Choosing the Right Shotgun: a Comprehensive Guide

Choosing the Right Shotgun: a Comprehensive Guide

Shotguns are versatile and can be used for hunting, clay shooting, home defense, and more.

This blog looks closely at buying a shotgun, especially for beginners. 

When choosing a shotgun, ensure that it fits your preferences and style. 

Here are some tips for choosing the right shotgun:

Intended Use
Determine the shotgun's purpose. Will it be utilized for hunting, home protection, clay shooting, or other? 

For instance, when hunting, you may want to use a semi-automatic or break-action shotgun for a shorter reload and lower recoil. A semi-automatic could be a good option for home defense too.

Remember, different shotguns are used for different purposes; thus, defining your intended use will help with your selection.

Gauge Selection
Consider the power and recoil of different gauges. Heavier gauges, such as 12 Ga, suggest the maximum shell size and provide greater power and better recoil, making it better for hunting and home protection. 

Alternatively, lighter gauges, like .410 or 20 Ga, offer less recoil but have less firepower and are best suited for clay shooting, among other activities. 

You should also consider selecting a gauge that balances recoil and power based on your degree of comfort and intended use.

Ergonomics and Fit
Ensure that your shotgun fits comfortably on your shoulders and hands. Consider the pull length, the stock's curvature, and the total weight. A well-fitted shotgun improves accuracy, comfort, and shooting efficiency.

Some shotguns take magazines or drums that store 20 or more rounds, but they are costly and rare. Most variants contain little more than seven shells. If you train frequently, seven shells should be plenty for any circumstance.

On the contrary, if you pick a shotgun with fewer than five rounds, you may have to reload frequently. Hand-loaded and tube-fed shotguns require significantly more time to reload than most other weapons.

Understanding Shotguns: How They Work

The key components of a shotgun are:

The barrel is the longest part of the shotgun. It is the cylindrical part of the firearm that guides the shot toward the target. The length of your barrel, along with the choke described below, determines the shotgun's pattern spread and effective range.

The choke can be found at the end of the barrel of your shotgun. It constricts the spread of the shot. Chokes are interchangeable and can vary depending on the target and shooting distance.

Stock is the part of your shotgun that’s held against the shoulder. It absorbs the recoil and provides stability to the users. They come in different styles and shapes to accommodate different shooting preferences.

The action of a shotgun determines how you fire, eject, and load shells. There are three primary shotgun actions, namely: 

  • Pump-action: 
    These shotguns are manually accentuated pumps to eject, recock, and load a new round. 

  • Break-action: 
    A break-action shotgun has a breech that can be accessed via a thumb-activated lever on top of the gun to reload and fire another round. 

  • Semi-automatic: 
    The semi-automatic shotgun is capable of firing a shell after every trigger pull. 

Each action type has its own set of advantages and appeal. Ensure you explore your options and select one depending on your preferences.


The magazine holds and releases rounds of ammunition into the chamber. Magazines can vary depending on their capacity, intended use, and the shotgun model. 

Shotguns can also fire many small projectiles called ‘shots.’ They have a wide dispersal pattern, making them highly effective at close ranges. 

Ammunition For Shotguns

Shotshell Types
Shotshells are categorized into three types: 

  • Birdshot: 
    The birdshot consists of several tiny pellets commonly used for clay shooting and bird hunting.  

  • Buckshots:
     Buckshots are bigger shotshells used primarily for hunting larger species and self-defense. 

  • Slugs: 
    Slugs are single bullets used for long-range precision shooting.

Shot Sizes

Shotgun shot sizes range from 7.5 or 9 to significantly larger numbers such as 00 or 000. Smaller shot sizes have more small individual pellets, whereas bigger shot sizes have fewer larger pellets.


The gauge is the interior diameter of a shotgun's barrel. It specifies the maximum size of shotgun shell that can be used. 12 Ga, 20 Ga, and .410 are some commonly used shotgun gauges. 

A 12 Ga shotgun, for example, may use 12 Ga rounds. The gauge selection is influenced by the shooter's preferences, recoil tolerance, and intended use.

With decades of experience in the industry, Numrich Gun Parts Corp has built a reputation for exceptional customer service. Have a question or need assistance? Our knowledgeable team is ready to help.

Don't miss out on the opportunity to elevate your firearms experience. Visit Numrich Gun Parts Corp today and take the first step towards unlocking the full potential of your firearms collection.