Our own dear Mrs. Animal takes a deal of pride in being contrary, at times, and her choice in shotguns reflects that; her arm for trap and sporting clays is the Browning White Lightning in 16 gauge.
Why 16 gauge? Because she likes it, and sees no need to explain herself beyond that. Doug Oliver, the keeper of the 16 Gauge Society, has a more detailed explanation. His thoughts were recently detailed in Shotgun Life. Excerpt:
“The 16 gauge is absolutely the perfect shotgun,” he explains. “It has a perfect load for wingshooting. Plus a 16 gauge will typically be a pound lighter than a 12 gauge if you’re carrying it all day in the field. The 16 gauge shoots like a 12 gauge but carries like a 20 gauge. It’s a great gun.”
When Doug turned 50, for his midlife crisis instead of a Porsche he bought himself a shotgun. It was a 16-gauge F.A.I.R. Rizzini over/under. It was a better gun than he had known at that point.
On a flight from Los Angeles to New York, he had been reading an article in Double Gun Journal about dove hunting in Argentina. Until that point he had every intention of buying a 20 or 28 Beretta, but the article deflected him to the 16-gauge F.A.I.R. Razzing.
Doug found himself smitten by the lovely 16 gauge. In doing his “homework” for that 16-gauge F.A.I.R. Rizini he realized “that 16 gauge was a stepchild,” he explained. “Information at the time was so hard to dig out and that’s where the 16 Gauge Society web site came in. I though I’d just design and throw up 16 gauge web site and maybe sell a couple of hats. The project itself was fun and informative.”
One of my oldest friends is a big 16 gauge fan as well; Dave has been insistent on the virtues of the 16 since we were in high school, back in the 1970s, even as yr. obdt. went along with the Old Man’s preference for 12-bore guns.
Still; the 16 is an intriguing size. A round ball of 16-bore diameter weighs exactly one ounce; a one-ounce shot charge fills the bore nicely, without excessive stacking which can, in smaller bores, lead to long shot strings and blown patterns. But perhaps one of the nicer things about the 16 is that older guns in this bore size are relatively cheap and easy to find, precisely due to the shrinking popularity of the gauge.
I’ve been scouting around for a WW2-vintage, solid rib 16 gauge Winchester Model 12 to accompany my 12 gauge gun of those specs in the rack. It will be interesting to fact-check Mrs. Animal’s and Dave’s 16 gauge advocacy for myself, both on the range and in the field. If it matches up to my various 12 gauge guns I’ll be well pleased.