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Spike100

Best pheasant gun - two barrel or autoloader

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When shooting upland game with a two barrel gun, I use a side-by-side Beretta Silver Hawk 12 gauge or a SKB side-by-side 20 gauge. Both guns are equipped with an English style straight-stock (no pistol grip) and splinter fore-end. I shoot magnum loads (2 ¾” in the 12 gauge and 3” in the 20 gauge) when hunting pheasants in SD. The stock configuration makes either of these a great “carry gun” that mounts quickly and consistently, but the recoil with a gun weighing only 6 pounds is punishing. Neither of my two barrel guns has a recoil-reduction device.

 

A few years ago I began using an autoloader (Benelli Montefeltro 12 gauge) for pheasants and really like the reduced recoil and the extra (third) shot.

 

I’m considering another purchase, and the Benelli Vinci is attractive because of my positive experience with the Montefeltro.

 

So… My question: Do you prefer a two barrel gun or an autoloader for pheasant hunting?

 

Obviously there is not right answer since I am asking for opinions, but certainly preferences for using the different style of guns would be interesting.

 

--Spike

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Do you prefer a two barrel gun or an autoloader for pheasant hunting?

 

Yes. And sometimes a pump.

 

I have several guns I like, and I spread it around.

 

Ithaca Model 37 pump in 16 gauge

Savage Stevens Model 311B SxS in 20 gauge

Stoeger Condor O/U in 12 gauge

Mossberg 500 pump in 12 gauge

CZ 712 in semi-auto 12 gauge

Remington LT1100 semi-auto in 20 gauge

 

I have bagged gaggles of pheasants with all of them except the CZ, which I will use when I get back to the USA.

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^^ Thanks for the reply. I completely neglected mentioning the venerable pump-gun. :o

 

That was a big oversight on my part since you remind me that the SD locals frequently used a pump for its reliability and 5 shots when the limit matched that number in the 50’s and early 60’s and the “Soil Bank” era of great pheasant hunting in SD.

 

--Spike

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Spike, I just returned from South Dakota and here's what I used. On the nontox areas I used my Vinci with 3" Kent Fasteel 2's and this combo was devastating. I had several comments from other regarding long range kills, and the gun carried and performed like a champ. Loved it! I also used it with lead when I could and it again was a pheasant harvesting machine.

 

On the third day I started using a 12 gauge OU with lead just because I also enjoy my Beretta OU. I shot one 3" steel load out of my 12 gauge OU and it really made me aware of how well the Vinci manages recoil. From that point on it was the 12 gauge OU for lead, and the Vinci with steel on the nontox land. Nice combo.

 

If I could only bring one it would be the Vinci.

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^^ Thanks for the reply, and good info.

 

A couple of questions…

 

1. You mention shooting 3” shells, so that must be the FASTEEL® Waterfowl loads. Do you recall which shot charge (1-3/8 oz, 1-2/8 oz, or 1-1/8 oz.) you were shooting?

 

2. What choke did you use with your steel loads and the Vinci?

 

I ask because I’m shooting 4’s with IC for my non-toxic loads. One reason I use steel 4’s is the game farm requires this limit (I suppose it is to prevent excessive carry and avoid spraying shot onto the adjoining field and its hunters). I notice that this load (steel 4’s) with IC isn’t very effective at 40 yards or longer.

 

I’m guessing that I would have better results with 3’s or 2’s (not sure what choke I should use) when shooting steel shot on wild birds where nontoxic shot is required. The 3” FASTEEL® Waterfowl loads have higher velocity than the same weight loads in the FASTEEL® Upland loads (which are only available in 2-3/4” shells and 5’s and smaller shot size).

 

Your comments, advice, and experience are very much appreciated.

 

--Spike

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Spike, I was shooting the FASTEEL 3" 1500 fps loads with the size 2 shot. Yes, they are the "waterfowl' version. I had my modified Benelli choke in place. I'm guilty of not patterning the load, but it must have been good because I couldn't have asked for better results.

 

I haven't tried the 3's, but they would probably fill out the pattern better, especially if you bumped up to the 1 1/4 oz. version. I just happen to have the 3" 1 1/8 oz. 2's from duck hunting on hand, and based on how they performed I see no reason to change until I use them up. If change anything I might bump up to the 1 1/4 oz. version, but I'll still stay with the size 2 shot.

 

These wild pheasants are tough like waterfowl, and bigger steel shot like 2's (possibly 3's) driven at a higher velocity is mandatory in my opinion.

 

Hope that helps.

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^^

Thanks for the reply. I’m trying to arrange a late season hunt in SD. I’ll be hunting private land and the public areas.

 

On late season birds and when I can shoot lead, I use 2-3/4 shells (1500 fps) loaded with 1-1/4 oz. (4’s or 6’s) shot and an IM choke. That seems to be very effective even on the longer (40+ yards) shots.

 

It’s when using steel shot in areas requiring nontoxic loads where I am having a problem with last season long shots. I’ve been shooting 2-3/4, 1400 fps, 1-1/8 oz., #4 shot. That proves to be a poor choice that results in cripples and a lot of chasing “runners” for my dog (or worse, wounded birds that glide away). I detest leaving a wounded animal in the field. :(

 

I’m going to try your suggestion, FASTEEL 3" 1500 fps loads (1-1/8 oz.) with a modified choke. I’ll probably go with the #3 shot. I suspect you are right. When shooting steel, a faster load with larger shot will do appreciably better at longer range. I’ve always believed that the number of pellets is important. You get more pellets with steel than lead in the same ounce load, so 2’s or 3’s should be fine. It’s only that you need the 3” shell to fit all the shot and enough drams of powder to achieve 1500 fps velocity.

 

I appreciate your help. I probably would not have gone to a 3” shell without reading your comments. It makes a lot of sense.

 

--Spike

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The beauty of that Vinci (or most any auto) is how it will shoot those 3" loads comfortably. I touched one off in my over & under and it walloped me good, but they were pussycats in the Vinci.

 

FWIW, I had excellent success with the B&P nickel plated 5's for a lead load on the private land. These are a bargain at $12.00/box delivered to your door. (free shpping) They are a 1330 fps load, but kill pheasants extremely well. Not well known amongst the masses, B&P are world class shotshells. They were also very soft shooting in my Beretta OU.

 

Check them out.

 

http://bandpusa.com/hunting/mb-long-range.html

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I grew up with an 870 and have since added Winchester and Ruger Over/Unders. Enjoy them all but still enjoy the pump.

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I decided to test your advice. I picked up a box of 3" steel (1-1/8 oz, 1500 fps). I wanted to try #3 shot, but the store only had #2. I tested the loads this morning on released pheasants at the game farm so that I could evaluate this under “controlled” conditions.

 

Although the shots were right off my Brittany spaniels’ point, I waited… and waited… until the bird was out near 40+ yards out (well OK… I did get excited on a couple of flushes and shot close, but I maintained control for the remaining birds to test longer shots).

I can say with absolute certainty that your advice is right on. If you want to kill pheasants with steel shot at 40+ yards, use a 3” shell loaded with minimally #3 shot and a powder dram weight that gets your load moving near 1500 fps.

 

You are also correct about the recoil. It isn’t bad with an autoloader (I used a Benelli Montefeltro with a modified choke). I would not want to shoot this load in a two barrel gun or a pump gun, but it’s very manageable in a Benelli recoil operated gun.

 

--Spike

 

Spike, I was shooting the FASTEEL 3" 1500 fps loads with the size 2 shot. Yes, they are the "waterfowl' version. I had my modified Benelli choke in place. I'm guilty of not patterning the load, but it must have been good because I couldn't have asked for better results.

 

I haven't tried the 3's, but they would probably fill out the pattern better, especially if you bumped up to the 1 1/4 oz. version. I just happen to have the 3" 1 1/8 oz. 2's from duck hunting on hand, and based on how they performed I see no reason to change until I use them up. If change anything I might bump up to the 1 1/4 oz. version, but I'll still stay with the size 2 shot.

 

These wild pheasants are tough like waterfowl, and bigger steel shot like 2's (possibly 3's) driven at a higher velocity is mandatory in my opinion.

 

Hope that helps.

 

The beauty of that Vinci (or most any auto) is how it will shoot those 3" loads comfortably. I touched one off in my over & under and it walloped me good, but they were pussycats in the Vinci.

 

FWIW, I had excellent success with the B&P nickel plated 5's for a lead load on the private land. These are a bargain at $12.00/box delivered to your door. (free shpping) They are a 1330 fps load, but kill pheasants extremely well. Not well known amongst the masses, B&P are world class shotshells. They were also very soft shooting in my Beretta OU.

 

Check them out.

 

http://bandpusa.com/hunting/mb-long-range.html

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If there is any single advantage people mention for a two barrel gun (O/U or S/S) it's reliability. The same is true for a pump gun (they rarely fail to operate). The pump gun has an additional advantage by providing an additional shot(s) past the two shots you have with a two barrel gun.

 

You mention “I grew up with an 870”. I think this is a significant point. Shooters who start out with a pump gun do not seem to have a problem. Hunters not accustomed to operating a pump often have problems handling this gun (adjusting to the recoil, operating the pump while maintaining the sight picture and remaining on the target for the next shot, etc.). Shooting doubles in trap and skeet are ways to learn operating a pump gun.

 

--Spike

 

I grew up with an 870 and have since added Winchester and Ruger Over/Unders. Enjoy them all but still enjoy the pump.

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I've gotten to where I carry a SBE for chukars with a plus two mag extension as they tend to raise sequentially and the best shots are the third and fourth (anyway when shooting an over and under :) ). With as far and as much work as it takes to catch up to chuckars I hate to be standing there with an empty gun (the 7 shot guns don't swing fast enough...no matter how fast you try to unload it :rolleyes:

 

Pat

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I am new to hunting. I just started in 2009 so this is my second season. I have hunted upland game and waterfowl. I have a Benelli M2 12 guage and a CZ Ringneck SXS 20 guage. I'm sure you can guess how I use them. M2 on waterfowl and CZ on upland. I have had good success with both and the M2 I have used on either type of hunting. The only thing I haven't tried is a pump. If I were looking to put a pump gun in the mix what would you suggest?

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^^

If you are an enforcement officer (policeman), you need a weapon that is absolutely reliable and holds a lot of shells so you can output adequate firepower without worrying about misfires and stoppages. The best choice is a pump gun since it is relatively lightweight, holds a lot of shells, and operates with great reliability.

 

If you are a hunter or a sport-shooter; you need a gun that holds one, two, three, or more rounds, has less recoil, and provides adequate reliability.

 

Back in the 1950’s, two-barrel guns (O/U and S/S) and pump shotguns were popular, and semiautomatic guns were suspect because of frequent jams (mostly due to the paper shells used in that era that were prone to swelling and deformation).

 

Today’s semiautomatic guns using modern ammunition provide adequate reliability for bird hunters and sport shooters. One great feature of a semiautomatic gun is less perceived recoil. You can easily shoot 200 targets without any problem with this type gun.

 

As semiautomatic guns improve, pump guns become a less popular choice for hunters and “sport gun shooters.” Pump guns will always be popular with law enforcement for the reasons I mention above.

 

If you want a pump gun and have not used this type weapon, shooting skeet targets allows you to become accustomed to the pumping action while shooting dual targets.

 

--Spike

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