12 Ga Ammo

The 12 Ga shotgun shell is the most popular size in the US, and possibly the world. It is a multi-purpose gauge that offers the choice of hunting, and home defense. The 12 gauge is the standard gauge used by the Military and Law Enforcement agencies. Since 12 gauge ammunition is widely available in different shot types, a shooter armed with an inexpensive 12 gauge shotgun could conceivably hunt all species of game in North America, or protect their home with the change of a barrel, choke, and ammo.

What Is a 12 Ga?: Gauge Shotgun Shell

A 12-gauge has a nominal bore diameter of 0.729 inches or 18.5mm in the rest of the world. A 12-gauge/bore means that a dozen lead balls of 12-gauge diameter weighed together equal a pound. The standard load for a 12 is a 1 1/8-ounce target load, but you can load 12s with payloads as light as 5/8 ounces and as heavy as 2 1/4 ounces. No other gauge can match the range of that spectrum.

Moreover, the 12-gauge hull has enough internal capacity to hold adequate loads of pellets as bulky as 00 buck. Obviously, it can hold anything smaller, too, all the way down to a swarm of tiny No.10 shot for card shooting contests.

The roomy hull and the 0.729-inch bore of the 12-gauge mean that it will shoot more efficient patterns than smaller bores. That’s especially true with lead shot that is more easily deformed in smaller bores and with heavy payloads of any large shot.

What Is a 12 Ga?

Twelve-gauge guns have been made for every possible special purpose and ammunition type — they’ve been built as lightweight double guns with chambers as short as 2 inches for ultralight, low-recoil payloads on up to 3 1/2 inch chambers for heavy waterfowl and turkey loads, slug guns for big game, and tactical versions for law enforcement applications and they’ve been used on the battlefield in one way or another ever since firearms have been used in battle. These days, there are even short factory 12-gauge 1 3/4-inch shells that run in any double gun or single-shot, and in some pump guns.

That versatility makes the 12 the one essential shotgun gauge and it has an answer for every other gauge’s perceived advantages. The only thing bigger out there today is the 10-gauge, which has its own tiny niche, but 3 1/2-inch, 12-gauge shells offer nearly equivalent performance to the 10-gauge in some ways and actually exceed it in others.

When it comes to the weight of 12-gauge guns, they can be made very light for easy carry in the field — put an alloy frame on an O/U, and it weighs the same or less than many 20-gauges.

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