Shotguns and rifles are totally different animals. The inability to keep that point in mind is why so many rifle manufacturers have such a hard time making shotguns – especially autoloading shotguns.
You see, one of the biggest differences between shotguns and rifles is ammo choice. Yeah, with my .30-06, I could load small 125 grain loads and big 220 grain loads, but the end result was a pretty similar bang and a .30 caliber hole in whatever I was shooting at. With my shotguns, I can get 2 ¾ inch poodle poppers that barely have enough juice to break a piece of clay at 25 yards, up to 3 ½” super magnums that will skin a moose at 30 and leave your shoulder feeling like that same moose had a boot party on it, in its honor*. Thus, the problem with autoloader shotguns. You can’t set up an auto-loading action in a shotgun so that it will cycle the low base rounds without having it so sensitive that it will disintegrate itself if you cycle some super mags. Likewise, you can’t have it set up for super mags and expect it to cycle low base. With a rifle, you can pretty much expect it to cycle any load that you put in it because they are all pretty similar, or at least similar enough that the action will make do with what you give it. With a shotgun, you have such a range of choices that you have to tinker with it between uses to make sure that it will do what you need.
I tell you all of this so that I may tell you a story. The recent panic on ammunition has lead to most of the stores in Spokane being sold out of almost everything except the weird calibers and gauges. I saw lots of .38 super and 28 gauge on the shelves yesterday, but not much else. I think that a lot of this panic buying is being done by folks that don’t have a lot of gun experience and are basing what they buy up on the price of the stuff per box. With a rifle, this is not an entirely stupid plan – most rifle ammunition will get the job done no matter what you buy – yes, I like 165 grain in my 30-06 better than 150 grain, but it is close enough that it won’t make a whole lot of difference, and it will get the job done the way a .30-06 was intended. With a shotgun, however, buying based on price without any regard for any additional factors will lead to you buying a case of worthless crap for the purpose that most of these folks are buying the ammo. Presumably, they are buying them for doomsday prep – zombie apocalypse, government take-over, pandemic, epidemic, whatever. The purpose behind that would be protection against bad guys, and having the ability to take game to feed your family.
I tried to find low base clay breaker ammo for a round of sporting clays this weekend and 6 out of 7 stores were sold out entirely of 20 gauge low base clay rounds. To me, what this means is that people are thinking “oh noes, I needs to buy teh ammos before Barack Obama takes it alls away!” and so they go out and buy as many rounds for their 20 gauge as they can, as cheaply as possible, without any regard for the fact that what they bought is pretty much worthless against any target more structurally sound than a 5” clay disc.
That, or there is some prepper angle about pestering the zombies to death with handfuls of slow-moving lead sand that I haven’t read up on yet.
A guy in one of the stores next to me commented with a bit of snark about how irrational panics are usually not marked by rationality, by definition. I have to agree.
We won’t discuss how I did on the sporting clays Saturday, however, because I did horribly. Let’s just say that my score out of one hundred rhymed with “nifty” and leave it at that.
*As an aside, that’s why when someone says “he shot him with a .30-06 deer rifle” I say “Holy crap! That had to blow a big hole in him!” without needing any more information, but when someone says “they shot him with a 12 gauge shotgun” I find myself needing a little more detail, because being shot with a 12 gauge shotgun could range from “Meh – been there, done that when my buddy wasn’t paying close attention when we were bird hunting, and the shot bounced off of my carhartt and stung my earlobe a little bit” to “they hauled a carcass out of there that resembled a huge mass of poorly ground hamburger, and it took several trips.” Honest to god – the difference is that big.