Shotgun Calibres

This week Victoria answers a question about shotgun calibres from a member. If you have a question for Victoria, you can email anytime to

In this weeks video, she explains how the calibre of a shotgun is measured using a quirky old historic law! She talks about the different calibres of shotguns and delves in a little more on each.

In this video Victoria covers:

  • How the method used with 1lb cannon balls still applies today
  • How the method comprises of starting with a 1lb ball of lead and it’s how many times that ball of lead can be divided into equal size or weight parts that give you the calibre. So in the instance of a 12gauge, there will be 12 balls of lead, all equal sizes.
  • How the standard sizes of shotguns in the UK are: 12, 16, 20, 28 and a .410 (note there are other bigger calibres, but Victoria lists the most common).
  • How a 12gauge is more affordable as there are more on the market and they absorb the most recoil as there are more weight to them. However, 12gauges are heavier guns.
  • That 16gauges are making a come back in recent years, they are slightly lighter than a 12 and absorb more recoil than a 20gauge
  • How 20gauges are very popular as they weigh less than a 12gauge and are a smaller gun. 20gauges make great game guns as they are easier to hold all day if in the field.
  • That 28gauges are small guns and are perfect for children
  • How a .410 which is the smallest of the shotgun calibres is measured in points of an inch. Perfect for kids and pest controlling!

We hope this video helps, if you’d like to know more about guns, do check out our Mini Masterclass with Tom Hickman on Guns.



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