This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.Find sources: "20-gauge shotgun" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (October 2021) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
20 gauge
3 234" 20-gauge shells (right) loaded with #712 birdshot.
Place of origin United Kingdom
Production history
Variants212" (63.5 mm)
234" (70 mm)
3" (76.2 mm)
Case typeRimmed, straight
Bullet diameter.615" (15.62 mm)
Shoulder diameter.684 in (17.37 mm)
Base diameter.697 in (17.70 mm)
Rim diameter.766 in (19.46 mm)
Rim thickness.0484 in (1.23 mm)
Case length2.76 in (70.10 mm)
Primer typeShotshell Primer
Maximum pressure12,000 psi (83MPa)[1]
Ballistic performance
Bullet mass/type Velocity Energy
273.438 gr (18 g) 58 oz. Remington Slugger 234" Slug 1,800 ft/s (550 m/s) 1,575 ft⋅lbf (2,135 J)
273.438 gr (18 g) 58 oz. Remington Slugger 234" Slug 1,580 ft/s (480 m/s) 1,513 ft⋅lbf (2,051 J)
468 gr (30 g) Federal 234" 118 oz. #3 Buckshot 1,200 ft/s (370 m/s) 1,496 ft⋅lbf (2,028 J)
546.875 gr (35 g) 114 oz. Fiocchi 3" #5 Shot 1,200 ft/s (370 m/s) 1,748 ft⋅lbf (2,370 J)
382.812 gr (25 g) 78 oz. Winchester 234" #712 Shot 1,200 ft/s (370 m/s) 1,224 ft⋅lbf (1,660 J)

The 20 gauge shotgun, also known as "20 bore", is a type of smooth-bore shotgun that fires a shell that is smaller in caliber (.615 in (15.6 mm)) than a 12 gauge shotgun (.729 in (18.5 mm)). It is often used by beginning shooters for target practice and for hunting small game.


It takes 20 lead balls of the diameter of a 20 gauge shotgun bore to equal one pound, while it only takes 12 lead balls of the diameter of a 12 gauge shotgun bore to equal the same weight. A 20 gauge shotgun is more suitable for hunting certain types of game or for some hunters because it recoils less, and the guns weigh less and may be smaller.

Regarding the yellow body tube color 20gauge ammunition usually has, it has been reserved in SAAMI documentation saying "SAAMI has reserved yellow for 20 gauge ammunition" "This ammunition shall have a body tube that is primarily yellow" "Yellow shall not be used for any other gauge/bore shotshell body" "No other recommendations are made as to the color of service body tubes for other gauges/bores"[2]


20 gauge shotguns are especially suitable for hunting game birds such as quail, grouse and Mallards when using lead free, birdshot game loads. A 20 gauge buckshot load would most commonly be utilized in close-to-mid range, self defense scenarios. While slug loads are generally less accurate than rounds used in Rifles, powerful, high grain, slug loads can provide superior ballistics for hunting deer, when paired with a rifled barrel.[3]


A usually lower gun weight makes a 20 gauge appropriate for young, elderly, or less muscular shooters who may have a difficult time carrying, aiming, and firing a larger shotgun, or just don't need a larger gun to hunt their target game. In addition, 20 gauge shotguns generally have less recoil than 10, 12, or 16 gauge versions on average, when comparing standard hunting shells, due to the lower projectile payload. These parameters make the 20-gauge more pleasant to use on extended hunting trips for small game or upland birds, even for people capable of firing magnum-power 12-gauge hunting rounds.

Full-power 20 gauge shells fired from a light 4.5 lb (2.0 kg) gun will have more felt recoil than reduced-recoil 12 gauge shells fired from a heavy 8 lb (3.6 kg) gun.

See also


  1. ^ Saami pressures. (n.d.). Retrieved May 3, 2023, from
  2. ^ "ANSI/SAAMI Cartridge & Chamber Drawings, 2019-04-23 Shotshell, PDF page 50 MISCELLANEOUS: BODY TUBE COLOR" (PDF).
  3. ^ Maddox, Brandon (January 22, 2021). "SHOTGUN AMMO TYPES: BUCKSHOT VS. BIRDSHOT VS. SLUG". Silencer Central. Archived from the original on March 2, 2021. Retrieved November 7, 2022. ((cite web)): |archive-date= / |archive-url= timestamp mismatch (help)