Shotgun shells – what is gauge? What are the most popular gauges?
The part where people get confused is about the number “12” and 20.” If a 20 gauge is smaller than a 12 gauge, then what does the 20 signify? Well these numbers actually refer to the number of solid spherical balls the same diameter as the inside of the barrel that can be made from one pound of lead. In a 12 gauge, 12 lead balls can be made from one pound of lead. In a 20 gauge, 20 lead balls can be made from one pound of lead.
The most popular shotgun gauges are 20, 16, 12 and 10. A novice gun user might wonder which gauge is better to have for a shotgun. The real determining factor over which gauge to choose is the amount of recoil it produces. As you probably know, recoil is the kickback you get after you pull the trigger on the weapon. The more recoil there is the more kickback you have, and vice versa. In America, about 50% of the shotguns sold are 12 gauge shotguns. This is likely because ammunition for a 12 gauge is more readily available. The only problem with a 12 gauge is its recoil. People who cannot handle the recoil should go with a 20 gauge because this one has less recoil. And if that is still too much for you to handle, the only option you have left is to get a 20 gauge. However, it is much harder to find ammunition for a 10 gauge or a 16 gauge in your local gun shop. The 12 and 20 remain the most dominate in the marketplace.