Tips for First-Time Shotgun Buyers.
The Winchester 1897 is one of the first pump-action shotguns ever and proved to be so effective and durable it was in production for more than half a century. It gained fame as a trench gun in WWI and proved itself as one of the top trap shooting shotguns of its time. It was also designed by the legendary John M. Browning who devoted his early years to the design of Winchester firearms.
PICK AN ACTION TYPE YOU ARE COMFORTABLE WITH
There are several types shotguns available on today’s market, and all have their advantages and limitations.
(Please note that this is just a brief overview to get you started on your way to becoming a new shotgun owner. Many resources, with more specific details, are available from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the National Rifle Association, your state's division of wildlife resources, your state's department of justice and from experts at many local ranges. This is especially true of any safety or legal issues regarding firearms ownership and hunting.)
Pick a Gauge You’re Comfortable With.
Naturally a heavier payload of shot can be fired in a larger diameter barrel. The recoil or “kick” you feel when the shell is fired also increases as the velocity and/or weight of the payload increases.
The broadest range of shotgun ammunition availability is for the 12 gauge. You can readily get shells ranging from light target loads with one ounce or less of birdshot up to heavy magnum waterfowl or turkey hunting loads with twice that payload. You can also get buckshot and rifled slugs for big game hunting and home security. Due to their smaller diameter, 20 gauge shotgun shells generally contain lighter payloads than 12 gauge shells, and their felt recoil is somewhat less. The 20 gauge often appeals to younger and smaller-statured shooters. There are many factory loads available in 20 gauge, including birdshot, buckshot and rifled slugs.
Make sure that the shotgun ammunition you purchase is of the correct gauge and length for your shotgun, which is marked on the barrel. It’s always a prudent safety practice to never mix different gauges of shotgun shells in a box, your pocket or other container.
Don’t Choke when Picking the Right Choke Tube.
A Few Pointers on Chokes from Winchester.com
Skeet – Just slightly tighter than an open cylinder bore, skeet choke tubes are made to get a quick spread on the shot pattern while providing slightly more range. They are ideal for the close shots common on a skeet range, or when shooting close-in sporting clays targets. They can also be good for hunting quail flushing from underfoot. The ideal range for this choke constriction is 15 to 25 yards.
Improved Cylinder – Tighter than a Skeet tube, the ideal range for an improved cylinder choke tubes is 20 to 30 yards.
Modified – Sitting at the middle of the pack, modified choke tubes are a good general use tube when you're not sure if your shot will be close or far. Their ideal pattern is produced at around 30 to 40 yards.
Improved Modified – Not always found as part of the basic choke tubes offered with today’s production shotguns, IM chokes offer little performance difference over Modified or Full, but they can offer a sweet spot of pattern density out at 45 to 55 yards.
Full – For delivering maximum pattern density at a longer distance, go with the full choke, which depending on the load, can deliver an ideal pattern between 55 to 65 yards.
These choke tube ranges are general suggestions depending on the gauge, load and even the brand of shotshell you're using. Remember, you owe it to the game you hunt to make sure, no matter what load and choke combination you select, that it will deliver dense patterns without ragged holes or gaps. Always know how far out your pattern will hold up with sufficient energy to reliably take down your intended game.
Understand the Law and Get Additional Training and Firearm Safety Information from a Reliable Source.
With firearm ownership comes great individual responsibility. Make sure that you read and understand your owner’s manual before you store, load or use your new firearm. Also make sure you comply with the firearm laws and regulations for your location. Take some time to do additional research on the skills you need to develop to be a safe and effective firearm owner.
Your local gun store, gun range or shooting club may offer basic and advanced classes in firearm safety, marksmanship and home protection from certified instructors. There are many good online resources available as well. One excellent resource for both local gun laws and training is the National Rifle Association. You can learn more at the NRA's online training pages. https://onlinetraining.nra.org
A Few Suggestions. Decision, Decisions.
Learn more about firearm safety at https://www.nssf.org/safety/
Copyright Winchester Repeating Arms, 2020. A few images have been used with permission. See attribution.