Modern autoloader is ideal for gun hunters
Published 12:45 am Wednesday, October 17, 2001
Outdoors with Ben
Chances are your first firearm arrived on Santas sleigh and was a single shot .410 or 20-gauge shotgun. The little single barrel served well through the preteen years but that yearning for something larger and capable of firing 3 or more shots could not be ignored.
That same sleigh brought many of us our second shotgun, often an autoloader or pump 12 gauge that, in our eyes, elevated us to the same status as our father, big brothers, uncles, etc. who hunted with a .12 gauge.
As we got older and could afford more expensive toys we began to add new guns to our gun cabinet. A lightweight .20 gauge was needed for quail; a long barreled duck, goose and turkey gun was a must. Then when short barrels got popular, we couldnt be without one. Most of us that hunt are always thinking of that one more gun we need to complete our collection, but truth is we can do very well with just one shotgun.
The modern gas-operated auto-loading shotgun, with screw-in chokes, is adequate for all upland bird, waterfowl, and most deer hunting. If you are going to own just one shotgun, you are probably better off with a 12 gauge. One can hunt quail in the morning with light loads of no. 8 shot. The same gun will take high-flying ducks and geese the next morning using heavy 3-inch loads and large steel shot. Add a scope-sighted slug barrel and you can take deer well past 100 yards.
Autoloaders of 15 years ago could not cycle the ultra light loads, and if you needed a 3-inch heavy load, you had to buy a separate gun. Not so with todays versions. Modern autoloaders have a self-metering valve that vents excess gases with heavy loads, but remains closed enough to allow proper functioning with the ultra light loads.
While I enjoy hunting with a side-by-side, over and under, and my 870 Remington pump, I cannot deny the very noticeable recoil reducing benefits of gas-operated autoloaders. Recoil is reduced because a portion of the expanding gases are tapped off through vents in the barrel and are used to operate the gas cylinder which in turn operates the bolt that ejects a fired case and chambers a new round.
Todays gas operated autos are much more reliable than guns of just 20 years ago. While the double and pump action are slightly more reliable, one will never know the difference if the auto is kept reasonably clean.
Now, if you have already convinced your honey why you just must have another gun for Christmas, and he/she reads this column and uses it as a reason for denying you your new gun, just tell them to give me a call and I will swear I was heavily medicated at the time I wrote it and there is absolutely no validity to a one gun argument!..