With Shotguns, Smaller Equals More Profit

Adding a handful of 28-gauge guns to your shotgun rack can attract a variety of shooters.

With Shotguns, Smaller Equals More Profit

The two most popular gauges in shotguns — the 12- and 20-gauge — comprise the bulk of most retailers’ shotgun sales. But overlook other gauges at your own peril. 

Most gun sellers make a pretty good chunk of their profit selling shotguns, and there’s little wonder why. The versatile firearm type is used for a wide range of applications, including bird and big-game hunting, a variety of clay target shooting, and even self-defense and law-enforcement duties.

Truth be told, 12- and 20-gauge shotguns, the two most popular gauges, make up the bulk of most retailers’ shotgun sales. But overlook other gauges at your own peril — especially the diminutive 28-gauge. It doesn’t make up a high percentage of shotguns sold, but is quite popular with many hardcore upland bird hunters and clays shooters.

Why The 28 Gauge?

For starters, the 28-gauge is about as versatile a shotgun as you can find. It excels at most upland game and clay target sports, but admittedly isn’t a great waterfowl gun because of its propensity to perform best with fairly light loads.

Much of its versatility is derived from two of its most attractive attributes — light weight and low recoil. Those 28-gauges made on a true 28-gauge frame are very lightweight, and are not only a joy to shoot, but pleasant to carry around all day in the field. And that light weight is one thing that makes them great for new shooters, smaller shooters and even older shooters who don’t have as much upper-body strength as they once had.

The recoil factor also can’t be overlooked. By way of comparison, a 7.5-pound 12-gauge shooting a 1 1/8-ounce load at 1,200 fps has 23 ft-lbs of recoil energy. A 6-pound 28-gauge shotgun shooting ¾ ounce of shot at 1,200 fps yields barely half that at 12.8 ft-lbs. That’s a substantial reduction in recoil — one that is greatly appreciated by many new shooters and those particularly sensitive to “kick.” This combination of light recoil and light weight makes the 28-gauge easy to swing on targets — both clays and the winged variety.

Note that the 28-gauge is far from being “just a kid and old man’s gun.” Its patterning characteristics with the right ammunition make it a great option for shooters of all ages and levels.

And no, it’s not just a glorified .410. The 28-gauge boasts a .550-inch bore, compared to the .410-inch bore in the .410. The 28 is actually much closer in size to the .615-inch bore of the 20 gauge than to the .410. And the typical ¾-ounce 28-gauge load carries just an eighth of an ounce less shot than the popular 7/8-ounce 20-gauge field load used by many with much success

As for patterning, I’m not naïve enough to say that the 28 will pattern better than your average 12- or 20-gauge. But it can be just as good as its bigger brothers with the right ammo and when used for the correct purpose. If you stick with the smaller shot the gun was designed for and precisely put your shots where you want them, the 28-gauge will reward you for your effort.

Combined, all of these attributes add up to a fantastic-shooting little shotgun that is pure fun. And in a word, isn’t that what most hunters and shooters are looking for when they buy any new firearm?

Choices, Choices

While some people might tell you different, the 28-gauge isn’t a dying breed. According to market research firm Southwick Associates, which keeps track of such things, 28-gauges make up about 2 percent of total shotgun sales, and 28-gauge sales have remained steady over the past several years. The 28-gauge’s small percentage of overall shotgun sales could, however, simply be because they are fairly hard to find in many areas.

Statistics aside, anecdotally I’ve seen a resurgence of the little 28-gauge in the field and at the range in my home state of Oklahoma. And it’s not just among newbies, either, as many longtime shooters have adopted the little 28 as an added challenge for sporting clays.

You might be surprised how many shotgun makers offer 28-gauge models, including semi-autos, over/unders, side-by-sides and even pumps.

In semi-auto offerings, the Mossberg SA-28 weighs 6.5 pounds, and with an MSRP of $675, comes at a fair price point. The gun is made for Mossberg in Turkey and is also available in two youth models — one wood, one synthetic.

At the other end of the spectrum is Benelli’s sweet little Ultra Light in 28-gauge. The manufacturer says it’s the world’s lightest semi-auto, weighing in right around the 5-pound mark. MSRP for the Ultra Light, which boasts an aluminum alloy receiver, is $1,799.

In between those two models lie a number of other 28-gauge semi-autos that are worth a look. Tri-Star’s Viper G2 and G2 Silver weigh just over 5 pounds with MSRPs of $660 and $740, respectively.

Beretta’s A400 Xplor Action is another nice, light semi-auto that weighs in at just over 5.5 pounds. The A400, featuring a beautiful bronzed receiver, has an MSRP of $1,600.

Even Big Green is getting in on the action, offering it’s 28-gauge 1100 Sporting model, designed for sporting clays shooters looking for an additional challenge. That Remington model, which the company touts as “the finest sporting 28-gauge ever made,” weighs 6.5 pounds and has an MSRP of $1,315. 

Double the Fun

The over-under arena is where this gauge really tends to shine, as nothing swings as sweetly as a super lightweight 28-gauge double gun.

The sleek, nimble Franchi Instinct L is a beautiful package that features a color case-hardened receiver and A-grade walnut stock. It weighs in at 6 pounds and has an MSRP of $1,569.

CZ’s Supreme Field features deep-relief engraving cut by hand and is fitted with a Grade III Turkish walnut stock. The diminutive over/under weighs 6 pounds and carries an MSRP of $1,784.

The Beretta Silver Pigeon I is a thing of true beauty, featuring flawless fit and finish. The 28-gauge model also weighs 6 pounds and carries a high-end MSRP of $2,350.

The Browning Citori 725 field is another beautiful offering. Evolved from John M. Browning’s legendary B25 Superposed, the low-profile 725 is a little heavy at 7 pounds, and has an MSRP of $2,589.

On the more budget end of the spectrum are popular models from Mossberg, Stevens and TriStar. Mossberg’s Silver Reserve II is a fine budget offering. Featuring wrap-around scroll engraving of its action and chrome-lined chambers and barrels, the Silver Reserve II weighs in toward the heavy end for 28s at 7 pounds. MSRP is $797.

The Stevens 555 also offers those wanting to get a 28-gauge without breaking the bank an excellent opportunity. With an aluminum receiver and chrome-lined barrels, the 5.1-pound gun has an MSRP of $692.

The Setter 28-gauge from TriStar features an engraved receiver and Turkish walnut stock and forend. It weighs 7.2 pounds and has an MSRP of $580.

More Options

For those who enjoy shooting side-by-side shotguns, a fine 28-gauge side-by-side will lock them in even tighter to that configuration.

CZ-USA’s Bobwhite G2 features a CNC receiver, double triggers and an English-style grip. At only 5.5 pounds, it has an MSRP of $702.

The Charles Daly 528 features American walnut, a single trigger and interchangeable Rem threaded choke tubes. The nimble little shotgun weighs 5.5 pounds and carries an MSRP of $917.

Stoeger’s Uplander Field side-by-side features a simple English design with a price fit for your budget-minded customers’ wallets. It weighs in at a fairly hefty 7.1 pounds, but has a very low MSRP of $449.

Pump-gun lovers need not be left out, either. Browning offers its proven BPS Field shotgun in 28-gauge. At 7 pounds, it’s a bit heavy, but a great option to enter the 28-gauge fray. MSRP is $639.

Remington also gets in on the pump-action game, offering its legendary 870 Wingmaster in 28-gauge. With American walnut woodwork and a richly blued, highly polished receiver and barrel, the Wingmaster weighs 6 pounds and has an MSRP of $962. 

Final Thoughts

If you’re not already offering a good selection of 28-gauge shotguns in your shop, adding some soon is certainly something you should consider. The small-gauge gun’s versatility, mixed with a wide price range from many manufacturers, makes it well-suited to become a profit center for your business.

As we all know, the fun factor is critical to the shooting sports, and there are few things more fun than taking a finely crafted 28-gauge shotgun out to the grouse woods or to the skeet range to break a few clays.

Let your customers in on the fun.

Don't Forget Ammo

Customers purchasing a 28-gauge shotgun represent an opportunity for even more profit, given the variety of 28-gauge shotshells available today. Here are some of the top offerings:

—Browning Performance Target – ¾ ounce of #7.5 shot at 1,300 fps

—Estate Super Sport Competition Load – ¾ ounce of #8 shot at 1,200 fps

—Federal Top Gun Sporting – ¾ ounce of #8 shot at 1,330 fps

—Federal Gold Medal Target – ¾ ounce of #9 shot at 1,230 fps

—Fiocchi Game Load – ¾ ounce of #8 shot at 1,200 fps

—Fiocchi High Velocity – ¾ ounce of #6 shot at 1,300 fps

—Remington American Clay and Field – ¾ ounce of #8 shot at 1,250 fps

—Remington Express – ¾ ounce of #7.5 shot at 1,295 fps

—Winchester AA Target – ¾ ounce of #9 shot at 1,200 fps

—Winchester Super X – ¾ ounce of #6 shot at 1,295 fps


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