As something of an old-fashioned man with eccentric tastes, I have to confess that sometimes my innate sense of logic runs away and hides, leaving me with a fondness for something totally unfashionable.
Probably the most egregious of these is a love of the 16ga shotgun chambering. [pause to allow the mocking laughter to subside]
I can probably blame John Moses Browning. Why? Because of this:
Yes, it’s the venerable Auto-5 (“A5”, as it’s now known), and in 16ga it is known as the “Sweet Sixteen”. It was the first shotgun I ever owned, and countless rounds went down its barrel before I was finally forced to sell it during the Foul Time Of Poverty, some ten-odd years ago.
I am not the only one thus afflicted — I always found the 12ga shotguns, even the semi-auto ones, a little too much to handle, especially given the quantities of rounds I would fire at a single setting. I also enjoy shooting the 20ga nowadays (e.g. the gun I keep at Free Market Towers, thankee Squire):
…but were it not for the ridicule and merciless teasing I would have to endure from Mr. Free Market (“not much less recoil, much less effective than the 12” etc. etc.), I would have held out for a 16ga side-by-side for my Britishland Shooting Adventures, such as they were. Something like this gorgeous Arrieta:
Indeed, before the Tragic Canoeing Accident In The Brazos River, I used to keep a cheap Spanish 16ga side-by-side as a bedside gun.
But getting back to the Browning Sweet Sixteen: I have to admit that the Auto-5 was not John Browning’s best design. Even in the “weaker” 16ga chambering, it kicked the hell out of me, and as for the “Light” 12 variant — boy, talk about a misnomer.
Still, whenever I see one of the new Sweet Sixteens, I get a twitching in a familiar place:
…and it’s not in my shoulder, either.
All that said, the 16ga is not an optimal choice nowadays, practically speaking.
- There aren’t a lot of them around — that Arietta is the only 16ga shotgun in four pages of shotguns at Collectors — and that means that there isn’t a lot of choice when it comes to ammo.
- The 16ga also fails Mr. Free Market’s “Availability” test — where if one’s gun is separated from its ammo, will there be a box or two lying around? For 12ga, that would be a resounding “yes”, for 20ga, also a yes albeit perhaps not so resounding. For 16ga? You’ll be lucky to find any of it at Ye Localle Gunne Emporium in Nowhere, Idaho, let alone in the outfitter’s glove box.
- While the 16ga cartridge does have less recoil than the 12ga, it’s not that much less — and it’s lots more than the 20ga.
Like I said, it’s an impractical choice for someone perhaps just beginning to shoot shotguns.
Just don’t shoot a Sweet Sixteen as your first, and you’ll probably be okay.