrel...or maybe the Hinton sxs 16 that weighs 5 3/4lbs....perhaps the old Fox A grade 12 and let 'em get out a ways.....or the rebuilt Parker D grade 12....What the hell; it wouldn't be any fun if ya had to stick with one gun. I'll bet you'd never get Petzal to stick to one rifle.

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from z41 wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Browning Gold please, I bought mine on Friday afternoon $480. The next day I shot my first Ring, 1 shot, left to right crossing at 40+ yards, number 4's, dead. The gun has been a killer ever since. Some guns just feel right and shoot good, they're keepers. :)

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from BarkeyVA wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

I have hunted pheasants with my 12 ga. Benelli M1 Super 90 semi-auto but I much prefer my 16 ga. Marlin Model 90 O/U. At abot 6.5 lb it is a joy to carry and shoot. My most memorable experience occurred this year hunting pheasants at Outdoor Obsessions near Downs, KS. I killed the first two pheasants I shot at with my dad's old Springfield-Stevens No. 215 sxs hammer gun he bought new for $15 in the 1930's. They were the first pheasants taken with it in over 60 years. Dad said it was the only gun he ever got his limit of quail and a pheasant in the same day.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Oh my, looks like I offended someone? Pffft. Yeah, right...

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Sayfu, this fall I was having a lot of trouble with 1300 fps in my 12 ga and decided to splurge and give Prairie Storm shells a try. What a difference! They are motoring at over 1500 fps and I believe that was part of (or all of?) the key to my success with them. Federal's website indicates only 20 ga steel PS shells have 1500 fps. Hmmm. What are you using?

Of course the type of hunting makes a difference in the choice of gun and ammo. I hunt mostly over my flushing labs and usually in heavy cover so as often as not I'm shooting birds at 20+ yards with not much of an open window. I need the pattern and power of a hot load 12 ga in those conditions. If I was hunting in the open for birds that held well for my Brittany pointer (not much chance of that this year), a 20 ga or even 28 ga would probably work excellent. Light loads in the 12 ga would be find too. By the way, unless the gun is squeaky clean I can't get 1300 fps to cycle in my A-5 without changing the ring to light loads.

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from GuyGene wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

When I'm in the west hunting chukar, I like my Parker 16 gauge double. In Africa hunting various game birds there beside my African guide, I like my Winchester model 21 in 12 gauge. However, for our old South Dakota/Iowa, etc. ringnecks, the Brownings, Benellis, etc. work good.

Ahem..., sorry, all the above was just in my dreams!! In reality, I hunt with my Fox 16 gauge side by side.

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from badsmerf wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Hopefully this winter will continue it's current state and the birds will all survive. NO SNOW! NO SNOW! Please, chant with me... NO SNOW!

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from Harold wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

I shoot pheasants, geese and ducks with my father's old 870. He bought it new in the early 1950s. For some reason it fits me like a glove and I can hit better with it than with any other shotgun. My second choice is a Model 50 Winchester with a vent-rib barrel. If I'm not using those, I'll probably pack either my Browning Sweet 16 or Winchester model 12, both in 16 ga. The last two are upland game only since I only shoot lead in them. One of these days I really should get myself a modern shotgun!

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from Jere Smith wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

I used my "New" gun this year A Remington 32 that I also shootg skeet with and got the limit with 3 Shells.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

I spend at least a month hunting pheasants in Montana every year. I have three guns available: 16 gauge Model 12 (my first gun which has been pretty much retired for obvious reasons), 870 3" magnum (purchased used in 1968), and Browning Light 12 (bought new in the Army circa 1972). Around 1975 I gave the Light 12 to my dad because it was TOO light. Being used to the big 870, I couldn't hit beans with the Browning. When he died in 1999 it came back to me. This year I left the 870 in the rack and hunted almost exclusively with the Light 12. I DO NOT like light shotguns and I'm telling you no one puts in longer days than I do hunting pheasants. My labs' feet were worn to bleeding after the first four days this fall and I was hobbling with a pulled calf muscle in my left leg and a pulled groin on the right. Funny thing though, I never noticed the gun wearing me out. And I always keep it loaded up with five lead shells too. That gun is 7 lbs 10 oz empty and even when it is fully loaded I find it too light to swing smoothly. Frankly, I cannot see what's all the fuss and bother with needing a super-light gun to hunt pheasants. Look at my profile photos. I'm no body-builder and I don't have any trouble carrying that "lightweight" Browning for six or seven hours at a stretch. And it doesn't have a sling either (the 870 does though). However I plan to remedy that this winter. There's no reason to not have that gun on my shoulder if the dogs aren't birdy. For those who hunt pheasants without a dog you'll just have to carry your gun at ready all the time ... and you can carry my deepest sympathy too. Plastic is going on that gun this winter too. I hunt too damned hard for that pretty wood.

Bottom line: If I put the 870 to work (only 2 3/4 loads), in spite of its burdensome weight (or rather because of it) I'm such a dead shot it's hardly fun. However, unlike most guys, I'm never in a big hurry to fill up the bag and leave the field. I shoot the Browning not because I do better with it but rather because I don't. I like a challenge and I like the time it takes to be challenged. For those who are worried about shotgun weight, get in shape, get a dog, and get a sling. For those who are worried about cycling shots quickly, don't be. I finally set my Browning to single shot this fall just to force myself to concentrate more on that first round. And it helped a lot! Pheasants are big birds that fly pretty much straight and not very fast (well, on a windless day anyway). I don't care how fast your gun can cycle rounds, that first shot is always going to be the best opportunity especially if you take your time. So take your time and just take one shot.

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from Mark-1 wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Best pheasant and all around Upland gun I've owned: Mid-80's Browning 20-ga o/u english light with 26" barrels, fixed ic/m chokes. Nothing I've used/owned before or since has come close.

I *may* have been able to support me and family as a market hunter with that shotgun.

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from Bernie wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Interesting to read the enthusiasts of the Model 12 in 16 gauge! I have two of them, and they are some of my favorite pheasant guns. My absolute favorite is my Browning "Sweet Sixteen" that is 40 years old. Also love a Model 12 in 12 gauge, 30" barrel and bored out to Modified choke. Wish my legs and joints were as dependable as these guns!

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

I'd love to use my Model 12 16 ga but the stock is quite short. I want to preserve that gun anyway since it was my first and given to me by my dad and grandpa. Took it out for grouse this year but those were just afternoon road hunting trips. It is a fine shotgun. An 870 is a club by comparison. My brother hunts with a Model 31 Remington 16 gauge with a fixed modified choke. Now THAT old timer is a sweet pheasant gun!

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from Sayfu wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Ontario..Short stocks shoot better than long stocks IMO. The long stock thing is an old English notion. The English shot at driven birds and had time to get the gun up, wiggle the shoulders around, and get the stock snuggled up to where it felt right. The idea was a longer sight plane the farther back the eye was, and usually on a straight stock. Gun comes up much better same way every time on a shorter stock. You guys need to hang those old shotguns up on the wall, and get a new, much improved, shotgun to use. Benelli started it. They advertised that shotguns haven't changed for many a year, and we've created the new, modern, advancements. Now many manufacturers have advanced passed Benelli, with great features in the gas operated guns. And I still like my "intertia action" Benelli.

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from Sayfu wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

And Ontario..Do you hunt pheasants from atop an elephant with "Beaters" out whackin the corn flushing birds for you? Carrying a heavy, bulky gun after switching to a thin profile, light wt. gun is no fun. The swing factor, and staying on target can have to do with a gun's balance as well as weight. That is why I always want a gun with a barrel length of at least 28"...not for the sight plane, but for the swing factor.

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from Sayfu wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Ontario...I shoot Prairie Storm...in a 20 the FPS is 1,300. But I make up for that compared to you, by having a shorter stock, and lighter gun...going "bang" while your still trying to mount your gun. You need the extra 200 fps.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Well, Sayfu, with my struggling eyesight (I mean REALLY struggling) it takes much more than a split second for me to ascertain if the bird is a hen or rooster (unless it squawks, but once they've been hunted for a few weeks the roosters tend to keep their beaks shut when flushed). And as I said, unlike pointers my flushers usually aren't putting the birds up at arms length to start with. So, with all those factors, I'm seldom getting any 20 ga range shots. I still recommend you try the faster Prairie Storm steel loads and open your barrel up to IC. I'm betting you'll see quite a difference.

The stock on my Model 12 was cut way down for the tiny little old lady who sold it to my dad. My thumb and my nose regularly beat the hell out of each other when I was using it as a kid and I think I'm quite a bit taller now (6'1"). I put a slip-on on it but it's still way too short. Also, it has a fixed full choke and I regularly hunt federal refuges which require steel shot. I'm sure that barrel would handle #5 steel okay but why push it? If something happend, finding another barrel would be very difficult. And with steel the pattern through the full choke would be way too tight for the kind of closer range shots that gun would be good for. Perhaps I could have it bored out to modified but ... doing that to a vintage gun would be a hard thing to digest.

No elephants needed to carry me or my gun ... just my 59 year-old legs. But they are still great legs thanks in large part to the fact that I use them all the time instead of elephants ... or ATVs. I was running up and down the coulees this fall with about the same agility I did thirty years ago. And I do mean I use my legs ALL the time, not just during hunting season. I never take the elevator and try to take two steps at a time. I park as far away from Walmart as I can and I just walked to church and back. When I want a beer, I walk to the bar (nearly 2 miles one way) instead of the fridge. Walking everywhere takes time but it keeps me running up and down the coulees ... and away from the gym as much as possible (talk about a phony technocrap environment!).

The Brittany pup is showing a lot of promise as a pointer which has me thinking that I should pick up another buttstock on e-bay and put the Model 12 back to work. I figure the pattern density on that gun should be about the same as the Browning Light 12 modified at 20 yards. Would just be a smaller diameter pattern which is okay. If I miss more of them with the 16 gauge, that's fine. I just want the same probability of solidly knocking them down when I do connect (i.e. same pattern density and velocity as the Light 12). Any other thoughts on this?

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from Sayfu wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

I'm using Prairee Storm LEAD...that's why the fps difference. Sure glad Idaho hasn't changed that reg. I worry ever year that they are going to give in to the liberals that want to end hunting.

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from Sayfu wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

"fancy priced" is no more, given inflation, as what your older guns cost. Many folks just couldn't keep up with inflation as indicated by the posts on these threads. No, guns have improved as has everything else.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Try the faster steel loads. I had no problem at all shooting pheasants with 1500 fps steel on the federal refuges. See what you think of the extra speed. The pattern may be a bit smaller but the density should be about the same. For a real difference jump up to a 12 gauge and pick up the 1500 fps lead loads. Last year I used Federal Premium copper-coated lead with equally fine results. This fall I chose to buy a box of Prairie Storm simply because they were for some reason a buck cheaper. Seventeen dollars a box for the Premiums seemed a bit ridiculous. Frankly, I doubt the Prairie Storm shells were any more effective than Premium. Both were outstanding.

I think for me its been about the difference in the lead (as in "leed") rather than lead (as in "led") factor. The conditions were difficult this year and not many step-on-em-and-shoot situations. If my dogs flush up a bird at twenty to twenty-five yards it's liable to be thirty yards or more before I can tell if it's a rooster. Then I have to get the gun on target and fired. With my old man reaction time that means a few more yards. Consequently, much of the time that bird is going to be out there to the limit of my range before I get the first shot off. With the slower loads I was having an awful time getting the lead adjusted for these shots. Some of the birds were really clobbered way out there so I knew I was capable of getting a good pattern with the 1300 fps loads, but there were too many getting dinked or missed altogether. With the faster loads there's much less guesswork involved. Put the bead right on their nose at forty yards and they're smacked. By the way, the only downside I have found to using fast steel for pheasants (or geese for that matter) is that it seems to perform much more poorly than lead in real windy situations (which seemed to be about every day this year!). And, of course, they kick a lot harder.

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from Sayfu wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Ontario..I'm pullin your leg for the most part. Everyone shoots what they like, and can shoot well. If you have a gun you like, and appreciate, then why spend the money? I bought 3 new shotguns in my later years. Why? Not very smart purchases. I just did it because I like shotguns, but using one means I can't use on of the others. I hope steel improves, but more FPS does mean added kick. It is good that the shell mfgers are getting better performance from steel. I would think that steel would penetrate more than lead, and ruin meat. Even at close in ranges, and square hits with lead, I am amazed at the fact when you clean a bird there is little evidence that the lead did any damage...it is primarily the shocking effect that results in the kill. Most of the lead stays in the feathers.

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from clmadson wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Well, I'd argue that, for sheer efficiency in the execution of pheasants, my old Model 12 Featherweight, improved cylinder, is hard to beat, especially when combined with an experienced pointing dog. Relatively light and just about as quick with multiple shots (in experienced hands), the 12 Featherweight is immune to dirt, snow, sub-zero temperatures, and doesn't clack and clatter like an automatic.

But, gentlemen, surely there are other considerations here besides efficiency. I get a huge charge out of my Winchester 101 20 gauge in situations where pheasants mix with quail, and I have a special soft spot for my Model 12 sixteen-gauge super grade.

Defining the firearms esthetic for pheasants is a real challenge— an immensely tough bird, often pursued in rough cover and rougher weather. Not exactly a gentleman's bird, especially this time of year. So what gun rally matches the pheasant-hunting experience? I'd say a Model 12 or 870 with the blue gone off the receiver and trigger guard, some scratches in the walnut. I'd guess guns like those have killed more pheasants than all the Benellis ever built.

Deft choice of topic, Phil! Like hazarding an opinion on which breed of field dog is the best, the choice of a pheasant gun will be the subject of debate as long as there are ringnecks and people chasing them.

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from Owl W wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

All this talk of pheasant hunting has me itchin' to go myself... with any gun.

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from Sayfu wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

clmadson...How could you argue? You're going to pump a Model 12, and a gun that kicks less, weighs less, with less muzzle jump that you can just pull the trigger, and go bang,bang,bang not having to pump is more efficient? Please. And that model 50 Winchester the guy was hyping? I looked one up, and played the u-tube. Said the gun functioned fine, but weighed 12 lbs!!!!!!!! 12 lbs? I never would have guessed they ever made a gun that heavy. Some of you guys need to join us in the 21st century.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

I think I know what the fella was talking about when he said that he could fire a Model 12 almost as fast as an automatic. Just hang onto the trigger and a Model 12 will fire as fast as you can pump it. Model 97 does the same thing. Not exactly a safe feature! When we went out on the range at Ft Lewis to qualify for riot shotgun I noticed three Model 97s laying on the armorer's table. I picked one and told him to make sure everyone was watching when I got to the firing line. They gave the all clear and I had five rounds through that gun before anyone else could finish two. Took it back to the armorer and told him to lose some parts on all three of those when he cleaned them that night. He said roger that.

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from dale freeman wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

I think it's pretty clear.
We use the gun of choice.
If you'll remember he said "his gun of choice".
For years I used a Marlin .20 gauge S/S and loved it.
I now shoot a beautiful .20 gauge S/S Browning.
Needless to say, "I love it".

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from Sayfu wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Ontario. Was that you shootin on the Fort back in the woods when I often floated the Nisqually River? What stories I have about that place. I would put in way up above the old metal bridge, and on the edge of the Fort, and float down through some of that big timber (old growth fur I believe) and machine guns would be going off in the woods....squads of helicopters flying the river channel close over head at times. I'd come around a corner, and an Indian would be tending his set net along the bank. Like turning the clock back in time...Chuck Norris stuff going on there when I would go steelheading, or salmon fishing on the Nisqually. I had to get a permit from the Fort to fish the river.

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from sdditchpig wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

I made a rule, around this house, that being, no pheasant meat, will be put in the freezer, it all must be eaten, fresh. I am now sick, of eating pheasant. I am coyote hunting, the rest of the season. The finest pheasant gun, ever made, is , or should I say are. The beretta gas guns, before the 390 era. AL-1 through A303, fixed, or tubed, it dosen't matter.

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from sdditchpig wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Years ago, beretta also made a pump gun. It , never made it to the U.S. market however, because, beretta new, it wouldn't compete, with 870, model 12, ithaca 37, and even to some extent, browning bps. It is the beretta RS-200. It was built using, many AL parts. I think most of the RS's , went to Austrailia. I have one, and I'm sorry to tell you pump shooters out there. But you are all shooting second best.

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from RES1956 wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

The sad part about the wonderful dream of hunting pheasants for a living is that one would be unemployed for 9 or 10 months a year.
However, I would have a few essential items, Irish Setter boots, Filson chaps, cases of Kent Fastlead #5's, and my shotgun of choice, which would be a Maxus Sporting, 12 ga. While it is true that few single birds are killed on the third shot, the third shot has enabled me on many occasions to clean up a double and would be available for a triple, should the opportunity present itself.
Remember too that once you start doing something for a living that once was a hobby, the fun part goes away, at least that's what my wife says anyway,,,,

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from Bernie wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Sayfu--I don't know who told you that a Model50 Winchester weighs 12 pounds, but they are dead wrong. My late father bought one new in 1961, I loaned it out yesterday to a friend who killed his first goose with it. I don't know the exact weight but it certainly is less than eight pounds. I have a Winchester Super-X-1 that feels slightly heavier. I never have cared for the alloy receiver on the Model 50.

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from Brian W. Thair wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

The most important aspect to all of this is to get away from the office, get away from the house, and go for a walk in the fields on a crisp autumn day. You've done it so often that your clothes fit you as well as the shotgun does. Hurry less, enjoy more.
I was told many years ago that the birds were my excuse to go for a walk. Yeah? So?

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

No Ithaca fans on here? Surprises me. You fellas seem to think that light guns are prerequisite for shooting pheasants but no one owns a Featherweight? I always heard they were a fine gun.

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from Sayfu wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Bernie...Google it up. said when loaded it weighs 12 lbs. They show you the gun up close, the entire nine yards by a collector/shooter I believe. The video, U-tube doesn't lie. I typed in Winchester Model 50 I do believe, and the 2nd from the top was the u-tube describing the Model 50...no thanks, I'll take my Montefeltro with little felt recoil, thin profile, and weighing in at 5.4 lbs.

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from Sayfu wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Yep, did own one, and bought it for my wife to hunt pheasants. The Ithaca lt. wt. pump. Had the stock cut down for her to fit. Bottom eject, and worked flawless. It did not have a ventilated rib which I would have liked, but put my best hunting partner in the fields with me, and she walked many miles through grain fields and sugar beat fields around Moses Lake, WA with that gun, me, and our bird dogs.

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from ishawooa wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

White Bison: The first time I shot a Benelli Ultra-lite I mentally compared it to the Model 59. The latter was a favorite of an old, now deceased, friend who owned a pair and was probably the best bobwhite shot I ever knew.
I think his daughter took both of his Winchesters and probably pawned them in Memphis after he passed away. Oh well.

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from BigJim wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

I've been looking for a lightweight semi-auto to replace my old Mossberg.
What's the difference between the Ultra-lite and the Montefeltro?

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from Sayfu wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

BigJim...The ultra light comes with a 24", and 26" barrel in 12 ga. and is but 6 lbs. The Montefeltro offers a 28" barrel, and is 7.1 lbs. My choice would be the 28" barrel. The magazine tube has been shortened up some on both guns. Otherwise, the same gun it appears to me.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Ishawooa, I'm the end of the line too. Saddens me to think of my guns and my dad's guns eventually going to the Mounties' furnace. It's too hard to pawn guns up here or even sell them. Guess I could give them away before I kick off but that would just kill me sooner. Whoa! Talk about off topic. Sorry.

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from Sayfu wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Ontario...A thought about those Prairie Storm shells. When you use them, you are back to shooting full choke regardless of the choke in your shotgun. The flitestopper wad cup exits the barrel with the shot enclosed, and the choke has little to do with the pattern...tight! Don't think I want a tight choke except maybe the latter part of the season where shots are generally long.

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from ishawooa wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Honker: You have too many great stories to share and valued opinions to offer, therefore we can't have disposal of your guns being a problem anytime soon.

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from Sayfu wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

And I think I have Federal's flitestopper wad cup wrong. IT STOPS and pauses before exiting the barrel, and does NOT exit, and open up with the shot inside. The shot exits the barrel separated from the wad cup, and tight, with little influence from a choke.

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from RES1956 wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

Bernie and Sayfu:
If your m50 has an alloy receiver, it's a m59 winlite, complete with a fiberglass barrel and brass trigger guard. M50's have a steel receiver and are great old guns.
I don't know if they weigh 12 pounds, but they ain't no lightweights.

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from Sayfu wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

RES1056..and the fiberglass barrel guns didn't last very long at all. The U-tube said the standard, loaded, weighed 12 lbs!! Yikes! It should come with wheels!

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from sdditchpig wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

I'll tell you my experiance with benelli guns. I have owned two. I had a 12 ga. sport once. When I would step in a low spot, or jump a ditch, the shock, would cause the bolt, to rotate, and back out, ever so slightly. If I didn't notise this, and close the bolt, the gun, of course, would not fire. Now, I was trying to train a big running setter once, and when he nailed, his first big wild ruddy, to the ground, I wanted that bird dead. Walked in, bird flushed, gun would not fire. Mr. benelli, went down the road.

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from Sayfu wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

sdditchpig...I brought this up before. All you need to do is look at the BLACK LUG on the bolt end to see if your gun would fire or not. If it is above center, it will fire, if below the gun was bumped hard enough, and won't fire. Solved my problem completely...all it takes is a look.

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from ishawooa wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

Honker I have two M-37s,both 20s, that go on at least 1 or 2 pheasant hunts each year. I bought them both years ago and actually the higher grade one belongs to my wife.

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from sdditchpig wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

Sayfu, If I have to look at the gun, to make shure it will work, does that mean, I can rule it out, as a self defence weapon in the dark, also.

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from Sayfu wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

Sdditch. I don't give much thought to self defense weapons. But you are right, it is a downside to the inertia driven Benelli's. But also realize it can happen to a gas auto as well. They are not "LOCKED", just harder force needed to unlock them. I got pretty upset, at not being able to fire mine just like you did yours. I got up several roosters, and the gun wouldn't fire. I had to train myself on how to carry it, and not hit the bolt lever changing hands for example. You can hear it happen as well as look at it. I've now come to grips with mine. Whenever I jump like you did, or do something that might cause the bolt to unlock, I look at it. And, you need to see there isn't a bunch of black residue where the barrel meets the bolt lugs. That can prevent the lugs from seating into place.

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from RandyMI wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

Just wondering how PB would compare this Benelli to the Franchi 620 VS in 20 ga.?

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from Sayfu wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

Bet he would say the Benelli is a better made gun...Benelli owns Franchi, and Franchi's are regarded as cheap Benellis.

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from 03sprg wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

Looks like I'll just have to soldier on with my ancient and technologically inferior, 1937 Model 21 WINCHESTER SKEET MODEL.I would retire it but save for a little wear it looks and shoots pretty much like it did when it left New Haven during the NEW DEAL. Man...I just got to get me one of those NEW FANGLED AU..TO LOADERS! Yea right! The better question would be "What would you do for a living if you didn't try to convince people every new model of gun is better than the last?"

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from jwg123 wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

Beretta 391 Urika 12 ga.light wieght,handles nice,versitile,used to shoot a model 12 20 ga.but as I've gotten older,slower,and blinder,less cripples with the 12.Just wish there were more birds around (wet springs)not evan a huntable pop.here in western IL and eastern IA now.

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from philbourjaily wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

03sprg -- The Model 21 is at the top of my short list of dream guns that I will probably never own. However,this post was specifically about the most efficient pheasant gun, and that is without a doubt a modern, lightweight semiauto. Efficiency isn't everything, and I too prefer to hunt pheasants with technologically inferior O/Us and doubles.

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from GuyGene wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

After reading the posts again, hey, we just like guns!!

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from Oshaukutaoutdoors wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

I came to own an Ithaca Mag10 in the late 1980s. That gun is heavy but smooth. I have harvested many geese and a turkey with it (I don't hunt turkeys anymore). I loan it to many others to use for their turkey hunting excursions. All-in-all that gun has harvested more than 30 tom turkeys in Wisconsin over the years. The pattern is amazing and I'd not trade it for any gun if I'm after geese or turkeys.

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from millertime wrote 2 years 17 weeks ago

i have a Remington 870 exp mag 12ga and yesterday i shot a 21 inch tailed pheasant, it did the job and i love this gun. Very fun day with my buddy on his farm and one pheasant made the day!

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from Sayfu wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

Ontario...Not sure that the added 200 ft. withstands the scrutiny of a hit, or miss (difference between 1,3000 fps, and 1,500.) I suspect it is just the added hitting power, AND the added kick! Given the technique of pulling the trigger with the barrel moving I don't think you can credit that as the difference between a hit, and a miss. I will take the light gun every time. Maybe if I had pointing dogs, and relied on the point, and could carry my gun resting on my shoulder...maybe. But it is totally fatiguing for me to carry an 8 lb fatter profile 12 ga. than a thin profile 20 in the 6 lb range...and my Montefeltro is much lighter than 6 lbs. The gun barrel should not move that far. The mount should be at the bird, then it is a short move to the front according to the angle, and distance. If the gun is mounted where the eyes are looking, I don't see the poor swinging quality of the light gun being much of a problem. I hunted a lot of pheasants with a Belgium Browning 12 ga. O/U and worry about the beast pulling down my gun rack! Can't believe I hunted with the darn thing. Now I know why I won so many arm wrestling matches! And it weighs in just over 8 lbs.

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