READER MAIL: February, 2016

Hi Randy, just read your article "The 16 Gauge: The Shotgun that Carries like a 12, but Hits Like a 28 Gauge”. While I agree with the premise that the 16ga. is somewhat compromised by mass market ammunition options, there is reason for modest optimism. Case in point, here is a list of discontinued loads cited in the article with alternates that are available right now.

Kent Tungsten-Matrix in 16 is gone but Kent Bismuth in #5 & #6 and Rio Bismuth in #4 & #6 remain.
Winchester Super-X 1 1/8 oz #5 is gone but Federal offers a buffered 1 1/8 oz. load in #5 and Fiocchi offers both chilled shot and nickel plated 1 1/8 oz. loads in #5
Buffered Federal 1-1/4 oz loads don’t come in #5 anymore but Hevi Shot catalogs 1 1/4 oz #4 & #6 that might serve as a substitute. 
High-antimony loads aren’t made by Remington, Winchester, or Federal but Kent Ultimate FastLead which uses polished and hardened “diamond shot” comes in #6 & #7.5. Fiocchi offers “chilled lead” loads in #5, #6, and #7.5.  NSI NobelSport Italia offers similar high antimony loads.
Winchester may only load soft lead 1 oz #6 & #8 but 1 & 1 1/8 oz. Rio Game loads are available in #6, #7.5, & #8. Estate, Fiocchi, and B&P offer many other variants in the same vein.
Brenneke offers 2 3/4 & 2 1/2 slug loads and NSI makes a buckshot load.
Thus, quality 16 gauge ammunition options exist and are more than adequate to accomplish anything desired in the field. Unfortunately these loads weren’t included in the article so folks are left with a false impression. A more balanced conclusion would be that folks that limit themselves to Remchester & Federal options will be throwing pricey substandard patterns, while folks that select better options from the above list will be rewarded with the performance expected of premium ammunition. Coupled with quality chokes from Trulock or Mueller, and the 16 gauge is still a winner in the field that gives up nothing to the 12 & 20. In fact, the 16 may indeed still deliver on the benefits you outlined in previous articles if folks pay attention to the details.
Glass Half-Full 16 Gauge Guy

Dear “16 Gauge Guy,”
Actually, no, the 16 gauge ammo options are not at all good compared to 20 gauge choices, much less 12 gauge. The Kent Bismuth loads aren't out yet, they were just announced. Twenty gauge field loads for wild pheasant and turkey just get better and better. 1-5/16 oz. buffered loads of #5 are plentiful for the 20, Hornady has a 1-3/8 oz. lead load, the Federal Heavyweight #7 loads (1-1/8 or 1-1/2 oz.) are astonishingly good. The Winchester Rooster XR loads are coming out in 20 gauge as well. I hope it will change, perhaps it will if the Browning A5 16 gauge takes off, but as of today the 16 gauge is well behind the 20 gauge and it isn't even close. --Randy
Randy, I just acquired a Remington ultimate ml and will be going to Iowa this fall to hunt deer. the weather has been so rotten here in northeastern pa I have only gotten to sight in with rem bullets that came with it. knowing the area I will be hunting in Guthrie county Iowa I could be shooting up to 300yds. my question is would you recommend I check out Parker match/hunter 300gr or 325gr bullets or the ballistic extremes ?
guy Stackhouse forest city pa.
Hello Guy,
The Parker 300 grain Match Hunter is by far the best bullet for the Remington Ultimate. It has far less drop and dramatically less wind drift than anything else out there: it is easily, hands-down the top choice for longer range hunting. --Randy

Mr Wakeman
I stumbled onto your review of the Benelli 828U and have to say it made me chuckle. When Benelli unleashed the Ethos not too long ago I was asked to test one for their 50 State PR campaign and submit my impressions via report on camera as well as in their Leather Bound Journal. Let me state right off that I am not a writer, can hardly spell my name really, but do have a grounded background in the firearms trade. I hesitated at the offer but then agreed to shoot the Ethos and perhaps hunt with it as our Utah Spring Turkey season was only days away.
When the Ethos arrived I immediately tried to figure out where to find a Gobbler that was vision impaired as a stealth concept had eluded the design team. Next I noticed the weight, 6lbs 4oz, My my that magic fingers recoil arresting system must be really amazing to dampen the anticipated thump of the 3” Turkey loads that Federal had supplied on my request. I read the instruction, I altered the drop and cast with the shims I noted the 14-1/8 LOP However the position and arch of the grip placed my right hand further to the rear than any other shotgun or heavy caliber rife I have ever built or shot by a 1/2”. Placing the rear edge of my thumb just ahead of my nose.
NOTE TO SELF this is not good!!!!!!! Having made a career of building rifles for Elephants and being a Turkey addict recoil is a force I am very familiar with. Nothing however prepared me for the 1st round at a Turkey Head target the following day. As most of the birds I call in will hopefully never notice me sitting up against a tree. So I elected to shoot the Ethos from a sitting position. Fortunately I was not sitting up against anything at the range. I sent a load of 3” 5’s downrange and everything kind of went blurry, could have been the amount of star I saw, my nose and cheek hurt, my shoulder hurt. My shooting glasses left my face and my ear muffs now only covered one ear.
I put the Ethos down as if it was a rattle snake. For a moment I thought the gun had come apart. After awhile I regained my composure and then now standing up, fired a 2nd 3” shell down range. This time I was prepared for the violence to come and was not disappointed. Fxxx me !!!!!!
I gave up the idea of hunting gobblers with it that very moment. I did try and shoot some skeet later on that week with standard Federal Target loads and after a half a box gave up as it wasn't any fun anymore. I wrote up my impressions, recorded the same on their Cam Corder and reported into the Home Office to ask where it was to be sent next. Needless to say I am off the Benelli Christmas Card list. I went to the Benelli Web Site the other day to track the progress as to see how many States this shotgun has been reviewed and tested in. Utah is not shown on the map with a STAR placed in it to confirm its ever been here. i remember it being here very vividly.
Keep up the good work I enjoy your writing immensely.
Hello D'Arcy,
The Benelli Ethos is a mixed bag, to say the least. I agree, they screwed the pooch on the pistol grip and really goofed with the excessively heavy trigger. As you painfully discovered, the “Progressive Comfort” springy stock thing is not close to as advertised. The ETHOS is a very good-looking gun, though, if a bit over-priced and over-rated.
Mr. Wakeman,

I've seen on Chuck Hawks that you're a Beretta 303 fan. I recently came across a used 20 gauge 303 in great condition for sale at $600. Does that sound like a good deal in your book? Also, I shoot left-handed so I was wondering if the safety was easily reversed? I think I read a post where you said you could change barrels and shoot either 2 3/4" or 3" shells in a 3" receiver gun with respective barrel use. I would love this option if true for the availability of use on several different game species and the impending lead shot ban in California that would shift me more towards 3" non-toxic loads.

Thank you for your time,

Adam Eidson
La mesa, CA
Hello Adam,
No, I don't believe the 303 safety is easy reversible. The 303 series / Browning B-80 series are excellent autoloaders, but the Beretta 390 is the best auto that Beretta has ever made (for 2-3/4 and 3 inch shells) and its safety is reversible. Perhaps Cole Gunsmithing has a fix for the 303: .


Originally, “Redemption” rifles supposedly came with two primer adapters, one called the “standard adapter”, and the other the “loose powder adapter”. Their info said the “standard adapter” would work for loose powder, but they recommended using the “loose powder adapter”. In your testing of this rifle (which I watched on your video), did you use the standard adapter or the loose powder adapter? It seems that the Redemptions still available for sale have only the standard adapter included and “loose powder adapters” are unavailable. I’m new to muzzleleloader hunting and am trying to do my homework. Would appreciate your input. Thanks, John D.


Hello John,

The Redemption is now the T/C Strike. Loose powder primer adapters are available from T/C and is the best option for Blackhorn 209. It is covered on the SHOT Show "Range Day" video at about the two minute mark.



WOW, you compared the V3 in the same breath as an 1100. That got my attention. I am a devoted fan of the 1100, got 3 in the gun safe and enough spare parts to build another. But the opportunity to get a good NEW Remington shotgun, well that cannot be passed up. Looking forward to part 3 of the review. For me, stock adjustability and chokes are important. Thanks for doing what you do.
Jennifer and Kevin Wallis
The V3 is a great working man's shotgun at an excellent, aggressive price. --Randy

Just picked up my first O/U. Although a long time waterfowler, I
wanted an O/U for my occasional "upland" hunt, and as a skeet and clay
gun. I, like so many others, looked at the Silver Pigeon (field) and
the 725 Citori (field), both in 20ga. The Citori fit me better,
although truth be told, I like the Beretta grip a bit more.

The safety on the Beretta drove me nuts though, and I think there is
something to be said for the Citori's trigger. I got to put 50 rounds
though each, and I know the Browning will be a great investment. Your
reviews (4 I think) praising the new 725 certainly helped out a lot.
Thanks for the candor and honesty in what you do.

- IHS,
Mike Schulman
The Beretta O/U safeties save lives . . . unfortunately, the lives they save are primarily those of wild pheasants.

I enjoy your unbiased reviews, so I was looking for your thoughts on the Benelli Super Sport and the Performance shop version. What, if any benefit do you get from the extended chokes in a Super Sport compared to the flush chokes. Also, I enjoyed your article on lengthened forcing cones.
Hi Steve,
Well, extended choke tubes do protect the muzzle of the shotgun. Shotgun manufacturers are unable to show any pattern improvement with their OEM chokes, cones, and barrels: they just like to claim it.
It takes a good shell, a quality choke, and some quality time at the patterning board to find the best combination or combinations for one individual gun.

Copyright 2016 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.



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