Couple of Cheney shotgun questions

  1. The load was birdshot, but what grade of birdshot?

  2. At least two of the early stories (worded identically) gave the distance from Cheney to Whittington as 30 meters (about 100 feet). The SF Chron story was picked up from the New York Times and gave it as 30 feet. It gives a different picture; which has been confirmed, if either?

  3. Cheney’s shotgun is 28-guage. I’m a farm kid, we had 10-guage, 12-guage, and 4-10 shotguns. What distinguishes a 28-guage?

I can’t answer 1 or 2, but I found this info about the 28 Gauge.

It’s smaller than a 20 gauge and bigger than a .410

From here:

  1. The common loads for 28-guage:

Nice simulpost. We even linked to the same site.

As far as the OPs second question goes, I’ve heard 30 yards. None of the news I’ve seen has said 30 feet. 30 foot’s range would result in much more than the ‘superficial’ injuries that have been reported, IMHO


:smack: (Preview means look for new posts, too, dummy!)

I think is about to see a nice little spike in traffic.

I don’t know that pellets in your heart is all that “superficial”, but I agree that at 30 feet, we’d be looking at a lot larger wound confined to a smaller area.

7 1/2 shot, according to the official report. From TSG, how appropriate.

Scruloose and CynicalGabe already provided sufficient information on the 28 gauge, so I just wanted to add that it’s a largely deprecated chambering; the only 28 gauge shotguns I’ve seen have been older or “collectable” doubles that are intended for trap or short-range small bird hunting (quail and phesant), although I see that Ruger offers an O/A in that chambering. The round has often been disparaged as a “ladies gun”, but in fact both the recoil of the round and the couple of guns I’ve handled have been light and pleasent to carry. (Contrast that to carrying a fully ribbed 28" O/A 12 gauge around all day and you can see why the 28 has its place.)

There’s also a 16 guage, which in my mind is ideal for small game (rabbit, squirrel) and small to medium fowl. Lamentedly, it’s not a popular caliber compared to the do-it-all 12 guage, but for someone who enjoys a day of popping around the countryside and killing small furry and feathery things it’s quite alright. For waterfowl and turkey, however the 12 guage is kind of mandatory. I personally think the .410 is pretty useless except as a training gun for the little ones, but to each his own.

As far as the shooting, while I’ve enjoyed the jokes at Dick “Mad Panda” Cheney’s expense as much as anyone, from the details I’ve read it appears that Wittington was as much or more at fault than Cheney. It’s tempting to argue that Cheney violated Rule #4 (“Know what your target is and what is behind it,”) but when bird hunting in heavy brush or or marsh it’s quite easy for someone to become concealed by ground cover, hunters orange vest or no, and thus, it’s important to stay in contact with your party members and inform them of your location. I don’t find the accident excusible and find the comments by the land owner–that this sort of thing is just an occasional accepted consequence of hunting–to be disturbingly dismissive, but I don’t know that Cheney should be villified; at worst, the culpability falls upon the group collectively for not controlling their fields of fire.

It’s given the comedians plenty of fodder, though, and for that we can be thankful.


The gauge of a shotgun is determined by the number of lead balls the diameter of the barrel that it would take to weigh one pound. 10-gauge shotgun, 10 spherical balls, 12-gauge, 12 balls, 28-gauge, 28 balls. Obviously, 28-gauge is pretty small.

That’s not to excuse Vice-President Cheney. I had it explained to me, and explained to my children, that you were responsible for the projectile for the entire trajectory, and not just to the target. By definition, if you shoot someone in the face without intending to, you were careless.

Well, it doesn’t take much more than a ladies’ gun to take down a pen-raised quail.

But not 2.8 times as small as 10-gauge. The diameter would decrease with the cube root of the gauge.

(I must preface this with I can’t believe Stranger posted something a tad off) The 28 guage shotgun is a premiere shotgun and load for exactly this type of hunting, quail and dove, and some grouse. There are a number of high end manufacturer’s that make 28 gauge shotguns (mostly in an Over/Under (O/U) configuration with some side by sides available), and more that incorporate the 28 in a tube set. It is not a good load at ranges that pheasant can be taken at and it would never be used for shooting Trap. Skeet shooting has four disciplines and is normally shot as one event with 4 100 target subevents. One subevent is 12 gauge, the 2nd is 20, the third 28 gauge, and the fourth 410.

You’re correct that some of the high end makers still produce the 28 gauge but it’s hardly a popular chambering in comparison to the .410 and the 12 gauge; I’ve seen maybe half a dozen, and most of those, despite your assertion that it’s not an appropriate chambering for shooting trap, were in fact used for trap shooting. (Whether it’s a good choice or not I’ll concede to more experienced trap shooters.)

I was also going to say that it isn’t found in any pump guns or autoloaders, but in fact doing a brief search turned up the fact that Winchster makes a version of the 870 chambered in 28 gauge, although I’ve never seen one. Regardless, it’s not a widely used round in comparison to the more popular chamberings. You’re correct in contesting my claim that it’d be a good gun for pheasent; I was struggling for something in addition to quail and put down the first bird that came to mind. (I was going to say dove, but then people get all squiggy when you talk about shooting “peace birds”, as if they aren’t just as brainless and tasty as quail.)

Anyway, it’s an excellent round–superior to the .410 but available in a similarly lightweight platform–but just not especially popular in general use, which was my essential point.


No, but it takes more skill to hit birds on the wing with a smaller gauge shotgun and a 28 GA would be less likely to shred the quail than a 12 GA. It’s not unheard of for skilled shots to use less than the maximum firepower to accomplish their goal. You might need a 12 GA.

I’m having a hard time believing that 7-1/2 shot could penetrate to the heart at 30 yards though.

Emphasis mine. Let’s make sure we’re talking the same thing here, this diagram shows a combination trap field and skeet field. I shot 4000 registered targets in the ATA last year and saw two 13 year old females shooting 20 ga autos, but no one else shooting anything smaller than that. I’d venture a guess that 98% of the trap shooters I’ve shot with shoot 12 ga.

::shrug:: I’m not saying it’s a great choice, just that I’ve seen people doing it. Not being a trap and skeet enthusiast I can’t really debate the point knowledgeably, so I’ll concede to your experience on the topic.


No prob, Stranger I just wanted to make sure we weren’t comparing apples to oranges. As from my first post, where I do see a lot of 28 ga shooting is in skeet, as it is one of the four events in that sport.