.410 Bore At Sporting Clays

Dear Technoid:

I have a Beretta 28ga., on 20 ga. frame, and shoot it well in Sporting Clays. I am considering a Briley 410 ga. tube set and have little experience with this gauge. What are your thoughts on chokes?

In my 12ga. Browning Ultra is use Briley Cyl., IC and rarely Mod. In the 28 I use Briely Skeet, IC & Mod. I will typically drop about 10% in score going from the 12ga to the 28ga.

Enjoy your WEBSITE,

keep it up


Dear Judith,

The best advice that I can give you about shooting sporting clays with a 410 is to sign your shrink to a five year no-cut contract before you start. It is going to drive you crazy. However, it can also be fun.

I am assuming that the 410 tubes are going in your Ultra, not in the Beretta, because tubing the 12 is the most common application. However, that may not be the best way. I sold a 28 gauge 686 to a friend because I found the gun a bit too fast for my liking (though my wife shoots a 687 28 gauge and will have no other). He also thought that it was a bit fast for clays and had Briley install a set of .410 tubes in it. The resulting 28/410 was very nicely balanced and not at all nose heavy the way that your 12 gauge Ultra with tubes will be. Skeet shooters deal nicely with extremely nose heavy guns, but sporting is a different game and requires much more vertical gun movement. There is a very good chance that you will find a tubed 12 to be unpleasantly heavy. The tubed 686 28 was really just right. Anyway- you certainly have some options- perhaps one that you had not thought of.

You will have your work cut out for you no matter how you go about your tube set. Trust the Technoid- .410 sporting is not something to be taken lightly IF (note big “if”) you will be shooting sporting on a standard distance course. In the parts of the northeast shot by the Connecticut Travelers, a course will have at least two 40 yard shots and many, many 30 yard shots where the bird is dying and has no spin (equally hard to break). Here in FL the better sporting clays venues are throwing targets that are competition type and are equally difficult to break as any that are found elsewhere in the country.

I worked out a handicap for sub-gauge guns at our 100 bird shoots: 16=3, 20=5, 28=10, 410=20, pump or SxS +5. If the course is a close one, the 410 has a chance, but it has yet to produce a winner. We do have a couple of hotshots with model 42 .410 pumps that have come close, but the best subgauge is usually a 28 or 20, even though their handicaps are less.

The ten bird drop that you experience between your 12 and 28 will be multiplied several fold when you go from the 28 to the 410. I can attest to this from sad personal experience.

Unfortunately, I am in a position where I have been able to pragmatically test the difference effectiveness of the gauges at sporting clays.

I regularly practice on a local FITASC parcour with a .410 tube set in my 30″ FN. I have .015″ in each barrel (about Improved Modified) and I use #8s. I am fairly consistent with the 410 out to about 30 yards, but then the scores fall precipitously. For example: My average on this parcour (the range does not change it often, I know it well and have learned the leads) with a 12 is about 47-48×50, with 20 gauge tubes in my FN I shoot about 44-45, with the 28 gauge tubes it is 43-44 and with the .410 tubes in the same gun it is 34-35 on a good day. My zero weight gain tube set was carefully constructed for sporting clays and you absolutely cannot tell that it is a tubed gun just by testing its balance and weight. The difference in score is due solely to the gauge.

The parcour contains a pretty aggressive teal and an honest 45 yard crosser, plus a bunch of 30- 35 yard stuff. I was chatting with Warren Johnson (Choke Chooser and the SPRED pattern program) about my difficulty with the .410 at distance. I asked him to run the numbers in his SPRED program for a full choke .410 using 1/2 oz of #8 shot on a 40 yard edge on crosser.

Warren came back and said that if my aim was absolutely perfect, dead center, on that 40 yard edge-on crosser that I had a 17% chance of an 80% chance of a two pellet hit! (He uses an 80% chance of a two pellet hit as his fringe limit.) In short, if my aim was always prefect, I had the right to expect one break every eight shots. Add in human error (something that even the Technoid must occasionally endure) and you can see why they call the .410 the idiot stick.

Soooo- out to about 30 yards, you have the right to expect a decent chance to break the bird if your aim is very, very good. After that, a lot of luck comes into play. As to whether the .410 will work for you, it may really depend on the kind of courses you shoot. If they are all skeet distance, then you should have a lot of fun and not suffer over much. If you will shoot real contest quality courses with the .410, be prepared for tears. Few things are more maddening than doing everything right and not having the bird break.

As to chokes, I would recommend skeet choke for skeet distances (.007″ to .009″ is popular around here among the better skeet shooters) and the fullest you can get (about .020″) for anything much over that. I use a compromise .015″ for sporting in my Briley Ultralights using #8s and find that this generally works as well as can be expected. A little less constriction seems to handle the larger #8 shot better, which I why I chose .015″ over .020″. For skeet I use .005″s and #9s, but my hot shot friends say that I will need more for the shootoff doubles. I am not so sure as the breaks look pretty good now.

I would really only recommend Skeet and Full as 410 chokes. Although you can kid yourself that the tiny tube is entitled to a full range of chokes, the fact of the matter is that 410 skeet is usually shot with almost a modified (even though it is called Skeet) and full peters out at about 30 yards. .015″ is a pretty good one choke compromise.

From all of the above you may gather that breaks with the 410 are impossible at longer yardage. Not quite so. Every now and then Old Mr. Probability will raise his head (as Warren said) and you will get an absolute smasher on a long bird. After all, those little #8s have to go somewhere.

Consistency is where the 410 lets you down. It is hard to break a long, edge-on crosser several times in a row.

So, enjoy the 410 as you would any amusing child’s toy, but don’t ever confuse that miserable little worthless mind numbing idiot’s delight with a real cartridge like the virtually perfect 28 gauge.

Best regards,
Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid

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Cold Weather Pattern Performance

Dear Technoid.

Ever see data posted for patterning based on temperature changes? The “Winter Velocity Loss” topic provided some good insight but unfortunately did not talk about % pellets differences due to temp changes. Also unfortunate is that last year within a 4 month time period I had a chance (and failed) to collect such data from a 115 to 10 degree range of temps.

Dove hunting in AZ and quail/pheasant hunting in N. MO provided the opportunity. It seemed to me that it was worth maybe a choke difference between the seasons. That is the skeet choke appeared to perform about like a modified choke in the Sept 1. AZ sun. I was amazed at 40-50 yard shots being made consistently with 1 1/8 oz 2 3/4 Dram #8′s in the heat.

I have a fair understanding of boundary layer separation and affects of drag placed on shot in different temps. I wish I had only put a few rounds on paper to really verify it. Any data along these lines?


Dear Allen:

I did not do anything on temperature dependent pattern analysis because I was never clever enough to think that temperature might have an effect on pattern other than the slightly lower pellet deformation caused by the loss in velocity.

I do know that altitude and its accompanying thinner air tend to tighten patterns. At the Olympic games in Mexico City in 1968, many shooters remarked on the tightening of patterns in the higher altitudes. I had never thought about the fact that cold air is less more dense than warm and might mimic the thinner air of higher altitudes. I never even considered the fact that there might be a boundary layer difference. Perhaps to “Often in error, but never in doubt” I should add the tag “Never a clue, either”.

I too have definitely noticed the better performance of shot loads during warm weather, especially on game. It always seemed to me that game in thicker winter coats/feathers was harder to bring down, but I never thought that their reluctance to flop into the stew pot may have something to do with cold weather shell performance. It is for sure that clays definitely do not break as well in cold weather as they do in warm, but I always attributed that to cold weather velocity loss and also to the fact that clays get harder when they get cold. I never thought that cold weather might degrade patterns and, shamefully, never tested for it.

If you have any hard figures or pattern testing in this area and would like to write a little monograph, I would be honored to publish it in SHOTGUN REPORT. That is one thing nice about the Internet. There is always someone out there who is smart enough to ask a question that I never even thought of.

Best Regards,
Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid

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The Real Answer On Choke Constrictions

Dear Technoid:

Are choke names and their actual dimensions standardized across all manufacturers? I’m trying to determine which Browning Invector Plus choke is closest to the .015″ Light Modified you’ve been recommending as a good all around choice for sporting clays. The tech people at Browning have been very responsive but were not able to provide me with the actual measurements.



Dear Michael:

Good question. The answer is “Choke names and dimensions are not really standardized.” Many shooters tend to think of shotguns in rifle terms- exact measurements of performance and the like. ‘Taint so. A shotgun is an approximate type of thing.

Accepted choke standards in America are governed by SAAMI- an acronym for our private firearms standardization board. Other countries tend to use national proof houses to set standards, but the idea is the same. Someone has to set the accepted measurements on a 30-06 cartridge so that every manufacturer will not make a different sized chamber. It is the same in shotguns.

Here is the key: In the US, choke is based on performance, not on any kind of barrel measurement. Example: Full choke in the US means that whatever choke dimension and shell combination you are using will shoot 70% of its pattern into a 30″ circle at 40 yards. That is it. There is no mention of the amount of constriction or type of shell it takes to do that. The result is called full choke, not the mechanics required to produce it. You do not HAVE a full choke, you PRODUCE a full choke, if you get the point.

As you know, some shells with high quality shot, low velocity and well designed wad, can produce a much tighter pattern than the promotional dove and quail loads sold at K-mart. Shot through a barrel marked “Full” choke, one may meet that standard, one may not. The choke remains the same, but the shell has changed the result. It is always the choke/shell combination that produces the result. The type of shell is every bit as important as the amount of constriction in the choke.

This is not really a very convenient way of measuring chokes. The average shotgunner wants to know what chokes he will get before he buys the gun. To do this you have to market chokes with markings on them. Today, when a manufacturer stamps “full” on a choke, it means that he hopes that it will produce a 70% pattern in a 30″ circle at 40 yards with some sort of shell. When you buy that gun, you are taking his word for it.

Generally, but by no means always, the market has come to assume that certain constrictions will produce certain results with the “average” (what ever that is) shell. The general rule of thumb in America for 12 gauge chokes is that .000″ constriction is Cylinder Bore and will produce a 40% pattern. .005″ is Skeet (or Skeet 1) and will produce a 45% pattern. .010″ constriction is Improved Cylinder and will produce a 50% pattern. .015″ is Light Modified (also called Skeet 2 in earlier Winchesters) at a 55% pattern. .020 is Modified at 60%. .030 is Improved Modified at 65% and .035″- .040″ is full producing a 70% pattern. Having said all this, remember that just by changing shells you can easily go up or down one full choke designation.

Some makers have further muddied the water by coming up with proprietary choke names, such as SC1, SC2, SC3 or U1, U2, U3, U3 or a bunch of stars and notches. No one has the vaguest idea of what this stuff means in numerical constrictions. All that the average guy knows is that the numbers mean “more” or “less” pattern constriction.

Steel shot makes the selection even more confusing. Generally (but not always) steel shells pattern tighter than shells using lead pellets. So some chokes are marked for both, such as “IC/Lead, Mod/Steel”.

Screw chokes also produce another problem: All manufacturers want to leave a slight relief at the rear of the choke to make sure that the thin rear skirt of the choke never sticks up into the barrel bore. Unfortunately, with one Italian maker’s early efforts the choke skirts could move into the barrel bore if the chokes weren’t kept clean and build-up was permitted to accumulate around the choke tube. The result was that your 1 1/8 oz of hard #8s was often joined by 1 1/2 oz of hard steel choke. If things were kept clean, there was no problem. Sloth hath its downside.

At any rate, this relief at the back of the choke varies in tolerance from not too much to quite a bit. The high end hand-fit Teagues are often perfectly fit and show no drop-off. Many commercial chokes show a bunch. When the relief is a lot you are certainly safe, but you are in effect adding a jug choke to the gun. This means that you are effectively increasing your choke by allowing the shot to expand into the relief before going into the choke. You can easily turn a .005″ skeet choke performance into a .010″ IC performance if there is enough relief. Of course, if the relief is short, or not very deep, it will have less effect, but that requires better machining and that costs more.

As you have gathered by now, chokes markings are a very, very approximate way of predicting performance.

Now, finally to your question. Why can’t a company tell you what one of their particular chokes measures? It’s because of “ganging of tolerances”. Let us say that a typical “backbored” target barrel of today has a nominal measurement of .740″. A .015″ choke would probably give somewhere in the area of Light Modified performance of 55%. That is the theory.

Now add in production variances. Even with modern machinery, that nominal .740″ bore could just as easily have come out .738″ or .742″. I doubt if they vary .005″ each way, but they certainly can vary a couple of thou. The chokes are cut on thread machines and some can easily vary by the same amount in either direction, especially when they are mass produced. Ganging tolerances means that what you had hoped to be .015″ Light Mod constriction could end up being .010″ or .020″- from IC to Modified. No wonder exact numbers are hard to come by. Today’s computer driven machinery has certainly improved things, but variances are still there as you will certainly find out after spending some time with a bore mike.

So what do you do? You can take your gun maker at their word and not ask too many questions. Ignorance may indeed by bliss. A few thou certainly won’t matter much on the clay target. You can measure your bore and keep getting new chokes until one measures correctly. Briley or Trulock will custom make chokes cut to exact dimensions if you ask them. You will still be assuming that the correct measurements will produce the pattern you want- a real leap of faith.

Finally, you can do it the right way and actually do the patterning work. Do at least five patterns with each shell and choke combination to get a reliable number. It is a pain in the neck, but at least you will know what you have. There is no easy way if you want to do it right. The additional advantage to patterning is that you will discover a great deal about the shells you are using.

I am sorry that I had to give such a long answer to such a short and sensible question, but it does take a little explaining.

Best regards,
Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid


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Barrel Cryogenics

Dear Technoid,

Do you or any one you know have any experience with the Cryogenic process that claims to provide metal stress relief through the gradual process of freezing to -300 degrees and then heating to 300 degrees F. varied precision metal objects. I saw this procedure described on the Discovery Channel and it seems to make sense. The company claims the process relives stress in metal resulting in better patterning shotgun barrels and tighter groups for pistol and rifle barrels. Cleaning and operating life is also said to be greatly improved.

Thanks for any insight you may provide on this subject.


Dear F.B.

No, I have never tried it or extensively tested a shotgun barrel that had been so treated. Being the Technoid, however, still entitles me to an opinion based on ignorance, prejudice and blind supposition. SAVE YOUR MONEY! What a bunch of hooey.

I can see how stress relieving can help on a rifle barrel, but on a shotgun barrel? These guys ought to get real. “Better patterning” shotgun barrels? What exactly do they mean by that. I have seen no controlled tests nor any allusions to any. That is like saying that your detergent is “whiter and brighter” than something or other. In a rifle, stress relieving is supposed to produce more consistent barrel vibrations during the expansion and contraction of the metal due to heat build up. Maybe yes, maybe no. A one inch change in impact at 100 yards is a big deal in a rifle. Even half of that matters, so a few dollars spent to freeze a rifle barrel might be worth a try. But now think of a shotgun pattern at 40 yards and tell me how much difference it could make. Perhaps in a special rifled barrel slug gun, but then we are really talking big bore rifles. Freezing may technically work on a shotgun barrel, but it has to make a measurable difference to be worth it. That is the key.

As to barrel life, I have never heard of a shotgun barrel being worn out. A properly cared for shotgun barrel can last, literally, a million rounds. How is lead and plastic going to wear out steel? Hooey, hooey and more hooey. Chokes do not “shoot out”. They rust out. Shotgun barrels are “worn out” when they are allowed to rust and then have to be polished out, thus removing metal. Do this often enough and they will certainly “wear out”, but that is about the only way apart from exterior damage.

As to cryogenics improving the cleanability of a shotgun barrel, I just cannot imagine it. All my Beretta shotguns and some of my FNs have chrome plated bores. My other FN Brownings are polished steel. My ancient old 1926 Webley and Scott SxS now is slightly less than perfect in the bores. They all seem to lead and plastic up about the same. It really depends more on the quality of the shell and the forcing cone area. Maybe cryogenic stress relieving can alter the alignment of the surface molecules enough to make a difference, but if chroming doesn’t change things drastically, then I would doubt that it could.

I won’t argue that stress relieving may help a rifle barrel, but the process there is very much different than the dynamics that take place in a shotgun. It may also help in a pistol, although I don’t know anyone who can hold tight enough to tell. A target pistol has a lot more in the way of variables than a target rifle.

I think that this stress relieving stuff applied to shotguns is like barrel porting. It is an idea that has some legitimate application to other parts of the firearms industry, but the benefits to shotguns are so slight, or totally imaginary, as to produce negligible or non-existent results.

I repeat- Hooey, hooey and more hooey. Skip it. Strong letter to follow.

That said, if you try it out and can prove that it improves anything, I will publicly grovel and freeze everything that I own. I may know it all, but I don’t know everything- or words to that effect.

Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid

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Grouse Guns


I’m currently shopping for an O/U field gun (upland bird shooting, especially grouse). I’m a long way from my final decision but I have a general question.

What’s the advantage/disadvantage to the English stock? I’ve been told that the faster gun mount is a plus but wonder if this is really the case. I’m leaning toward the Red Label 20 guage but am open to any suggestions.

I’d appreciate anything you’d have to say in the matter.



Dear Graham,

Geez, I wouldn’t dream of telling you what kind of woman to marry or painting to buy, but you are going to trust me in this far more important matter? Well, good on you, brave soul. Here goes, but remember that it is just one other grouse hunter’s opinion.

I have hunted ruffed grouse with everything from a Cutts compensated Model 12, Ithaca model 51, Belgian Superlight, Beretta O/U and Webley&Scott SxS. I got some grouse with all of them, but not many with any- grouse hunting being what it is.

I really do not like to use pumps and autos for upland. There is far too much loading and unloading around fences and streams where I hunt. Still, I have a pal who gets far more grouse than I do with a 20 gauge Beretta auto.

The O/U I have used mostly is a Belgian Browning 12 gauge Superlight model. This gun has an English stock and weighs about 6.75#. It handles and points well and has a nice safety. The Japanese Superlights weigh a bit too much up front for me due to the factory screw chokes. Speed and light weight really count in grouse hunting.

I have also used a 20 gauge Beretta 686 Silver Pigeon. This gun has a conventional pistol grip and is really beautifully balanced. The English grip allows the wrist to take a more natural angle when the gun is held down at the waist. The pistol grip cramps the wrist slightly when the gun is held there. Try it and you will see. Once the gun is mounted, the pistol grip gives more control over the shotgun than the English grip does. That is why you will never see an English grip on a serious clay target gun. Frankly, I find it more a matter of aesthetics than practicality. Modern manufacturers to tend to make their English grip guns a bit lighter, knowing that they will only be used for the field.

My favorite grouse gun is my 28″ Webley and Scott SxS with an English grip. I weighs 6.25#. It is a 12 gauge. The English knew how to make their field guns light, but then again, I never shoot shells heavier than 1 1/16 oz in it. It has a excellent safety and I prefer double triggers in the field. It is bored .000″ (cylinder bore) and .018″ (modified), just perfect for my #7 1/2s in the open barrel and the #6s in the choke barrel. For ME (not necessarily for someone else), this is about the most perfect grouse gun I could imagine.

Although I prefer the SxS in the field, I also enjoy hunting with my Superlight. I kill just as many grouse (or just as few), but the SxS just “feels” better. It may not to you. If you aren’t used to double triggers (and NEVER buy an English SxS with a single trigger- they don’t work reliably) I would stick with an O/U.

In the O/U area, the Ruger 20 seems to me to be priced right, but it seeems to me to be too heavy and clunky for a 20 gauge gun. If you are going to limit yourself to a 20 gauge, the only reason that you would do so would be to have a lighter, handier gun. The Ruger 20 has the disadvantage of the smaller and less efficient cartridge and also the disadvantage of the heavy weight of the 12. I know that they are popular, but I don’t like them. They also are not as reliable as some other guns.

I would recommend that you take a long hard look at the Beretta O/Us. The 686 Silver Pigeon model in 20 gauge would be a real delight. It is light (about 6.25#), responsive and very well made. It uses an pistol grip, but feels very comfortable to me. It is REALLY a nice gun. I bought one in 28 gauge five years ago for my wife and it has served her well. The newer versions are even prettier. Naturally, for grouse hunting, I would prefer the 20 over the 28. I would also prefer the 12 over the 20, but the guns start to get a bit heavy in 12. The 20 686 really is a dream.

Beretta also makes the 686 Onyx which is the same gun as the 686 Silver Pigeon but a bit plainer cosmetically. It will be less expensive and a bit less flashy. You may prefer it.

One last thought in the Beretta line, the 12 gauge “Ultralight”. This is a standard 12 gauge Beretta field gun, BUT with a titanium and aluminum receiver. It weighs just about what the 20 does, maybe a touch less, but has the load capacity of the 12. It is well balanced for an alloy receivered gun too. It is worth a look if your dealer has one in stock (fat chance). I was pleasantly surprised by it.

The Japanese Brownings also come in a wide variety of field models. While I prefer the Citoris for clay target shooting, I really prefer the Berettas in the field. They are generally lighter and more responsive.

Bottom line: skip the Ruger 20 and get the Beretta 20 686 Silver Pigeon. Don’t worry about the pistol grip.

Anyway, those are my opinions. Reasonable men may differ, but what do they know!

Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid

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Hot 24 Gram Olympic Shells

Hi friend!

Let me bounce something else off of you. My wife and I visited the Wolf Creek Olympic Venue shoot on the same fields that the World Cup and Olympic shooters used. What an experience! Believe me, there is a world of difference between sitting in the stands and watching the best make it look easy, and then trying it yourself.

We shot Olympic skeet and bunker trap. Bunker is GREAT!!! (No, I didn’t use the 28 gauge for this mass mayhem.) The targets are very fast and come at some ridiculous angles. I think the best I managed was a 14/25. But let me tell you, I WILL do that again!

Now to my question. We shot with two and three other fellows who had obviously done this a great deal. 22+ seemed an average score for these shooters, with one exception. One fellow shot a 24! The entire lot was shooting 8′s or 8.5′s for the first shot and virtually everyone used 71/2′s for the second shot. They typically shot IC for the first shot and F or XF for the following shot. I see why. Everyone was of course shooting 7/8 oz. loads.

I sneaked a peak at the boxes they threw away in the trash can and noted that there were a lot of Olympia (?) and some other brand shells I wasn’t familiar with. The thing that blew me away was the listed velocities on the boxes. Most were 1350 fps and one (unless I need my glasses changed) listed a speed of 1400+! The 1400 or 1450 fps loads were on a box I’m not familiar with and one I’m not sure I could pronounce.

I didn’t have the presence of mind to ask any of them about the shells (source/cost) while they were there. I was too embarrassed to do much of anything while they were there – except stand around with my mouth open.

What do you know about such hyper velocity 12 ga. 7/8 oz. shells, and more importantly, who has loading data to reproduce these loads?

Thanks as always for your sage advice.


Dear George,

Welcome to the Olympic Trench, King of the clay sports! Few things in life (other than perhaps FITASC) are as addictive as a genuine 15 machine Olympic Bunker layout. When I was down coaching sporting clays in Colombia,  I also worked with a brand new LaPorte trench that my student had installed just outside the walls of his steel factory so that he could shoot at lunch time. Trench is a great game and I love it dearly. I just wish that there were more trench sites in the US.

As to the 24 gram loads (a tiny bit less than 7/8 oz in metric measurement) you saw, in Colombia we shot Perazzi and Beretta 24 gram shells at the trench. Federal also makes 24 gram Olympic trap load, but I do not know if it is generally available. I have one of Kim Rhode’s #8 1/2 Federal 24 gram double trap loads.

I shot some Olympia shells from Poland back in the late ’70s. They were marked “Pawam Pionki”, were paper tubed, had genuine horse hair felt wads and came in wooden and fibre board cases. They were pretty bad, but at $33/500 what else is a young man to do? I have no idea if they are related to the Olympia shells you saw recently. The current production Olympias that I have seen appear to be perfectly nice and modern in every respect.

The tendency is definitely to drive the 24 gram loads at high speed. The theory is that any gain in pellet energy (however slight) is worth it considering the small pellet count. The 24 gram loads have short shot columns and so are inherently tight patterning. They can afford to give up a touch more shot deformation in return for a bit more energy on target. At least that is the theory.

Personally, I really have not experimented much with the 24 gram loads. Generally, I find that speeds above 1150-1200 fps don’t improve things in standard shells. In fact, they generally degrade patterns due to additional pellet deformation. On the other hand, I can absolutely, positively guarantee you that Federal (who provided our Olympic shotgunners with their ammo) looked into this. I don’t know what speed they picked, and I am not going to fire my one authentic Olympic souvenir to find out, but my guess is that it will be in the 1350 fps range like everyone else’s. There has to be a reason and it may well be the additional pellet energy and reduced time to target on those faster birds. The difference in 40 yard flight time between a #7 1/2 started out at 1200 fps and one started at 1330 fps is .01 second. It does not sound like much, but on a wide angle bird it might give you a tiny edge, especially when there is no recoil penalty due to the minuscule amount of shot.

Frankly, knowing International shooters as I do, I think that they went for the higher velocities because the 24 gram loads didn’t hurt enough at lower speeds. In a lot of circles, if it doesn’t kick, it isn’t good.

Don’t believe everything that you read about the velocities printed on the boxes. Chronographs often tell a very different story. Remember, the English and many others test their velocity at the muzzle, not three feet out the way Americans do. You can lose 100 feet per second in that first three feet. I have seen 24 gram loads in the 1350-1400 fps range, but not higher, in spite of what is printed on the box.

As to 24 gram reloads- you may have noticed that I do not give out specific reloading recipes in Shotgun Report. I have been reloading for over 25 years and have done just about every thing dumb and stupid that one can do with a reloader. I KNOW the mindset of the average experimental reloader and I don’t want to get blamed for anything that goes wrong when someone else makes the mistakes I made. That said, there is plenty of information out there on hot “7/8″ oz loads so you can blow yourself up without my help. Lyman’s Shotshell Reloading Handbook, has some Remington hull recipes in the 1325 fps area and I have seen some in the recent powder manuals (which I can’t find because they are currently on a lower stratum of my horizontal filing system). Most of the 7/8 oz recipes around are for low recoil trainer loads, but there are a few above 1300 fps for the International shooters.

There it is. Everything I know and then some.

Best regards,
Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid

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Stock Fitting A Lefty

Dear Technoid,

My son-in-law is right handed, but lift-eye dominant. He is shooting left handed. If he were to buy an over-under, would you suggest a bending the stock or buying a split stock that is adjustable? He shoots sporting clays and hunts.


Dear Richard,

Ahh! From short questions like yours, do great long answers grow. Gun fit, gun fit, gun fit. Giving stock fitting advice over the Internet is like me telling you how to alter your new 42 Regular suit without ever seeing you in it. Gun fit absolutely, positively requires the “hands on” approach.

The fact that he is right handed, left eyed and is shooting lefty (definitely the best way to solve the alternate dominance problem if you can do it), merely means that he is now left handed and needs a “left handed” gun.

What is a “left handed” gun? Well, I just don’t know. It is different things to different people, just as a “right handed” gun is. Let’s limit our discussion to cast-on and cast-off here, not right and left handed actions. Every lefty I have ever met handles an O/U’s rightward moving opening lever just fine. Some lefties do object to the right handed ejection of most semi-autos.

Definitions: viewing the shotgun from the rear (as you would hold it when shooting) “cast-off” is the bending of the stock out to the right (away from the face of a right handed shooter, into the face of the left handed shooter). “Cast-on” is the opposite, bending the stock into the face of the right handed shooter or away from the face of the left handed shooter. It is a bit confusing because the “cast” terms are British in origin and they are always taken from the point of view of a right handed shooter. Cast-off for a righty is obviously really “cast-on” for a lefty, but that is not how the phrase is used. “Cast-off” is always bent to the right, no matter who is shooting the gun. “Cast-on” is always to the left. Confused yet? Me too.

So what does your converted lefty son-in-law need? He will probably need a gun that is cast-on (bent away from his left cheek) or one with no cast. Most European guns come with cast-off, most American guns (especially the pumps and autos) come with no cast of any kind (neutral).

Some people prefer some cast on their guns, some do not. It depends as much on shooting style as on anything else. People who tend to “crawl” their stocks (push their heads forward) generally prefer straight stocks with no cast. People who shoot with upright heads usually prefer lower stocks and a bit of cast. Around here the English instructors seem to always set their students up with cast stocks, while the American instructors often do not. As I said, it really depends on shooting style. Personally, I set my guns up with zero cast. I crawl my stocks and find that the slightest amount of cast-off (I am a righty) gives me terrible face slap.

All of the above leads to this: Since I haven’t seen your son-in-law shoot and do not know what brand and model of gun he prefers, I cannot possible tell you whether or not he will have to move the stock one way or another. If his gun is not neutral and has cast-on, chances are 90% that it will not fit him quite right as a lefty and something will have to be done. It all depends where the gun shoots for him.

Adjustable combs vs. stock bending: I am not a big fan of adjustable comb guns for sporting and hunting because they look funny and often weigh a lot. That said, they are great if you cannot make up your mind as to what you want. For clay targets, I shoot autos and can simply shim my stock a tiny bit to make it fit. O/Us require professional help. If you feel that it will take your son-in-law a good deal of experimentation to get his stock right, and if he is shooting an O/U, then an adjustable comb might be the way to go. If he knows exactly what he needs for proper fit, then I would get it bent and have done with it.

Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid

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