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Gun Fit And Cast Off

Dear Technoid:

I purchased a new BT-99 Plus 34in a few weeks ago, I finally patterned yesterday. The results caused me to question this purchase. With AA 3Dr,1 1/8, 7 1/2St,I was hitting 2 1/2 feet to the left at 40 yards. This is consistant with chokes full, improved mod, and mod. What should I do to correct this, return the gun(out of production),call Browning.



Dear Craig:

Probably you have nothing to worry about. The good news is that everything shoots to the same point of impact. That means that all your chokes are concentric. All that you have to do is to move that point of impact 2.5 feet to the right. This is what gun fitting is all about and it is a common adjustment.

Although you do not mention it, I am going to assume that you are right handed and shoot from the right shoulder. I am also going to assume that you are right eyed.

If you shoulder on the right side and are looking out of your left eye, that would definitely throw the pattern to the left. Repeat your pattern test once or twice with your left eye completely closed. If that corrects it, then you know what your problem is.

If everything check out so far and the gun is still shooting to the left, then there are two possibilities 1) your stock is too thick and needs cast (probably the problem) or 2) your barrel is indeed bent to the left (unlikely- BT-99s were good guns).

When you sight at the target, are the center and front beads lining up on your aiming mark? OR is the middle bead to the right of the front bead? If your beads line up (assuming that they are centered on the rib and that the rib is centered on the barrel) and you still shoot left, you may have a barrel problem.

If the beads do not line up, you most probably have a gun fit problem. Your stock may well be too “thick” and you will need to have it bent away from your face a bit to give it some “cast off”. That will align your right eye over the rib and should solve your problem. Consult your gunsmith about bending your stock (or re-inletting it). It is not expensive and is done every day.

One thing to remember, trap stocks are seldom cast off because cast may increase face slap. Most trap shooters crawl their stocks, rather than keep an upright head, and that often eliminates the need for cast off. I would certainly try different head positions before having the stock bent.

It is always hard to analyze gun fit over the ether, but the Technoid has never been afraid to swim in murky waters. What you can’t see, probably won’t eat you. Maybe.

Hope that this helps.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck – The Technoid
(Often in error, but never in doubt.)

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Lead Recoil Vs. Steel Recoil

Dear Technoid,

I love your column and am so impressed to see someone in the shooting industry who is not afraid to express their views/opinions, while actually being able to back it up with experience and objectivity.

My first question to you is- Since steel shot weighs less than lead, why is it that I hear so many shooters complain of excessive recoil with steel shot?

I hear both the public and gun writers who should know better talking about the elevated recoil levels of steel shot, and how it is yet one more reason to dislike the use of steel. I have always felt that steel shot is actually quite soft shooting.

For example, the max load of a 3″ 12 gauge shooting steel shot is 1 3/8 oz. at 1265 fps. This is considerably less than max loadings possible for both lead and bismuth. Shouldn’t a 2 3/4″ 1 1/2 oz. lead load at 1260 fps. have considerably more recoil?

I offer as proof the fact that Remington sells 3″ chambered steel shot barrels to be used on 2 3/4″ receivers for their 1100’s. They know that any 3″ steel load won’t put any more wear than any heavy lead 2 3/4″ load can.

Since most hunters shoot 1 1/8 oz. steel loads at 1375 fps., I would think they would all rejoice about the softer recoil of steel. Yet I’ve never heard this fact mentioned anywhere by any gun writer.

Steel shot may be ballistically inferior to lead, but doesn’t that also lead to less recoil? Lead can’t have it both ways- less recoil and more penetration?



Dear Tom,

Thanks for the kind words. As to commercial (more successful) gun writers, they write for magazines that actually carry paid advertising. They have to work around this to keep the publisher and advertiser happy. It really doesn’t do much good to say that the latest Remington O/U is a real pig when Remington has just bought four pages of ads in your magazine in order to advertise it. At Shotgun Report we are poor, but forthright. That said, also remember that my opinion is only that of one person and that reasonable men may differ. Unreasonable men too. Most of my knowledge came from doing something wrong a few times before I got it right.

As I see it, there are two types of recoil: Free recoil and subjective recoil. Free recoil is 100% mathematical computation and can be quite precise. Unfortunately, it does not take the human body into account. Subjective recoil reflects how the human body responds to free recoil and is very difficult to measure accurately. Subjective recoil is based on stock fit, type of gun action, interior barrel design and that sort of thing. Since subjective recoil varies from person to person and cannot really be measured accurately, I will concentrate on free recoil, which can be measured.

The formula for free recoil does not care whether you are shooting steel or lead. It only cares how much your ejecta (shot, wad and powder) and gun weigh and how fast it all leaves the muzzle. It also requires a constant for the speed of the powder gas. That’s it. The rest is pure math. I would give you the formula, but this mail editor will not handle all the little symbols and stuff. I am sure that the Lyman Shotshell Reloading Handbook carries it somewhere, as does just about every other gun book.

One ounce of steel, lead or bismuth leaving the muzzle of an 8# gun at 1200 fps will all have exactly the same amount of free recoil if they use the same weight of powder. They almost certainly will not use the same weight of powder, but the difference in recoil caused by this is very slight. The problem with steel is that it is often driven at high initial speeds due to its miserable terminal ballistic performance. Often the speeds are significantly higher than lead. Increases in speed increase free recoil significantly. Of course the weight of the charge is lowered slightly, but not as much as the speed is increased. That is why most steel kicks more than lead.

Remember though that the formula for free recoil is just that- free recoil. When you bring a human being into the equation (something for that gun to recoil against) human perception is factored in and you are dealing with the elusive subjective recoil. Free recoil does not care about gun fit or face slap. It does not care whether the powder is slow burning or fast burning (just how much of it there is- more slow powder is required than fast powder, so slow powder ALWAYS has a bit more free recoil than the fast if velocity remains the same- it is built into the formula). Some shooters claim that slow powders give them more of a shove than a kick, but that is very subjective and I have not found it to be so for me in every case.

Gas guns have exactly the same amount of free recoil pound for pound as fixed breech guns, but most people subjectively find gas guns softer shooting. This is because the gas gun spaces out the recoil into basically two recoil pulses. The fixed breech gun whacks you all at once. Total free recoil is the same, only the way that it is delivered differs. If you graphed it, the areas under the curves representing free recoil for the O/U and the gas gun would be exactly the same, but the shape of the O/Us recoil curve would look like a traffic cone, while the shape of the gas gun’s curve would look like a Bactrian (two hump) camel’s back.

Confused yet? Me too.

Best regards,

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

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Overweight 32″ Sporting Barrels

Dear Technoid,

First let me say I enjoy your ruminations on everything! I purchased a Browning Golden Clays Ultra with a 32″ barrels. The gun has an adjustable comb and I had a new pad installed as well as having the forcing cones lengthened. My other gun is a Browning Special Sporting with 28″ barrels. I am a fairly large person and felt the extra length would help the swing and the weight would not affect me.

I believe my mind is playing tricks on me as I feel tired after 80 or so targets with the new gun. Shooting with the old one does not produce the same result. Am I imagining things?

Let me point out one other thing. I ordered a 30″ version and when the gun arrived with 32″ barrels I allowed myself to be talked into taking what I did not request. This is my fault, however, could the 30″ version (2″ does not seem to be that great a difference) be that much different. I am also told that the lion’s share of sporting clays guns being sold are 32″.



Dear Bob,

Well, I dunno if that barrel is too long for you or not, but it sounds as though it is. Yes, an extra two or four inches can make all the difference in the world, especially on a gun like the Ultra which can be nose heavy to begin with. I once shot a 32″ Browning Ultra for a bit and it was way too much for me. Like you, I also have a bit of size.

The two dominant brands of O/Us in the sporting clays market place are the Japanese-made Browning and the Beretta. The Browning outsells the Beretta by a wide margin in the US. Both Browning and Beretta use just about the same choke system, though Browning’s Invector Plus is a lot heavier. Both manufacturers selected a mass produced choke system that was cheap, strong, relatively precise and HEAVY! To install their screw chokes they simply jugged out the barrel, threaded it and screwed in the chokes. Because no metal was ever removed (the way it is when Briley retro-fits chokes) , this method adds the entire weight of the chokes to the existing barrel. This is why factory choked Brownings and Berettas can be so nose heavy. The longer the barrel (like your 32″ Ultra), the more the nose heaviness is accentuated. In the case of the Browning Ultra, the problem is accentuated by the “new and improved” longer Browning chokes which weigh an entire ton. Beretta’s chokes are not fashionably long, but they are a good bit lighter.

Beretta, always a heavy barreled gun in the recent versions, seems to have recognized this fact and does not sell their gun sporter models in 32″ versions. The gun would balance like a pig on a snow shovel. Browning, as you found out, does.

In England and in New England, one of the most popular sporting clays guns is the Miroku M-38 or older M-3800. This is nothing more than the Browning Citori’s sister brand (Citoris are made in the Miroku factory), but with non-screw choke light weight barrels (remember those, you old timers) meant for the English market. This gun is most popular in the 32″ version because it is light and lively. Beautifully balanced, it approaches the that paradigm of balance, the Fabrique Nationale Belgian Browning.

What is the difference between the Ultra 32″ and the Miroku M-38 32″? Partially, it is due to the added weight of those screw chokes and also to the factory “backboring”. If you remove the chokes from your gun and then feel its balance, you will see what your gun was meant to feel like. The other cause of the Ultra’s nose heaviness is the fact that the Ultra is factory “backbored”. The barrels have been made with an increased interior diameter of about .742″, compared to the old .725″. However, the original barrel wall thickness has been retained so now there is just plain more metal in the barrels. Aftermarket backboring reduces barrel weight. Factory “backboring” increases it. Factory “backboring” may be a great advertising ploy, but it sure doesn’t do much for the dynamics of the gun.

What to do? As I see it, you have three choices: 1) start lifting weights; 2) sell it to someone really strong, or; 3) try adding a bit of weight to the stock. Two or three ounces of lead sinkers in the bolt hole beneath the recoil pad can sometimes do wonders for a nose heavy gun.

One last thought. You COULD backbore the barrels to remove weight. This gets involved as you would have to relabel and recut some chokes as well as convince someone to do it. Machine shops hate to backbore screw choked guns because they can lose choke skirt clearance on the choke tubes. Some shops will attempt it, some will not. Briley would not as of about six months ago, but they may have changed their minds.

I wish that I had some better answers for you. Perhaps someone else does, but that is the way that I see it.

Best regards,

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

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Custom Stocks-Jim Greenwood

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Steel Shot 2021

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Best Budget Guns of 2021

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Eye Dominance

Source: 0317EyeDominance.pdf

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5 Tips For New Women Shooters

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