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When it comes time to select a shotgun, the first thing that comes to mind for many people is the gauge. However, the barrel length should also be considered and is important in regard to the performance and handling of the gun. It is necessary to correctly match the barrel length to the activity you will use it for.
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Select a shorter barrel shotgun such as one that is 20 inches long for use in home defense or personal protection. A shorter will be easier to handle and aim inside a home where walls and furniture must be considered.
Choose a barrel length between 22 and 24 inches for shotguns to be used for turkey hunting. This will be easy to handle from a seated position, allow for aiming as with a rifle, and still effectively group shot down range.
Select a break open over and under or double barrel configuration with a barrel length of 28 inches. Consider a barrel length in this range for good balance and the necessary weight feel that is needed to help swing the shotgun when following a clay target in trap shooting or winged target such as duck, dove, grouse or pheasant.
Choose a slug shotgun designed to be used with slug shells and a scope that has a barrel length of about 24 to 26 inches in length for hunting deer or other large game.
Select longer barrel shotguns, such as those with 30 inch barrels, for hunting ducks, geese or dove. Long range wing shots require a longer barrel and will produce better shot pattern results down range than a shorter barrel shotgun.
Keith Dooley has a degree in outdoor education and sports management. He has worked as an assistant athletic director, head coach and assistant coach in various sports including football, softball and golf. Dooley has worked for various websites in the past, contributing instructional articles on a wide variety of topics.