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Big Sky

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Chrome Barrel Work And Cones

Dear Bruce,

Thanks for your worthwhile advice in the past. My question today is;

I have an Ithaca/SKB model 500 o/u mfg in Dunville Ontario. I believe Chromed bores. I love this outfit beyond words, and have been shooting skeet using the current full/mod barrel config. with remarkably good results. Sure smokes the birds!!!!

Rather than investing in a new outfit, I am wondering if it is possible to have the chokes cut to skeet or I/C, and the forcing cones done without ruining the barrels.

Thanks for the advice in advance, and keep up the good work. I enjoy your site immensely.


Dear Don,

Chrome bores? No problemo. The chrome coating does make the first cut somewhat harder, but the gunsmith will just use a specially hardened tool. If he says, “Gee, this job requires a carbide reamer and I don’t have one.” then skip him and go on to someone who does this for a living. All the “majors” will do the work for you- Briley, Seminole, Rhino, Ballistics, etc.

Be careful when lengthening the cones. How long are your cones now? Did you measure them? It doesn’t cost a manufacturer one cent more to make the barrels at the start with long cones compared to short cones. Why do you think that so many pick short cones? There’s a reason. The shorter the cone, the quicker the transition from chamber to bore. This ensures a better gas seal if there is a possible problem with the wad due to wad design or cold weather. Long cones provide a smoother transition from chamber to bore and thus might possibly damage less shot, but at the expense of possible gas blowby under certain conditions. Stan Baker has done a great deal of research on long cones and feels that cones over 2″ simply don’t add any advantage. He also mentions that the 2″ cones really only help with larger hunting-size pellets. The effect on target pellets is minimal because their small size helps them flow better to begin with.

With modern plastic wads, it probably doesn’t hurt to have cones of 1-1/2″ to 2″, but you can go overboard. I once sold a Superposed to a friend who had the cones run out to 5″. When I shot the gun later that winter, I got off-sounding shells. It never did that before. Also, if someone says that lengthening cones reduces recoil by a noticeable amount, but suspicious of gas blow-by and reduced velocity.

I’m not totally against lengthening cones, but I’m suspicious. For example, people are always lengthening the cones on Berettas and most of them already come with 1-1/2″ long cones. That’s plenty long enough. They are wasting their money. Don’t just “lengthen” cones out of reflex. Know what you have, what you want and why you want it. If your cones are lengthened and the job isn’t done right, you’ve got a real mess- literally. That chrome is gone in the throat area and you will lead up and scrape plastic like you can’t believe if the coning job isn’t done carefully.

I have one FN Superposed that I had the cones run out on. I also have several absolutely identical FNs with factory short cones. I can’t tell the slightest difference in recoil. I’m sure that long cones do change the width of the pressure curve very slightly, but I’m just not sensitive enough to pick it up.

It’s usually very difficult to discern what longer cones do to the pattern because cones are almost never the only work that is done to the barrel. Usually there is also backboring, porting or screw chokes involved in the work done at the same time. This makes it harder to figure out what does what. It might make a lot more sense for you to get your chokes cut first and then do some pattern tests. If your patterns are good, stop there. If they aren’t what you want, then consider working on the back end of the gun.

Remember, these aftermarket barrel borers make their money by putting metal shavings on the floor. The more stuff they that they can cut out of your barrels, the more they can charge you. I’m not saying that it’s all useless. It isn’t in some cases. It’s just that “more” isn’t always better and sometimes it’s worse. It’s interesting to note that Miroku (Browning Japan) has gone to overbore and porting, but has refused to lengthen cones. It makes you wonder why.

Gun makers are like any other mass merchandiser. They sell what the public thinks it wants. If the average guy thinks that porting his barrels will actually do something other than make noise, then the makers will supply ported barrels until the craze passes. We are seeing that now as many shooters are starting to avoid ported guns. Beretta is still laughing at Browning for that one.

The bottom line to all of this is:

1) Yes, you can get someone to do work on chrome barrels if they have the right hardened tools, and

2) be a bit careful of the work you ask for.

Best regards,

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

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Velocity Loss In A Gas Gun


This isn’t really a question, but an observation I thought you may be interested in.

Over the years, I have heard the same question asked several times. “Do you lose velocity in a gas auto due to the amount of gas bled off to work the action?” I decided to waste some time on finding the answer to this question. Being somewhat of a Jr. Technoid wantabe, I figured out right away that for the test to have any validity, I would have to use the same gun and barrel. So I took my trusty AL390 and my chronograph and all the different shells I could find and ran some five shot strings. Then I tapped the gas ports and installed set screws in them. I ran the strings again (but for some reason I had to work the action manually). To make a long story short, there was no difference in velocity between normal operation and having the ports plugged. However, I was very surprised at the deviation in some of the popular factory loads. My reloads were generally much more consistant.


Dear Randall,

The tiny amount of gas vented by the little teeny weenie gas ports, as well as the timing of the venting (well after the shot has reached most of it’s eventual velocity) just about guarantees the conclusion you observed.

But, hey! You did the work. No armchair surmising for you. It’s easy to just sit back in the easy chair and sagely opine. I do it all the time. It takes a certain mindset to drill and tap to find the truth when others are just tapping their feet. You have done us all a service. Now, when I get asked the frequent question about velocity loss in a gas gun, I can state some facts instead of my usual groundless opinion.

Randall, for your indomitable pursuit of the TRUTH, you are hereby awarded the coveted Junior Technoid Order of the Palm (third class). This award is granted to those who actually do the work, rather than just talk about it. Henceforth you will be allowed to add the letters “JTOP3” to your signature. In token of this honor you will soon receive (by email, of course) a genuine hand-painted plastic shirt pocket protector, suitable for framing or even wearing if you are into ball point pens and slide rules in the breast pocket.

Well done!

Best regards,

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

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Legendary Rhode with Skeet Bronze; Prone Rifle Recap & Saturday Preview | USA Shooting

Source: Legendary Rhode with Skeet Bronze; Prone Rifle Recap & Saturday Preview | USA Shooting

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Rhode’s Mix for Six Highlights Olympic Shooting’s Busiest Day in Rio Friday | USA Shooting

Source: Rhode’s Mix for Six Highlights Olympic Shooting’s Busiest Day in Rio Friday | USA Shooting

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Orvis Chapuis Classic

Orvis Chapuis Classic

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Reader Advice on Beretta 391 Trigger Group Removal

Dear Readers,

A while ago I commented on the “Beretta 391 stuck trigger problem” and asked for suggestions on how to get the darn thing out. Here are some of the suggestions I received. Don’t forget to push the bolt release button as you work the trigger group out.

Hi Bruce, I’m at work today and not supposed to be surfing, but couldn’t help notice your stuck trigger commentary.

My experience has been that yes, the first time getting these out is a bear. Breakfree soak might help. However, once you do get them out, if you will run your finger down the inside of the receiver (SLOWLY!) I bet you will find a slight sharp lip in the receiver at the outside edge. I file that lip flush with a small file and trigger removal gets much easier in the future. Found this lip on 6 in a row and it might be coming from a final milling operation on the bottom outside of receiver.


I read your update regarding the difficulty with removing a 391 trigger group, at least on the first try. I sure can identify. I was able to remove the unit after my miserable, failing attempt at being Hercules. Succumbing to the genetic predisposition in my family for impatience leading to rather aggressive “fix-it” behavior, I hammered the darn thing right out.

Now, before you wince so tight as to not be able to finish your coffee, please understand that I have learned to work with my impatience for the preservation of the delicate and easily damaged items in my life. I covered the trigger guard with a healthy dose of cloth, made sure I missed the pistol grip, and gently tapped the group out of its housing. I then liberally lubricated for the return trip. After ten minutes of pulling to no avail, the hammer job took about 15 seconds. No sweat.

Keep up the good work!



I’ve found that the trigger assembly on my 391 detaches easiest when I “bump” the assembly forward about 1/8″ to 1/4″ and THEN pull down/out with substantial force. I too had a terrible time getting the mechanism out of the gun the first time…. and a heck of a time getting it back into the gun too!

Give it a go… T.A.


I am the happy owner of both a 12 & 20 391. I too had great difficulty attempting to remove the trigger group from each – but was able to figure out a way not to cause damage doing so.

1st step after removing the cross pin was to tap the trigger guard forward a bit (about a quarter inch). I used a hard leather mallet for this. I know few people have ever seen one of these, much less own one. An alternative would be to lay a small, thin piece of wood on the back of the trigger guard and tap on that with a small hammer until one sees the group shift forward that 1/4 inch.

Next step was to place a wood dowel crossways just ahead of the front of the trigger group. (About a half-inch forward of where the shiny shell lifter plate pivots).

Taking another dowel (3/8 diameter), I inserted this under the front end of the trigger group, and using the 1st dowel, created a lever. The leverage was obtained by pushing down on the dowel inserted under the front end of the group. The dowel laid crossways provided a pivot point and protected the bottom of the receiver from damage.

On my 12 gauge I broke a couple of dowels before I was able to get the group to break loose. On my 20 I had to abandon using a dowel and used a flat bladed screwdriver to push down on. (I retained the 1st dowel to protect the receiver).

After the groups broke loose one has to resort to brute force and grab the trigger guard and start wiggling, yanking etc. until the SOB comes out.

From my observations it appears there are two reasons that these trigger groups are so difficult to remove. The first is that the polymer body of the group is bigger than the opening of the receiver. My solution to this problem was obtained by lightly sanding off some of the polymer with a moto-dremel tool.

The second reason I felt made extraction so difficult was a burr of steel that Berretta left along each side of the bottom edge of the receiver. This burr acted like the barb of a fishhook – the harder you pulled the deeper it dug into the polymer. I filed this off.

Now I can take the groups out by hand, using neither special tools nor assistance from NFL linemen. I am not sure if this was the intent of Berretta – but they manufacture guns, not clean them.


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