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12-Gauge Ammo Specifications

Twelve-gauge ammo is available in a variety of sizes, depending on its intended purpose. It comes in 2.75-inch, 3-inch, 3-inch magnum, and 3.5-inch magnum sizes. The ammo is also available in different loads. The first type of 12-gauge ammo load is the bird shot, a shot made up of dozens of tiny pellets for a wide spread capable of taking down birds in flight. Buck shot loads, intended for deer hunting, used in 12-gauge ammo use the same principle, however the pellets are larger. Buck shot is also commonly used by military and police as heavy-duty defense weapons.

12-Gauge Ammo History

The late 19th century was an important development period for the 12 gauge shotgun. Barrels were being redesigned, choke boring appeared, and external hammer double guns became hammerless. At the time, 10- and 12- gauge ammo were considered efficient all-around gauges. But by the 1890s, 12-gauge ammo began to solidify its place as the best option. According to Jack O’Connor’s "The Shotgun Book," 12-gauge ammo made up about 50 percent of the shotgun ammo market in the 1950s; 20-gauge and 16-gauge ammo had about 17 percent and 25 percent market share, respectively. As sales declined through the 1970s, manufacturers developed 3.5-inch shells, which carry 1.38 ounces of steel shot, to improve 12-gauge ammo’s capability as a waterfowl shell.

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12 Gauge Ammo

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