The 12-gauge is the larger of the two with a bore diameter of 0.73 inches/18.5 millimeters. The
range is usually longer and it will have greater recoil. The 12-gauge is chosen for migratory bird
hunting and skeet shooting because of its range. Physically smaller individuals may find the
recoil is not tolerable. The recoil can be considerable for anyone when using certain shells. This
is something that must be considered for extended hunting trips. People that seem to be able to
tolerate the recoil on the practice range may find it more difficult as the hunting trip gets longer
and as they use various sized loads.
If there is more than one person in the home that may use a shotgun as a home defense weapon
you must consider the recoil. Young adults and others must be able to tolerate the recoil of a 12
gauge otherwise, you would need to have a 20-Gauge available or have both weapons available
Because of the heavier loads in a 12-gauge you have to know the damage the loads will do to
small game such as rabbits and squirrels. The heavier loads may very well destroy the animal to
the point where they cannot be used as a food source and the skins would be unusable as well.
The standard 12-gauge load is 1 1/8 ounces of shot. You can load 1 ¼ as well for longer range
and heavier birds but once again the recoil with the heavier load will be considerable for some
individuals. Because the heavier loads carry more pellets, avid bird hunters choose the 12-gauge
because more pellets mean more contact with the bird.