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Shotguns

  • April 22, 2014

    Turkey Hunting: How Close is Too Close?

    By Phil Bourjaily

    Our youth turkey season opened a few weeks ago, and I heard three reports from friends who had taken kids into the field. Three kids had shots at birds. One missed, one killed, and one decapitated his bird. The shots were taken at 10, 12 and 7 yards respectively. That brings up the question: how close is too close?

    The closest shot I ever took at a turkey was five yards. I missed. After I missed the bird up close I found a piece of cardboard in my car and shot a pattern with it at five steps. It made a hole under two inches in diameter which, I can attest, is easy to miss with when a turkey is almost close enough to touch and your heart is hammering. [ Read Full Post ]

  • April 18, 2014

    Gunfight Friday: Winchester Model 12 vs Browning Citori

    By Phil Bourjaily

    In my extremely biased opinion, we haven’t featured enough shotgun gunfights. We have a good one today, as two classic smoothbores collide: the Winchester Model 12 and the Browning Citori.

    The Winchester Model 12, introduced in 1912 and made for over half a century, earned the nickname “The Perfect Repeater” for its slick action and lively handling. In 16 gauge, it is makes a wonderful, trim gun to carry in the field. The Browning Citori, initially intended as a low-cost Japanese replacement for the expensive, Belgian-made Superposed, has become a classic in its own right. Having visited the factory where Citoris are made, I can attest to the amount of skilled hand labor that goes into each one.
    Here are today’s guns: [ Read Full Post ]

  • April 15, 2014

    High-Speed Video: Shooting Federal Shotgun Loads

    By Phil Bourjaily

    During my recent visit to the Federal factory we got to film quite a bit of what we were doing (more about that in a future column in the magazine) with high-speed cameras. We took video of me shooting two loads designed for completely different purposes. It’s fascinating how shotshell engineers can make pellets do what they want them to by switching components. The video may appear slightly squished to you viewers at home.

    The first shell I’m firing is a buckshot load intended for home defense. Most HD encounters take place at very close range, and while a shotgun is devastating at close quarters, its pattern is overly tight. Federal engineers wanted a pattern that would open up quickly to make it easier to hit with at close range under stress. [ Read Full Post ]

  • April 15, 2014

    March(ish) Madness: Announcing the Deer Shotgun Champ

    By Dave Hurteau

    And so it's the 870 in a walk. I might fall down dead of shock.

    From the very beginning our online editor, who is still young enough that the spark of romanticism has not yet been fully stamped out, dreamed that the Ithaca might win this whole thing. That would have been surprising, and wonderful. But, like so many things, it couldn't be.

    Instead, you have voted for the 870 fair and square (and shoved our online editor a bit farther down the knife's edge of life). [ Read Full Post ]

  • April 10, 2014

    Federal's First Test Gun

    8

    By Phil Bourjaily


    Photos by JJ Reich

    This is Federal Cartridge Company’s first test gun, a Model 12 Winchester purchased on Aug. 28, 1937. It’s in the hands of Randy Forstie, who works in the Federal gun room. This gun had been in use for 76 years until Forstie looked it up in the company records a few months ago and realized it was the historic first gun. He pulled it out of circulation and Federal may put it on display in the future. [ Read Full Post ]

  • April 8, 2014

    March Madness Championship: Remington 870 vs Ithaca Deerslayer

    By Phil Bourjaily

    Two classics collide in the championship of our Sweet 16 of whitetail shotguns. The Remington 870, America’s shotgun, meets the Ithaca Deerslayer. The 870, deservedly the number one seed in its division, has probably shot more deer than any other shotgun in the tournament. The Deerslayer, on the other hand, is one of the first dedicated slug guns, and still one of the best.

    [ Read Full Post ]

  • April 4, 2014

    March Madness: The Final Four of Whitetail Shotguns

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    By Dave Hurteau

    Two Final Fours in one weekend. What more do you want? And ours is a contest of mostly classics, including the Remington 870, the Mossberg 500, and the Ithaca Model 37 Deerslayer. It was, in fact, nearly a contest of all classics, as the 8-seed Browning Auto 5 was outpacing it's superior A-Bolt sibling until the final minutes, when a late run put the latter on top at the buzzer. [ Read Full Post ]

  • April 4, 2014

    Gunfight Friday: Pledge Week

    By Phil Bourjaily

    Thanks to reader Shawn Sipes, who sent this picture of his wonderful trio of Remington Model 14s in .25, .30, and .32 caliber. And, thanks to all of you who have offered up your guns in these last 10 months or so to make Gunfight Friday so much fun. Every week your guns and your insightful comments about them make Gunfight Friday read like a great hunting camp argument right here on this blog.

    Now, Gunfight Friday needs your guns. [ Read Full Post ]

  • April 3, 2014

    Outdoor Survival: First-Aid Kits

    By David E. Petzal

    I was asked what’s in my first-aid kit. Since I don’t remember, and I’m too lazy to dig it out, I’ll give you some general rules about first-aid kits that will be more useful than an item-by-item rundown.

    Don’t think about a first-aid kit as a fixed and immutable object. The kit should expand and contract, depending on where you’re going, what you’re likely to encounter, and how long will it take to get to a doctor, or have a doctor get to you. I have two first-aid kits, one for hunts, which are in close proximity to civilization, and the other for places like Alaska, where you may be left to your own devices if something happens. This saves me the trouble of re-building a single first-aid kit over and over.  Whatever you take, it should be small enough that you can keep it with you. My small kit is a little bigger than a fist and fits in a fanny pack with no trouble. The larger one is the size of maybe two fists. Package it in something waterproof, like a Ziplock bag, or better, the rollup Velcro-seal plastic bags sold in camping-supply stores. [ Read Full Post ]

  • March 31, 2014

    March Madness: The Elite Eight of Whitetail Shotguns

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    By Dave Hurteau

    Kentucky is not the only 8-seed to move on. In a head-scratcher of an upset (on par with the .30-06 winning last year's Long-Range Whitetail Cartridge Championship) the tricky-to-scope and not-particularly-tack-driving yet classic Browning Auto 5 has thumped the 1-seed Savage 220/212 bolt with it's excellent trigger and stellar reputation for accuracy—and affordable accuracy at that. Go figure. [ Read Full Post ]

  • March 28, 2014

    March Madness: The Sweet Sixteen of Whitetail Shotguns

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    By Dave Hurteau

    Kansas has been clipped, ’Cuse cut, Villanova vanquished, the Shockers shocked, and shucked. But in our Sweet Sixteen, all your favorites—the 870, the Deerslayer, the Tar-Hunt, and 220—are still in it, for now.

    While I have carried enough of the shotguns below to have an opinion here (go Ithaca Deerslayer!), when it comes to scatter- and slug guns, I gladly defer to Shotguns Editor Phil Bourjaily, who has chosen and seeded the contenders in two divisions. Here’s Phil: [ Read Full Post ]

  • March 19, 2014

    Shotgun Review: Franchi Aspire

    By Phil Bourjaily


    Photo courtesy of JJ Reich

    A shootable 28 gauge built on a true 28 gauge frame is a wonderful thing, and hard to find in the U.S. market, too. The discontinued Ruger Red Label 28 is one example. It was a great upland gun, but most 28s you see are built on 20 gauge frames.*

    Franchi’s Aspire O/U is a true 28. It’s built on the same action as the 12 and 20 gauge Franchi Instinct O/Us (also the same action used by a whole raft of Italian O/Us) but trimmed down to 28 gauge proportions. [ Read Full Post ]

  • March 10, 2014

    Waterfowl Shooting: Effective Range of Steel Shot

    By Phil Bourjaily

    Since we have been talking about long- and short-range waterfowl shooting lately, there has been some faint praise and some downright criticism of steel among the comments. It’s true that steel isn’t as effective as lead, but I really believe there is a lot of selective memory among hunters old enough to recall the days of lead. People crippled and sailed plenty of birds back then, too.

    Even HeviShot, which is arguably deadlier than any lead load ever made, doesn’t kill everything it hits stone dead. Last season I had to make a 600-yard retrieve on a goose I hit hard with HeviShot 2s. I centered another bird at 15 yards over the decoys with HeviShot 4s only to have the bird hit the ground and then get up and try to walk away. That doesn’t happen often with HeviShot, but it happens. [ Read Full Post ]

  • March 3, 2014

    When Does Pass Shooting Become Skybusting?

    By Phil Bourjaily

    I've alway's enjoyed pass shooting: getting under a flight line and shooting birds as they travel by. Although it's less fashionable these days, you don't freeze picking up a bunch of decoys at the end of a pass shoot. You take your birds and go home. There's something to be said for that on a cold day after sunset.

    When done correctly, pass shooting requires scouting, concealment and shooting skill. It's also an ethical way to hunt as long as it's done responsibly. The universally reviled activity of skybusting, on the other hand, is unethical pass shooting.

    So what’s the difference? I’d say it’s skybusting if: [ Read Full Post ]

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