A friend and I had a conversation about different gauges and loads.Rob who is an avid Wingshooter likes 12 gauge guns because of the larger pattern and less chance that the bird would be on the fringe of the pattern resulting in a cripple.Basically he was crapping on sub gauge guns.I agreed that the Hunters with 20 & 28’s cripple a lot of birds, the good shots do wonders but is it the gauge or the load that they are shooting? Not everyone wants to pack around a heavier 12 Gauge,most Upland Hunters are shooting 20 gauge guns because of this.Yes it would be great if we all shot 16 Gauge guns but this is likely not going to happen.My observation is that is not some much the gauge but the load the Hunters are shooting which results in more cleanly killed birds.
Considered a ‘heavy’ load by most,a load of six’s is good for every from Quail to pheasants.Some may even consider it to be the forty Calibre of shotgun loads.On The Saskatchewan Prairie I have given up on 7.5’s entirely,# six does it all and cleanly kills Huns and Sharptails at a far range which is often your shots.
When I do get a chance to personally Duck hunt I am shooting a 1 oz #6 RST “Nice shot” load which is also devastating on decoying ducks.
Down here in Arizona I am still using 7.5 & #7 shot on Mearns Quail but on tough Desert Birds #6’s offer the hunter a clean kill,therefore less dog energy is used looking for downed birds as there are fewer cripples.
For loads I find 1 oz #6 for 16 gauge is perfect and 7/8 oz for 20 Gauge gets it done.If you notice a lot of crippled birds on your hunt’s try shooting #6 shot and see if it makes a difference.It certainly did for me.