Black River

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The Veteran

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391 Stuck Triggers

Dear Technoid:

I just took apart my new AL391 Sporter for it’s first cleaning. I had some real trouble removing the trigger group. The retaining pin was removed, but that bugger was in sooooo tight, I could hardly budge it. I’m afraid of breaking something with too much force. Any ideas?



Dear Vincent,

The sticky trigger has been a real problem with the 391s both in 12 and 20. Beretta made the polymer trigger housing just a touch oversized so that it wouldn’t work loose. Yeah, well. They got that right. They went a bit too far. There have been many reports of people damaging the trigger group when trying to force it out.

When I did the Clay Pigeon gun review of the 391 20 gauge, I had a dickens of a time pulling the trigger group out. I ended up having to enlist the aid of my faithful shop assistant Forza Bruta. I tied a rope around through the trigger guard and the other end around a column on my porch. Then I just leaned into it and pulled hard. Fortunately, the house didn’t come down and the trigger did come out. When I did this I made sure to keep the bolt release depressed and also pulled the trigger group out at a very slightly forward angle so that the lip at the rear of the housing would clear the receiver, but at the same time making sure that the shell lifter didn’t prong into the magazine. Oh, yes. I also removed the cross pin that holds everything in place first. You wouldn’t get far without doing that.

I had previously tried pulling the trigger group out by hand, but I simply wasn’t strong enough to hold the bolt release button down and pull really hard at the same time. I tried having my wife hold the gun while I pulled, but I just yanked her around the cellar. The rope trick was better.

Since then one of Shotgun Report’s readers has written so say that he had success by squirting BreakFreeCLP all around the trigger group and letting it soak in a while to reduce friction before he pulled it out. Sounds like a good idea. I’d certainly try that first before resorting to ropes and such.

Once my 391 20 gauge trigger group came out, I was able to reinsert and remove it from then on without a problem. It never got loose and never stuck. It was just that first time.

I don’t pretend that my way is the only way or even the best way. It worked for me, but if you don’t hold the bolt release down and don’t pull it out at exactly the right angle you are going to break something for sure. Rich Cole at Cole Gunsmithing,, has fixed more than one 391 when an owner has been a little rough with the trigger group.

The bottom line is that if it is really stuck, take it to a local gunsmith so that you can blame him when something breaks. Don’t blame me. I don’t have any idea how I got away with yanking mine out without killing something. My technique may be right or I might just have been lucky. I’m a gun writer. By definition that means two things: 1) like all gunwriters, I can’t shoot worth a darn, and 2) like all gunwriters, I’m a disaster as a gunsmith. I simply write about the efforts of my betters.

If anyone reading this has a better approach to removing the trigger group on a 391, I’d love to hear about it.

Best regards,

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

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Carving A Legacy

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Get A Grip On Yourself

Dear Technoid,

Is there any difference or advantage, other than asthetics and personal feel to a pistol grip vs a rounded grip?


Dear Peter,

Good question. Yes. I think that there is a substantive difference in pistol grip configurations. Field guns often have no pistol grip at all (the English stock) or only a slight pistol grip (the round knob or Prince of Wales grip). Some field guns have standard pistol grips. ALL target guns have full pistol grips. Some target gun pistol grips, especially some Italian guns, would even be described as “massive” or “monstrous” as is your wont.

With field guns tending towards smaller or no pistol grips and target guns tending towards larger ones, there has to be a reason. That reason is control. A full pistol grip aids the right hand in controlling the shotgun. It gives you something to hang on to. A full grip places the trigger hand in a comfortable more-or-less vertical position when the gun is mounted to the shoulder. The better you and hold onto the gun, the better you can repeatedly point it and also the better your can control recoil.

In the field, the gun spends very little time on the shoulder. Most of the time, it is carried. The raked back angle of the PoW round knob or English stock makes the wrist angle much more comfortable when carrying, though a bit less so when shooting. It’s the opposite with the more vertical large target grip. Each grip has a purpose.

Many people think that the straight English stock was designed to permit the shooter to slide his hand back to engage the second trigger. While I have no doubt that some people do slide their hand back, most don’t. You simply crook your finger to pull the second trigger. Sliding the hand back means that you have to loosen your grip, move your hand, tighten your grip and then pull the second trigger. All this while the gun is bouncing about from the first shot. I don’t think so.

The round knob Prince of Wales grip is sort of a compromise. It has a raked angle to permit comfortable carry and gun mounting, but it also has a bit of a nub to wrap your fingers around for better gun control. I have come to prefer them on my O/U field guns. I think Browning got that part right.

On my SxSs, I fear that I bow to fashion and very much like the English stock and splinter forend. I’ve shot Italian SxS pigeon guns with pistol grips and they do shoot well, but I just can’t bear to look at them any more than I can embrace the very practical beaver tail forend on the SxS. I’d probably shoot the SxS a bit better with the PoW grip because of it’s extra control, but I just couldn’t bear it.

I’ve also heard it said that the English stock is gripless to reduce weight. No doubt it does, but I don’t think that is the main reason because the amount of additional wood required for a PoW grip would add very little weight.

All my target guns, without exception, have standard pistol grips. I don’t particularly like the very vertical grips used on some Italian trap guns, but the slightly raked grips on most Browning (Belgium and Japan) target guns suits me very well. As we speak, I’m having a Perazzi target gun made and have asked for a pistol grip, but one of more modest field size rather than the full, giganto Perazzi size.

Much of grip angle is personal taste. I shoot a lot of bullseye pistol. I could never handle the vertical style grip of my 1911 or S&W 52 worth a darn. Obviously, others can, but I couldn’t. I found that the vertical grip made recoil harder to control and kept tension in my wrist when aiming. I shot by far better with raked Olympic-style grips as found on air guns and high end .22s such as my Pardini. I also prefer the Glock for this reason (though not for targets). These grips allow me to almost relax my hand as if I were pointing a finger.

Back to shotguns: aesthetics and personal feel aside, I think that there are good, solid mechanical reasons behind each grip configuration and their use. I don’t think that the grip alone will determine how well you shoot, but every little bit adds up.

Best regards,

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

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Franchi Sporting Shotguns

Dear Mr.Bruce Buck

What do you think about Franchi Sporting Shotguns?
What are pros/cons of them.


Tuncay Kahraman


Franchi is a division of Beretta and makes good guns. These aren’t just cheaper Berettas. Franchi has always made their own in-house designed gun. Same with Benelli, another division of Beretta.

For sporting clays, I’m more enthusiastic about the Franchi Instinct Sporting O/U than I am about their inertia-driven autos. The autos are good guns, but those that I have seen are field weight, not target weight. And inertia systems have more perceived recoil than gas systems, as on the Beretta autos. But if you do like a lightweight auto, the Franchi Affinity Sporting might be a fit. Your call. The Affinity Sporting was introduced in 2013, but FranchiUSA doesn’t show the gun on its website today, so I’m not sure of it’s status.

The Instinct Sporting is currently (2016) listed for $1,899 in a 30″ 12 gauge model with a factory given weight of 7.5#. This is certainly within the ball park for size for a clays gun. The same gun, an Instinct Catalyst, with a Monte Carlo stock and 28″ barrels sized for women is $1,599.

The Instinct has the typical Val Trompia action with flat sides to the monobloc and fixed underlugs to go with the low mounted Browning-style locking bolt. This is a very popular action design in Italy and many makers use it because it works. You don’t see a lot of Franchi Instinct Sportings used in matches. Most people go with a Browning or Beretta low end model to fit in the “around $2,000” O/U price bracket, but Franchi does make a decent gun and if it suits you, I would certainly consider it.

Best regards,
Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid

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Bo Whoop

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