Orvis Guide to Hunting – Gear & Equipment


Close up of a gloved hand carrying a shotgun
A disassembled shotgun on a table

How do I clean a shotgun?

Old school shotgun shells used black powder and corrosive primers. Fouling left behind by the powder attracted moisture while the primers deposited corrosive salts. Both caused rust and required almost immediate attention. Failure to do so is why so many old side-by-side are as pocked marked as country roads.


Modern ammunition, with its smokeless powders and corrosion-free primers, solved these problems. For us, it’s enough to do to a quick clean at day’s end before returning a gun to its case and moving on to more enjoyable things.

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Two shotguns next to each other

How do over-under and side-by-side shotguns compare?

While side-by-sides and over-unders have their differences—looks wise, mechanics wise, how they feel—most people can shoot either one well with a little patience, practice and training.

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A girl takes aim with her shotgun.

What’s the best shotgun for a young kid?

Do you remember the first time you hunted pheasants or ducks? Many of us were introduced to bird hunting by a parent, sibling, or family member with a passion for the outdoors. Times spent with this person may be some of your most cherished memories.

Now it's your turn to introduce you son, daughter, or nephew to wingshooting. Of course, there's a lot for them to learn before they pick up a shotgun. But when the times comes for them to get one, here are some things to consider.

A hunter takes two shotgun shells out of their vest.

What are bird hunting and clays shooting vests?

Just as golfers wear spiked shoes and ball players wear batting gloves, upland hunters wear all kinds of gear tailored to their sport. Along with abrasion-resistant field pants and sturdy upland boots, the most crucial piece of specialized clothing any wingshooter can put on is a hunting vest.

A hunting vest keeps in-the-field essentials out of the way but still right at hand. Good ones hold a dozen shotgun shells, a compass, a knife or multi tool, a GPS, at least one water bottle, and the keys to your truck (in a zippered pocket). They also have a pouch in the back for downed game.

A broken open shotgun slung over a hunter's shoulder

Why should I get a shotgun fitted to me?

If you've ever shopped for a suit, you know how hard it can be to find one that fits. Jackets vary by chest size and sleeve length. Pants come in different waist sizes and lengths. And if any of these measurements fit you off the rack, you're lucky. For most of us, adjustments must be made.

Shotguns are similar. Right off the rack or out of the box, few fit right. Adjustments must be made. But why? What is shotgun "fit" and why does it matter?

Smoke curls from an open shotgun as two new shells are ready to be loaded.

Is there a perfect shotgun gauge for upland birds and waterfowl?

Here's how to start an argument with a bunch of serious hunters: Say "A twelve gauge is the best gauge. Everything else is a waste of money and lead." Regardless of what these people hunt, they'll have a favorite gauge. Chances are, it will not be the twelve gauge.

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An older gentlemen wearing protective glasses and earplugs

Should I wear eye and ear protection when shooting and bird hunting?

To help prevent accidents and injuries, here are the several things you should wear whenever you're shooting, hunting, and around firearms.

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