Best barrel length for all hunting?

Discussion of the Remington 870 for hunting.
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Donjeare
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Best barrel length for all hunting?

Post by Donjeare » Sat Jul 15, 2017 4:38 am

I just picked up a used 12ga Express Magnum with 20" (might switch down to 18") and interested in getting a second -longer- barrel with thread-in choke that will be a good balance for any and all hunting I might want to do (and also casual skeet, but figure that already will fall with in there with out any real change). I know that is rather broad and vague, but this is my first shotgun, and just want something that will do OK whatever all I might end up shooting at. I do have rifles and live where I am free to use them, so not really looking to take any classic rifle game (deer, groundhog, coyote, etc.). It has wood furniture and I will be putting on a +2 tube extension and a side saddle, for idea on balance. Are there any important points I should be aware of in choosing a barrel? thanks for any wisdom and advice you are willing to part with!

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Synchronizor
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Re: Best barrel length for all hunting?

Post by Synchronizor » Sat Jul 15, 2017 8:42 am

Welcome to the forum.

For an all-around barrel, I would look at something with a vent-rib. It's a good all-purpose sighting system for most game, and you can get all manner of add-ons for the rib like fiber-optic front sights, or even front and rear rifle sights, depending on what you're doing.

Length is partially a matter of personal preference, but for an all-purpose barrel, I would look for a 26" or 24" barrel. The 26" version is a common barrel, so you can probably find one used without too much trouble if that's an option for you. The 24" is less common, but the reduced length & weight makes a gun easier to carry, and may be nice for hunting situations where you need a faster swing, or where you're aiming rather than swinging, like with turkey hunting. If you want something real short, there are also 23" and 21" vent-rib barrels.

28" is also a common 12ga 870 barrel length, but it can be a bit long for some applications where you need to swing quickly. You mentioned shooting skeet; a 28" is definitely longer than ideal for skeet, especially doubles skeet. It's better-suited for waterfowl hunting or trap shooting, in my opinion.

Something to keep in mind is that if you find a barrel for a really good price, or you buy a barrel and decide you want something shorter, you can always have it shortened & re-threaded. Vent-rib barrels are great for this, because there are no sights to move, the rib is just shortened along with the barrel.

adobewalls
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Re: Best barrel length for all hunting?

Post by adobewalls » Mon Jul 17, 2017 5:21 pm

I preferred the shorter 21" to the 26" for all around use. Spent lots of field time as a young teenager jump shooting rabbits and quail. Even preferred jump shooting dove in corn fields using the shorter barrel.

I prefer the longer 26" barrel if I'm sitting in one location and taking shots at dove passing over the tree tops at 40mph.

s.davis
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Re: Best barrel length for all hunting?

Post by s.davis » Wed Aug 23, 2017 2:18 pm

Does anyone have any feeling or approximate weight reduction of shorter barrels?

I have a new wingmaster 20 ga, and had considered a 21" barrel to replace the 26" but don't want to pony up $200 without some sense of what the carry difference will be.

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Synchronizor
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Re: Best barrel length for all hunting?

Post by Synchronizor » Thu Aug 24, 2017 2:37 am

It's going to be subjective. The weight reduction itself wouldn't be tough to estimate, but that's not at all the whole story. I would suggest checking out your local gun stores to see if you can find an 870 with a similar-length barrel to try swinging around.

sledge
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Re: Best barrel length for all hunting?

Post by sledge » Thu Aug 24, 2017 5:28 pm

I would also add that when hunting migratory game birds like doves and ducks (and all manner of other game) you must have your magazine plugged to only accept two shells. I would caution that if this shotgun is for hunting primarily, adding an extended magazine and side saddle will add unnecessary weight and difficulty-- standard factory plugs are not long enough, meaning you would have to measure and manufacture your own.

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Synchronizor
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Re: Best barrel length for all hunting?

Post by Synchronizor » Fri Aug 25, 2017 4:48 am

It's easy to switch from a magazine extension back to a magazine cap for hunting - especially when you're changing the barrel anyway.

efriedrich
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Re: Best barrel length for all hunting?

Post by efriedrich » Sat Jan 06, 2018 5:58 am

Synchronizor wrote:
Thu Aug 24, 2017 2:37 am
It's going to be subjective. The weight reduction itself wouldn't be tough to estimate
A good rule of thumb is about two onces per inch of barrel. I prefer short barrels on all my shotguns, chokes are a wonderful thing.

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