Is the 28 gauge for you? Part I

Believe it or not, the upland bird hunting season in Kansas is just over a month away. I have heard more optimistic conversations about bird hunting in our area than anytime in the last 10 years.

Most of the conversation has to do with quail hunting, particularly in our area. The pheasant population in this general locale still does not warrant shooting any of the birds. Now if you move west of here, the population of the colorful bird increases and some decent pheasant hunting can still be found. There are definitely more quail in this area than there have been for several years, and that is a good thing.

I have recently been reading and seeing a lot of articles dealing with the renewed interest in the 28 gauge as the gun of choice for upland bird hunting. I have only shot one 28 gauge in my lifetime, so I am not an authority on the killing efficiency of this small bore shotgun. But I have witnessed on several occasions the proficiency of one particular shotgunner with the 28 gauge.

An old hunting buddy of mine was a master at knocking birds out of the sky with his Ruger Red Label over and under 28 gauge. I had the honor of accompanying him on several bird hunts down on Will Cokeley’s bird hunting game preserve north of Topeka. In all of the birds that I saw rise from his feet, I don’t recall seeing him miss. He was nothing short of amazing with the firearm in his hands.

It did not matter what species of bird was being hunted. Whether it was pheasants, quail, or chukars my friend would knock them out of the sky with one shot from the diminutive 28 gauge. Now, there is an argument that pen raised birds are not as tough as wild birds, and I believe that to be true, but nonetheless he powdered them with one shot and they were dead when they hit the ground!

It has been my experience that most upland bird hunters opt for the popular 12 or 20 gauge shotguns. I began my hunting career with a .410 and then moved up the chain to a 20 and then eventually to a 12. Now I have gone back to using a 20 gauge for most of my bird shooting. Is the 28 gauge the next step? I am not sure, but it is very intriguing to say the least.

I read something very interesting lately, and the writer made a comment that really opened up my thinking. He stated that pellets coming out of the muzzle of a 28 gauge come out just as fast as they do with a 12 gauge. The only difference is that there are less pellets! The shot size is the same and the shot does not fly any slower, there are just not as many. For some reason, I think most of us just attribute the smaller size bore to not being as efficient in killing birds. Nothing could be further from the truth. What it boils down to is that the shooter just needs to be a better shot!

There is a smaller powder charge in the 28 gauge shells simply because you are not pushing as many pellets. The nice thing about that is that there is not much kick in the 28. Downrange killing potential does decrease with the 28 simply because, once again, not as many pellets are available. With that being said, the 28 gauge is definitely not for duck and goose hunting where shots are commonly out to 40 yards. But the little 28 is perfect for upland bird hunting in our area.

I may not have convinced many of you to give the 28 a try, so I will throw some facts at you next week. I have convinced myself that it is time to take a serious look at the 28.

Tim Kellenberger119 Posts

Tim Kellenberger serves as Owner, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief for The Sabetha Herald since 2004. He specializes in sports reporting and column writing, as well as sports photography. Tim is a Grace University graduate with a dual degree in agricultural economics and human resource management. He lives in rural Sabetha with his wife and has four grown children and two grandchildren.


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