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Shotgun shell selection for rabbits
I really don't know much about guns as my hunting has pretty much been all archery, but I've recently started hunting waterfowl with shotguns and have purchased shotguns for CA and AK and need some advice.
I've done some duck and goose hunting with my 12g in AK and now have a 20g for ducks in AK and have recently purchased a 20g O/U for quail in CA and a pump 20g for ducks.
I'm pretty comfortable with my shell selection for ducks, but I'm going to take the 20g O/U for rabbits on the July 1 opener and will also be using it for quail come fall. I'm steel shot only in CA. For 20g, I'm thinking I'm pretty set on steel #6 for quail and wondering what you guys think about that, but my primary question is, for rabbits, what would you use? These are cotton tail with the rare Jack.
I have a bunch of 3 inch #6 steel and I got some 2 3/4 #7 steel for squirrels. Will the latter work on rabbits at 20 yards? Most shots will be 20-30 yards at running targets. These rabbits are pretty spooky.
The O/U is a CZ with 28 inch barrel. I have a standard quail choke setup.
It will work but #4 wld be better.
My experience with rabbits in Ohio (cottontail) is that they are wussies......may be able to kill them with shells full of pepper!
6s are pretty much the standard but I've killed them with 7.5s left over from shooting clays. High brass, low brass....either one.
Also......never felt the need to shoot over 2.75 shells on any small game
I killed many as a kid with 12s and 20s (lead). I recall liking #4 but mostly recall using whatever my teenage budget could afford so I know I bagged a bunch with 7.5s and 8s since they were usually less expensive.
Never had a problem with 6's or 7's. Always have grabbed the cheapest shells available.
As a kid with my 410...#6
A 2 3/4" upland load of 6 or 5's works great .. 1 1/8 oz to 1 1/4oz using improved cyl or modified for the choke .... I like a full 1 1/4oz. of 5's with imp. Cyl. And I use my turkey bbl/24" and just switch out the choke tube to imp. Cyl.
The shorter barrel is great for handling in thick brush or fields .... the 1 1/4 5s also are a great pheasant and squirrel load, I use the modified tube then ... ive killed hundreds of bunnies thru the years and dozens of pheasant .... I love upland hunting !!
4s ruin too much meat. I use 6 shot on rabbits. 7 1/2 works great too.
7.5's and you'll be eating a lot of pellets
What cas hntr said. Rabbits are not that tuff to kill. 6-7.5 is fine even 8. I just shoot them with whatever is on sale.
I've never used steel shot... but #4 for a rabbit? I use #4/#5 for turkey, but not steel. #6 would seem to be a pretty good selection for steel if you ask me. You say you have a standard quail choke setup, but what exactly is that? A really tight pattern, and you may not want to use the smallest shot, but my guess would be you have something a little more open for quail. With a wider pattern you may want the increased shot; i.e. the smallest size you see fit.
As you can see from these posts, it really boils down to personal preference and how you take your shots. If the bunnies are close, know your pattern, and either wait for'em to run a bit or shoot ahead of them.
Steel shot is lighter then lead shot so first off I don’t know if they make 7 1/2 shot anyway but you may have to go larger due to them being lighter? You could try another alternative to steel but they will cost you.
Forgot to mention make sure your O/U can handle steel shot as some are not rated for it.
I dont know why anyone would use steel on rabbits, unless a state/fed property mandates it ... if you miss a steel pellet in cleaning the bunny and bite down, steel dont give like lead, you can screw up a tooth/filling ... lead 5s or 6s and youll be fine
Lead is illegal in CA JTV. Their we are even now on now reading correctly lol.
6 or 7-1/2 in a 2-3/4" shell is fine.
6 or 7-1/2 in a 2-3/4" shell is fine.
You couldnt pay me to step one foot into CA.
Chokes are Improved and Modified.
I just checked my supply. I have #6 in 2 3/4 as well, so I'll go with that and save the 7s for squirrels, but will probably try it out. I got the 3 inch shells for ducks and they're all in #2. Perhaps I'll put the 2 3/4 7s in the first chamber and the #6 in the second for the longer shot.
Thanks for the help guys.
ANY shotgun is overkill on rabbits !
7 1/2 shot for shotgun but I prefer 22 LR.
Ike, if you're using the 20 ga for rabbits definitely go with the 6's and use a 3" shell. The extra payload will help on those shots over 20 yards. A 2 3/4" steel load in 20 ga will not have a lot of pellets, probably only around 3/4 oz. Federal blue box is pretty cheap. I would never use anything under a 3" load out of a 20 when running steel, just my personal preference.
Geez!.....what are you guys hunting,...Jurassic Park rabbits? ....3" #6's....seriously? You can kill them with a slingshot! Very fragile critters.
Growing up in NC I killed piles of rabbits with a single shot Savage and 2 3/4" #6s (lead). Never had a problem with that load. Now, that was running beagles. If I was just creeping through the woods and brushpiles w/o dogs I generally used a 22lr.
Since moving to Alberta I might have to change my strategy. The rabbits up here are huge; think I might need a .30-30 for these buggers ;)
Hell I killed a ton of rabbits with my Crossman air gun. That’s how I did it while stalking with out the use of a dog. When we used a dog on white rabbits I always remember using #6 shot in 2 3/4” shells
imo, squirrels are tougher/tougher to kill than rabbits but I don't have a ton of rabbit hunting under my belt.
Killed my first rabbit with a slingshot. Then I used a .410 for a long time. Then got my first 12 ga and found out they will totally destroy a rabbit at 10 feet...6 shot lead around here when I hunt them.
12 gauge 7 or 7.5 is more then enough. I have never had a problem with shot entering the meat unless its at close range.
.410 #6 if you can afford 'em.