Should All Field Guns Be Under 6 Pounds?

February 10, 2011 | By | 4 Replies More

My next bird gun...just kidding!

Have you seen the new Discovery show Sons of Guns? It’s about a bunch of guys (and one gal) who fix, refurbish, custom-build and sell firearms out of a shop called Red Jacket in Baton Rouge, LA.

Anyhow, I (Jay) watched it last night and the main project in the episode was producing a custom AR15-type gun called a Shootrite Katana, pictured above. What does this have to do with bird hunting? Keep reading.

Sounds like the idea behind the Katana is to have a light (5-ish pounds) combat rifle. Here’s the applicable part of the show dialogue:

Inventor: “The concept is, lightweight and simple vs. a heavy, bulky weapon you’re having to struggle with to keep it on target. If you think about it, everything everybody else is marketing is heavy.

“If you’re in a conflict, you’ve got enough stress to worry about without having to worry about anything extra.”

Builder: “You’re going to be back to a 6-pound rifle, aren’t you?”

Inventor: “Yeah, it’ll be under 6 pounds, complete….”

Narration: “While a difference of a couple of pounds may not sound like much, put it in your hands and hold it in your outstretched arms for a few minutes. You’ll quickly realize the significance of it.”

In our case, it’s carry time: As the folks at Benelli recently pointed out to me, for every 2,000 steps you take in the field, every pound you carry ends up feeling like a ton. I’m not a physicist so check me on that, but the point remains:

Lighter guns make sense.

(Yes, I am a genius…. Ha!)

Seriously: I’m obviously not the first guy to make that observation, but it does maybe argue for a few things:

> Use as light a gun in your preferred gauge as you can, assuming you like the looks of it (important!).

> If you think you need a 12ga for pheasants or long shots, or just like more pellets with more oomph in the air (Brendan!), find as light a 12ga as you can. Or maybe a 16ga – “carries like a 12, hits like a 20,” but not as many shell choices.

> Try out a lighter gun to make your field time more enjoyable – and your post-hunt recovery time potentially shorter.

A few more things:

> How many times have we heard about the older gents among us downsizing a gauge (particularly from 12ga to 20ga for pheasants), and still killing birds? Of course, older bird hunters generally are the best shots….

> How many times are you going to shoot during a typical hunting day – typical, that is, for most of us mortals. If you must carry half a box or more of shells with you, maybe take a pound or more off your gun to help yourself out.

On the Other Hand

Then there’s your size – if you’re 6′ 6″ maybe an 8-pound gun feels light and a 6-pounder feels way too light.

And the swing. Heavier guns swing better for some people, not true in all cases.

So it’s whatever works for you.

But all this still may argue for using the lightest gun you feel comfortable with. Maybe even a gun with…one barrel.

Luckily many manufacturers make light guns for the field. I’m now on the hunt for a light 12ga O/U, hopefully 26″ barrels, that looks cool – the wood more than the receiver. Any ideas?

Category: Shotguns

Comments (4)

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  1. LRR says:

    I think, whatever gun, gauge, barrel configuration, or weight gun one chooses, that the issue of gun fit should be number one priority. An ill fitting gun will not shoot where you are looking and cause more misses, or worse, bad shooting habits. I’ve suffered with both heavy, and I’ll fitting guns in the past. Truth be told, the heavy gun fit, and my days afield with it were more enjoyable than with the super light gun. Why? Hitting is more fun than missing. Of course the benefit of the light gun was that at the end of the day I was able to lift a beer to my lips without using both hands.

    One more minor point if I may. As to the smoothness of swing; I’ve found that one is best served by slowing down a bit with a lighter gun. Speeding up, as we’re so frequently told on the clays course, can cause a jerky motion to develop in the swing.

    Anyway, just a couple of my observations on the subject. Enjoying the blob. Keep em coming.

  2. Bill Fontanazza says:

    Big topic Guys! Are you trying to corner the market on questions. I don’t know where to start.

    First, I agree with LRR use only a gun that fits. Weight can be distributed with a sling or belt worn device. I would rather shoot a 8 1/2 lb. gun carried with a safari sling that fits versus a 6 lb gun that doesn’t fit. “You can hit with a gun that fits.”

    Second, Gauge is a state of mind, kind of like penis envy, a bigger gun is better, but,they all work the same. A gun of any gauge will put pellets out at 1100-1400fps. The difference is just the number of pellets. No lethality change between a #6 pellet coming out of a 28ga. at 1250fps or a 12ga at 1250fps. only the number of pellets. You just have to practice a bit more to be a better shot with a smaller gauge.

    Pick a shotgun that fits you and you are comfortable to carry all day. The Biggest problem with anything other than a 12ga is bumming sheel from other hunters when you are a mile from the truck.

  3. K Fjelstad says:

    For those just getting into grouse hunting, choose a light gun that fits. You’ll eventually end up migrating to one anyway if you get SERIOUS.

  4. SQuasius says:

    I have a great 12 gauge o/u I have used for about a 11 years and just love it. The ruger red label with 26″ barrels and an English stock. Not sure what the weight is but at my age, 33, it is not much of a problem carrying it all day long, and as a serious hunter of grouse, all day is how long I stay out. The receiver is stainless which I think is cool, but the walnut is also very nice. I never thought to give my buddy a name until I read your article the other day here on the web site. Hunting is closed here in WI so maybe next year I will come up with a good one. Of course I have lots of time to work on one while I wait for Fall. Good luck finding a gun and happy hunting.

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