Simply put, women are built differently than men. While in most cases a woman can make hunting equipment designed for men work, it is not optimum. This is especially true with rifles and shotguns.
Generally speaking, most women need a shorter length of pull, a thinner pistol grip designed for smaller hands, and for the toe of the stock to be positioned so that it fits better into a woman’s’ shoulder pocket.
Most shotgun stocks can be modified and these changes can be made fairly easily by a competent gunsmith. A youth model shotgun, if chosen carefully, can be a good option as well. Until recently, these were the only real choices. Times are changing though, and companies like Syren, Fausti, and CZ have begun producing shotguns with stocks designed specifically for women over the past few years. While the hunting and shooting sports industries are advancing, and more rifles and pistols for women are being produced than ever before, finding a shotgun that fits a woman the way it should from the factory still is no easy task. Hopefully more companies that produce shotguns will recognize the growing population of female hunters and shooters and will soon follow in the footsteps of the companies listed above.
I’ve recently taken an interest in bird hunting. I’ve chased pheasant a few times over the years, but have never really spent any significant time pursuing dove, quail, grouse or any other birds for that matter. Completely unequipped for this type of hunting, I have spent the past several months looking at different options for clothing, footwear, and firearms in hope that by next season I will be ready. This is an account of my journey to find a new bird gun.
While I already owned a decent pump action shotgun, I knew I wanted something that offered a faster second shot, was smooth swinging, and was light and comfortable enough to carry all day in the field while bird hunting.
A common mistake I have found a lot of women make is to automatically assume that any lightweight, shorter barreled, “youth” sized 20 gauge shotgun is what’s best for them. The truth however is that many of these guns not only have short stocks, but also have short 20”- 22” barrels, are made excessively light, and do not balance well.
In many cases women find youth shotguns just as difficult to shoot as full sized men’s shotguns. Too small can be just as much of a problem as too big when it comes to a proper fit, and short barrels and extreme light weight simply aren’t practical for many types of hunting. If you’re going to go the “youth” route like I ended up doing, you really need to be selective, and make sure the shotgun you are considering is going to meet your needs. In my case, knowing the primary purpose for my gun was going to be upland birds, and maybe an occasional day of trap and skeet, I knew I needed to look for something with a barrel longer than 22”, that was extremely well balanced. These requirements alone took most “youth” guns I found, regardless of the action type, manufacturer, and gauge, completely off the table. A short stocked shotgun with 24” or longer barrels that balances properly just isn’t that common it would seem.
Recoil was another major consideration for me. While I don’t believe that I am all that recoil sensitive, I do know that shooting multiple boxes of shells in rapid succession like is commonly done on a dove hunt is a little more than I am comfortable with, so I had some decisions to make.
One option was to look at semi auto gas operated guns like those offered by Berretta or Remington. Gas guns are generally the softest shooting shotguns, using the gas energy created by firing a shell to move the bolt carrier and bolt backwards against the shotguns return spring.
I really like the look, feel, balance, and swing of most over and under shotguns though, and decided this was the type of gun I wanted, so I needed to find another way to help out in the recoil department.
Since I was trying to select a shotgun for upland birds, 12 gauge wasn’t necessarily a requirement for me. Smaller gauge shotguns such as 20’s and 16’s are pretty common in the fields of North Texas, and Winchesters 2 ¾” AA Heavy Target Load 20 gauge shells have a great reputation among upland bird hunters, as does Federal’s Wing-Shok 20 gauge, 1 oz loads. Selecting a 20 gauge O/U seemed like the best way to go, and would guarantee manageable recoil even in a smaller, lighter weight gun.
So the decision was made to try to find a well-made, youth model, over and under, 20 gauge shotgun, with at least 24” barrels. I immediately ruled out super lightweight guns, but was excited to find there were several neat O/U Youth options out there, with full length barrels, and steel receivers that looked promising.
After much searching, and looking at probably a dozen different possibilities, I finally reduced my consideration list to three different 20 gauge guns, the CZ Redhead Reduced Length, Webley and Scott 920K, and the Browning Citori Micro Midas. All three shotguns are WONDERFUL, and I am pretty sure I could have been happy with any of them. I ended up selecting the Webley and Scott 920K though. With a stock that fits me like a glove straight from the factory, great balance, fast swing, and 28” barrels, I think it will be the perfect tool for taking to the fields in search of dove and quail next season.
I cant wait to get out there!
– Huntress in Heels