Larry's Short Stories

How Many Shotguns Does One Man Need?

This old Parker Single Barrel Trap Gun breaks clay pigeons as well today as when it was made in the late 1920’s.
This old Parker Single Barrel Trap Gun breaks clay pigeons as well today as when it was made in the late 1920’s.

Once in a while this comes up as a serious question; and of course a serious question deserves a serious answer. To put things in perspective, remember that I’m a hunter, a shooter and a gun collector; I like guns and like to pull the trigger — on game birds or clay pigeons. Trap, skeet, sporting clays, ducks, geese, pigeons, crows, doves, quail, rabbits, turkeys, pheasant and partridge are all interesting.

Now, a man could do all his shooting and hunting with a modern, 12 gauge semi-automatic shotgun, with interchangeable choke tubes; but for me that would be pretty boring — only one shotgun. To be fair, most of my shotguns do serve multiple purposes. Sometimes I shoot skeet and sporting clays with the same over/under; or the same side-by-side is chosen for a variety of different game birds.

When there’s an opportunity to shoot sporting clays or skeet, I always give thought as to which shotgun to take. It will always be an over/under or a side-by-side; and often it’s a 12 gauge. On other occasions it might be a 20, a 28 or a 410 — depending on the weather, the competition and how I feel at the time. For trap, I like a pump gun or a dedicated single barrel trap shotgun.

Certainly I need to keep this 10 gauge Parker, made in the 19870's. The brass shells I've loaded with black powder and the plastic shells are light loads of smokeless powder- to be safe in the twist steel barrels.
Certainly I need to keep this 10 gauge Parker, made in the 19870's. The brass shells I've loaded with black powder and the plastic shells are light loads of smokeless powder- to be safe in the twist steel barrels.

Bird shooting sometimes causes me to compromise; typically I like to be able to select the choke/load each time there’s a flush or a flight of birds. This requires two triggers, which for me means a side-by-side; but sometimes I compromise and use a single trigger over/under on doves, pheasant and crows — just to enjoy shooting that particular gun. My turkey gun is a pump, and I’ve also shot a little trap with it and some ducks, geese and crows.

In addition to the design, make and model of a shotgun, a man needs to think about gauge. I’ve shot quail and pheasants with both twelve and twenty gauge, but also a few with the 28 gauge and 410. Mostly I prefer the 28 gauge for clay targets, while the 410 is great for rabbits and sometimes doves. If a man gets a chance to shoot driven partridge or grouse, then a matched pair of Purdeys are in order. In going through my vault, there are just a few that I really need; but none of the rest are for sale!

Normally I use over/under more for clay pigeons than for hunting, but this little Browning Superposed 20 gauge is my favorite shotgun for pheasants.
Normally I use over/under more for clay pigeons than for hunting, but this little Browning Superposed 20 gauge is my favorite shotgun for pheasants.
Larry's Short Stories