Shotgun barrel length for "all purposes"

Shotgun barrel length for "all purposes"

This is a discussion on Shotgun barrel length for "all purposes" within the Defensive Rifles & Shotgun Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; I have two barrels for my Rem 870 pump shotgun - a 26 inch with modified choke that I use for trap shooting, and a ...

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Thread: Shotgun barrel length for "all purposes"

  1. #1
    VIP Member Array 10thmtn's Avatar
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    Question Shotgun barrel length for "all purposes"

    I have two barrels for my Rem 870 pump shotgun - a 26 inch with modified choke that I use for trap shooting, and a 20 inch cylinder bore with rifle sights that I use for home defense.

    If you only had one, which should it be?

    For the home, I see the shotgun as the last line of static defense once we are all in the safe room - so I don't really need the short barrel. I'm not going to clear the house with it.

    As far as trap shooting goes - I would imagine the shorter barrel would be easier to swing, and give a wider spread, so hits should go up. The trade off is a less dense pattern, so I would expect chipped skeet instead of ones that go "poof" - but a hit is a hit. Only downside I could see is if the shorter barrel did not give enough range to hit the skeet farther out.

    Thoughts? Of course, I could just go to the range with the 20 inch and see what happens, but I'd rather not waste my time and money if I won't be able to hit anything with it.

    Currently I'm at an average 80% hit rate on the trap field, with a high of 23/25. Just curious what to expect if I change up on the barrel lengths. My uncle shot better with a 26 inch Stoeger than with his 28 inch Benelli - and my dad has a 30 inch he can't hit anything with! Aside from skill, I think the patterns and barrel lengths might be working against them...
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    What you're really asking is..."Which would you rather do, if you could only do one...trap/skeet shoot, or defend your home?"
    Different tools for different jobs...

    I use a 'reworked' Stoeger Coach Gun, but I could hit a pigeon with it unless I used the gun as a 'bat' to hit the pigeons on the way out of the trap thrower.
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    VIP Member Array dukalmighty's Avatar
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    It only takes a minute to change the barrels out,My Mossberg 930 came with a 18.5" Cylinder bore and a 26" ported barrel that uses choke tubes,I use the 18.5" barrel at home.
    When I was an LEO we used 28" barreled shotguns,so to answer your ?,the longer barrel would serve both purposes
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    Are you shooting trap or skeet? I know just enough to be dangerous, but I would think the longer barrel would be more important for skeet.

    It seems to be all about the movement and less about other things for me.

    I would be curious to see the differences in a range report for the different barrels and clay shooting.

    Could you do some patterning at the static range and see what you get rather than spend the money on a round?

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    VIP Member Array 10thmtn's Avatar
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    I'm shooting trap. I think I would be at a decided disadvantage trying to do skeet (two rapid targets) with a pump shotgun. That's one reason I'm thinking of getting a Stoeger Model 2000 semi auto. The other is that I'm concerned about short-stroking a pump while under stress in a defensive encounter. Gotta think on that one.

    I'm not sure doing a pattern at 50 feet (my local indoor range) would tell me much - the distances on the trap field are greater than that.

    I guess for folks who cannot afford a dedicated trap, skeet and a home defense shotgun - I'm trying to find what the happy compromise in barrel length is. And - is the longer barrel really needed for trap - or is it one of those macho things that guys do...

    I did see a guy at the trap field with a full-up tactical shotgun - 18 inch barrel, breacher, red dot - the works. He claimed to have hit 17/25 with it.
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    Senior Member Array Shadowsbane's Avatar
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    With proper chokes installed the 20 inch barrel should be just fine. That will have more impact than any barrel length for patterning.
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    I shot on a skeet league for some years using a Winchester Model 12 skeet grade shotgun all set up from the factory with optional Cutts compensator. Its barrel length without a choke tube installed is 24 inches. The pump action can give satisfactory results on shooting the doubles. It was "the cat's meow" when it was produced in 1941. Of course it has been many, many years since a manufacturer has marketed a pump shotgun for skeet competition so that is some indicator of the pump action's true suitability for the sport.

    I never had much success in informal attempts to shoot skeet with any of several short barreled shotguns but wasn't used to them. Never tried a short barreled shotgun at trap because of their open chokes. Perhaps a search online would turn up some results showing what length barrels the top trap competitors are using these days. I would imagine that they are longer than riot lengths for balance and follow-through.

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    VIP Member Array 10thmtn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowsbane View Post
    With proper chokes installed the 20 inch barrel should be just fine. That will have more impact than any barrel length for patterning.
    Interesting. So you're saying the choke is "more" important than barrel length?

    Of course, my 20 inch barrel does not take choke tubes (it's a cylinder bore) so a bit of a moot issue for me.
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    Distinguished Member Array GWRedDragon's Avatar
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    In my meager experience, an 18" no-choke shotgun is of quite limited use for clays.

    From time to time I informally head out to the range with some friends, my 18" 870, and one of those spring-loaded clay throwers. It's a lot of fun, but with that setup pretty much the only way to take them down is at close range. If you miss on the first shot, it is nearly impossible to pump and shoot again before the clay is out of range.

    Bottom line: it's fun in our informal environment, but in any kind of formal competition/rules I think it would be pretty useless.
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    So you're saying the choke is "more" important than barrel length?

    Far and away the most important aspect of patterning efficiency.

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    VIP Member Array 10thmtn's Avatar
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    Thanks for the info folks. I also did some online research, and it seems the guidance is 28 inches minimum, with some recommending over 30 - would look like an anti-aircraft gun!

    So, the "do it all" barrel length is the longer one, as long as you only plan on using it for static defense in the home-defense role.

    Now I have to see if I want to get myself that Stoeger semi-auto...basically a Benelli on a budget.
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    Member Array Ice Man's Avatar
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    870 barrels change out in seconds. I would just switch them as needed.
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    Ex Member Array Ram Rod's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowsbane View Post
    With proper chokes installed the 20 inch barrel should be just fine. That will have more impact than any barrel length for patterning.
    That's pretty much how I would have put it. Shotguns are my weakest area of knowledge BTW.

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    Don't listen

    Quote Originally Posted by 10thmtn View Post
    Thanks for the info folks. I also did some online research, and it seems the guidance is 28 inches minimum, with some recommending over 30 - would look like an anti-aircraft gun!

    So, the "do it all" barrel length is the longer one, as long as you only plan on using it for static defense in the home-defense role.

    Now I have to see if I want to get myself that Stoeger semi-auto...basically a Benelli on a budget.
    Here I am telling you not to listen to advice and I'm about to give some.

    Anyway, ignore the "experts." (not talking about the folks a dc) About 90% of all trap shooters are so into equipment it is rediculous. They constantly fiddle with their setup, or pursue the next shotgun purchase for that perfect gun.

    Well, let me tell you about one of the old timers I know. He shoots a pump with a 28" barrel. He also shoots skeet a few times a year at a joint shoot. His double scores are impressive, both at trap and at skeet. It is not the equipment.

    Repeat as often as necessary, it is not the equipment.

    Barrel length is a very personal decision. Anything from 26" and up will work. Two of the most popular lengths are 26" and 28" if you plan to shoot both skeet and trap with the same gun. Bottom line, try a couple and see which one swings good for you, which ones just feels right. Go with that one and forget about what all the experts recommend.

    I shoot a 26" barrel 20 Gauge for both Trap and Skeet. I've used a 12 guage in the past. I don't practice, and I only get out a few times a year these days. My scores are usually 45 or higher per round. It is not the equipment.

  15. #15
    Member Array big gary's Avatar
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    Modern powders and loads work just fine in short barrels. And most trap shooters go with long barrels to help the swing and point. They are really 2 differant tools. But, I had a gunsmith tap my mossberg 590 20'' barrel to take choke tubes and like it. Makes it double for a turkey gun.

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