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28 Gauge vs 410 Bore: A Shotgun Shell Comparison

WriterKelsy Kim
9 min read
A 28 gauge shotshell on the left and 410 bore shotshell on the right with ‘vs’ in the middle.

Testing out the 28 gauge and 410 bore for small game, skeet, trap, or sporting clay shooting? This detailed comparison is for hunters, clay target enthusiasts, and shotgun aficionados. We'll highlight each shotgun shell’s unique attributes, uses, and considerations to equip you with the knowledge to select the best fit for your shooting style.

Key Takeaways

  • 28 Gauge vs 410: What You Should Know: The 28 gauge is a popular choice for upland bird hunting, while the 410 is considered a beginner’s gauge.
  • 28 Gauge vs 410: Which Is the Superior Shotgun Cartridge? The 410's low recoil makes it ideal for beginners, youth, and those sensitive to recoil. However, the 28 gauge offers more stopping power and can hit birds at a further distance.
  • 28 Gauge vs 410: Pros and Cons: The 28 gauge shows superb balance between recoil management and effectiveness, but has slightly higher recoil. The 410 bore has very low recoil and is great for new or younger shooters but is less effective at long distances.
  • Which One Is Right for You? The 410 is perfect for new shooters looking for an option with lower recoil. The 28 gauge is a better all-around choice with more applications for hunters and sport shooters.

28 Gauge vs 410: What You Should Know

The 28 gauge and 410 bore both have unique backgrounds and histories. The 28 gauge is a popular choice for upland bird hunting. Meanwhile, the 410 is often considered a specialist or beginner's gauge and has roots in small-game hunting.

While both rounds are popular among turkey hunters, the 28 gauge is more effective than the 410 bore overall when using the Tungsten Super Shot (TSS). The 410 bore is a more viable option for young hunters and beginners.

Both the 28 gauge and 410 bore have higher ammunition costs and are less available than their standard 12 and 20 gauge counterparts. However, the 410 is generally cheaper overall than 28 gauge ammunition.

28 Gauge vs 410: Which Is the Superior Shotgun Cartridge?

A diameter size comparison of the width of a 28 gauge shotgun shell and a .410 bore shotgun shell.

The main difference between both rounds is in the bore diameter. The 28 gauge has a diameter of 0.550 or 0.545 inches, and the 410 has a diameter of 0.410 inches.

The 410's low recoil makes it ideal for beginners, youth, and those sensitive to recoil. The 28 gauge has a slightly higher recoil, but it's still manageable for experienced shooters.

Both rounds require more accuracy and skill from the shooter. The 410, in particular, demands higher precision due to its smaller payload. The 28 gauge offers a bit more flexibility but still challenges shooters to improve their aim and technique.

The 28 gauge is versatile enough for various hunting and clay shooting sports. In contrast, the 410 is ideal for small game hunting, target shooting, and training due to its precision and low recoil.

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28 Gauge vs 410: Cartridge Comparison
Category 28 gauge 410
Usage Versatile for sporting clays, skeet, turkey, and upland bird hunting. Best for small game hunting, target shooting, and training.
Recoil Low to moderate, manageable for most shooters. Very low, making it ideal for beginners and those sensitive to recoil.
Stopping Power Moderate, with a slight advantage over 410 due to larger payload. Lower, suitable mainly for small game due to smaller payload.
Accuracy Requires precision, but slightly more forgiving than 410. Demands high accuracy due to smaller shot pattern, enhancing skill.
Cost Higher ammunition costs and lower availability than more common gauges. Generally high costs, but slightly more available than 28 gauge ammo.


28 Gauge

The 28 gauge is popular among sporting clays and skeet shooting communities. Its relatively light recoil and sufficient stopping power make it a preferred choice among shooting enthusiasts.

This gauge also provides an excellent balance of shot pattern density and manageability for hunters of game birds such as quail, grouse, or woodcock. Its effectiveness in the field makes it a preferred choice for hunters looking for a lighter shotgun without sacrificing performance.

The manageable recoil and lighter weight of 28 gauge shotguns make them suitable for beginners. They provide a less intimidating introduction to shooting sports and allow new shooters to focus on technique and safety.

410 Bore

The 410 is ideal for upland bird season, sporting clays, rabbits, squirrels, and other small game. The challenge with this caliber lies in precision rather than power. The 410's light payload and tight shot patterns require the hunter to be accurate. This makes the 410 an excellent choice for honing shooting skills.

For landowners or farmers dealing with pests, a 410 shotgun offers the right balance of power and precision to manage them without causing excessive damage to the surroundings.

Like the 28 gauge, the 410 is also favored for introducing new shooters to the sport. Thanks to its minimal recoil, it's particularly well-suited for young shooters or those of smaller stature.


28 Gauge

The 28 gauge shotgun offers an appealing balance for shooters looking for minimal recoil without sacrificing performance. It sits comfortably between the 410 and larger gauges and has a manageable recoil level for most.

Its design limits the amount of powder and shot, meaning the 28 gauge maintains a gentle recoil. This lower recoil makes it a comfortable choice for a wide range of shooting activities.

Whether for target shooting or hunting small game, users appreciate the 28 gauge's ability to deliver sufficient power for effective performance. This makes it a prevalent choice among shooters who prefer a lighter recoil experience but want to maintain the effectiveness of their shotgun.

410 Bore

The 410 shotgun cartridge stands out for its exceptionally low recoil. Its lower recoil makes it an excellent introduction to shooting for children and beginners. Low recoil minimizes fatigue and reduces the intimidation factor often associated with firing a shotgun for the first time.

The light loads typical of 410 cartridges are a primary factor in its minimal felt recoil. Shotguns designed for 410 cartridges are lightweight, making them easier to handle and reducing the physical strain on the shooter.

This combination makes the 410 ideal for those looking to enjoy prolonged shooting sessions without the discomfort of heavier recoiling firearms.

Stopping Power

28 Gauge

The 28 gauge shotgun outpaces the 410 in stopping power by firing a larger payload that translates into a greater impact force per shot. This higher stopping power is made possible by the gauge's ability to accommodate slightly larger shot sizes and increased powder charges.

However, the 28 gauge does not rival the stopping power of the 12 or 20 gauges. Instead, it offers shooters a balance between managing recoil and delivering impact.

410 Bore

The 410 shotgun's smaller payload puts it on the modest end of the stopping power spectrum. However, less stopping power doesn't necessarily detract from its value. Instead, it offers shooters ease of use and precision.

The 410 is ideal for specific hunting tasks and for individuals who prioritize a gentle recoil experience over sheer stopping force. While it may not boast the highest stopping power, the 410's effectiveness in specific scenarios and low recoil appeal to a broad range of shooters.


28 Gauge

The 28-gauge shotgun presents a unique challenge to shooters due to its relatively smaller number of pellets per shell than the larger 12- and 20-gauge shotguns. This reduction in payload requires more accuracy and pushes shooters to refine their aim and technique.

Shooters must focus more on aiming, especially in precision shooting sports like skeet and sporting clays. The requirement for greater precision makes the 28 gauge a tool for improving shooting skills. It adds an element of challenge and satisfaction to the shooting experience for those willing to master it.

410 Bore

Similarly, the 410's even smaller payload demands exceptional precision from its users. The limited number of pellets leaves little room for error and makes the 410 an excellent option for those looking to hone their shooting abilities.

Despite its modest size, the 410 offers a comparable shooting experience to that of the 28 gauge for many in terms of accuracy. The primary determinant of success with either gauge is less about the cartridges and more about the shooter's proficiency and the context of the shot.


28 Gauge

28 gauge ammunition tends to be pricier and less readily available than the more prevalent 12ga or 20ga shells. In many cases, hunters must seek out specialized online retailers to find this type of ammunition.

The unique shooting experience offered by the 28 gauge comes at a higher price, making it one of the more expensive options for regular shooters. The higher cost and effort required to locate the ammunition may dissuade shooters from using the 28 gauge.

410 Bore

410 ammunition is generally more accessible in stores than its 28 gauge counterparts but still carries a higher price tag than most shotgun shells available. However, it is typically slightly less costly than 28 gauge ammo.

The price range for 410 shells ranges roughly between $2.75 for standard rounds and $8.00 for premium options. While 410 shells are more available than 28 gauge shells, they still do not offer the cost-effectiveness of the larger 12ga or 20ga target loads.

28 Gauge vs 410: Pros and Cons

A 28 gauge shotgun shell on the left and a .410 bore shotgun shell on the right lying on a wooden table.
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28 Gauge Pros

  • Superb balance between recoil management and effectiveness.
  • Ideal for sporting clays, skeet, and upland bird hunting.
  • Allows for precision shooting with less fatigue.

410 Pros

  • Very low recoil and high precision.
  • Excellent choice for small game hunting and pest control and as an introductory shotgun for new or younger shooters.
  • Encourages skill development due to the need for accurate shot placement.

28 Gauge Cons

  • Higher cost and lower ammo availability compared to more popular gauges.
  • Does not offer the versatility or stopping power of larger gauges at long distance.

410 Cons

  • Higher cost of ammunition than other popular gauges.
  • Limited stopping power for anything beyond small game.
  • Effectiveness is highly dependent on the shooter's ability to aim accurately due to the small payload.

Which One Is Right for You?

A hunter holding a shotgun and wearing camo clothing with a shell belt around his waist with a hunting dog and field in the background.

Choosing between a 28 gauge and a 410 bore involves weighing several factors to find the best match for your shooting needs. If you're shooting skeet or sporting clays, the 28 gauge might be your ideal choice. The slightly larger shot pattern that makes it easier to hit moving targets can provide a more forgiving experience for beginners.

On the other hand, the 410 excels in precision small game hunting and target shooting and requires more skill to master due to its smaller shot pattern. This makes the 410 a rewarding choice for shooters seeking to hone their accuracy and precision.

If you are concerned about recoil, the 410 is the ideal option. Its minimal recoil makes it an excellent choice for young shooters, those new to the sport, or shooters of smaller stature. The 410 ensures a comfortable shooting experience without sacrificing performance.

However, it's essential to consider the cost and availability of ammunition. While both gauges cost more than standard shotgun sizes, 28 gauge ammunition can be especially pricey. The 410 is also often more readily available in stores and offers convenience for those who prefer to purchase ammo in person.

Finally, the 28 gauge provides slightly greater versatility in hunting. The 28 gauge can take down a broader range of game sizes with a bit more power behind each shot. Its stopping power makes the 28 gauge a versatile choice for hunters looking to use the same shotgun across different types of game.

Have Fun Out There!

Eager to elevate your shooting experience? Academy's extensive selection of shotgun shells and ammunition is tailored to fit every shooter's needs, from the precision of target shooting to the thrill of the hunt. We have a great selection of 28 gauge and 410 bore as well. Visit Academy Sports + Outdoors to find the perfect match for your shotgun, guaranteeing you never miss a shot.