Skeet Men Highlights – ISSF Shotgun World Cup 2014

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Superposed Tightening

Dear Bibliophile of Brownings :

How can I tell when it is near time to have the hinge pin re-tightened on my Superposed Lightning ? It seems to have a very slight side play when open and it drops open with ease when the lever is actuated. I will be awaiting your elucidation with bated breath .


Dear Bruce,

Two things go on old Superposed guns. Usually, what wears is the locking tongue. You can spot this because the opening lever is so far to the left that the trigger often doesn’t engage. The locking tongue is a sacrificial part and is meant to wear out first.

When the hinge pin wears, you will notice that the gun does not close tight where the monobloc meets the standing breech right at the top. You will start to see a little bit of light in there. I have shot Superposeds until I could close the gun on a business card, but you don’t need to go that far and I don’t recommend it.

A little bit of sloppiness when the gun is open doesn’t matter. Some of the early Superposeds were designed with eccentric receiver shoulders so that they dropped open almost like a self-opener even when new. The later guns went back to a concentric shoulder which gives more resistance when opening.

The best way to test for looseness in a Superposed is to close the gun in the normal way and then unlatch the forend iron. Then shake the gun lightly. If it is loose in the hinge pin you will be able to feel it. A little loose is probably OK, but once it starts to loosen up the looseness will accelerate.

I have had a Superposed which needed a new tongue at 25,000 and one that was still reasonably solid in tongue and pin at 100,000. Tightening up a Superposed is not a big deal. The gun was built to wear in tongue and pin and these parts are replaceable. Art’s Gun Shop in Hillsboro, MO (tel: 314-944-3630) does a lot of Browning factory repair work and is recommended by the Browning Collector’s Society as one of the “approved” Superposed repair shops. If your gun needs work, they should be able to handle it.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s
Technoid (Often in error, never in doubt.)

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3-1/2″ Chamber Velocity Loss

Dear Technoid

By the way,you didn’t answer my question about the 3-1/2 inch shells. Is it too much shot through a 12 gauge to pattern correctly?

Can’t wait to hear the scoop!


Dear Rich,

As to the 3-1/2″ chambers when using 2-3/4″ shells, I don’t know about patterning as that varies with the shell, but there may be a velocity loss. Several of SR’s readers have felt that there was. Here’s a comment from Randy, one of SR’s loyal readers and holder of the coveted Junior Technoid Order of the Palm (3rd class):

“Technoid Info Dept.: a few recent Chrono sessions revealed a consistent whopping 100+++ fps drop in speed using 3-1/2 12 ga. chambered guns vs. 2-3/4 and identical loads. Specifically, Benelli autos. An amazing drop off in performance, more than one gun, and yet another reason to stay away from 3-1/2 chambers unless you are REALLY going to use them.”

I haven’t done a nose-to-nose test the way Randy did, but I sort of suspected that there was a problem. I have noticed off-sounding shells when using promotional loads on a cool day when using a gun with “extra long” forcing cones. Not all wad skirts are happy sealing an .800″ or thereabouts bore under all ambient temperatures. Heck, some of the promotional wads I have tried produced bloopers in standard barrels if you let the shell get cold enough by leaving it in your trunk overnight in the winter. The more open the chamber/cones/bore, the worse the problem gets.

On the other hand, Stan Baker (the well respected Seattle gunsmith and columnist), builds a “Baker Big Bore” barrel conversion. These barrels are basically super-overbores, measuring .800″ from rim cut to choke. That’s like having a 30″ 12 gauge chamber. Baker claims an INCREASE in velocity of up to 50 fps due to the reduced friction . I never had the chance to chronograph the gun, but I did notice when I shot a “Big Bore” conversion on a Perazzi that it had a “hollow” sound on cool damp days.

It is obvious that modest overboring doesn’t hurt anything when you use a good shell and equally obvious that there is a point at which a bore become so large that it does. This will vary from shell to shell and with the weather (cold hardens the wad and may keep the skirt from obturating properly).

All of the above comments involve velocity, not patterning which you ask about, but it gave me the chance to spread a little ink in the ether. Pattern quality is somewhat linked to velocity, but not irrevocably so. Generally and with all things being equal, the faster you push the shot, the less consistent and more open the pattern. Carried to its logical conclusion, the consistent loss of 100 fps due to the long chamber could TIGHTEN your pattern very, very slightly- unless of course gas blow-by became an issue. Then it would loosen your pattern. Oh, heck I don’t know how many angels can dance on the head of this pin. Take the darn gun out and pattern it! Then you’ll know and I won’t sound so ignorant and confused.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
The Technoid writing for Shotgun Report, LLC

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Benelli 828U O/U-American Hunter

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Trap Men Highlights – ISSF Shotgun World Cup 2014

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Snap Caps


I enjoy your site and think it should be on every shotgunner’s “favorites list”. The knowledge and wisdom has impressed most of my hunting buddies and I have to be wary in how much I pass on or they too may get hooked on your info.

I’m primarily a grouse hunter and only shoot clay birds informally about once a month. Sure, I could probably kill more if I really started playing the SC game but discovered a long time ago that enjoyment from hunting and fishing is not measured in how many you kill but in being there. I do take my fly rod into the yard some evenings to work on my cast and dream of better fishing spots. Likewise, I’ll sometimes take my favorite grouse gun and practice mounting and shooting at the corners of the room. Your advice on that has only convinced my family that there are others just as strange as I.

My question is about snap caps. I am a firm believer in relaxing the firing pin spring and have seen misfire problems cured in rifles by dryfiring prior to storage. I like to use snap caps for that indoors practice and for storage.

I recently switched to a fancy see through plastic with the “real” brass primer and internal spring (no names, lawyers have enough work). They took less than a dozen hits from the ejectors on my Browning and fell apart. Junk. They may be fine in my pumps but are a very short time solution for my O/U.

I’d used cheaper ones that were all plastic but they quickly dented where the firing pin strikes and I wasn’t sure they were of much use anymore. I’ve heard horror stories about using old shells, both from a safety standpoint and as the plastic may cause corrosion problems. I’m currently looking at some solid brass caps with all the springs and bells and whistles. They cost a lot more, but I’m worried that their weight may cause even more expensive problems with ejectors that were only meant to take the weight of a spent shell.

As the unchallanged champion of good shotgunning advice, I need your help. Should I just keep buying the cheap ones and consider them disposable or is there a solution? If it’s buried in your CD, let me know, and I’ll quickly cough up the cash.



Dear Norm,

Thanks so much for the kind words. If my “knowledge and wisdom” has impressed your hunting buddies, would you please have them contact my wife. She remains unimpressed.

Many people like to relax their springs with snap caps when they put the guns away, especially if their guns have leaf springs. Though it’s personal opinion, I’m not so sure about that practice. A couple of the gunsmiths in my area who work on snappy British guns feel that it is not necessary. In one of his books, Robert Churchill said that it didn’t make the slightest difference whether you dropped the hammers or not. Remember, this is coming from a gunmaker.

I was just re-reading Percy Stanbury and G.L. Carlisle’s “Shotgun Marksmanship” and note that they also have their doubts: “The controversial part of all this is that some experts tell us that it is unnecessary to let down the springs before putting a gun away, for steel does not acquire a permanent set nor lose its strength from being kept in a state of stress and in any case, the springs are only relieved to a very slight extent. You cannot let down the sear springs of a gun, anyway, and the lock springs of very old guns still work so perhaps it is all rather a waste of time.” pp 27.

That said, I do think that snap caps are a great idea. Like you, I use them all the time at home to dry fire and practice my gun mount at those imaginary grouse flying around my office. It’s great practice. When I coach, I also very often use snap caps for my students when we practice on clays. They can practice their mount and swing on clays without the interference of recoil. It’s amazing how much more a student can see when there is no shell going off.

The plastic snap caps that I have seen (clear plastic barrels with maroon heads) are pretty worthless. They break quite quickly in many applications. My experience has been similar to yours. I have a set of old aluminum snap caps with nylon spring set “primers”. They’ve got to be 20 years old and get constant use. They still work great. I’ve seen hollow aluminum snap caps sold with some sort of desiccant in them so that they can be used for gun storage, but I’ve not tried them out for a great deal of dry firing.

The best snap caps that I have seen are the more expensive chrome plated ones that you describe. These are the sort of caps that come Frenched into a nice doubles case along with the little oil bottle and ebony cleaning rod. You’ll see them advertised in the high end gun magazines. Any upper end gun shop should carry them. I wish I knew the brand name, but I don’t. They are chrome plated brass, open at the end, and have a spring loaded brass “primer” with a screw adjustment for the tension. I’m going to guess that they run about $30 a set, but that’s just a guess and it could be $40. That’s a lot, but you will only buy them once and they are classy looking. These sound exactly like what you already have.

Does the heavier weight of the brass snap caps present a problem? I certainly wouldn’t think so. It’s usually the opposite way. Have you ever noticed how some people tip their guns upside down as they open them after firing the shells. Sometimes this gives the empty hull a little head start on the ejector by sliding it out a touch and the ejector is basically snapping on nothing. That’s not good. The ejector was built to expect some resistance.

Ejectors were not only built to pop out slick modern hulls, but they were also built to deal with sticky old paper hulls that may have swollen up a touch. Ever see how far some of those English bests will toss an ejected hull? They come out of there hard enough to put down a peasant uprising. This extra power is there just to make sure that the gun will eject anything you can stuff into it. The little extra weight of those nice heavy brass snap caps won’t hurt a thing.

Bottom line: The necessity of relieving leaf springs when storing a gun is controversial, but no one says that it hurts anything. I don’t know of anyone who feels it is necessary to do it with coil springs, but again it can’t hurt. Using snap caps for dry fire practice is a marvelous training aid and I highly recommend it. The heavy metal snap caps you are using now sound as though they are just the right thing as long as the primer doesn’t become too indented so as not to protect the firing pin. The plastic snap caps are mere temporary solutions.

Best regards,

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

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A Backboring Diet


i`m playing around with 1100 16s..the new ones…i finally found an auto that feels like a kreighoff…….seriously how much weight can i remove from the bbl by back far can i take it before i lose gas seal.don`t worry about wall thickness, the bbl is made from xx pipe……altho i hate porting,how much more weight would i lose………..if only beretta would make a lite 391 field in 16…….i went to the annual ale and quail shoot. used my 391 superlite 391 field with fiocchi 7/8 x 1200 lite loads,got one more bird than last year with my 28 browning o/u 30″…….carried the rem but its really heavy.

regards ,


ps. i bought another model 50 win with a 26″ polychoked bbl I LOVE IT (SHOWS YOU WHAT I KNOW)

Dear Fred,

I don’t have any idea how much you can backbore a particular gun before it blows up or bends in a strong wind. Depends on the gun and how much wall thickness you feel comfortable with. I’m sure that Remington won’t recommend any backboring at all. You are on your own as to wall thickness.

But if you want to go ahead, use 4.5370369 ounces per cubic inch as the weight of gun steel. At least that’s what I use. When you do the math, make sure to subtract the length of the chamber and forcing cone from the length of the barrel to be backbored. If you don’t have a bore mike, you might consider starting with an inside diameter of .670″ as a general starting dimension for the 16. It will be close enough.

To save you some math, assuming a 28″ single barrel with a combined 3.5″ of chamber and forcing cone and bore of .670″, opening the bore .010″ to .680″ will drop 1.18 oz. Opening to .690″ loses 2.38. To .700″ loses 3.59, to .710″ loses 4.82 and to .720″ loses 6.07.

I really don’t think that backboring is the answer to a heavy gun. I use backboring more to affect gun balance than overall weight. Two ounces or three ounces pulled from the barrels of a gun makes a tremendous difference in how it handles, but I don’t think it’s too noticeable as to carry weight.

Of course, anything you pull from the front will also have to be offset by some amount removed from the rear of the gun to keep balance the same, if that’s what you want to do.

How much can you backbore and still retain a good wad seal? Dunno. Mossberg’s UtiliMag pump and new 935 Magnum auto are 12 gauge guns overbored to .795″ from the nominal 12 gauge bore of .729″. Since .775″ is standard 10 gauge boring, you can see that these are truly overbored. Mossberg claims no bloopers, even in cold hunting conditions. I’m sure that they tested the heck out of this bore size before putting it on guns obviously intended for a lot of waterfowl duty.

Stan Baker used to make a “Big Bore” barrel conversion to .800″ for 12 gauge target guns. He claimed great things, but the ones I tried made my reloads sound a bit bloopy occasionally.

One last thing about overboring- you will have to redo all your chokes. If you pull out too much metal, you’ll risk cutting into the threads of the choke or making the choke too thin. Screw chokes definitely complicate backboring.

Porting? The only thing that will do as far as weight goes is to lighten your wallet.

Bottom line: I don’t really see backboring as a practical way to overall lighten a gun as much as a good way to change the balance of the gun. I think that if I wanted a lighter, faster 1100 for field use, I’d shorten the barrel and hog out the stock. Remember, autos have about an extra 3.5″ of receiver compared to an O/U or SxS, so a 28″ barreled auto is really the equivalent length of a 31.5″ O/U or SxS. A 24″ auto equals a 27.5″ O/U or SxS.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
The Technoid writing for Shotgun Report, LLC

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