I guess you could say I’m a bit of a sub-gauge junkie... I haven't shot a duck or turkey with a 12-gauge in over a decade. I originally went to a 20-gauge primarily for turkey hunting. It was smaller, lighter, and easier to pack around all day long. I decided to start shooting teal with it, fell in love, and never put it down for all of duck and Canada goose season. When I was younger I wanted the biggest I could get and thought shooting 3.5" shells gave me an advantage. The older I got the more I realized it had more to do with the pattern density, being able to get birds in close, and being able to put my shots on target than it did having as many pellets as I could in a 3.5" shell.
The reduced recoil on a sub-gauge gun is great and it makes follow up and second or third shots that much quicker. I also like that they aren't nearly as loud as the "big pills". More than anything though, it is the sheer performance in the field that keeps me toting a sub-gauge everyday. I like to get birds in close and don't take passing shots. After shooting a twenty gauge for many years, I picked up a 28 gauge and loved it even more. However, at the time all that was available were 2 3/4" shells. I didn't carry it everyday, but shot it in certain situations. Even after shooting a 20 gauge for so many years and knowing how lethal the sub-gauges can be, I still had it in my head the 2 3/4" 28 was a "certain situation" type gun... small holes, decoying birds close. With the evolution of the 3" HEVI-XII 6's in the 28-gauge, my Benelli Ethos Cordoba B.E.S.T. 28-gauge went from a "certain situations" gun to my EVERYDAY gun.
Density Matters. If you throw a ping pong ball and golf ball at the same velocity, which will travel further and hit harder? This is the core of what our 12 g/cc tungsten shot is all about: Hit harder at farther distance. HEVI-XII is 53.8% more dense than steel, which translates to double the downrange energy! This allows you to drop down 3 shot sizes for the same lethality. This gives you 28% more devastating pellets on target. More kills. Fewer Cripples. Better Stories. Pack in with HEVI-XII and walk out carrying extra weight.Buy Now
HEVI-XII is the hardest hitting waterfowl load I have ever shot... hands down. That said, there still aren't a lot of pellets in a 28 gauge shell. The beauty of HEVI-XII is the density. Rather than shoot 2's or 3's in steel and give up a lot of pellets, I shoot 6's in the HEVI-XII. This allows me to have incredible pattern density and put more pellets, and more lethal pellets on target. On paper my 3" 28-gauge has an exceptional pattern. In the field, it is obvious why I don't feel one bit under-gunned shooting the 28 everyday for ducks and big honkers. The performance is incredible. It is not solely an up close and personal gun anymore with HEVI-XII. I have routinely crushed big mallards as the flocks were leaving at 40 yards stone dead.
Another really great benefit to HEVI-XII and sub-gauges is with youth hunters. My daughter Vivian has killed her first ducks this year. When I was a kid shooting a .410 or 20-gauge the available loads were not very good, so I always wanted bigger guns and shells. The most important part of getting youth involved is allowing them to see some success to stay motivated. Shooting a sub gauge with 2's in it really handicaps you from a pattern standpoint. Whereas, kids shooting 6's have a much better chance or getting pellets on target, the law of averages so to speak. More pellets equal a better chance. the density of the HEVI-XII allows you to shoot much smaller shot and without sacrificing lethality.
In a nutshell, I am without a doubt a sub-gauge junkie. They are lighter, easier to pack around, less recoil, less noise, and devasting in the field. I still shoot a 12-gauge with an extension for snow goose season, but I'll never again shoot a big gun for ducks.