Link to September 2014 RELOAD!

September 2014 RELOAD!

Published by the Connecticut Travelers Sporting Clays Association

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Reblog of “The Blue Billed Mallard”

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Browning Superposed And Steel Shot

Dear Technoid,

I am thinking about buying a Browning Superposed (trap naturally), and since you on numerous occasions have expressed your ‘love’ for these guns, I would appreciate if you would agree to answer the following questions.

Is it (technically not morally) appropriate to use steel shot in a postwar Superposed (I’m thinking of chamber pressure)? (I’m from Denmark where shooting and even possessing lead shot is prohibited! It’s a nightmare.)

I have heard a rumor that the action frames on some of the superposed guns from the seventies were of a lower quality. Can you confirm this, and if so, can you tell me what to look (out) for.

As a more interesting aside, I have the following “problem”. I use trap guns for everything except for hunting, which is what I need the Browning for. I started out using a straight stocked Krieghoff 32 trap and subsequently bought a K-80 trap also with a straight stock and have finally ended up using a Beretta 682 X-trap (stepped rib and Monte Carlo stock). It seems that as time progresses I need a gun with higher and higher point of impact. Especially the right angle crossers from either side I tend to shoot under, but strangely enough I have to hold under raising straight away trap-like targets. I should mention that I primarily use sustained lead and that I see more than a little of the rib even though I crawl the stock and do not raise my head. I have heard of other and better shooters with the same problem. What do you think is causing this phenomenon, and what could be done to cope with it?

I just love your page, and the first thing I do every morning is to look it up. Just think about what those low-tech shooters out there miss.


Dear Hans,

You are most definitely correct in that I do prefer the balance and feel of the FN Browning B-25 Superposed to the other guns currently on the market. Over past 35 years of clay target shooting, I have found the B-25s to be the most reliable gun made. Like all guns, they have their weak points (loose ribs and broken right hand ejector studs if you forget to cut a coil off of the ejector hammer springs), but what breaks will never put you out of the competition. My Krieghoffs and Perazzis often had trigger problems, which ended the day’s competition right then and there. Perhaps other shooters have had other experiences, but those were mine.

The American made steel shot cartridges with which I am familiar operate at chamber pressures identical to those of lead shot cartridges. Steel shotshells tend to use very different powders than lead shotshells and develop their pressure in the barrel (not chamber) differently, but the chamber pressures are held to the same standards.
Where you run into problems with steel shot is in the choke area. Steel shot (actually it is soft iron) does not have any “give” or compression as it goes through the choke. Lead shot does. The thin barrel steel that gives the Browning B-25s their magical responsiveness may bulge just at the beginning of the choke if you use steel shot and a trap-style Modified or Full choke. The same will happen on any of the older Perazzis, Beretta SOs or Krieghoff Ulms also. Anything with light, thin, responsive barrels. The problem with steel shot is not the brand of gun, it is the design of the barrels.

You can always call up Fabrique Nationale in Herstal, Belgium and ask them. I am sure that they will not recommend steel shot in their B-25s. I would not do it, unless the gun I was using had open chokes. If you are going to shoot steel, get a gun designed for steel, not a B-25. Let me know if they tell you anything different. There may be a way around it.

Briley in Houston, Texas, USA will retrofit a line of “steel shot” chokes to, I believe, the Browning B-25s. He has distributors in Britain and perhaps in Europe near you. His choke work is of high quality (he has installed lead screw chokes in half a dozen guns, including two B-25s, for me) and does not change the balance of the gun at all. His company has a lot of experience with converting standard guns to steel shot and he should be able to advise you as to the barrel dimensions and thicknesses necessary for the installation of his steel chokes. Some B-25 barrels can take them, come cannot.

Lower quality action frames on ’70s B-25 Superposeds? I have never heard that at all. As a matter of fact, the durability of the B-25 Superposed frame is legendary. The B-27 “Liege” model of the ’70s was an entirely different gun of lower quality. Perhaps what you heard referred to that unfortunate model. Ned Schwing’s definitive book on the B-25 “The Browning Superposed” (Krause Publications, 1996, mentions that the highest quality Browning factory production of all time was in the early and mid ’60s. I have owned Browning Superposed B-25s from the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. All the receivers appeared identical in quality of machining and metal, though the design was slightly refined during the years.

Browning did have a well publicized “salt wood” problem with its higher grade guns manufactured from about late 1967 through around 1970. Browning, and several other manufacturers, tried a method of salt drying their fancier stock blanks to bring them to market sooner. Unfortunately, the final process did not leech all of the salt out of the wood, so some of these guns rusted terribly where wood and metal touched- mostly in the rear of the receiver. This was in no way a problem with the action frame.

As to your shooting problem- let me get this right. You shoot high on your straightaways and under your crossers? Since we are only 3,000 miles apart, it is hard to have the doctor make a house call. A quick guess is that you might be rolling your shoulders on those crossers. Try shooting with your elbows out more. That tends to eliminate rolling. Anyway, that is my best guess from central Florida.

By the way, you also appear to have noticed the same phenomenon that I have: the more you shoot, the longer and higher your stock gets. I think that it is just because the seasoned shooters have learned to get into their guns better. Just a guess. I could be wrong. I was wrong once in 1967. Or was it ’68?

Best regards,
Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid

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Choking An Upland 20

Dear Technoid.

I have the opportunity to put some personnel touches on a nice light-weight, 6 lbs., Belgium 20ga. SxS. This will be a grouse and woodcock gun. It has fixed chokes that are tighter than needed for the job, at least mod / full.

The weight fits the rule of 96 x the shot charge weight to use 1 oz. loads but I am looking at using 7/8 to ≤ oz loads. The thinking being that it will be more of a backbored 28 ga. than a 12 ga. in a 20 ga. skin.

I have read and have recommendations from Cyl. / IC to Mod. /Mod. Would the all knowing Technoid help muddy the waters on what would be a good choice of chokes?



Dear Stephen,

You want muddy water? Well, stand back! If anyone can turn a perfectly simply answer into a quagmire, I can.

First of all, you have to decide on your load. Then on the chokes. In that order. Also, you’ll probably want to choke for grouse, not woodcock as those will probably be your further shots. I’ve never hunted woodcock only. I’ve sort of taken the woodcock as they popped up when hunting grouse. Perhaps you are luckier in your woodcock hunting. Both birds are easy kills, but very hard to hit.

Why the load before the choke? Because patterns are simply percentages of the payload. Out of a give gauge, a given choke pretty much throws the same diameter pattern regardless of the payload. You can make the argument that lighter loads are a little tighter due to less pellet deformation. It’s true, but not by much. So, if a Modified choke puts 60% of its pellets into a 30″ circle at 40 yards by definition, 60% of one ounce of #7-1/2s is 350*.6 = 210. 60% of 7/8 oz of #7-1/2s is 184. 60% of 3/4 oz #7-1/2s is 157. More pellets in the pattern mean a larger effective pattern and a better chance of a clean kill. Less is less until recoil becomes a factor.

In a 6# gun the rule of 96 says that you can shoot 1 oz. Of course, the rule of 96 was meant for comfort shooting multiple driven shots, not the occasional shot offered when hunting grouse or woodcock. If your gun can handle a one ounce load in permitted pressure, I’d definitely use that when I hunted. For target practice before the season, a lighter load would be fine for both the gun and for you, but hunt with the one ounce.

Now let’s talk “Effective Pattern”. There are a number of formulae that you can use for this. Lowry’s program, “Ballistics for Windows” does a good job. First you have to know the vital area in square inches of a quickly departing grouse. My guess is that it’s about 9 square inches. I won’t argue if you come up with a different number.

According to Lowry’s numbers, if you start with 350 pellets (one ounce of #7-1/2s) and put 77% of them into a 30″ circle, every 9 square inch circle within a 22″ circle will average three pellet hits. 5% will get none, 38% will get 1 or 2, 39% will get 3 or 4, 18% will get 5 or more. Less pellets in your starting load mean a smaller effective killing circle. Now here’s an interesting thing: any percentage from about 75% to 90% gives you about the same 24″ killing circle. Greater or lesser percentages than 75% to 90% will make smaller effective killing circles.

So, peering through those muddy waters we now can see that

1) you want to throw all the pellets possible and practical (one ounce), and

2) at what ever distance you decide to shoot your birds, you will want to get 75% to 90% of the shot into a 30″ circle.

The next question is how far away do you normally take your birds? For most upland situations, my numbers seem to be first barrel at 20 yards and second barrel at 30 yards. Your numbers may vary. 30 yards is an awfully long shot on bonasa umbellus. If it were only grouse and woodcock in heavy timber, you might feel more comfortable setting your gun up for 15 and 25 yards. I always like the second barrel to have ten yards more reach than the first. Again, you may prefer something else.

If you decide on 15 and 25 yards, that’s close enough so that you might safely switch from #7- 1/2s to #8s. Personally, I use #6 on ruffed grouse. I find that with #6s I just go over and pick them up. With other shot sizes the dog and I have more looking about to do. I’ve also had good luck with hand loaded #7s. A pal of mine uses only #9s and also does well on grouse and obviously on woodcock. Your pick. But for the sake of argument, I’ll stick with #7-1/2 here.

The advantage of chokes for 20 and 30 is that your gun would also be quite useful for pheasant, chuckars and huns should you decide to pursue them. 15 and 25 is a bit short for those birds in the open. Again, it’s your call. And remember, 90% is just as effective as 75% as far as the size of the killing pattern goes.

So, let’s just say that you decide on setting your barrels up for 20 and 30 yards with 1 oz of #7- 1/2 shot. What chokes will give you a 75% to 90% pattern in a 30″ circle at 20 and 30 yards? Aye, there’s the rub.

Since chokes are all (except .410) measured from 40 yards, we’ll have to back into our numbers. At 20 yards we want 262 (75%) to 315 (90%) of our pellets in the 30″ circle. If we look at Pattern Density Calculator, you’ll see that you can get these numbers with Cylinder Bore and Skeet. So, the first barrel should be cylinder bore or skeet to maximize hits at 20 yards. Skeet at 20 yards? My goodness. Who woulda thunk it?

At thirty yards, running the numbers gives us optimal pellet counts with Modified to Improved Modified. So, we want Cylinder/Skeet in the first barrel for the best possible results at 20 yards on a 9 square inch target with one ounce of #7-1/2s and Mod/Imp Mod for the same at 30 yards. So far so good.

But what are those constrictions? What is skeet in the 20 gauge? Well, Cylinder is .000″ and most people consider Skeet choke to be .005″, regardless of gauge. Briley is in the .005″ camp, so that’s good enough for me. So your first barrel should be bored .000″ to .005″.

In the 20 guage, Modified is generally thought to be about .015″, give or take a point or two either way depending on the shell. So you’d want .015″ in your 30 yard barrel.

So, after all this, I think that you might want to look at choking your 20 gauge .005″ in the first barrel and .015″ in the second barrel.

If it makes you feel better, that’s exactly how I choked my 20 gauge FN Superposed upland gun.

And now the usual caveat. Shell selection has as much effect on pattern as choke selection. Make sure to pattern test your gun with the actual shell you’ll be using to make sure you get the appropriate percentages.

Best regards,
Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid

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Ear Plugs

Dear Technoid,

I need advice concerning hearing protection. I shoot clay targets regularly and also hunt. I have used the foam ear plugs and now use ear muffs. I am not happy with the ear muffs as they are hot and sometimes get in the way. I would like to try the in-ear type electronic protection. I see them advertised at the big stores. There seems to be many brands and the price seems quite high. Before I would spent that kind of money,I would like to be assured they are going to work and also last several years.


Dear Peter,

I’ve tried just about everything and keep going back to foam plugs. Of course, ear muffs are the best for noise protection, but in warm weather they are a pain. In cold weather they are very nice indeed.

I’ve had one really good and expensive set of fitted digital electronic ear plugs. The electronic part is great in that it permits you to hear normally, or even extra normally. But these earplugs have two problems:

1) they are very expensive, just like the hearing aids they partially emulate, and

2) if they aren’t properly fitted, or if they no longer fit after a period of time and/or ear change, they don’t block sound as well as the cheap foam plugs.

My electronic plugs did not fit well and were basically useless as a noise barrier- a very expensive useless noise barrier. The digital enhancement part was great though. Still, with standard foam plugs, I can hear and converse well enough for my purposes.

Remember, with the electronic plugs, the first and most important job of the plugs is to stop noise. All the digital enhancement stuff is just gingerbread if they don’t do their primary job. The electronic plugs are hard molded and, once set, can’t further adapt to the ear. If the ear changes over time, the plugs can’t change with it. Foam plugs adapt perfectly each and every time.

Obviously, there are lots of people out there who are blissfully happy with their electronic ear plugs. I just wasn’t one of them. I’m also not entirely sure that I want to be able to hear a pin drop when I’m shooting. Imagine setting up for a presentation and hearing someone behind you whisper to his pal, “Geez, look at that guy. What a klutz. He doesn’t have a clue.”

One thing that you might try as an experiment is to get a set of relatively inexpensive inert molded plugs made for you. There are usually a few vendors at any of the big shoots. These plugs have no electronics, but they will give you a good feel for what the electronic plugs will do to eliminate noise and what they will feel like. Compare the molded plugs to your foam plugs and draw your own conclusion.

As an aside, for grouse hunting, when it is vital to hear the flush of the bird, I use cheap Sonic rubber plugs with the little metal valve inside. I can hear quite well with these and they do offer some slight noise barrier, though nothing near that of pure foam plugs. I’m quick to admit that properly fitting and functioning digital ear plugs would be a delight in most hunting situations.

Remember too, the above is just one person’s opinion. Everyone’s hearing is different. The only thing that’s absolutely sure is that if you don’t wear decent hearing protection, you won’t be able to hear your wife when she asks you to do some chore. We wouldn’t want that, now would we?

Best regards,
Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid

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Shotshell Reloading Machines-Part 1

Podcast Audio File

Click on Button in UL corner.

Hornady 366 Gas Assist

Ponsness Warren

Dillon SL-900

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Remington Gas Guns


You write,  “I owned six 1100s and shot four of them to bits. They were nice shooting guns, but didn’t hold up even remotely as well as the Berettas when shot a great deal. “

When you are doing your crapping on Remington thing, why do seem to always leave out the part, “maybe if I had replaced the recoil spring every 10,000 rounds they would have lasted longer.” That was your statement, correct????

How is it that most of you big time shotgun experts can remember exactly how many shells and in which gun they were shot over the last 30 years, but cleaning the tools of your trade is too much effort.


Dear D B,

I remember exactly how many shells I fire because I keep a log book and have done so since the early ’70s. I have a little stack of 30 notebooks now. Reading them by the fireside in the off-season keeps me out of the bars.

My gun cleaning habits aren’t perfect, I’m the first to admit that, but over time I’ve learned what keeps gas guns running. Part of that learning experience was figuring out that a new mainspring is good insurance. Fresh mainsprings every now and then might have kept my 1100s from beating themselves to death as quickly as they did. That said, everyone I knew who competed with 1100s in the ’70s and ’80s carried a little tool box full of spare parts. There’s no need for that with the Berettas.

I certainly don’t mean to pick on Remington, but the truth is the truth. They flat out don’t last as long as the Beretta autos do. At least that’s my experience and the experience of those shooters I’ve observed over the years. I don’t so much mine the little parts like rings, extractor claws, bolts, action bars and links breaking, but when the receivers crack or the magazine tubes shoot off, it’s over for that 1100. Perhaps your experience is different. If you’ve found a way to make the 1100s stand up as well as the Berettas, I’d love to hear about it and share your expertise with the other readers.

I do wish Remington would modernize their gun, but they don’t seem inclined. The 1100s came out in the early ’60s and hasn’t changed significantly since that time. It’s a nicely balanced, soft shooting gun, but it does eat parts. On the other hand, Beretta has gone to great lengths to keep their guns technologically current. Beretta now dominates the clay target market the way Remington did 35 years ago. There’s a reason for that.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
The Technoid writing for Shotgun Report, LLC
(Often in error. Never in doubt.)

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