Best 20 Gauge Shotguns: A 2020 Buyer’s Guide

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The next of kin for a 12 gauge, and righteously called an ‘intermediate gauge’. The 20 gauge shotguns offer the perfect equilibrium of power and prowess in their respective applications. With the market already scattered with a plethora of different options.

It can be difficult to find and choose a good 20 gauge shotgun. So browse through this discussion which reviews the best 20 gauge shotguns on the market. 

Comparison of the Best 20 Gauge Shotguns

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Innovative kick-off style stock with in-built hydraulics for recoil mitigation
  • Reliable and accurate shotgun to be relied upon without doubt
  • Durable, aesthetically pleasing design and prompt customer support
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  • Works great for clay sports and duck hunting in all weather conditions
  • Camo texture to aid with camouflaging and points perfectly
  • User-adjustable stock drop and red-bar front sight for easy acquisition
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  • The most reliable, popular and proven shotgun in human history
  • Smooth twin action bars prevent binding and twisting
  • Ergonomic and beautiful wooden stock and shoots 2-3/4" and 3" shells
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  • All-purpose semi-auto shotgun with interchangeable invector-plus choke system
  • Self-adjusting active valve system for consistent handling of different loads
  • Oil-finish turkish walnut stock with cut checkering for enhanced grip
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  • Mechanical selectable trigger, manual safety and single extractor
  • Box lock frame design with turkish walnut stock and semi-beavertail forend
  • Chrome lined barrel with raised ribs. Perfect for hunting and sports
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  • Pump action shotgun with 4 round capacity and vent rib barrel
  • Unique bottom ejection design with polished action and composite stock
  • Silver bead front sight and invector-plus flush choke system
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  • One of the best over/under lightweight shotgun on the market
  • Beautiful and durable design with ivory bead sight and mid bead
  • Includes choke tubes and perfect for sporting and hunting applications
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When Would a 20 Gauge Shotgun Come in Handy

A 20 gauge shotgun is widely used for hunting birds like quail and pheasants. It is also used for hunting small and medium-sized game, and the reason for that is quite obvious. 

The 20 gauge shells pack lesser power than the devastating 12 gauge, which makes sure that a target small and feeble as a bird or hare is not decimated to shreds. These shells contain a larger number but smaller pellets which provide a wide spread to shoot fast-moving targets like birds. 

20 gauge shotguns are also known for their lesser recoil. Which makes it a viable option for recoil sensitive shooters. Especially for women and young users. These shotguns are also quite popular for clay shooting sports due to their controllability and low recoil. 

How Does a Shotgun Work 

A shotgun can feature a pump-action, semi-automatic, double-barrel(sxs or over/under), and single-shot mechanism. 

Pump-Action

These shotguns require the user to rack the pump fore and aft, which cycles the action(ejection and chambering). These guns are very reliable, most affordable, and widely used. 

Semi-Automatic

These shotguns can be gas-operated or recoil-operated. Using the blowback energy from the fired round to cycle the action. These shotguns offer a fast rate of fire and are great for bird hunting. 

Double Barrel

These shotguns can have a side by side or over/under design, depending upon the positioning of both barrels. These are the most reliable of all shotgun designs and are widely used in competitions and clay shooting sports. 

Single Barrel: This is the simplest design for a shotgun. These breech-loading weapons have a single round capacity and are used for hunting or learning and adapting to the basics. 

How Do I Choose a 20 Gauge Shotgun

Action and Reliability

Consider the kind of action you’d want for your 20 gauge shotgun. While double barrels are utterly reliable and accurate, semi-auto’s offer a quick rate of fire and swing. 

Application and Versatility

Choose a shotgun that suits your intended purpose. While pump actions are the most versatile, affordable, and effective among all types. It depends upon your personal preference and what you’d be putting your shotgun up to. 

Capacity

Capacity is an important factor in choosing an appropriate shotgun. While competitions and hunting do not require a volley of rounds. Applications such as home defense or wing shooting will require a higher capacity. So choose wisely. 

Durability and Manufacturer

Shotguns can be tough as a rock or even require a great amount of care to prevent marring its finish. A shotgun must be durable enough to withstand years of service while being equally reliable along with its entire service life. Additionally, shotguns from renowned manufacturers have better aftermarket support and warranty policies. 

Finish and Aesthetics

The finish of the shotgun is a considerable factor for many people. A 20 gauge shotgun can be a simple piece of metal and synthetic clubbed together. Or a masterpiece with deliberate scrollwork and finish. 

Quick Take - The Best 20 Gauge Shotguns

Review of the Best 20 Gauge Shotguns

Based on the above-mentioned factors. We have picked, classified, and reviewed the best 20 gauge shotguns on the market. All these shotguns are the best in their class and are sold by reputed manufacturers to cover your purchase.

Pros

  • Cross tub piston cycles all loads flawlessly
  • Low maintenance design and ergonomic stock
  • Barrel extension and customizable stock length
  • Fast semi-automatic operation, lightweight and low recoil
  • Can be used with smartphone-compliant Gunpod 2 application

Cons

  • Somewhat pricey. But still great value for money

What Recent Buyers Report

This shotgun cycles all shotgun loads perfectly and absorbs recoil to the levels of absence. The gun points really well and is very controllable. Reloading it is very easy and the lightweight design is comfortable to carry all day. The design is very ergonomic and it is a classy weapon to carry.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Beretta A400 is the perfect example of a versatile full-size 20 gauge shotgun that has impeccable aesthetics, ergonomics, and function. The checkering delivers a perfect grip on the weapon, and the 4+1 capacity is apt for all applications. The blink gas system cycles factory and cheap loads flawlessly, while delivering exceptional accuracy.

Who Will Use This Most

The gun is perfect for upland bird hunting and competitions. The barrel is long enough to deliver accuracy and has exceptional pointability. Which makes this shotgun also suitable for shooting competitions. The extendable features ensure that the shotgun stays usable for years to come and can be customized to the individual physique.

Bottom Line

The Beretta A400 Lite features an amazing low-recoil which makes the gun very controllable. The amazing gas system, pointability, ergonomics, and aesthetics of this shotgun make it a versatile and reliable shotgun with a fast rate of fire and optimal capacity. 

Best 20 Gauge Shotgun for the Money:
Benelli M2 20 Gauge 28” Field Shotgun

Pros

  • User-adjustable stock drop
  • Realtree max-5 camo finish 
  • Reliable inertia operation cycles all loads
  • Fast-handling best semi-auto from Benelli
  • Includes 5 choke tubes and a hard case for carrying
  • Lightweight, ventilated, stepped rib barrel with red bar sight

Cons

  • Mag tube spring may feel stiff initially
  • Replacement chokes can be hard to find

What Recent Buyers Report

Most users classify it as the best 20 gauge shotgun on the market. Most likely because of the perfect cycling operation, light-recoil, and perfect balance. The gun points really well and the operating system is very easy to clean. Almost none of the users reported a jam and the camo finish is very durable.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Benelli M2 has a simple inertia operated action, which works reliably and helps with mitigating the recoil. This is a fast-handling shotgun and has minimal recoil. The realtree camo finish helps with camouflaging the weapon in the brush. Thus helping during hunting sessions. The included set of choke tubes and a hard case makes this package complete. 

Who Will Use This Most

The gun is perfect for bird hunting, given its fast swing, easy pointability, and camo finish. The inertia operation cycles low and magnum loads flawlessly. The ergonomics and function of this gun also make it a suitable home defense shotgun. However, the 3+1 capacity must be kept into consideration for such uses. 

Bottom Line

The Benelli M2 is a very famous and widely used semi-auto shotgun for hunting and competitions. This gun has an inertia operated action and cycles all loads perfectly. The gun has a 60/40 POI, so you must get accustomed to that when using it. 

Best 20 Gauge Tactical Shotgun:
Remington Model 870 Express

Pros

  • Extremely durable steel receiver 
  • Wide availability of aftermarket parts
  • Soaks up recoil very well due to its weight
  • Twin action bars prevent binding and twisting
  • Non-reflective matte finish to remain conspicuous
  • The best selling and most trusted shotgun of all time

Cons

  • 4+1 capacity may seem insufficient to some
  • Barrel is a bit long. But can be replaced if needed

What Recent Buyers Report

The Remington 870 doesn’t need any testimonies to prove its performance or reliability. More than 11 million of these have been sold, and people still buy them. The gun cycles smoothly and can shoot hundreds of rounds without a break. Finding aftermarket parts is very easy and the price is too affordable.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Yes, we hear you! The Mossberg 590 is a contender for this spot. We still chose the 870 express as the best tactical shotgun because of its all-purpose design, reliability, availability of aftermarket accessories, and recoil mitigation. You can keep it simple as it is, or convert it into a tactical beast within a few minutes by adding upgrades. 

Who Will Use This Most

This is an all-purpose workhorse that can be used to bring food to the table, handle intruders, and even sporting clays. This shotgun has and will be the most reliable shotgun all around the globe for years to come. The extra weight is somewhat a deterrent for longer carry durations, but it also helps with mitigating recoil. 

Bottom Line

The Remington 870 is an all-purpose, affordable, and simple shotgun that’ll serve all applications you can think of. It can be customized to suit different shooters and situations. Plus the durable construction will definitely last for generations. A good gun at an amazing price. 

Best 20 Gauge Semi-Auto Shotgun:
Winchester SX3 Black Field

Pros

  • Low recoil and quick follow up shots
  • Lightweight and accurate over long-range
  • Self-adjusting active valve gas system handles all loads
  • Large textured surfaces for better grip, even with gloves

Cons

  • Price may deter low-budget buyers

What Recent Buyers Report

Users absolutely love this gun and appreciate the low recoil and perfect cycling operation. The gun shoots almost anything you put through and is very easy to clean and maintain. It is an amazing alternative to those high-end shotguns and works perfectly well in all weather conditions. It is neither too heavy nor beats up the shoulder.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Winchester SX3 has a self-adjusting gas valve system, which ensures reliability with almost every load. The gun has a very ergonomic design and a slim profile. The swing and pointability of this shotgun are exceptional, and the long vented rib barrel helps with accuracy. The recoil is easy to manage, and the gun itself is very durable.

Who Will Use This Most

This is an all-purpose 20 gauge semi-auto shotgun. It can be used for bird hunting, medium game, clay sports, and even self-defense if the need arises. This is an all-season 20 gauge shotgun for beginners as well as pros. The SX3 is widely used by bird hunters and clay shooters across the states.

Bottom Line

The Winchester SX3 field gun is a tough, reliable, and ergonomic shotgun with a self-adjusting gas system to cycle any load you feed. The gun costs close to a thousand bucks, but it is a worthwhile investment and has the potential to be your go-to gun for the rest of your life.

Best 20 Gauge Double Barrel Shotgun:
CZ-USA Sharp-Tail Coach

Pros

  • Manual safety makes operation easier
  • Mechanical selectable trigger is very reliable
  • Box-lock frame design and chrome-lined bores
  • Classic side by side design for retro design lovers
  • Detailed hand engraving for ergonomics and aesthetics

Cons

  • Short 20” barrel limits range to some extent
  • Wood feels somewhat basic. Especially at this price

What Recent Buyers Report

The sharp tail is an upgraded version of the famous CZ-USA hammer coach. So the reviews are certainly similar to the former. According to recent buyer reports, this gun is very tough and well-made. The trigger selection is easy to use, and the gun shoots accurately right out of the box. The wood felt basic, however, it is still the nicest side by side close to a sane price. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

The shotgun offers amazing value for money and delivers more than expected. Good sxs shotguns are hard to find at this price, and the Sharp-tail is one of them. This is a beautiful shotgun, and the fit and finish are superb. It points well, shoots well and the single selective trigger is a good upgrade for modern shooters. 

Who Will Use This Most

The shotgun will find its worth either in the hands of a seasoned hunter or an expert clay shooter. The gun has an amazing swing and will help to track moving targets with ease. The aesthetics are very impressive to let the user boast about the gun at the range. It is a suitable option for sxs lovers and shooters looking to hone their shotgun skills. 

Bottom Line

The CZ-USA Sharp Tail Coach is a useful, beautiful, and reliable double-barrel sxs shotgun. It requires very little maintenance and will shoot every time you pull the trigger. You don’t have to worry about jammed shells any detailed disassembly and cleaning procedures. 

Best 20 Gauge Pump Shotgun:
Browning BPS Field Composite

Pros

  • Far less maintenance than a semi-auto
  • Very tough and durable all-weather design
  • Magazine cut-off for quick and safe reloading
  • Smooth and supportive pump for easy racking
  • Unique bottom ejection makes it ambidextrous

Cons

  • Weighs around 7 lbs
  • Tedious to disassemble and clean

What Recent Buyers Report

There were almost zero buyers who complained about the function and finish of this shotgun. People like the fact that this shotgun is ambidextrous and bottom ejecting. The extra weight of this gun is also not a deterring factor due to its performance. However, some users did mention that the shotgun was quite hectic to clean.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The very basic factor is the ambidextrous design of this shotgun. The top-mounted safety and bottom loading/ejection port helps with handling and collecting spent cases. The gun never fails to cycle or shoot, and handles recoil properly(due to its weight). Additionally, it is a very affordable and accurate weapon.

Who Will Use This Most

The BPS is the perfect gun for hunting birds and trap shooting. However, it is more of an all-purpose shotgun, it has been reported to deliver outstanding performance for the above-mentioned applications. People have had this gun-running successfully for years, which proves its durability and efficacy.

Bottom Line

The BPS is an affordable, sturdy, and accurate shotgun which suits both left and right-handed shooters. The fit and finish of the gun are amazing, and the pointability is just awesome. A perfect pump action for hunting and shooting sports.

Best 20 Gauge Over Under Shotgun:
Browning Citori Feather Lightning

Pros

  • Extended midas grade choke tube
  • Perfect for trap and skeet shooting
  • Ivory bead sight and mid-bead with ¼” wide rib
  • High-end shotgun for expert shooting applications
  • Lightweight and durable alloy receiver with intricate scrollwork

Cons

  • Very expensive for many buyers

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyer's report what is expected from such a high-end over/under shotgun. People have shot thousands of rounds through this gun, without a single malfunction or any other issue. The gun is easy to point and shoot, plus has a low recoil to improve follow-up and handling. The recoil pad has rounded corners to improve handling, and the gun itself is very beautiful. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Browning Citori series is a line of premium shotguns that are extensively used by skeet and trap experts. This gun has everything you can ask and desire from a perfect over/under shotgun. The gun feels and handles very well, and has amazing aesthetics that compete with even the most opulent guns on the market. 

Who Will Use This Most

The gun is ideal for trap and skeet shooting. That’s what this gun was designed for, and that’s what suits this gun the best. A prospective buyer is obviously not going to spend top dollar on an all-purpose workhorse. This gun can also be used for bird hunting and occasional fun shooting. 

Bottom Line

The Browning Citori Feather Lightning is one of the most lightweight, ergonomic, beautiful, and accurate over/under on the market today. This shotgun is perfect for expert clay shooters and will be suitable for the advanced level shooting sports and hunting. 

Pros

  • Compact and lightweight design
  • Drop-out trigger for easy cleaning
  • Fast semi-auto action with 5+1 capacity
  • Reliable dual valve gas system cycles all loads
  • Push-button safety and matte black anti-glare finish

Cons

  • Design too compact for very large shooters

What Recent Buyers Report

The gun is very lightweight, durable, and accurate. A perfect shotgun for young shooters who can carry out long shooting sessions without tiring. Almost zero users reported a misfire or feeding issues, even with cheap low-end ammunition. Additionally, the low price is also an inspiring factor for buyers. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

The gun features a very durable design due to its synthetic stock. It is a lightweight shotgun, that shoots accurately and offers a fast rate of fire. The 5+1 capacity compliments its rate of fire and the gun is very easy to disassemble and clean. It is available in many barrel lengths and is a versatile shotgun. 

Who Will Use This Most

The size, weight, and barrel length of this variant are perfect for young shooters and users with a slender stature. Bigger users can increase the LOP using spacer recoil pads. This shotgun is perfect for bird hunting and even home defense due to its compact size. 

Bottom Line

The Weatherby SA-08 is an amazingly affordable and reliable shotgun that will serve almost every purpose relevant for a 20 gauge shotgun. It is very easy to disassemble and clean. Plus the price tag is almost a no-brainer for choosing it. 

Best 20 Gauge Youth Shotgun:
Tristar Sporting Arms Viper G2 Youth 26"

Pros

  • Backed by a 5-year warranty
  • Gas operated LRBHO semi-auto action
  • Optimal 5 shot capacity for versatile use
  • Soft-touch on stock and forearm. Plus easy loading
  • Matted sight plane barrel with fiber optic front sight
  • Low maintenance and durable dual color tone synthetic stock

Cons

  • Recommended for heavy loads only

What Recent Buyers Report

The Tristar Viper G2 is the best youth gun you can find at an exceptionally reasonable price. The shotgun has a ‘soft-touch’ stock and a perfect recoil balancing pad, which was liked by many users. The gun shows no jams, no short stroke, and no shooting problems at all. However, some users did recommend using heavy loads only. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

The gun has been designed specifically to suit a young shooter. The gun has a soft texture, the color combination is quite cheerful and the gun has a smooth semi-automatic action. The price tag is very reasonable and the gun is quite versatile to stay useful with a growing shooter. 

Who Will Use This Most

As already categorized, this gun is perfect for young shooters. The compact and lightweight design offer a smooth feel. While the 26” long barrel makes it suitable for hunting birds and sporting clays. The shotgun can be taken into the woods and used under extreme weather conditions without worrying about the finish and function. 

Bottom Line

The Tristar Viper G2 is a value-for-money youth shotgun that'll grow with your kid. It has a very ergonomic and comfortable design with a decent price tag. The semi-auto operation is simple and fast to use, and the gun itself is very accurate and pointable. 

Best 20 Gauge Home Defence Shotgun:
Mossberg 590 Shockwave

Pros

  • Short design is easy to move and manage
  • Strapped forend for safety and convenience
  • Rugged, reliable and fantastic value for money
  • Lightweight shotgun with an amazing 6 shot mag tube
  • Lot of aftermarket customization options readily available

Cons

  • Pump action has its own pros and cons
  • Suitable for close range encounters only(but perfect for home defense)

​​What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers appreciate the build quality, reliability, and performance of this shotgun. The gun is very easy to move around and handle. Plus it gets a whole lot accurate with practice. It is very fun to shoot and has very manageable recoil. Most users reported to keep it for fun shooting and home defense purposes. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

This gun has been designed to serve its purpose righteously, which is home defense. A compact design measuring approximately 26 inches, this gun packs 6 shells and has a forend strap to offer better control and safety to the shooter. It can be equipped with accessories to make it an astounding tactical weapon. 

Who Will Use This Most

The size and barrel length of this Mossberg 590 makes it suitable only for close quarter use. Which obviously is home defense or range use. You can also use this gun for hunting turkey, but only if you are skilled enough to bring it as close as 10 feet. It is an accurate and fun gun to shoot and can also be used as a truck shotgun. 

Bottom Line

The Mossberg 590 is a tested and reliable 20 gauge shotgun with a very short and controllable design. It can be concealed in small spaces around the house and carries enough ammo to ward off or bring down multiple hostiles. Practicing accuracy with it can also make it suitable for other purposes. 

What Do I Need to Know Before Buying

Limitations of 20 Gauge

While the 20 gauge is a very economical, useful, and worthy caliber in its own sense. It has certain limitations to its applications. For example, a 20 gauge shotgun is perfect for upland birds and small to medium-sized game. But you have to shoot anything bigger with more power, you’ll either have to fire multiple shots, or upgrade the caliber. 

Cost

A box of 20 gauge ammo is likely to cost more than a box of 12 gauge ammo. However, on the contrary, the 20 gauge shells are very cheap to reload compared to the 12 gauge. Since they hold lesser pellets and powder. 20 gauge shotguns are also a tad bit pricier than 12 gauge, although the difference is often not considered. 

Chokes

Make sure to look out for choke interchangeability on the shotgun you choose. Since it will allow you to make the shotgun appropriate for different applications by modifying the spread and range of pallets. 

Type of Game

While the 20 gauge is a more friendly-recoil caliber. It is more suitable for smaller game and birds like quail or pheasant. If you plan on taking down deer, a 12 gauge should be a better choice. As already mentioned, evaluate your intended applications before choosing a 20 gauge. 

How to Clean a 20 Gauge Shotgun

Cleaning a shotgun should be very easy if you know the process and have the right cleaning tools. Different types of shotguns have their own unique method for disassembly. The single and double-barrel shotguns are the easiest to clean and maintain. All you have to do is to break them open, separate the barrel from the action, and clean all the parts thoroughly. 

For pump actions and semi-auto, the process starts with unscrewing the mag tube end cap, followed by the removal of the barrel, mag tube assembly, and other parts of the receiver(if needed).

It is advised to get a universal or bore specific cleaning kit for your 20 gauge shotgun. Unlike other firearms, the disassembly of shotguns does not require any tools. All you need is a few rags, cleaning patches, a bore rod/bore snake, and bore brush. 

Check out this video below for more detailed instructions on how to clean a 20 gauge over/under shotgun. 

Conclusion

20 gauge shotguns are the smaller and less powerful version of a 12 gauge. They have less recoil and are perfect for recoil sensitive shooters. These shotguns are widely used for bird hunting and clay shooting sports. There are different types of 20 gauge shotguns available on the market. But you must choose them wisely, depending upon your intended use and preferences.

People Also Ask

Before you move towards buying a 20 gauge shotgun. Check out the answers to some very common queries about these guns. 

Is a 20 Gauge Shotgun Good For Home Defense?

Yes. A 20 gauge shotgun is good for home defense. Especially for recoil sensitive people. While most home defense encounters will happen at a range closer than 20 yards. The 20-gauge shells will definitely decimate the target at that distance. Given your choice of ammo should be right. 

Will a 20 Gauge Kill You?

Yes. A 20 gauge will kill you, so coming in its way is definitely not a good option. However, if loaded with non-lethal loads like rubber pellets, it will only cause injuries. But remember that it’s still a shotgun and if you have ever shot one. You know how much damage it can cause. 

How Far Can You Shoot a Deer With a 20 Gauge?

A 20 gauge can bring down a deer. While pellets need to be fired at a close range, slugs will be more lenient on distance. It takes about 1,000 ft-lbs of energy to kill a deer. A 20 gauge slug packs about 2,000 ft-lbs. However, you should seriously consider accuracy and the right shot placement. 

Will a 20 Gauge Shotgun Kill Bear?

Yes. A 20 gauge can kill a bear. But mostly with slugs. That’s because in order to bring down a bear, you need to get good penetration. Bears are among the toughest animals on this planet. It takes anywhere between 1,000 to 1,500 ft-lbs of energy to kill a black bear, and the 2-¾” 20 ga. 200-grain slugs have about 2,000 ft-lbs of energy. 

How Much Kick Does a 20 Gauge Have?

A 20 gauge 3” shell with 1-¼ oz. shot and a muzzle velocity of 1,185 fps has recoil energy of 31 ft-lbs when shot from a 6.5 lbs shotgun. To give you an idea, a punch from an average person has about 90 ft-lbs of energy. 

About Josh Lewis

Josh Lewis the managing editor at Gun Mann and when he isn't writing about guns he is more than likely tinkering with them. He also enjoys hunting, fishing and spending time outdoors. As a lifelong gun owner he knows his stuff!