Beginning Rabbit hunters often ask, “what is the best shotgun for rabbit hunting?” That question has a different answer for everyone. No two hunters are alike. Some hunters prefer the more traditional pump action or break open shotguns, while still others prefer the fast action of the auto loading shotgun for rabbit hunting. Since I hunt with all three I’m not going to advocate for one style of rabbit gun over the other. I’m going to list some of the reasons I like to hunt with each of the different shotguns and hopefully you will come up with an excuse to buy a new shotgun yourself!
Fortunately shotguns for rabbit hunting don’t need to be expensive. In fact, the type of cover that the eastern cottontail and swamp rabbits tend to live in will encourage you to carry a more economical shotgun. Hunters who enjoy rabbit hunting often require value in their chosen shotgun,
Let’s talk gauge. If you’ve lugged a heavy gun around all day in the field you know what I’m about to say; Size matters! Rabbit hunters typically choose shotguns in gauges smaller than 12. The most popular being the 20 gauge. Twenty gauge shells tend to be less expensive and more readily available than the other options. The next most popular shot shell will be the .410 bore. Many young men have started their hunting career with the .410 shotgun. This is mostly due to the light weight and lower recoil of most single shot .410 guns. Finally you will also find some rabbit hunters using the 28 gauge as well as the 16 gauge shotgun. These are both similar to the 20 gauge and mostly used out of adoration for the uniqueness of the bore than any perceived advantage they may lend. Still, there are no laws that prevent the 12 gauge from being utilized on a rabbit hunt. The extra weight can be difficult to endure on all day hunts so plan accordingly.
Single shot shotguns are inexpensive, light weight, and extremely reliable. The only draw back to this type shotgun is the time it takes to take a follow up shot. While I have shot at a rabbit as many as three times with a single shot shotgun, this is very rare. Rabbits normally provide only one shot at a time from one of these gems. Even so, I like to use them and carry mine often.
This shotgun is one I like to use. It’s a single shot Stevens model 940A. The 940A’s are some what unique in the single shot word as the engraved hunting dog scene adds a touch of class to what is normally a very bland but effective tool. This particular shotgun is enduring to me due to it belonging to my late grandfather.
Another popular shotgun configuration is the pump gun. Pump shotguns are popular because they offer a lot of value. A follow up shot is as simple as a quick pumping stroke from the forearm. Pump action shotguns can be found for almost any budget. Some sell for as little as $200 while others may fetch $1000 or more.
Here is my American Standard Flite King Deluxe in 28gauge. It is very light weight with a short pumping stroke. It’s a classic American shotgun in every way.
The third type of shotgun we must look at is the autoloader. Automatic shotguns, as they are referred to, are very popular amongst all types of upland game hunters. While not as reliable as pump action or breach action shotguns, the autoloader offers less recoil and faster follow up shots than the other two. Several very light options are also available in automatic.
This FRANCHI 48AL in 20 gauge is a light weight automatic rabbit hunting shotgun.
Your probably already wondering why I haven’t mentioned chokes or shot size. I sure have an opinion on them. In fact, I have so much to say about the subject that I’m going to save that for another post. After all 6 shot -71/2 shot, full choke to cylinder bore, there is a lot to discuss.