My comments were mostly pertaining to lead shot since the thread is about Pheasant hunting and most folks shoot lead for pheasants. The laws that govern how lead patterns still apply, particularly about shot column height. You are better off shooting a lighter loaded Sixteen than trying to stuff a long shot column in a 3 inch, 11/4 oz 20. Some of the meanest recoiling shotguns I ever shot were 20 gauges stuffed with 3 inch 11/4 oz magnums. The reference I made about 3 inch shells often patterning better that 3.5's (with a heavier payload) is accurate for current steel loads. Again it is stacking of pellets to a long shot column height that causes patterning problems. Of course folks can and do carefully pattern and reload and can find good patterning exceptions. Sadly most don't and 3.5 inch loads and I suspect a lot of ducks are crippled as a result. The handling of a well built sixteen on a sixteen frame is timeless.