yes, I know this has been asked a thousand times before but I couldnt find it in a search. So whats the story? does the length of a shotgun barrel affect the pattern or is it all in the choke? I have been debating whether or not I want to put a longer barrel on my mossberg 500 20ga. It has a 22 inch barrel with a modified choke.
It shouldn't effect the shot battern but it will change the velocity that the shot leaves the barrel. A longer berrel is also going to give you a much smoother swing when you are hunting birds. That is why you see the big name sporting clay shooters with 32"-34" barrels on their O/U's and 30" on the auto's.
I do not beleive a longer barrel will make much diff in pattern as much as it will in follow thru. Most experts say that is why they use a longer barrel. If you are using the gun for turkey or grouse fine, but if for ducks or pheasants then get a longer barrel.
Your choke and shell choice will have more effect on range than the barrel lenght. If it was mine I'd have a 26" with a choke system on it and then it would still do anything that you want. You can use it for anything from clay targets to turkey that way.
I think I'll just buy a new gun. This is a youth model. I looked into getting a longer barrel and a bigger stock and forearm piece and the price total came out to $223. A new mossberg 500 is only about $275. I am sure I can find a used one in excellent condiiton for about $200. I kinda of like my youth model the way it is. Its perfect for close range hunting in the thick woods around my area. I'll just stick a bigger butt plate on it to make the stock a little longer.
It doesn't affect range or the ballistics of the shotgun enough that you would ever notice. The barrel length will affect the handling of the shotgun and a longer barrel feels good to you then that's what you go with. Forget ballistics and range, comfort and the ability to hit what you are shooting at are way more important. Good luck!!