Tag Archives: gauge



reaload made in italy

hunting womanThe single bullet and rifled barrel are essential elements for the mountain big game because the real hunt works only with a smart and controlled selection of game. Between weapon and prey creates a sort of addiction, where each game species should influence the choice of the rifle, both in relation to the scope, the deadliness of the caliber, the accuracy, the system to repeat the stroke, weight, and not for the last the pointing scopes.

Not always, however, the choice of the rifle admits a unique solution, in fact sometimes the hunter has a certain freedom of decision, when faces with forms of hunting that can be charged with satisfaction with weapons of different kinds. The hunter, in this case, is not bound by technicalities, but comes in a subjective criterion of evaluation, given by the individual experience of hunting, by the personal choice and by the way he approaches the game. The rifled weapon is always been preferred in the alpine hunts, it has very long range, great precision, big deadliness and shot quite tense determined by the rotational motion that is stamped by the rifling of the barrel. The parallel express or the superposed, the compounds formed by a variation of “combination” and the single barrels or kipplauf  belong all to the group of tilting rifled weapons.

rifle hunting mountain

The latter has a single shot and it is especially suitable for high mountain hunts because of the lightness and precision. In some models it is equipped with double trigger or stencher to lighten the shot and always with scope with interlocking mountings. Generally the gauge chambered in kipplauf is not very powerful, but the weapon, light, disassembled or folded, can easily be transported in big backpack of alpine hunters, including optics. The single barrel is used by a small elite of enthusiasts, in approach hunting or fire position hunting to chamois and deer. To have a single shot does not constitute a disadvantage as you might imagine, because in these hunting activities there is a need for the rapid repetition of the shot.

Express rifles of medium and small gauge are not generally used in the mountains because more suited to short shots,  extremely rare in these environments; the combined rifles, generally with two barrels, one smooth and the other rifled, can give the advantage of being used for game of a different nature and size, to shoot both a ptarmigan that to a chamois.  They are chambered in different gauges for the rifled barrel as regards the rifled barrel and with 20 or with 16 for smooth barrel. The rifles belong to rifled shotgun with single barrel, not swinging; also these are used particularly in hunts that require precision shots such as mountain hunts.

hunting mountain rifle

They usually have simple manual repetition; they are divided into three categories, for the pump system, at lever and with slipping bolt action. The latter, by tradition and precision, is the system most widely preferred by mountain hunters in Europe. The most advanced and efficient design of the entire category of revolving action is the “Mauser system” in 1898. The action type Mauser has a cylindrical shape formed by the machining processing of a special steel bar.

The action is hollow, because inside are housed the main spring and the firing pin with exterior handle, curved downwards and connected to the action; it acts as a lever allowing the rotation of 90° and the sliding action.

Other systems of repetition, both ancient and modern, realize the action closure in a very different way from that of the Mauser, through a different number of fins, or with crampons of different shape and placed in the rear instead of in the head of the action, resulting in the closure and fitting back in the back guide ring of the castle. All they have a very simple and robust mechanism, they are resistant to oxidation, do not fear the abuse and they work in all environmental conditions. The Mauser system is very versatile and can be used in many gauges and do not know the danger jams. The reliability, the precision, the predisposition to be mounted and the flat trajectory also at long range make the Mauser system suitable for shots longer than 200-250 meters, very frequent in mountain.

Teresa Renda

gauges, shotgun, hunting, 12 ga, 16, ga, 20 ga, 24 ga, 28, ga, 32 ga, 36 ga, .410 ga


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The origin of the definition of the gauges for smooth-bore weapons is attributed to the British who called them in relation to the number of spherical balls of the same diameter can be obtained from a pound of lead. For this reason, the smaller the gauge, the greater the number that identifies it. In the age of front loader firearms, there was no real definition of the gauge because black powder and lead were paid into the barrel and taking shape and volume dates from the tube.

gauges, shotgun, hunting, 12 ga, 16, ga, 20 ga, 24 ga, 28, ga, 32 ga, 36 ga, .410 ga

Turning to the creation of the cartridges, it was necessary to define standards so that all the ammunition produced for a shotgun had the same section. But there were many states with different measure units so in Liege, in 1911, were defined dimensions and related tolerances. This is true for the chamber of the cartridge that can take inside equal size cartridges, but the gauge of the barrel may vary so it can shoot balls also very different from each other. Let’s take an example. The Convention C.I.P. states that the chamber of cartridge can vary between 18.2 mm and 18.6 mm in gauge 16, and the chamber between 20.3 mm and 20.4 mm in gauge 12.

The work of the hunting shotgun

The shotgun has the purpose to perform a job using the energy produced by the combustion of gunpowder. Part of this energy is absorbed by the passive resistance of the barrel, another part is converted into heat and another part generates the thrust of the hunting shots. This last part is defined as “useful work” of shotgun. The energy called “kinetic energy” that animates the shots will be greater as much as greater will be the “useful work”.

The useful work of the shotgun is made up of three components: average pressure in the barrel, section of the barrel, length of the barrel. If we consider a length of fixed barrel, if the section is reduced, and therefore the gauge, increases the operating pressure. But this pressure can not increase without limit both for safety reasons, but also because it would distort the hunting shots that should lose their spherical shape. For this reason the weight of the charge that a rifle can launch remains linked to the diameter of the barrel, and then to the gauge. In the final analysis it is therefore possible to say that the smooth-bore hunting shot can shoot heavier loads if the caliber is large or, and this is very important, shotguns at the same weight charge develops lower pressures.

The gauges

Traditionally gauges of shotguns are divided into 4 categories:

1) BIG GAUGES – (4 – 8 – 10) – In practice no longer used (except the 10 in some countries) because are impractical to use and designed to shoot too heavy loads.

 2) AVERAGE GAUGES – (12 – 16-20) – Used a lot around the world. They are to be considered the best compromise for all the small game. The gauge 12 is the most used, but the use of gauge 20 is also good. The gauge 16 was not used and was almost disappeared until it is resumed in some countries. In Italy there is a very active Club (www.calibro16.it) bringing it back to its former splendor.

 3) SMALL GAUGES – (24-28 – 32-36) – Used in Europe for small birds, they have seen a rapid reduction in their use almost unti to disappear (24-32). Others gauges, instead, in recent years, have had a second life (28-36) also to be used on the fields of skeet shooting. In particular, the gauge 36, in its magnum version (ie. 410) has always had a wide use in the United States and is having an interesting use even in some European countries.

 4) MINIMUM GAUGES – (9 mm, 8 mm, 6 mm) – Not used to hunt for their low ability to break down the game.

gauges, shotgun, hunting, 12 ga, 16, ga, 20 ga, 24 ga, 28, ga, 32 ga, 36 ga, .410 ga

The prohibition in the USA and in most countries of Europe of the big guns allowed to develop in the 12-gauge and 20-gauge the Magnum concept. These have the ability to shoot effectively both standard charges of shooting shots that oversize that arrive at the bigger gauge. This development was made possible thanks to modern steel manufacturing industry and to hunting powder production.

Teresa Renda

Beretta, products, accessories, hunting, shooting, outdoor

hunting, rifled, gauge, shooting, hunting


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expert hunter, rifle

With the emergence of the rifled barrel it is increasingly important to have clear concepts that should guide the hunter to the choice of gauge. This is necessary also to avoid taking simply the weapon identified by the seller; we have to instead make an informed choice with his advice.

The choice of gauge, at the same energy transported, should tend towards the smaller gauge, not so “bad” for the shoulder, but that preserves at the same time the good qualities of precision and is chambered from a large number of manufacturers to find the right weapon and a wide availability of ammunition.

gauge, caliber

But even with these concepts it is necessary to make careful assessments: shot too light, although very fast, may find difficulty in killing stubborn game, exploding at the first contact with the tissues and causing only superficial wounds. This in alternative to shot with hard point that, if not meeting bones, pierces the soft tissues being unable to bring to bear on the game the right amount of useful energy to kill, a basic criterion for the hunt.

The hunting literature lists with certain gauges of historical reliability if used in their range of rational use in terms of shooting distances. The list is extensive but we can recal the 7×57 Mauser, the 7×64, the 5,6×57, the 30-30 W, the 30.06, the W 270, the W 308, the 22-250 and the powerful 300 H & H and 357 H & H.

But obviously the choice of gauge is also in function of the type of weapon that you are going to use. The logic of modern hunting with rifled barrel goes toward the specialization of the weapon and as for our game the maximum limit to be taken into consideration is the 30.06, being good for a big lone male wild boar. For other game, such as fallow deer and roe deer, we can consider it more than enough. But the concept is still controversial and hotly-debated among hunters and there are two well-defined schools of thought: one that wants to privilege the powerful gauge to avoid loss of the animal, and the other that focuses on the need to hit the game on the vital point though it’s small so favors small and fast gauges.

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Passing by hunters to experts in ballistics applied to hunting, their advice is to choose the gauge as small as possible in relation to the game, able to carry enough energy on the game for a clean kill in a range that can reach 270-330 yd. This assessment has a security exception if you hunt dangerous animals (if you really want to go to Africa) for which an excess of energy is useful to the security of the hunter.

There are also some logical criteria that you should consider in choosing the gauge relating the habitual environment of hunting:

a) mountain hunting or in open spaces: in this case the logic is to opt for a fast gauge with light shot;

b) hunting in woodland: here quick, light gauges are not to be considered suitable and the best choice for gauges with heavy shot;

c) hunting in different grounds; the case is not specialized and the advice is to opt for an intermediate gauge but it should be able to take in shot with a good range of weights to cover all needs.

An assessment that leads to the small or fast gauge in the mountains there is the result of a factor, the angle of the site. Using in those places fast shot in straight trajectory will help us enormously in the calculation of the angle at which to set the final aim.

A final element of assessment, which makes someone happy and others unhappy, is the combination gun-ammunition. Not all the ammunition have the same in compliance with different weapons; tolerances in camerature set by the manufacturer, the choice of materials for the barrels and their elasticity (there are many types of steel with very different elasticity) may give different results at the shooting. In this case for a hunter the best way to evaluate is test his rifle with ammunition up to define the most suitable ammunition to interface with it.

Alessio Ceccarelli

Beretta, products, accessories, hunting, shooting, outdoor