Choke Chooser™

Choke Chooser™ now available.

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Hi Technoid!

I have a B.C Miroku O/U 12ga which has some problems with it. I am not sure as to what model it is, because it has a Stirling barrel, but is a single selective trigger model and has a gold plated trigger. It also has a gold plated sighting bead on the barrel. It has a checkered stock, and is a Japanese model.

The problem I was talking about was that we left the gun in storage for quite a period of time (It was oiled) and the next time we went to use it, the gun didn’t fire anymore. I opened the gun and examined it and it looks as though the springs which are cocking the hammers are either not engaging correctly, or something else is wrong. The trigger functions correctly, releasing the latch which fires the gun, but this latch is free to move and it offers no resistance when it is cocked manually.

Your help would be greatly appreciated, as I am thinking of joining a clay target club, and wouldn’t like to use a Beretta s/s, which has enough recoil to knock the wind out of a cow.


Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Dear J.C.,

“Enough recoil to knock the wind out of a cow?” Geez, you guys have a way with words. Not as good as your great Aussie phrase- “Stands out like balls on a dog.”, but pretty good anyway. The furthest I ever got was “balances like a pig on a snow shovel.”

You shouldn’t have the slightest trouble getting your Miroku fixed. It is one of the most popular current O/Us in the world. The Japanese Browning is made by Miroku and the guns are virtually identical. Just about any gunsmith ought to have either Browning or Miroku parts.

Generally, the Browning/Mirokus are quite reliable so once you get it up and running you’ll have a full trough in hog heaven. Couldn’t resist.

Best regards,

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

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Where Do I Look?

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The Basic Shotgun Stance

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Skeet Hold Points

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Recoil Pads

Dear Sage of the Shotgun,

Would like your opinion on recoil pads. I need to replace a pad on a Suhl 12ga SxS. The gun weighs approx 6 3/4lbs. I intend to use it mainly as an upland field gun but as a new SxS shooter will probably shoot quite a few targets in the beginning learning to handle it. 3 dram 1 1/8oz will be about max load.

I think I will need to add 1/4-3/8in to LOP, the current pad is a ventilated Pachmayr that is 1in thick including the base. The gun balances just in front of the hinge pin as it is and this suits me fine.

I know in the past you have liked Kickeez pads and I have used these on a couple of O/U’s with great results (very soft shooting & smooth mounting-these are both important criteria for me). More recently I thought I read that you now give a slight nod to Terminator pads.

Can you give a quick….sorry, I should know better than that; make that a thoroughly exhaustive comparison of Kickeez vs. Terminator and throw in any others that you deem apropos.

With boots, beer, bated breath and many thanks, I await the eruption of knowledge and sagacity.

Okla. City

Dear Bruce,

You have it right. More is always better. I mean, which would you rather have- the Encyclopedia Britannica or some comic book. Information is the currency of life, even if you don’t spend it right away. Knowing stuff is just as important as having stuff, except that your relatives don’t inherit it by the garage full when you die.

For me padding a game gun is a very different thing than setting up a target gun. You don’t normally shoot a game gun as much as you do a target gun unless your hunting is a lot better than mine. Also, I wouldn’t worry too much about the recoil absorbing qualities of one pad vs another. Most of them are sort of close while they are fresh and new. Gun fit has far more to do with recoil anyway.

So, having established that the absolutely, positively most recoil absorbent pad isn’t a requirement, we can look to other criteria such as weight and appearance.

Appearance first. Pardon me for suggesting something that is in the realm of taste, not mechanics, but you really ought to use a solid pad or solid looking pad on a nice little German gun like that. Egg crate pads with white lines just don’t look right on snappy little SxSs. You are on the right track with the solid look.

Since your gun sets up the way you want with that 1″ egg crate Pachmayr, we ought to stick with that weight. That leaves the Kickeez out. Kickeez makes a good pad, but they are heavier than normal.

Terminator is relatively light weight (for a solid pad), but they are incredibly “sticky”. I haven’t owned one long enough to know if they slick up with use and age. Also, the Terminator, for some odd reason, does not come in 1″ thickness. It is closer to 15/16″. Finally, the Terminator may be too soft for use on a light gun. If a pad on a light gun is too soft, it will collapse too much on firing and actually increase your face slap. That is why only guys with scope scars shoot soft pads on magnum rifles.

The Pachmayr Decelerator has a nice solid look. It is egg crate design, but hidden inside. It is made of miracle goo just like the Terminator (sticky- but the Decelerators do slick up with use and time). Personally, I just hate the plastic insert. As the pad ages, they stick out like a sore thumb, though they do help clumsy mounting when the pad is new. Also, the Decelerator has a lot of give, like the Terminator, and may have too much movement on a light gun.

My light field guns are a 6 3/4# Belgian Superlight and a 6 1/4# Webley & Scott. Both have standard black Pachmayr Old English pads. I like the old fashioned material on these guns because it has less give. Enough, but not too much. The pads also clean up much better than the new sorbothane Terminators, Kickeezes and Decelerators.

There it is. More than you ever wanted to know once again.

Best regards,

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

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Adjusting Point Of Impact

Dear Sirs

I have a Browning Special Sporting that patterns its barrels at 2″ and 5″ high at 40 yards, respectively and would like to have my top barrel altered to shoot 2″ high. I would like some advice on what is my best option to achieve this along with approx. cost and where to find a company to have this performed.



Dear Dan,

Well now, there it is. Shotguns will just do that. I don’t know how you checked your point of impact, but the usual way is to use the same Full choke tube in each bbl and whack away at 40 yards. You can also do it at 20 and double the readings. This is probably easier and full choke gives you a more definable pattern for easier measuring.

3″ variance at 40 yards is not very much and would be considered pretty good by most gun makers. Remember, Browning is quite proud of the fact that their Japanese guns have bore measurements of “only” +/- .003″. If you gang that with the same variance in chokes, you can go .006″ either way. That is an entire ton of variance, but with modern production that is the fact.

If they have that much variance in bores and chokes, it stands to reason that point of impact can vary a bit too. And- Browning Japan (alias Miroku) has pretty good quality control too when compared to other makers. Shotgun are not rifles and you may have to learn to live with it. Very, VERY few shotguns will have perfectly aligned bores at 40 yards.

The basic design of the O/U shotgun “wants” to toss the top barrel a little high. It is far more the rule than the exception and is due to the fact that the top barrel sits higher in the action. Do you think 3″ high at 40 yards is a lot? I had a Perazzi Comp 1 trap gun that shot its top barrel 18″ higher than the bottom at 40 yards! I had a Belgian Browning 12 gauge Superlite that was almost as bad. I shot a whole bunch of grouse and woodcock with that Browning until I found out about the barrels. It destroyed my confidence in the gun and I sold it.

What is the fix for improper barrel convergence? The usual fix is to take a piece of paper, tape it to the stock and write “Gun for sale” on it. If you just can’t live with it, there are two other approaches.

The easy way is to use an eccentric screw choke. In the old solid choke days (good old?) the choke on the offending barrel would just be recut slightly on a bias. This was a very common adjustment and could influence the pattern a small amount in any direction. I had this done to a 28 gauge Parker Repro that threw the left barrel half a foot to the left. I lost a bit of choke, but the convergence was perfect. Today, with screw chokes, you just get Briley to cut you an eccentric choke. I have never used one and imagine that you would have to be quite careful in seating the choke by an index mark, but Briley does offer the service.

The other way of adjusting point of impact- the right way- is to pull off the side ribs and reset the barrels just like they originally do at the factory. It is expensive and takes and expert with a test range. It also requires rebluing. It is much easier to take out that piece of paper and write “For sale” on it.

One last thought. When possible I ALWAYS try to buy my O/Us used. This gives me the chance to test before buying. The first test that I make is always to check barrel convergence. I can change point of impact by altering the stock, but barrel convergence is built in. I have been burned by improper convergence enough to be very wary of it. Welcome to the club.

Of course, if you shot gas guns, you would have no trouble getting that single barrel to converge properly, now would you.

Best regards,

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

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Report Pair Problems

Dear Technique-oid

There’s nothing more frustrating than consistently missing the second bird in a report pair. If I can hit the first, what’s going haywire on the second? It’s exactly the same presentation. Is there any such thing as a “typical” error in form that causes this to happen?


Dear Mike,

Well, it is tough to tell without seeing you in action, but I can make guesses as well as the next guy.

On the first bird of an identical report pair you are probably starting with a low gun, or at least one off the face. On the second bird, you may be leaving the gun up in your face and shooting a fully mounted gun. If your stock is a touch too low, the additional cheek pressure of a mounted gun might cause you to miss that second bird.

Just a guess, but check your gun fit. You could also try dismounting and remounting for the second bird when timing of the pair permits it.

Best regards,

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

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Patterning Vs Point Of Impact

Dear Technoid,

I have recently acquired an AYA #2 12 gauge (my first SxS) choked cylinder and skeet2. I was fitted for this gun by a well known gun fitter and the gun seems to fit me quite well. I will use this gun mainly for pheasants which I hunt with my German shorthair.

One thing I am unsure of is the proper way to pattern it. When I pattern my guns I usually shoot at a target that is at a measured 40 yards away from the muzzle of the gun. I aim my O/U “rifle style” when patterning it which seems to work quite well. If I aim the SxS “rifle style” (with the bottom of the bead resting on the horizontal line of the breech, and the bead covering the dot on the patterning board) it will print most, if not all of the effective pattern below the dot on the patterning board. Is this normal behavior for a SxS, is muzzle flip causing this? Or is my gun shooting low.

When shooting clays with it I do well (which could be considered pitiful by most folks). I assume this is because there is a fair amount of the barrels visible when I shoot clays which would cause it to shoot higher.

Here are my questions. Is my gun shooting low? And what is the proper way to pattern a SxS?


Dear Clark,

There are two distinct steps to evaluating the performance of a shotgun. The first is point of impact and the second is pattern performance.

Point of Impact involves WHERE the gun shoots. Pattern Performance involves HOW it shoots. Unless the former is correct, the latter is irrelevant.

Your gun fitting session should have involved assessing point of impact. Each “professional” gun fitter has his own techniques, but all the good ones that I know of use dynamic testing on a pattern plate. I am VERY suspicious of the “gun shop” gun fitters who merely look at the position of the eye’s iris over the rib. Shop fitting is convenient for all concerned, but nothing can replace shooting the darn thing.

You comment that your SxS shoots lower than your O/U when “aimed” at a mark, yet you shoot the SxS well at clays. It would appear that you are not cheeking the SxS quite as hard when you shoot at moving objects. Nothing wrong with that if that is the way that you shoot.

The only time I “rifle shoot” a shotgun in testing is to check barrel convergence to see if both barrels shoot to the same point of aim. All point of impact testing is done when moving the barrels. It really should be a dynamic, not a static, test. The best method is to use a very large pattern plate. 6’x6′ is good. Many plates have five aiming points on them, somewhat like the 5s on a pair of dice. This saves repainting after each shot.

Starting with a low gun, raise and quickly fire at the center point. Then, again starting with a low gun, but beginning off to the side, raise and swing through to another point and fire. Then do it from the other side, then top down and bottom up. Repaint the plate and repeat as necessary. Pretty soon you will get a good feel as to where you gun shoots when it is moving as it would in a hunting situation. THEN you can make the appropriate stock adjustments.

If no pattern plate is available, you can do a fair job on a skeet field if you are a consistent shooter and if you instructor knows how to read breaks. The plate AND the skeet field are the best approach and that is what we use around here.

One of the hardest things about fitting a gun is to deal with a newer or occasional shooter whose shooting style is still in flux. You have to fit for what his correct style WILL be, not what it is at the moment. This is more art than science.

SxS guns are generally stocked a bit higher than O/Us. SxS guns just shoot lower for most people. This may be due to barrel flip of the difference in visual perception caused by barrel configuration. All my guns have the same point of impact, but my SxS is stocked MUCH higher than my O/Us, but it shoots to the same place.

If you are curious as to whether your SxS shoots low, why not just layer some tape onto the top of the stock and shoot some clays with it that way. See if you shoot better. Make sure not to have the tape come over the comb onto the inside of the stock so that it gives additional cast-on, unless that is what you want. If your gun does shoot better with tape on it, experiment to get just the right amount and then take it (with the tape ON it) to the stock bender and get it rebent. If you shoot too high with the tape, then you know that you are right as it is.

As to patterning- counting pellets- the standard approach is to get the largest piece of paper you can find (36″ is minimum and barely satisfactory), mark a central aiming point. MEASURE 40 yards from the paper to the muzzle of the gun. I said MEASURE. Aim at the mark and fire. Write the shell and choke on the paper and shoot all the combinations that you want to test. You might get away with only three tests of each combination, but five would be better. 36″ wide Red Resin Flooring Paper is dirt cheap at the local lumber yard and comes in giant rolls.

Take all your papers home. Lay the first one out on the table top back side up. It is easier to see the shot holes by looking at the little exit “volcanoes” than at the “innies” on the front. Now eyeball the center of the pattern and mark it. Pay no attention to the central aiming point that you used on the front of the target. Draw a 30″ circle around the center point that you have just eyeballed. Using a yard stick with two holes drilled in it makes a handy compass. Now count your pellets. I dab each hold with a Magic Marker as I go to keep count. Watch out for your dining room table because the Magic Marker spots go through the paper.

That’s about it. You can learn a lot about where your two barrels converge by comparing the aiming points and the actual pattern centers of the two barrels. Don’t be at all surprised if they aren’t exactly the same, but they shouldn’t be too far off.

One final point- more old and faithful game-getting guns are sold after detailed patterning and point of impact testing than at any other time. If your gun really works well for you, sometimes it is best not to know the fine details. Barrels that shoot 5″ apart will drive some people crazy once they find out, even though they have been using that gun to kill birds every year.

Best regards,

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

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Miroku MK Game

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Sustained Lead Skeet

Dear Bruce,

I have a question about using the swing through method in skeet to obtain lead. I read the book about George Digweed, “It’s Got to be Perfect”. George says he uses swing through 90 per cent of the time. He feels that it guarantees that he has the line of the target so that he can miss only ahead or behind. This seems like good logic to me and you cannot argue with his results.

When I shoot doubles in skeet at stations 2-6, I come from behind on the second target. This is especially true on the center stations 3-5, where it seems to me that even a fast shooter will have to come from behind in order to kill the second target. In my own shooting, I try and use maintained lead on the first target at 3-5. In shooting doubles at stations 3-5, I am better at the second target (where I must come from behind) than I am at the first.

When I try and shoot maintained lead on 3-5, I sometimes loose connection with the target thereby producing poor results. When I try and shoot swing through on a single target at 3-5 or on the first of a pair, the sight picture that works for the second bird in a pair does not produce consistent results when applied to the first. One possible explanation is that I have more gun speed on the second bird of a pair and as a consequence I need less perceived lead.

I would like to use the swing through method on singles and the first target in a pair on stations 3-5. I would appreciate your thoughts on possible methods to achieve better results.


Dear Marshall,

The more I think about it, the more I feel that it is best to pass your question along to Eric Steinkraus, an American-style skeet shooter who really knows what he is talking about. The other day, Eric gave me some lessons in shooting doubles that changed my way of thinking. My background is in International Skeet where the low gun starting position and higher speed of the bird make sustain leading the second target extremely difficult. Not so in American Skeet. Listen to what Eric has to say.

Best regards,

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

Dear Marshall,

Virtually all good doubles shooters start the gun ahead of both doubles targets in American skeet. First a little background, then mount your stilts for the how to.

Doubles are shot in American skeet as a way to break the many ties that occur in tournaments. At the big tournaments with the large gauges especially, there may be 100 shooters tied with scores of 100 straight. The shoot-off’s following these ties can go on for as many as 250 targets. Doubles shoot-off’s also decide most of the titles involved in American skeet like HOA, concurrents, etc., so not missing any doubles targets is the way to win most American skeet tournaments.

Why sustained lead though? It certainly seems harder to the beginner the first time he tries it , especially in doubles. Sustained lead is a more demanding technique than swing through because it requires matching speed perfectly with the target through the shot. What makes the technique worth the extra effort is that it is also more forgiving. Let me illustrate. With swing through, or any of the methods in which the barrels are moving at a different rate than the target, there is only one instant during the entire swing when if the gun were to go off, the target would break. This is fine for many applications, although it relies on perfect trigger timing. Using a sustained lead, the target’s lead is acquired in the instant the target emerges and is maintained until the completion of the follow through. If the gun goes off at any time during the swing, the target breaks; IE the target is “covered” for its entire flight. Where many people run into trouble with sustained lead is that they fail to maintain a zero rate of change between barrel speed and target speed throughout the shot. There is a feeling that when the gun goes off, the shot is over. With sustained lead,( all forms of shooting for that mater rifle, pistol, archery, etc.) there must be a period of follow through after the shot. This follow through occurs at target speed, no faster no slower, and on the targets flight path. The follow through is insurance. Having too much imposes no penalty, having too little costs a target, which in skeet is the match.

Any way getting back to doubles and why sustaining is an advantage. Lets pick a station, say station 4, low house first and go through the steps required to break the pair. First let me say that the second target in this pair is difficult especially in bad weather. The longer you wait the more it is loosing velocity, loosing altitude, loosing spin, loosing predictability – the shotgunners nightmare. Because of this the sooner the gun can be brought to bear on the second target, the better. To reverse engineer the pair, we need to be on the second target ready to fire as quickly as possible. The best way to accomplish this is to make the turn from the first shot on the sustained lead for the second target. This is where sustaining’s forgiving nature makes it an easier method to be consistent with in doubles. Because the first target, in this case low 4, is covered right out of the chute, the shooter can choose to “place” the first break anywhere. Where he places it (about 2/3 of the way to the stake) allows him to follow through on the first target, and make the turn on the second target with both lead and velocity instantly correct. This is why good doubles shooters are able to shoot the second target quickly, because their anticipation in placing the first target has them on the second one instantly and perfectly. Where the first target is broken is the hold point for the beginning of the swing on the second target. Doubles is about placing the first shot and adjusting the first shot placement as fields and conditions dictate to allow the conclusion of the turn to wind up on the second target, on lead and on speed.

Swing through on the other hand, has the shooter coming from behind the low house on the first shot. It is very hard to precisely place the target this way because a lot of things have to come together at the same instant. The barrel, the target, and the finger, at exactly the right place on the field. If any one of these actors fails to do its part within the milliseconds allowed by the difference between barrel speed and target speed, the target is lost. If the first target is hit it early or late that sets the stage to come to the second poorly. Assuming that the first target is placed correctly, because the gun was moving faster than the target from right to left, it takes longer to reverse the barrels for the second shot. Now the second target needs to be swung through, and it is late and dropping parabolically. Also the hold on the target is below the apparent line of flight, so the swing through needs to be to a point in space, not through the target. It can be done but, swing through is not the easiest way.

Marshall, sustained lead doubles shooting requires precision with the gun and practice to master. It is an advanced shotgun shooting technique that offers an excellent arena in which to hone your swing and timing to a razors edge. It is the equivalent of mastering the scales on the piano in preparation for a difficult piece. Your problem sounds like a follow through that is not on target speed and a lack of the concept of timing. Try this exercise; with no shells in the gun call for a high 4 using a hold point that allows you to be on the lead instantly. This hold point may take a few targets to locate. Once you have found the hold point, again with no shells in the gun call for the high house make your swing and pull the trigger when the target gets 2/3 of the way to the stake. When the gun goes click absolutely nothing should change in your sight picture. If something changes; you pull ahead, fall behind, come off the gun, or flinch, repeat the above until you can execute it perfectly, smoothly with no change after the click. Like dry firing a pistol in 50 yard bulseye, nothing changes when the hammer falls. When you have done three in a row perfectly, put one shell in the gun preferably a light recoiler like the 28 gauge so you can see what’s happening. Call for a pair, shoot the high and make the turn and click on the second target. Notice how you came to the second one. Did you start out behind it? Then you need to break the first target more quickly. If you had to wait for the second target to get to your barrels then you need to “carry” the first target a little further. What you want is to come out of your turn right on the lead for the second target click and have a perfect follow through. When you can do three in a row perfectly, put two shells in the gun and shoot the pair. Pick calm days and don’t rush this process. It may take a number of sessions, and you should try to be alone or with a partner. This will require 100% focus. Make it a step at a time and don’t rush. You are building fundamentals and your pair is only as strong as the fundamentals that make it up. If you start to run into trouble back up a step and make that perfect again, then advance. Make your doubles work a quality over quantity drill. Its better to shoot 5 pairs perfectly than 25 pair poorly. When you can go through a box of .410’s on 3-4-5 doubles clean, you will have gained skills that will enhance all of your shotgun games.

Eric Steinkraus Skeet Shooter

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