Always Match the Barrel Stamp First
Like rifles, shotguns have a barrel stamp usually located on the right or left side of the barrel. It indicates the gauge and maximum length of the shotshell that can be fired safely. Gauge is also shown on the head stamp, located on the shell base. Gauge and shell length are also on the ammunition box.
A magazine 'plug' is usually made of wood or plastic and is inserted in the tubular magazine to limit the number of shells a shotgun may hold. Federal law requires that the shotgun be limited to a capacity of three (3) shells (one in the chamber and two in the magazine) while hunting any type of migratory birds including doves and waterfowl.
IMPORTANT! In New Jersey there are certain exceptions that apply to the shotgun plug law when hunting geese in certain seasons. For further information on these exceptions, please refer to the most current issue of the New Jersey Fish and Wildlife Digest.
Understanding a Smoothbore Barrel
A shotgun used for shot features a smoothbore barrelBarrel that does not have any lands and grooves (rifling), meaning that there is no riflingSpiraled lands and grooves inside a firearm's bore (usually rifles and handguns). Give the bullet a spin as it moves down the barrel and out toward the target, increasing accuracy.. Shotguns can be used for short and long distances. Shotguns are highly accurate for shorter distances.