The 28 Gauge: Serious Gun or Toy?

Let me say at the outset that for the most part I am no devotee of the 28 gauge. Most 28-gauge guns are far too light for serious shooting. The Benelli Legacy, for example, weighs a puny 4.9 pounds, and most other 28’s weigh about 5 ½ pounds. When you swing such a gun, the barrel or barrels virtually scribble in the sky and there is not sufficient weight to carry the gun through to the completion of the swing. A delight to admire and mount and swing in the gun room, but a disaster in the field. Again, I make the distinction between guns for carrying and guns for shooting. The 28 is most definitely in the former category. You pay a price for the ease and comfort of carrying such a light gun afield, and that price is greatly reduced shooting and killing efficiency.

**Interested in using your 28 gauge on at Orvis and Shooting Sportsman Endorsed Wingshooting Lodge? Click here to learn more >> **

28 ga. guns are a vogue affected by gentlemanly shooters who also affect waxed cotton shooting jackets and tailored tweed shooting outfits and single-malt Scotch whiskey, and who carry wispy little side-by-side guns with the handling qualities of a fly rod.

Pheasant hunting with a 28 guage shotgun

With its standard payload of ¾ oz of shot at 1300 fps, or the considerably slower (1200 fps) 1 oz. load you have a gun that is adequate for pen-raised quail and close-range doves, and that is about it. Neither is it sufficient gun for pen-raised pheasants, because the typical shot presented by those birds is a going-away shot, which means that you have to drive the shot charge through the back and the intestines and a lot of feathers to reach vital areas. I am not saying that the 28 will not kill pen-raised pheasants because it has certainly killed many, but it has wounded and lost entirely too many. Nor is the 28 a gun for wild pheasants. I know of some pheasant=hunting operations in South Dakota that expressly forbid the use of 28 ga. guns, and with good reason.

The 28 is essentially a skeet gun. American skeet is a game where the targets are slow and the shots are close and precisely repeatable from station to station, unlike field shooting, where every shot is different. Moreover, many serious skeet shooters add weight to their guns to make them swing more smoothly and track more efficiently clear through the completion of the swing.

Please do not misunderstand me. I am not making a blanket condemnation of the 28 as a game gun. There are some people—but very few—-who can do deadly work with it, but they are the rare exceptions. I will give you some examples.

Back in 1993 or 1994—I forget which—I had the pleasure of shooting quail and chukars and Hungarian partridges and pheasants over pointing dogs in Idaho with General Norman Schwarzkopf, commander of US forces in Desert Storm. Gen. Schwarzkopf was known to be an excellent sporting clays shooter, but I was soon to see that he was also an excellent game shooter too, and with the 28 gauge, moreover. We shot a lot of birds in two days’ time, mostly at close ranges, and all pointed by very stylish, elegant dogs. Using a sleek high-grade Beretta over-under, General Schwarzkopf put down virtually every bird he shot at.

Pheasant Hunting with a 28 guage

Here’s another example which I mentioned in a previous blog, namely, Serge Dompierre, a very successful Canadian businessman who used to own Los Chanares, the finest dove-shooting lodge in Argentina. Serge had a pair of Perazzi over-unders made up with 32” barrels bored full and extra full. Then he added weights in the buttstocks and forearms to bring the weight of the guns up to a perfectly balanced 8 pounds. He fired only Winchester 1 0z. loads in these guns. (He imported a shipping container of these loads!!) I observed him on many occasions doing some devastating shooting with these guns. As well he should! He used to shoot at least 10 boxes of shells at doves every day, day after day, week after week, year after year. On many an occasion I have seen him bring down high ducks that many men with 12 ga. guns would pass on.

wingshooting with a dog My next example is Luis Brown. Luis is the scion of a wealthy Brazilian/American family who has been operating high-quality shoots for ducks, doves, decoyed pigeons, and partridges in Uruguay and Argentina for years. He is the first outfitter to start baiting for ducks in Argentina, and quickly earned the nickname, “The Master Baiter.” Luis is a devotee of fine British shotguns. He regularly attends gun auctions in London and at the Gleneagles Hotel in Scotland. At one of those auctions, he fell in love with a terrific little Boss 28 ga. over-under, one of only about a half-dozen ever made. It was stocked with high-contrast Turkish walnut and impeccably engraved, and it just filled Luis with the lust of possession. He had to outbid a Saudi sheik to the tune of 75,000 pounds sterling to take home the gun.

He and I used to wander across the pampas for many an hour behind his elegant little Britanie’s in quest of perdiz, or partridge, and he did deadly execution on those birds with that little gun. Then someone made him an offer for the gun that he couldn’t refuse, and that was the end of that.

Finally, I mention Skip Hoagland, an American who organizes high-quality duck and dove and pigeon shoots in Argentina, and who has a specially weighted long-barrel over-under Beretta with extended choke tubes. He has done an awful lot of shooting with that gun, and can in a duck blind outshoot most me who are using a 12.

So there. The 28 ga. can do deadly work, but it has to be the right gun in the hands of the right man.


Stuart Williams holds degrees from Yale and the University of California at Berkeley. He has made over 250 international big game and bird-hunting expeditions in more than 40 countries.

**This blog is an independent opinion and not necessarily the views of Harpole’s Heartland Lodge.**

Interested in putting your 28 gauge to the test on pheasants and quail? Book an all-inclusive wingshooting trip to Orvis and Shooting Sportsman Endorsed Harpole’s Heartland Lodge. Learn more here >>

Last Updated: May 6th, 2024

88 thoughts on “The 28 Gauge: Serious Gun or Toy?

  1. 28 ga 1 0z 1300 fps made by rst shotshell it is a piegon load 7.5 or 8 shot try em then u will rewrite this article ant throw your 20 ga away. Try loading your 3/4 oz loads up to 1400 with copperplated shot

  2. An article most definetly written by someone who is either 1) inexperienced with a 28 or 2) can’t shoot well with a 28.
    I shoot an O/U with 7.5’s in the first barrel and 6’s in the next. Federal Premiums, in my opinion, are the only shell to use.
    The 28 gauge is deadlier than my 20. Shorter shot string and better pattern.
    Just back from hunting SD wild birds. Killed 15 of 19 and only one cripple. This gun is a joy to shoot and is plenty capable of shooting pheasants if you know your range limitations – 35-40 yds. max.
    The author, as alluded, is no fan of 28’s. It’s a personal choice, but don’t shy away from this gun because the author says 28’s only work in the hands of rare individuals. My dog and I have bigger smiles at day’s end than we ever did with my 12 ga.

  3. The pompousness and arrogance to which Mr. Williams quickly dismisses the 28 gauge as a “toy” only goes to show that degrees from prestigious universities are not always an indication of intelligence. I find it amusing that the references he has to point to as “capable” of handling such a fine gauge shotgun are in essence the same people he makes light of with tweed shooting outfits enjoying single-malt scotch. I am neither. I’m just a hard working man who enjoys getting out with his bird dog whenever possible in pursuit of upland birds. While the gun is part of the equation, it’s the man behind the trigger that makes the gun shine or not Mr. Williams. Case in point- while hunting last fall in North Dakota with two friends who toted two 12 gauges for a week straight, one an A-5, the other an 1100 (both very heavy, well swinging guns you would say, right Stuart?) couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with the doors closed, totaled 7 wild roosters and one Hun out of hundreds flushed. Mea

  4. Con’t: Meanwhile, lowly old working man here totaled my limit of 12 roosters and Huns with 4 sharp-tails thrown in for good measure with two different 28 gauge shotguns. One a Franchi 48-AL, the other a Traditions by Fausti over/under. Why, you might ask? Because I practice Mr. Williams. A lot! In fact on one rooster I made such a clean head shot at 15 yards, I removed it. Speed and shot placement kill birds cleanly and effectively Stuart, not the gauge. And let me re-emphasis that Mr. Williams. Good, CLEAN head shots will bring down the toughest of birds, like pheasants or even turkey, wouldn’t you say? Number 5 or 6 shot traveling out of a muzzle at 1,300 fps retain the same devastating energy to kill cleanly, whether they are fired from a 12, 20 or 28 gauge shotgun. In fact, the squareness of the standard 3/4 oz 28 ga payload has a better pattern then most high velocity 12 or 20 gauges. Perhaps you should spend more time at the range with a 28 gauge instead of traveling so much to e

  5. Con’t: exotic lands to hunt and practice, practice, practice. Maybe then, you might find that the 28 gauge is MORE then capable of doing the job on all game birds. As for pointing out places in South Dakota that flat out refuse to allow 28 gauges on their ranches- I’m sure if most of their clients went out to the skeet field before the hunt with their 12 and 20 gauges, they wouldn’t let them carry those shotguns either after witnessing their poor performance. Taking your 12 or 20 gauge out of the safe for a few days of hunting a year doesn’t make you an accomplished hunter or shooter, practice does. And if you’d like to see how an average working man can handle the light, nimble 28 gauge with precision, I’ll gladly join you on one of your many world hunts and show you how it’s done. That is, if you can keep up with me after your arms are long tired from lugging around that heavy shotgun all day.

  6. There’s something odd about this article, It’s almost as if advertising the people this writer hangs out with, to prove greatness and importance. Nice article if you graduated from Yale or own a hunting camp in South America or have a name that starts with General… oh, yeah, and then you can say what ever gauge you don’t shoot smells awful.

  7. I don’t think the author has even seen a 28 gauge, much less shot one. If he did, his article would have been more educated on the capabilities and pure utilitarian aspects of the 28 Gauge.

  8. This article conveys an often misunderstood aspect of shotgunning. It goes without saying that specific gauges are better suited to their application. That said, technology will not provide you with the shooting form required to be competent – regardless of gauge. A good shot-gunner is just as effective with a 28 gauge as he/she is with a 12, understanding of application and effectiveness.

  9. I too agree with WC. The author of this article is making statements as if they were fact about the 28 gauge when they are nothing more than his opinion. To say the 28 gauge is simply a skeet gun and not really effective for much else shows the mans ignorance. Now I know the 28 has its limits but there isn’t much it can’t handle when compared with a 20 or even a 12. The right choke and shot size make all the difference.

  10. Absolute rubbish! I shoot 23s, 24s and straights all day long on FITASC Sporting or Compak ranges with a 28 gauge. Start your article with the sentence… ” I cant’ shoot a shotgun well enough, but in my opinion…” I also hunt a range of game birds and waterfowl with the 28 and .410 without a problem. I guess knowing what you’re doing and shooting in the correct distance range makes a difference.

  11. WOW ! Guess I should give up hunting with 28 ! Ive killed more birds wild or pen raised with 28 than I ever have with a 12.Yale must not have classes on external ballistics same bbs same velocities just smaller pattern nitwit.

  12. Awe gee-wiz, Yale has created another 28 hater… seriously? C’mon Williams! Here in Texas, the 28 gauge is used to kill any and every bird that legally flies (preserve or wild) – I have traveled this country with a 28 gauge – ably shooting and killing pheasants, chukar, quail varieties, doves and huns… never felt like I needed a 20 or a 12. Never. I have three sons that shoot a 28 gauge – all deadly with their ballistically disadvantaged little pee-shooters. I recommend you take some serious shooting lessons – everything a man can do with a 12 gauge – he can do with a 28 gauge… PERIOD.

  13. The 28 gauge is now my gun of choice hunting Ruffed Grouse in the thick north woods. After hunting with a 20 gauge over/under and a 16 gauge side by side, I much prefer the light weight and fast handling of the 28 gauge when hunting in the dense cover of the grouse woods. And every few ounces of weight saved is converted to more miles I can tramp through that kind of cover. I hunt over a pointing dog and most shots are close. Tough to get a second shot on those birds anyway. I am going to use it this season on preserve pheasant and chukar and bring it along on some Kansas wild birds, too. If your dog is working good and holding birds, I see no problems with the 28 gauge.

  14. Agree with Posters. The Man is Clueless. The 28 kills all out of proportion to its size. I run CYL & IC Chokes in my 5 Pound ATI 28 O&U because I was really chewing up the Birds with IC & MOD. Winchester 1 oz 7 1/2’s have served me well on Pheasants, Grouse, Quail, and Woodcock. IMHO, 12 Bores no longer have a place in the Uplands. To heavy, to slow, and contrary to popular belief, they are NOT 50 and 60 yard Guns. I do not hunt in Tweeds either. I would, if I could afford them though. A Man can enjoy the day a lot more carrying a 5 pound 28 Bore VS an 8 pound 12 Bore. And I don’t care how Macho one thinks He is, at the end of a long day, you tell me which you’d rather carry. 🙂

  15. I think this guy is off base, as well. From the tone of the article, he not only isn’t a “devotee” of the 28 gauge, but also clearly has some sort of hang up about shooters of a particular style. Whatever the basis of his bias, he is also flat wrong. The 28 gauge produces excellent patterns, and is a quite capable gun for upland game. In fact, my general experience is that many guys who bemoan smaller gauges are often lousy shooters, and feel the need to carry a 12 gauge because of perceived knockdown power, when in reality, they just need to hit the clays course and work on their accuracy. A #6 pellet traveling at 1200 ft/sec from a 28 gauge is no different than a #6 pellet traveling at 1200 ft/sec from a 12 gauge. The difference is in payload. However, a hunter carrying a 12 gauge with 1 1/2 oz of shot who doesn’t have good technique can still be a very inaccurate and less lethal shooter than a guy carrying a 28 gauge with a 3/4 oz payload who has good form.

  16. Mr. Williams,
    I’m useing a 100 years old Austria/Ferlach made 28 gauge hammer shotgun CYL and 1/4 chocke. I can tell you very effectivly. One secret what you surely don’t know the 28 gauge is a special but very lethal gun. You can use this little guns like 12 gauge loded 1 1/4ounce No.5 laod and kill everything… You have to use the proper cartridge. For close distance up to 30yards the 3/4 ounce load will do everythin. I use for phasan and mallard RC No.6, for quail No.9. For high driven phasan (up to 50yard) I load 7/8 ounce No. 6 english size (2.6mm) and No.8 for high dove and No.41/2 (3mm)for geeses. I recomed for evribody to use 7/8 ounce load if more pellet is needed. I haven’t got bether patern with 1ounce load. The felt recoil is stronger and the pellets have less speed. The Hodgdon Lil’l Gun powder is very good choice to load 7/8 ounce load. Gamebore, Eley and RC makeing first class 7/8 ounce factory loads. I never felt any disadvantage of the 28 gauge.
    Dear Mr. Williams I recomend you to practice a litle bit more with the 28gauge shotguns on skeet and game and You wil revise Your mind…

  17. Mr. Williams,
    I’m useing a 100 years old Austria/Ferlach made 28 gauge hammer shotgun CYL and 1/4 chocke, 29″ barrels. I can tell you very effectivly. One secret what you surely don’t know the 28 gauge is a special but very lethal gun. You can use this little guns like 12 gauge loded 1 1/4ounce No.5 laod and kill everything… You have to use the proper cartridge. For close distance up to 30yards the 3/4 ounce load will do everythin. I use for phasan and mallard RC No.6, for quail No.9. For high driven phasan (up to 50yard) I load 7/8 ounce No. 6 english size (2.6mm) and No.8 for high dove and No.41/2 (3mm)for geeses. I recomed for evribody to use 7/8 ounce load if more pellet is needed. I haven’t got bether patern with 1ounce load. The felt recoil is stronger and the pellets have less speed. The Hodgdon Lil’l Gun powder is very good choice to load 7/8 ounce load. Gamebore, Eley and RC makeing first class 7/8 ounce factory loads. I never felt any disadvantage of the 28 gauge.

    Dear Mr. Williams You are not an experienced shotgunner. You states a light gun swing badly??? Not the weigh the balance wath is the most important. The 28 gauge must have long barrel for good balance usualy. I have 7lb 12 ga Woodward wich has exelent balance and swing as perfectly as my 5lb 28ga. I recomend you to practice a litle bit more with the 28gauge shotguns on skeet and game and You will revise Your write-up…

  18. Wow, am I glad this article has allowed for comments! I am not a bird hunter but I have been an avid Skeet shooter with moderate success in competitions over the years. Now though, I am almost 80 and find that my trusty Remington 3200 12 gauge is not as much fun as it used to be when I was younger and would think nothing of shooting 500 practice shells wearing just a T shirt and often “pulling” for myself with the controls in my fore-end hand :-).

    Lately I have been thinking about a semi auto. 28 gauge so I can make my trips to the skeet range more enjoyable and challenging. Also, I have been thinking that with an extended magazine and an additional shorter barrel the 28 gauge will also double nicely as a handy home defense weapon for critters of all shapes and sizes that may want to get into my home uninvited.

    If Mr. Williams’ article had been “stand alone” without provision for comments I would probably have turned my attention to a “lightweight” 20 gauge. Now, thanks to all of you 28 gauge devotees I can pursue my original plan, and look forward to my first straight in 28 gauge. Many thanks for your personal 28 gauge experiences guys.

    As for Williams I can only suggest that he extricate himself from that cocoon of snobbery that he has woven and get out on the range or out in the field with some regular guys that know what they are doing with shotguns. Oh, and try not to write any more articles about subjects about which you have only had limited experience and exposure. Thanks.

  19. My 2 cents. I have to agree with most on here that the article begins with a very obvious prejudice. I’ve hunted and shot targets for years. I swore I’d never own a 28 because of the price of the ammo. I was already reloading.410 for skeet and doves and didn’t want to purchase another reloader that is until I bought 2 vintage Wingmasters, one in .410 and the other in my favorite gauge, the 28. Both shotguns came with extra barrels. The 28’s barrels were Mod and Sk vent rubbed fixed chokes. My plan was to sell the 28 gauge for a handsome profit but after shooting 2 rounds of skeet I ordered a MEC 9000. I shot so well with the 410 and even better with the 28 pumps that people were embarrassed to shoot a round with me and would tell me so. To be honest I did shoot quite a lot, up to 8 rounds of skeet a week and was very proficient. I even bought a new 1100 in 28 but preferred the 870 in handling over the 1100. Again you need to understand that I hunted and shoot a lot and could out class my casual buddies dove hunting with my 410 870 express. If the birds were flying I would limit with less than a box of shells but the 28 isn’t all time favorite gauge. On a side note I almost blew my shoulder out during a skeet league when I shot 8 rounds on the last day using my 12 gauge 1100 and factory field loads. Took about a year to recover the shoulder but I won HOA that year lol

  20. ‘Expeditions’? What is that? Does it mean ‘handed over his Visa and was told where to stand’?

    What a tool. Certainly there are ‘Orvis’ types who are more about style than function but to be ignorant of facts about 28ga effectiveness is inexcusable . at least if one is purporting to be knowledgable on the subject by writing an op ed for others to read. I thought schools like Yale and Berkeley were about opening the minds of their students? Appears to have been lost on the writer as he clearly is basing his opinion on the other people he meets and shoots with on his ‘expeditions’ who are, by the way, much more likely to have the funds to mimic the upland section of the Orvis catalog. And for Pete’s sake who cares?

    Not only is the writer ignorant of 28 ballistics he advertises his closed mindedness by assuming anyone he meets on his ‘expeditions’ (I honestly can’t get enough of that word, such nonsense in the modern age) must be proficient else they wouldn’t have spent the money. sad.

  21. Mr Williams certainly writes an entertaining story of his exploits, rubbing elbows with some very interesting shooters I’m sure many of us would enjoy meeting.
    Unfortunately his bias against the 28 seems unfounded in experience.

    The many pheseants I’ve shot over the years with a 28 are just as dead as the ones shot with my 16 or 20 gauges.
    I will say though, since I use 3/4oz loads I I pattern the loads and have settled on I/M and L/M for my side x sides.
    I practice many different target angles and realize the lighter gun needs a gentle deliberate swing.

    But the bottom line is, as long as you are on target, a #6 pellet @1295 fps kills just the same from a 12ga as a 28ga.

  22. The pretentiousness of this author has convinced me to get a 28 gauge Browning BPS to go with my 12 gauge BPS. I have a feeling it will become my favorite grouse gun! The waxed jackets and tweed can wait formy next expedition.

  23. I guess we should cut the guy some slack since he knows expert shots and has traveled the globe. Funny why didn’t he ask those crack shots why they were using 28 gauge guns? Might have learned something. Nothing like a degree from an esteemed institution to get in the way of someones ability to be a life learner. There is an old saying. “You can always tell a Harvard man, but he just won’t let you tell him much” Since author did not state Harvard as part of his credentials, maybe there is hope for him yet. Btw I have PHD from school of Hard Knocks and I like my little sissy 28 gauge.

  24. I do believe that the joke is on us. We who shoot a variety of guns and realize BS from a cute little bunny, know that this is BS. I don’t have any great degrees from prestigious universities and have only been in other countries because I needed to feed my family and was working. The facts that Gce61 laid out on ballistics are spot on. It was fun and a lot of laughs to read Mr. Williams Middy-like musings and to read the responses that belittled (justifiably so) his lack of practical experience and competence with a scatter gun. Mr Stuart Williams you are a fool.

  25. I once heard that a fool is more sure of everything than a wise man is of anything. Seems to apply in this case.

  26. Thanks for all the comments on the above and love the statements on sanity. I am about to purchase a beautiful 28 bore for very rare use. But I do desire the clean kill capability factor. I’m confident I’ll have the skill to put to use however can anyone help? Should I buy this 28g built on 20g frame? Is iit just putting a smaller engine in a rolls Royce. It Weighs almost the same as a 20g but less shot? So that’s my only problem I have before confirmation of purchase. I know you can get 28g on a 28g purpose built frame but the gun I really want is the latter. Best as always any help much appreciated.

  27. All depends Ross. I have a 32 inch barrel o/u 28ga. on small 20 frame, an A-10. Weighing in at 7 pounds and perfectly neutral balanced. It is a clay target dream gun as I can shoot it all day 5 stand or sporting clays. I also have a little Ruger with 28 inch barrels weights 6 pounds a wonderful field gun for woodcock, quail, grouse, and other light field work. So I have the best of both worlds covered using 28 gauge. My first gun as a kid was a 28….hope that helps….which ever way u go you will be happy. Just figure out what type of shooting u will be doing.

  28. You have no idea on what you’re talking about.

    You may be looking for a clicking bait, or maybe is making fun of the rich shooting gentleman that actually have the money but no shooting skills.

    The 28 gauge in Brazil is still a very common gauge and the loads are far inferior to American loads. Nonetheless, they have killed and still kill numberless birds, small game, and also caymans (alligators), jaguars, anacondas and boas, deer and tapir. They also served a lot as a vengeance and self defense tool.

    In the rural and back country (read rain forest) of Brazil and its neighbour countries, many a native carries his light and cheap shotgun strapped to his back the whole day around, keeping him fed and protected. And these are mostly Boito (better known in America as Stoeger) and Rossi single shots or side by sides, not Best London guns.

    Also of good mention, the American wilderness was settled on .45 to .60 muzzleloader smoothbores, which fall neatly into the 32-20 gauge shotguns. These smaller bores were chosen because economy of powder and lead and because the had the job done.

  29. Wondered into a Wal-Mart and found a 28 gauge 870, bought it was the best shooting gun in ever owned..seemed like I couldn’t miss. It reached out as far as my 12, with alot less damage to the game and my shoulder…don’t knock it till you try it…

  30. Wow Mr. Williams. I am very sorry to say that your article just reinforces to the hilt the common perception held by every normal person in America as to Yale graduates: Liberal, Elitist, Know-It-Alls, with no common sense, who graduate with a freshly and permanently minted mind and opinion on everything, and honestly believe (because they are told this from the day they enter Yale to the day they leave) that they are Superior Beings. My son recently married a Yale grad, and she is exactly the same.

    Poor me. I’m just a regular middle class guy, and a dumb Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Duke University, which is often damned by being called the Yale of the South. What sets us apart, however, is that we leave Duke with the understanding that we don’t know everything on the planet, and with a brain that is trained to think, analyze, experiment and learn, for life. (Ever notice how during the past 20 years, all of the news stories about new scientific and medical discoveries are out of Duke University, and we never hear anything about Yale? Except of course, for articles about people like Hillary, and you).

    Sir, the only way you may recover your honor here is to go out, buy a quality 28 gauge, practice with it for 3 months, hunt with it for 3 months, and then come back and tell us what you have learned, both good and bad, based on your actual experience, not conjecture and rumor. I, for one, would be very interested in reading it.

    Sorry, I don’t have time to write more, or to fly to Argentina with you, but I’m walking out into the corn field behind my house today, here in the Shenandoah Valley, to do a lot of shooting.


  31. In my medical education, I’ve had to interact with my fair share of ivy league types, pompass, arrogant, name droppers, the most of them. and very trying to work with and remain civil. This writer is a classic example of the stereotype.

    I hunt and fish for 50% of our protein, and with limited time, the need to be efficient is critical. My all seasons, all reasons rifle is a 6.8 SPC in an AR15 platform for deer and hog mainly. My Turkey gun is a modified 20 ga 870 with a red dot. Everything else, ducks, quail, rabbits, etc I use a Barretta semi auto 28 ga. In Georgia if you go on an upland hunt with a 12 ga, you will get laughed at, like In laughing at you right now.

  32. Mr Williams;

    In case you don’t know, a shotgun is basically a metal tube with a chamber on one end to hold a shot shell, and a slight constriction on the other. No matter the diameter, lillle lead pellets come out of the constricted end at a given velocity which varies somewhat between the cartridge/shell being fired but produces the same result no matter the diameter of the tube: the pellets fly out and spread to form 2 things. The first is called a shot string. Since not all the pellets can leave the barrel at the same time, they come out in an elongated cone. The second part is called a pattern. This is a somewhat circular opening of the shot string which allows for the pellets to engulf the target ( bird or other). It is easier to kill your target with a denser pattern than a thinner pattern but in the end dead is dead. So let me suggest you close your over educated mouth AND PRACTICE MORE!

  33. I have read the aforementioned blog and totally disagree. I have hunted over highly trained dogs pointers and mostly labs and find the 28 not only deadly but nice to carry. I have killed hundreds of pheasant and grouse with 71/2 shot both 3/4 and 1ounce loads. In addition I dropped a pheasant 40 yds into the wind! The guide wanted to buy my gun. I shoot a ruger red label and a citori. I hunted grouse in Grand Rapids MN with a 12 ga citori and got beat up and the birds were more beat up. I switched to the 28 and have never looked back. Like the guide said one ounce of lead is one ounce of lead. 12-20 or 28. It’s the shooter not the gauge. Would I use it on ducks geese or turkey? Absolutely not. If you like to hunt upland birds over a dog do yourself a favor and try a 28. !!!!!

  34. I wish the author knew his guns better. The 28 ga. has taken all kinds of game including the flying kind. People should not comment on a subject unless they have acquired that knowledge practically.

  35. I am a dedicated 28 shooter
    pick your shots, start behind, pull ahead fast, forward allowance, based upon distance equals how many bird lengths ahead and the swing continues. 28 will kill if you are shooting where you should be and not shooting when you should not.
    At age 70, it is more about the art than the number in the bag. In
    years left, I cherish my time with the 28

  36. This guy seems to identify himself with the famous people he has met. Kind of pathetic that he can’t really be proud of his own accomplishments in life. I am a former USMC scout/sniper, not a great shotgunner, but I shoot a 28 gauge and love it. At sixty-three years of age with a shoulder injury from the Marines, I find the 28 gauge is just right for me.

  37. Thanks for the Informative read. I’m looking to buy a new upland shotgun either the 20 gauge or28.maybe even a 12. From those of you that wrote in support of the 28- are you using a factory load or a hand load? Even a .410 factory load produces high fps with a one ounce load. So, I’m partial to a SXS, and considering a BSS, model 23 or Parker Reproduction. Any suggestions would be appreciated

    1. Hi Jim, thank you for your comment. A 28 or 20 gauge are both gauges we use personally for upland hunting. In Illinois we have a mix of pheasants, quail and woodcock. Hunting behind pointing dogs provides for closer range shots. Factory loads are fine. The gun choice comes down to what you feel most comfortable shooting. That is the best gun for you.

  38. I own a Browning Citori chambered in 28 gauge and I love it. I was turned on to 28 gauge guns while shooting high-volume dove in Cordoba. I would have purchased a semi-auto but most south american countries will only allow guns to enter the country that hold a maximum of 2 shots. Ive shot high-volume ducks, dove and pigeons with the 28 gauge and they fall just like shooting them with a 12 gauge. With practice you will find you dont give up much range with the 28 gauge. Plus you can make fun of your hunting buddies for using a large bore shotgun.

  39. I believe the author is making an antithetical statement here, and the commenters are overlooking it. He’s saying 28 gauge sucks, but the people he know’s that really know how to shoot use it, and chose it for good reason. That implies his own comments are contrary to themselves and intentionally laid out to reinforce what he’s actually saying: “all BS aside, these awesome guys use the 28 for a reason.”

  40. My Great Uncle taught me how to shoot a scattergun. Ha had trophies of 250 straight. Started me at 10 yrs old. Gave me a single shot for deer hunting. I asked him why I can’t have an automatic. He said kid (always called me Kid)do you want to learn to shoot a lot or shoot straight. Opening day I got a 220 lb. doe. and in the next 2 days shot 2 more. I learned over years to use the smallest size gun that will get the job done. I don’t like to carry a led pipe around or get the s—t kicked out of me either. I started with a 12 ga. like a lot do, went to a 20 ga for a number of years and now have a 28ga. side by side. It does everything that the larger gages do with a lot less kick and more enjoyable to carry. Friends I hunt with have gotten away from the tanks to a smaller, liter gun. The gun does not kill the bird. The shot does. It is up to the person pulling the trigger to put it in the correct place. I may add, I think the same when shooting a rifle. It is all about bullet
    placement. By the way my great uncle was Carl Scholtz and even though he is gone, he is still great in my eyes. I am now 73 and will never go back a large gun. This year I had the pleasure of taking my grandson deer hunting for his first time. I gave him a single shot 20 ga. to use. He got his deer. I made him wait for the correct shot placement. One shot, one kill. He told his older brother that night at supper, If you want a deer you need to go with grandpa, he knows how to do it. It made me proud to hear that. Hope I started him correctly like Carl did for me

  41. I been hunting for 50 plus years starting with a 20 gauge then moved up to a 12 and even a few 10 gauges. Went back to a 16 gauge, 20 gauge and now my preferred shotgun is a 28 gauge for Quail, and Pheasants. I to am highly educated with a PHD (Public Highschool Diploma). The 28 gauge also has been my go to gauge for trap and sporting clays. Practice, Practice, and then Practice some more. It’s fun to shoot easy to reload. You can also taylor your ammo to your target or quarry. The 28 is my go to shotgun.

  42. Mr Williams obviously doesn’t know what he is talking about. I just purchased a Dickinson 28 gauge s/s and shot it for the first time at my gun club at sporting clays. The results speak for themselves: I shot 41/50;Fred shot 36/50 with 28 gauge semi-auto; Bob 35/50 12 gauge semi=auto; Ray 33/50 12 gauge pump and Bill 31/50 12 gauge semi-auto. So you think it is a toy, Mr. Williams?

  43. Good discussion. With a 28 gauge at close range, deadly. The game don’t get peppered. And you don’t get that many pellets in your teeth. As a former co founder and past NRA local gun club, the pro used 28 for pen raised pheasants with no issue at club shoot over short hairs. Today order 2nd 28 ga on 20 ga Beretta frame. Just fitted 30″ sporting on 20 gauge frame. Hope Cabela keeps selling 28 ga for $6.50 before the new tariffs come into play.

  44. Stuart is correct on his comments and evaluation of the 28 gauge. Too many crippled and lost birds and really used because of the low recoil. He knows shotguns and ballistics and many who shoot this gauge are not familiar with its limited usage. It is just my opinion also and it is for a very experienced trained shooter, which there are few.

  45. There’s nothing wrong with a 28 gauge. It has just as much power as a 12 or any other gauge, just less shot. A poor shot on a bird is a poor shot.

  46. The author is obviously an amateur, unskilled shotty gunner. The 28 gauge is the perfect gun for ruffed grouse and woodcock. I just shot a 46 out of 50 on sporting clays. My shooting partners will tell you I am often top gun and they shoot 12 gauge autos. I shoot a 28 gauge Dickinson Plantation side-by-side and love it. The author forgets, or more likely he didn’t know, that the ballistics are the same as a 12 gauge, just a smaller pattern. I am just as deadly on pheasants although I don’t find them as challenging as grouse and woodcock,so seldom hunt them.

  47. The author is a pompous ass. His lauds his educational background and travels, yet, he does not know that when referring to single malt Scotch Whisky, the letter “e” is never used (Americans use the “e” when spelling whiskey). Aside from that, others also commenting covered his obvious bias and lack of experience with the 28 gauge. When not properly versed or trained, you should keep from “jaw jackin'”.

  48. It figures. The guy got his head shrunk at Berkeley. While I have no objection to shooting the occasional pen-raised bird, I have particular aversion to places like his, because you end up sitting around with a bunch of pompous asses that feel it’s their duty to share their opinion on every subject in the world, regardless of whether anyone wants to hear it. I prefer to hunt on public lands with close friends, even if it means more modest accommodations and fewer taken birds, mostly with my .410 side by sides. But I’m a fan of all gauges.

  49. I took my daughters 28 gauge with me to North Dakota for pheasants. Being that the birds were plentiful, I figured that I could risk shooting with the 28 gauge.

    Now, I haven’t shot at any of the though pen raised birds, so I can’t comment in that, but the delicate wild birds fell at the rate of one bird per shell.
    And, a fully loaded gun and a few in my pocket was way more than I needed.

    I am not going to trade in my 12 ga Browning autoloader any time soon, but I am considering getting a 28 ga autoloader for myself. It is light weight, and the shells are very light as well.

  50. I never saw the need, felt as many others…..until I bought one! I immediately fell in love with the little beast. A lady shoots my 28, loves it & rivals the menfolk. It’s now my favorite gauge of shotgun.

  51. I’m just an “Average Georgia Joe” with over 50 years of shooting, reloading, and hunting experience. I mention reloading because I’ve never been accused of being wealthy and have saved a ton of money making my own rifle, pistol, and shotgun ammo over the years. I started skeet shooting in the early 90’s and progressed from 12 gauge to 20 gauge, to 28 gauge, and then to .410. In those days, the 28 gauge was my “sweet spot” in all factors considered, including the cost of reloaded ammo. Back then, I never really understood how I shot so well with the 28 gauge and always blamed it on the guns I was shooting then. Fast forward 25 years…. with a couple new shotguns, one a Beretta 12 gauge A400, and a Mossberg SA-28 28 gauge and an auto clay thrower Wheelybird 2, I can bust em from every possible angle just as well with my little 28 gauge as I do with the 12 gauge. I’m feeling confident enough to hunt doves this weekend with my 28 gauge. Wish me Luck!!!

  52. 28 gauge is awesome if you can shoot and don’t a want to put a lb of shot in a slow moving take off the reaction time is short # 6 the best can’t find it ?

  53. Dove hunting with the Mossberg SA-28 was very successful. This little 28 gauge felt like and extension of my body and I was able to engage multiple birds in a single flight much easier than I can ever remember with my heavier 12 gauge. So impressed with shooting the 28 gauge, I just bought a Beretta Silver Pigeon 1 with 30″ barrels in 28 gauge. I am going to keep up the practice and maybe shoot some pen raised quail and pheasant at a preserve near me. If successful, I would love to try it out on wild birds in South Dakota.

  54. You feel embarrassed for the poor guy while reading. Perhaps it was just “trolling” as the kids call it. That would be my best guess.

  55. Hello from Australia! What an excellent and justified response from so many 28 gauge devotees! I have just bought a 30″ Beretta 686 in 28 gauge and am amazed at how well it sorts out Skeet and Sporting Clay targets. I have added weight to the stock to bring it up to 7lbs neat. It handles like a dream and recoil fatigue is non existent after a day on the clays. I use 22 and 24 gram Nobel Sport factory loads in #9’s and 7.5’s and they destroy targets at any reasonable ranges if I do my bit. I have not used it on game as yet but it certainly looks promising. The lesser payload and its thinner pattern compared to a standard 32 gram 12 gauge can be finessed by using a larger shot size and tighter chokes for sporting clays on longer targets. There is certainly something magic about the 28 gauge and I’m finding using it a bit like “a change is as good as a holiday” …and my lovely Beretta DT 10 32″sporter feels like a beautifully balanced battleship in comparison at nearly nine pounds. The authors adventures and influential friends sound very interesting but I think he should get a 28 and do some serious practice both on clays and in the field so he too can claim some expertise because his famous friends clearly like the 28…and we all know why! Cheers from Downunder and stay safe in these weird Covid times!

  56. 28 gage shotgun is the Best gun for upland hunting bar none.
    Very fast , excellent spread, light,I use 76 cm barrel so I can reach real high. If you have to carry 4 boxes of shell for your day and walk all day,12 gage shells will kill u for their heaviness, the 28 you can barely feel the weight. Watch out for really windy days as the spread will be different .
    I use Beretta’s A400 for the past 5 years and I love it!

  57. If you have a 28ga, shoot them in the head. That is just perfect and what you should do. If you can’t shoot, find a coach and practice. If you shoot a 12ga, shoot them in the head. see earlier comment.

  58. It’s great seeing all these people with actual life experience line up to lambast and ridicule this ivy league dipshit.

  59. At age 88, with a shoulder tear, after shooting 12s since ‘92, and a 20 for 3 years, I decided to utilize my Ivy League and Kentucky country learning and open minded brain for more than a hat rack and just bought my 28 g O/U. Cannot wait to get out with it. At my degree of balance, I shoot sitting down (shooting stick or chair) or leaning on a clays stand frame, and pretty well keep up with my friends. Will shoot soft (1,100fps) RST loads, as I have for a number of years. Thanks for all the encouragement!

  60. this guy is obviously not a very good shot. i used a 28 gauge for rabbits and grouse. i killed more rabbits with the 28 than i ever did with a 12. i also used a 20 gauge frenchi 48AL 24″ barrel with IC choke. killed more grouse with it than any gun i ever used. the 28 is a perfect gun for grouse, rabbits, quail or any small game if you are a good shot. they weigh about 5 lbs or less and easy to swing. i love my 28 and my 20 – don’t use a 12 anymore at all.

  61. I have hunted upland birds for many years. I have taken birds with everything from a 12 ga to a .410. I agree with one of the replies that it’s not the gauge it’s the person pulling the trigger. Practice practice practice. The fun is in the challenge. Hunting isn’t about the kill to begin with. Hunting is about the satisfaction of watching a dog you have hours invested in doing an amazing job. The kill is the dog’s reward for a job well done. As for the mode of dispatch….well we have all seen people that couldn’t hit a wall with a blunderbuss.

  62. Agree.

    28 ain’t good for much except keeping my freezer full of Fast Food.

    Here in West Texas, it’s complete murder on our local dove and quail populations.

    It also makes for a dandy upland small gauge shotty too.

    I’ve shotguns chambered in the big five gauges, and anything but waterfowel and turkey, my 28s have always risen to the occasion.

    Keep those shots inside the sweet spot range, and it kills like lightning.

    Light weight, swings nice, easy on my aging shoulder joints, somewhat quiet, and very economical to reload for.

    I’ll take both guns with me at trails end.

  63. Hello all, I didn’t get a chance to see all of the comments on the article until now. I just got back from an extensive “Walkabout” in the Australian outback with an actor who you all know, but his Hollywood agent asked that I don’t disclose the information- just a hint he has starred in two films with Sigourney Weaver and is a good friend of Roger Daltrey. Sheer amount of people on this forum is a delight to see. I hope that you all continue to read my hunting articles, as for now I am headed to Brazil to hunt Capivara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris) with Steve Buchanan (former head of Ozark Rifle Association). Farewell -Stuart

  64. After picking up a 28 ga for the first time last season and shooting almost 100 quail, pheasant, chukar, and huns, in the open country of Southern Idaho. I have to thank to the author for this article, it made me laugh out loud.

  65. I enjoyed the article very much. Unfortunately I do not agree with the author. I am an owner of a Rizzini .28 gauge and hunted wild quail, Huns and Pheasants with it. I will agree it takes some experience and knowledge of the weapon. Once you have shot and used the gun your handling of it, makes it a great choice. Yes, I am a retired Army Ranger and Special Forces Qualified warrior and have lots of experience with weapons. My friends, who hunt with the .28 are deadly and do not have my back ground. I would not consider them the wax jacket or tweed fans. Stuart Williams, come shoot with us and we will get down and dirty and teach you how to use a .28

  66. Maybe I’m reading to much into this, But it sounds a bit like the author is saying most people cant handle the 28ga except for my exceptional celebrity shooting pals… But certainly not any commoners.

  67. This Gentleman is what we call a Yale Weenie! He most likely has never seen a 28 let alone shot one. All I can say is if the 28 is not good for anything, why are they all the rage right now and commanding high premiums! Rubbish article!

  68. As a young boy growing up on the prairie of Illinois I was fortunate to have a 28 gauge Remington semi automatic. I took more rabbits and quail in those days than most did with 12 gauge .iThe gun was superb I enjoyed it immensely as I grew older I went from 28 to 16 to 12.Ive always stayed with the 12 but definitely the 28th is a great bore and deserves a lot of consideration.and respect.

  69. My K80 fitted with a carrier barrel and sub gauge tubes weighs the same
    20, 28, 410 or with the 12 gauge barrel. Heavy!!

  70. Very pompus and uncool. To each man his own, but when you started out talking, I said to myself “you’ll be that ‘expert’ at the hunting club, talking to inexperienced hunters” the guy that doesn’t recognize his own limitations, ie, when he really doesn’t know what he’s talking about. – Talk less – ; it’s the key to knowing. Whenever you feel you need to speak “matter of factly about things” means you really don’t know. Those that know, don’t have to say much, they just DO. You speak by DOING. Be an expert marksmen at all guages, then go in the field with the gun and SHOW [that]- your opinion is in fact, FACT. An expert, doesn’t have to say anything. And definitely has no use for put downs. I hope by now you’ve changed your approach to things and learned your limitations. God Bless!

  71. 5.5 lbs is too light to swing? As soon as I read that I knew we were dealing with an imbecile. Perhaps you are a robot or Frankenstein. Article is pure garbage.

  72. I’m laughing… Brazil was settled in the last century by 20, 24, *28* and 32 gauge shotguns. And settlers shot everything from quails to tapir and jaguar with these little guns, because they were good shots. Why little guns? SHOT AND POWDER WERE EXPENSIVE AND MOSTLY UNAVAILABLE!!! They had to make it last and count.

  73. I like the larger gauged guns and shoot the 12, 26, 30 and 28 gauges. But I shot the lighter recoiling guns better. Call me a pansy. But I recently suffered a shoulder injury that may never allow me to shoot nothing greater in recoil than a 28 gauged shotgun. Is that going to stop me from hunting cause I’m using a such a puny gun, hell no! While living in MT I learned in one hunting season that I was bagging more ducks and geese with standard loads in 12 and 16 gauged shoguns than with magnum loads I started out with (using steel shot). The “experts” liked to say I truly needed magnum loads. So it really is up to the hunter to discover what works best for themselves and stick with it!

  74. The author is basically correct…..he was speaking of the standard 3/4 ounce load…..or maybe the lighter british load.
    Increase that shot weight to 7/8 or 1 ounce and effectiveness on many gamebirds is commensurate.
    Basically, if you use 7/8 or 1 ounce then you have a 20 gauge, a 16 gauge and to a degree a 12 gauge.
    Mostly fine…..tho 1 ounce loads do not always pattern well and they will crack you when the gun weight drops much below 6#.

    I had a couple 28s…fine guns, not at all magic, just ok…..but I never saw a reason to shoot the heavier loads as I have 20, 16s and 12s for them.

    Sadly, too many toot for 28s, run the heavier loads and then get upset when the truth is told.
    Use a 28, use it at a heavy 30 yards on softer birds or closer on tougher birds…no one really will be impressed.

    One note…after nearly 60 years hunting ruffed grouse ahead of a setter….28s work…ok….but many grouse will be returned with their head up, not down….just reality in the real world and up to you on whether that is acceptable, or not.

    Finally, the “square load” concept is bunk…..any gauge can have a load as wide as it is high and the 1 ounce 28 gauge load is not….square.
    Enjoy a 28….don’t pretend it’s performance is great….it isn’ is normal performance.

    make it a nice day.

  75. If you don’t like it don’t use it but I like it, use a 28 whenever I can on Quail pheasant and doves. Ducks never did but if I had a 28 when I was hunting ducks I probably would have. I shot them with a 410. But then I did a lot of puddle jumping. It boils down to if you’re out hunting and having a good time that’s all that matters

  76. What a one sided article… I have killed more pheasant with my 28 than any other gun I own. I hunted with a 12 guage for many years and was weary of taking my 28 in the field because of articles like yours, until I met a gentleman who knew better. I switched over to my 28 guage and started shooting better than I ever have. I bagged more roosters with it the first season than I could have hoped for. I have been shooting it ever since. I have made a believer out of many others I hunt with who thought a 28 guage was just a show piece…

  77. Yo Stu-Willy. You don’t know him cuz you run with big names that nobody cares about, but I had a very smart professor while attending the lowly University of North Alabama. He told me to never argue with a skillet-head because they’re skillet-heads. He’d suggest you pour yourself a tall frothy glass of shut the f*** up and dismiss himself from your presence to hang with people who don’t speak baby talk. Grow up Stu-Willy.

  78. Stuart lost me with the first biased and duplicitous sentence. But he sealed the deal with “holds degrees from Yale and the University of California at Berkeley”. Figures – only a pompous, arrogant ass could write such drivel. Next…

  79. The .28 gauge is a outstanding choice ,we use them for Upland and waterfowl,hunters will argue about all gauges and shot size ,chokes etc.But my son’s and I hunt about 220 days a year and have tried it all.

  80. I shoot the five popular gauges, and shoot them a fair amount. 12,16,20,28, and 410. I’ve killed plenty of ducks and pheasants out to 60-65 yards using tss in both 410 and 28 ga. If you hand load, using lead, a 28 will out do a 20 ga all day long. As far as the lite guns being “whippy” , that is just a matter of learning how to handle them. It’s more about the shooters limitations than the gun. It’s your hunt, shoot what you enjoy, and have a good time, that’s what matters!

  81. It’s the shooter not the gun.45 years ago We formed a NRA 100% club and built a trap house in the woods. Then a cabin in the woods and had a club shoot with pheasants and chuckers and my lab did what she was trained to do.The best shooter was the one with the 28 ga. Yes thanks to him we eat well!

    Sometime later form a shooting preserve with 100 acres, has a Browning featherlight 28 straight stock, liberated two dozen birds, but no shooting, just training lab. All posted land by NYS regs. Corn fields, stream and spring.One day a non member came up and asked if I saw his dog.Well the thank me for liberating the pheasants and he and his friend tresspasted and shot all 24 blue backs, that we were trying to hold for winter.

    It’t the shooter not the gun that kill illegally. Carrying the 28 and practicing with my yellow was the best of times. Having neighbors like this fellow was the worst time. Best friends are four legged!

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