Scotty, Back in the day (before steel shot) the 16 gauge was the dominant bird gun because it simply shot (patterns) better than the 20 gauge and (i.e., Sweet Sixteen) carried well in the field. The steel shot mandate did several things: Manufacturers initially (late 1980's) offered loads that (what's a polite word for crap) woefully underperformed, across the board, regardless of gauge. The 10 gauge was rising in popularity as it and it alone offered a viable solution to this situation as it furnished the heaviest payload (at that time) and largest bore (best patterns) option. Mossberg in covert collaboration with Federal Cartridge Corp. rolled out the model 835 & 3 1/2" cartridge in 12 gauge ~09/1989 as the panacea to the situation as long-time waterfowlers were either dropping out of the pursuit altogether or going outlaw (sticking with lead) rather than deal with the commercial steelshot loads that were in use at the time. This shotgun (yep, I got one in 10/1989) coupled with the Federal roman candle loads were brutal to shoot and really didn't work a lot better than the other options already in play as pattern work with these loads soon revealed. Handloaders soon discovered the redeeming virtue of the Mossberg 835 was it's ~10 gauge bore in delivering awesome patterns with short(er) shotshells. Then, Benelli trotted out the (Breda built) messiah known as SBE and the assault on anything less than 3 1/2" cartridges in 12 gauge flavor began in earnest. The marketing of this cartridge escalated faster than politicians running to their cars at Christmas break (which is a pretty good clip) when other shotgun manufacturers jumped onto the bandwagon. As many soon found out, simply stretching a 3" chambered S/A to 3 1/2" chambering could be problematic as (i.e.) Browning found out (receiver stress fractures) with the BGH and Remington (bolt yoke failures) with the 11-87 did as well, to name a few. We are a nation of magnumitis (if a little bit is good, then a whole lot more has to be better) but even that mantra has proven problematic with the 12 gauge in 3 1/2" chambered as evidenced by the plethora of "recoil reduction" (felt and otherwise) gimmicks rolled out with each succeeding hunting season. Heck, we even have a used car salesman (masquerading as a shotgun expert) claiming shotgun stocks are contorting like political promises when the trigger is pulled as a result of these gimmicks. The salvation of all other gauges, for waterfowling purposes was Alliant making their STEEL powder available to handloaders in the late 1990's which (due to it's burn curve characteristics) allowed for higher velocity, sans over pressuring in basically most all steel shot loadings. That's when the return to sanity began and as commercial cartridge companies slowly took notice, followed suite. Now, due to several factors, including the aging of the male waterfowler population base, increase of women's participation and the fact most 12YO's won't tolerate the felt recoil of a 3 1/2" twelve gauge, the other gauges are slowly but surely coming into their own. Manufacturers appear to have made economies of scale decisions and tried to promote the 3" magnum 20 gauge as the best alternative leaving the 16 gauge relegated to "red-headed stepchild" status. However, the few, the proud, the ultimate bird gunners stuck to their (16 gauge) guns and a resurgence appears to have germinated as the offerings for this gauge in both shotgun and shotshell are slowly regaining ground ceded during the 3 1/2" magnum 12 gauge blitzkrieg. Am in no way stating the 16 gauge is a be all, end all option rather, it has it's rightful place in any serious wingshooter's battery and should never be viewed as that "ba$tard gauge" as it's detractors would try and con us into believing. A Merry Christmas to all, and to all, good shooting!