An open discussion about 16 gauge shotguns

Midnight Raver

Active Member
I used to do a bit of shotgun shooting in the past. At some shooting contests the standard fare was 12 gauge slugs for Turkey Shoots(V targets) and Clay Pigeons with various 12 gauge bird shot sizes. However, my personal shooting and hunting excursions were with 16 gauge shotguns. A loaner for my first time pheasant hunting was a fine Ithaca pump shotgun. Not too long after, I bought a used Stevens 16 gauge double barrel and fell in love with it. Unfortunately I sold it to an uncle of mine years down the road- regretted it ever since.

I noticed during the last couple of years that the 16 gauge shotgun is a scarce critter indeed. Why is this so? They make a great midway point between the 12s and 20s, packing a hefty wallop without being overwhelming to the average person. 410 gauge seems even more popular lately, and it is the same size shell as a .45 Long Colt- both being used in the Taurus Judge revolvers! I think I have noticed maybe only 2 firearms manufacturers that still make shotguns in 16 gauge. This may have changed by now, as I was specifically looking into this about two years ago. If I start to search again, I wonder if any are still being made at all?

Please share your thoughts, comments and experiences with 16 gauge shotguns. I look forward to hearing from any and all of you out there!

Midnight Raver

Active Member
Hey, I found an interesting article about a return of 16 gauge shotguns: ... m_16_0507/

Sixteen And Still Sweet:Remington's 16-Gauge Model 870
This newest version of the classic Model 870 makes the return of the 16 gauge to Remington's line after a 20-year hiatus.
By Joe Coogan

A trio of gauges dominated the American shotgunning scene through the 1960s, with most popular shotgun models of the day offered in 12, 20, and 16 gauges. Back then the 16 gauge was preferred for bobwhite quail in the South and almost on par with the 20 gauge nationally for most upland shooting. It was considered the optimum gauge available in fast-pointing, quick-handling guns for grouse, woodcock, and quail hunting with a payload substantial enough to deal with pheasants when required. But during the 1970s, '80s, and '90s the 20 gauge gained popularity, moving ahead of the 16 by an ever-increasing margin.

The narrowing of the gap between 12 and 20 gauges in effect squeezed the 16 out of position. Owing mostly to advancements in firearms technology, new metals, and better manufacturing, 12-gauge guns began approaching 20-gauge guns in weight. At the same time great strides in ammo manufacturing techniques found ways to place more shot into smaller hulls, which benefited the 20 gauge tremendously but did little for the 16 gauge.

Furthermore, the lack of a 16-gauge class in skeet shooting competition was a slap in the 16's face and no doubt contributed to its increasing absence at gun clubs. Simply put, the 16 bore fell victim to the small gap left between lightweight 12-gauge guns and high-performance 20 gauges. Considered "sweet" no more, ammomakers quietly stopped developing 16-gauge loads, and by the mid-1990s most gun companies had dropped 16s from their catalog listings.

Last offered by Remington in 1980, the 16 gauge is once again available in an extensive line of Model 870 shotguns that gives first-timers and experienced shooters the opportunity to experience a classic. For many years thousands of hunters have enjoyed using Remington's Model 870, one of the best selling shotguns ever made.

"Because of its ballistically balanced performance, and milder recoil, the 16 gauge was long a favorite of target and wingshooters," Remington's Linda Powell explained in a recent conversation. "We felt this was the right time to bring this great performer back to America's hunters and target shooters in the form of Remington's popular Model 870 series of shotguns."

Linda also pointed out that for added versatility Remington's complete line of Model 870 Rem Choke extra barrels will also fit older versions of the 16-gauge Model 870 shotguns. The reappearance of a 16 gauge in Remington's 2002 catalog completes a full line up of Model 870 pump-action shotguns--sure to be a milestone in the 16's history. Four variations of the Model 870 in 16 gauge include the highly popular Model 870 Wingmaster, the economically priced Model 870 Express, and synthetic stocked versions of the Express and Youth Models.

Remington's Four New 16s
Remington's classic Model 870 Wingmaster features a smooth-contour non-embellished receiver and deep-polished blueing on all metal surfaces. An American walnut buttstock is fitted with a rubber recoil pad and features clean cut checkering for a positive gripping surface at the wrist. A hard gloss finish on the buttstock and forend provides excellent stock protection for rough field conditions. The powder-coated black trigger guard frames an anodized gold trigger. The Wingmaster's light-contour, vent-rib, twin-bead barrels come in either 26- or 28-inch lengths with three Rem Choke tubes in Improved Cylinder, Modified, and Full. The new 16-gauge Wingmaster with a 28-inch barrel has an overall length of 48 1/2 inches and weighs right at 7 1/4 pounds. Being built on the same frame as the original 16-gauge Wingmaster allows for parts and barrels (including current Rem Choke barrels) to be interchanged with older guns.

Considered the workhorse of pump-action shotguns, the Model 870 Express combines a sturdy hardwood stock and forend with a rugged, durable black oxide metal finish. The 28-inch light-contour vent-rib barrel comes with a Modified Rem Choke tube and has a single front bead sight. Designed for easy handling and dependability, the Model 870 Express in 16 gauge is sure to be a favorite in the field.

When harsh conditions are the forecast for the day, the Model 870 Express Synthetic is the one to grab. Complete with all the standard features of the Express, this version adds a strong, weather-resistant black synthetic stock and forend.

With mild recoil and its performance capabilities, the 16 gauge is an ideal choice for youth or smaller stature shooters. The Model 870 Express Synthetic Youth in 16 gauge features a 23-inch, light-contour, vent-rib barrel with Modified Rem Choke and "youth" stock that is one inch shorter than the standard Model 870.

Available Factory Ammunition
Shotgun ballisticians will tell you that "square loads"--shot columns whose length matches the gauge's bore diameter-pattern best. The 16 gauge has a bore diameter of .662 inch so by the square--load theory a one-ounce load should be the ideal performer.

The modern factory ammo currently available is neither great nor dismal. Fiocchi, Remington, and Winchester catalog 16-gauge loads but only offer game loads with either one or 1 1/8 ounces of shot. Federal offers the heaviest 16-gauge load in a Premium magnum with 1 1/4 ounces of No. 4 or 6 shot. Remington and Federal both offer waterfowlers steel shot in 1 5/16-ounce 16-gauge loads. As of now, no target loads are offered for the 16 gauge, but I'm guessing that will improve in the future considering that other gun manufacturers also announced new 16-gauge guns at last January's SHOT Show. For instance, Ithaca announced an Ultra Featherlight Model 37, and Merkel introduced its Model 1620 side-by-side. This is certainly an encouraging sign for those who don't remember how sweet shooting a slimmer, lighter version of a 12 gauge can be but would like to find out. Hopefully, a resurgence in popularity will bring about an increase in the variety of 16-gauge loads over those that are currently offered.

At Home On The Range Or In The Field
Remington recently sent Shooting Times a review sample Model 870 Wingmaster in 16 gauge. Editor Joel Hutchcroft phoned to say he was sending it to me for a hands-on evaluation. And Joel gave me advance notice that he intends to buy it. Apparently Joel had owned quite a few Remington Model 870s years ago but had sold most of them before joining the ST staff, and when he took this one out of the box he knew he had to have it. I suspect he's had a fit of nostalgia in wanting to buy this new one, even though he explained away his desire to purchase it as a probable gift for his daughter. How did the new 16-gauge 870 handle? Well, all I can say is the Wingmaster handled like a champ. It was easy to swing, yet it stayed on target. The ballistically balanced performance and milder recoil made the 16-gauge gun a favorite of target and wingshooters decades ago, and it still does that today. It's a gun that's as much at home on a trap range as it is in dove fields or quail meadows.

Wow, I think it would be pretty cool to have a Remington 870 in 16 gauge!


I've been watching the gunshows for 16, 20 and .410 gauge shotguns. It has been my experience that the only way to go is to buy something new.
The older ones that are out there for sale are sky high.
I'd like to have a 20 or 16 gauge for my girlfriend to shoot. She doesn't have enough frame to shoot a 12 gauge comfortable so I figured a slug from a 20 or a 16 gsuge would be a reasonable compromise. I saw a .410 in a pump action, I think is was a Stevens or something, but the guy wanted $600 for it. I guess it was somewhat of an antique, but I don't want one to hang on the wall and admire, I want one to shoot. I like my 12 gauge Remmington 1100, but even that can pack a whollup with buckshot.

I see there are several Youth models and multi-barrel configurations out there on teh shelf that offer 20 and .410, but I rarely see a 16 gauge.
I see 16 gauge shells on the shelf sometimes though.



New Member
One thing I have always noticed with shotguns is that the smaller the gauge, the higher the price. If you plan on shooting them alot reload. I know a guy that shoots alot of 20 and 410. Even if he buys in bulk the price would be about .25-.50 per round. If he reloads it comes down to .02-.04 per round. He does alot of competition shooting and said that he would go through 250 to 400 rounds in a weekend.


Active Member
Is 16 guage ammo hard to get? I haven't looked. I have no idea...I just saw an old Winchester 16 pump yesturday for $140.00.....I thought about picking it up, but, needed to check out the ammo to see if I could find any, and how high it was....


Midnight Raver

Active Member
Hell, I would grab that winchester even if the ammo was hard to come by! When I was using 16 gauge back in the 80s, there was always a good supply of #4 to #8 shot at Kmart all the time. Seemed like gun stores would be the only ones that carried the heavier loads and slugs though.

Take a look anybody when you next hit a store for ammo and let us know what you see in 16 gauge. It would be nice to see what the availability is like these days.


New Member
I don't normally see it. I was at Wally World a while back and they had some. They had an endcap display with the 250rd case for $59.99. The whole display was either 12 or 20 with one 16 right in the middle.


New Member
My father-in-law (FIL) shoots a 16ga. Ithaca pump gun. We went duck hunting down at Bear Island last month and his 16 could drop birds just as well as my 12. I hope to inherit it one day.

However, yes, 16ga. ammo is a little tougher to find. Not impossible, but tough. And because of the rarity, the cost is outrageous. I bought a box of #4 steel 12 ga. at BassPro for 9.99. The same size in 16ga. was 21.99. He buys dove load by the case to save (ie. Dicks usually has a buy a case and get $.50 off each box).

Midnight Raver

Active Member
Wow, major difference in price! Reloading sure seems to be the best way to go if you are going to use 16 gauge these days. So corey, you like that Ithaca eh? Have you ever gotten to try it out? I loved the way the one I used felt. It was easy to wheel around and was great for follow up shots with the lighter recoil than a 12, yet still had a lot of shot in the shell. This one was set up for deer as well, since hunting in MA is restricted to shotguns and .22LR only. Had a nice set of sights with a fluorescent orange insert on the front blade. As this was back in 1978 it seemed pretty modern for an upgrade like that, unlike all of the fancy tritium sights and what have you these days. I would have loved to put some slugs downrange with it or after some dee, it sure made a great brush gun!


New Member

I love the Ithaca guns. My 12ga is the Model 37 that my father-in-law gave me. He kept the 16ga for himself. It would be a neat pair to own. The 16 does not have a recoil pad like the 12 does, so I actually prefer the 12. It has great balance and swing (28" barrel). And the bottom load/eject is what makes them stand out.

I've been looking at a new semi-auto and found that the new Remingotn Cti105 is a bottom load/eject in semi-auto, but running around $1200. Too high dollar for me.