Most shotgun owners can rattle off the general features of their favorite guns: the bore, the mechanism, the stock and more. But the weight? That’s not typically campfire conversation.
But it matters.
As a general rule, most modern shotguns weigh between six and eight pounds, depending on the style and expected use. This can impact not only the balance of the gun—though both light and heavy guns can be well-balanced, depending on the build quality—but also the accuracy and ease of use. Heavier guns are often smoother to fire and easier to control, as the extra weight helps to minimize extra movements, but they can be difficult for beginners to carry around all day. Lighter guns solve the transport problem but can be “whippy” and difficult to use effectively in the field, no matter how nice they feel in the store.
It all depends on what you plan to use the weapon for.
For example, most skeet shooters use guns in the eight to nine pound range, in order to help them maintain a smooth, consistent swing. Trap shooters go even heavier, sometimes more than 10 pounds, in order to get the longer barrel that they need for their sport.
But bird hunters do something with their guns that these stationary shotgun shooters don’t have to worry about: they carry them around for hours and hours in the field. Hunters need a gun that’s light enough to carry but not so light that it sacrifices performance.
Here are a few signs that your gun is too heavy.
You can’t aim it
It should go without saying that a gun you can’t comfortably aim and fire is likely too much gun for you. While there are many variables that go into gun fit, if you find that your shotgun feels heavy and overlong at your shoulder, or even getting it into position is a chore, then you would likely benefit from a lighter weight weapon.
You can’t maintain your swing
For upland bird hunters, being able to effectively bring your gun into the ready position and swing to meet and follow your target is crucial. If you’re able to aim and fire your gun from a static position but struggle to swing it smoothly in the field, that could be another sign that it is too heavy for you.
You get fatigued
Heavy guns are…heavy. As anyone who has taken a 10-plus pound skeet shooting weapon out on a hunt knows, that extra weight adds up fast. A heavy gun will tire you out much faster than a gun that’s well-suited to your fitness and comfort levels.
You dread carrying it all day
It’s simply no fun to go hunting when your gear isn’t working for you. If your gun is so heavy that you spend the entire day struggling with it or finding ways to lighten the load, then you’d be better served by a lighter weapon.
It’s also worth noting that a shotgun sling like the Upland Sling is a good solution to the above two problems, reducing fatigue, improving accuracy, increasing overall comfort and ensuring safer hunting across the board. If you’re comfortable using your shotgun but don’t enjoy the weight of carrying it around all day, a well-designed sling might be the solution you’re looking for.