The basics of Choosing a Bird Gun
Choosing a bird gun can be an intimating task when we first set eyes on the vast culture of fine upland hunting shotguns. This article is not about the “classic” doubles per say but rather what to look for in a shotgun. These are the top three things to look for in your first bird gun.
A gun that shoulders well
Picking up and handling a gun is probably the most important part of getting a gun that works for you. We can listen to hours of who, what, when and why of decent shotguns but the truth of the matter is that the gun is not really the focus here. We all have different arm lengths, heights, strength and whole other run of things that make guns feel different from one person to the next. Now we are not saying skip some online research but what we are saying is to hold, handle, and get a feel for a gun before you buy it.
When you raise that gun it should feel natural, mount on your shoulder with a good sight alignment, and be easy to handle. For each of us this is going to be different. Try different gauges, a 20 gauge or 28 gauge may move easier and more natural for smaller framed people and they are more than enough to get the job done.
Types of Shotguns
Doubles guns are very popular in the upland community. However my suggestion to people new to Upland hunting is to again pick something that feels right as well as has some versatility. A good pump shotgun or semi auto can double as a good deer gun or other game you may find yourself looking to hunt. Some people prefer over and under or even singles. The point is that you should again go with what works not just for your body but also for your lifestyle. Try things and see how you like them and remember down the road when you get more into upland hunting, you can expand and explore your gun collection.
When it comes to choosing a bird gun you should make sure you purchase a shotgun that has interchangeable chokes. These chokes allow you to change the pattern of a bird shot to allow you to adapt your set up for the right game animal or hunt. Waterfowl may call for a full choke that allows pattern to stay tight and therefore reach further distances more effectively. For Grouse or Woodcock you may want to use a skeet choke or an improved cylinder which always for you shot pattern to open up quick. (Article on Shotgun Chokes coming soon)
Nevertheless what this gets down to is having a versatile set up that will allow to explore different styles of bird hunting or maybe even bigger game like Wild Turkeys.
One final point is that there is not necessarily a right or a wrong answer when it comes to picking out a bird gun. Most of all have fun and and remember this is supposed to be an enjoyable experience.