Choke Chooser™


Choke Chooser™ now available.

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Reduce Recoil


Source: 0316Recoil.pdf

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Can you shoot steel shot with your vintage gun? – The Field


Source: Can you shoot steel shot with your vintage gun? – The Field

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Recoil Pads And Soft Shells


Dear Technoid,

I hope you can take a little time out of your busy schedule to respond to my questions about reducing recoil:

1) I was about to write to ask about the Kickeez recoil pad when the reader from Malaysia beat me to it. They come in different sizes (small, med, large) and different thickness (1″ and 1.5″, I think). Could you comment on how to choose the correct size (I have a Browning 425, but generic comments are also welcome), or do I need to see a specialist?

2) I am taking your advice and want to reduce recoil through better shot selection. This means knowing the velocity and weight of the ejected shot. Is their an easy formula for velocity, some shell boxes list it and some don’t? I also want to go to lighter loads (12 gauge), 1 oz and 7/8 oz. However, these always seem to contain more powder, doesn’t that defeat the purpose? I have a feeling that I will have to start reloading to truely capitalize on the advantages of varying shot size and load.

I look forward to pulling up my boots and wading through your comments.

Regards,

Frank
San Jose, CA

Dear Frank,

The 425 was an excellent choice and will render you good and faithful service. It will also pound you a bit, as you have already noticed.

1) As to recoil pads, there is more here than meets the eye. I prefer Kickeez pads for a number of reasons. Before we start, remember one thing: a good recoil pad will absorb recoil that comes into the shoulder, but it will NOT lower the recoil that comes into the face and cheek called “face slap”. Face slap is due to improper gun fit (usually too much cast or improper stock height) and the collapsing of the pad will only exacerbate it.

A) Kickeez pads are made from solid Sorbothane, the space age polymer that is often used in the insoles of running shoes. They really do absorb recoil without giving much rebound. Lack of rebound is important because that means less movement of the stock along your face and back. A soft rubber pad will absorb recoil just as well, but it results in more stock movement along the face as it collapses and springs back. This means more face slap.

B) Being solid, Kickeez pads are easy to grind to any shape that you wish. If you do it yourself, be careful to grind slowly as the stuff doesn’t take heat well. Also be aware that there is a metal plate in the base of the pad if you grind in too far.

C) The pads slick up nicely with use, but never become too slippery like the Pachmayr Decelerators and do. You pad should have a tiny bit of stick to it, but not too much.

On the down side, Kickeez pads are HEAVY. They weigh several ounces more than an “egg crate” Pachmayr of similar size. If you shoot a mounted gun, this doesn’t really matter. If you shoot a low gun, as in English sporting, FITASC or International Skeet, you must take this weight into account when setting up your gun.

Kickeez pads come in three thicknesses (.8″, 1.0″ and 1.2″), three butt sizes (sm, med, lg), two colors (blk, brn) and three or four configurations (round top “sporting”, hook trap, flat and a “ventilated magnum” which I have not tried). You might consider ordering a catalogue from Brownell’s (tel: 515-623-5401). It is the class room primer for all Junior Technoids.

I found that the 1.2″ pad was too thick and collapsed too much on recoil so as to increase my face slap. I tend to use the .8″ and 1.0″ pads on my clay target guns. I do not suggest that you select the hook trap pad if you will be shooting low gun unless you have an absolutely perfect gun mount. A mismount with a hook pad also increases face slap, sometimes to a considerable degree. I also do not like the “sporting clays” Kickeez configuration as I think that they have rounded the top too much. I just use the regular ones.

I recommend that you have the pad installed by a gunsmith if you have not done it before. Although you can do it in your cellar, it is an amazingly messy job with black Sorbothane grindings going everywhere. The job is made very much easier with special alignment jigs that the gunsmith will have.

Remember too, if you want to change your length of pull, the installation of a new pad is the time to do it. This is the time to cut the stock or add spacers. Note: the solid rubber spacers can also be very heavy. I skeletonize mine first or use the “100 Straight” brand of foamed spacers.

If the new Kickeez pad is too “sticky” after being ground, sand it lightly with emery paper to get you through until it slicks up naturally in a couple of weeks. Don’t spray it with Armor-all or silicone or it will take just that much longer to age properly.

While I am at it, I do not like the Pachmayr Sporting Clays Decelerator pads with the plastic insert. While they are light in weight, the pads have too much “collapse” and thus movement along the face. Also, the plastic insert is TOO slippery and (for me, maybe not for others) makes the recoil pad a bit harder to mount properly.

2) Reducing recoil through informed cartridge selection is certainly the easiest way to go about things. The dram equivalency rating used by the manufacturers today is very confusing, perhaps intentionally so. A “dram” of powder is an old black powder measure and indicates velocity in a round about way today. You really ought to get Lyman’s Shotshell Reloading Handbook (4th edition). It explains it all faster than I can do it here because the same dram equivalency changes velocity as the shot charge changes. You should really do all your calculations in Feet Per Second as measured in the American manner of 3 feet from the muzzle.

The easiest way to lower recoil is to lower shot quantity (from 1 1/8 oz to 1 oz to 24 grams/ 7/8 oz) and/or speed. You comment on the fact that the lighter loads (especially the 24 gram International loads) may contain less shot, but they pump up the speed to “compensate”. Not always, but in the standard promotional dove/quail Kmart load of 1 oz of soft shot at 3 1/4 drams, this is certainly the case. I always thought that they did it to get a Browning A-5 test gun to operate, but they have never admitted this to me.

Most of the International loads that I have chronographed push their 24 grams (about 7/8 oz) of shot at 1300 fps to 1350 fps (some are even hotter). They do this in an effort to maximize the potential of the little load. Recoil is not a consideration and the very slight advantage in pellet energy given by the higher speed is sought at any cost.

I feel that the combination which gives the lowest amount of recoil combined with the best chance of breaking a bird is the 1 oz load at about 1150-1180 fps. The Big Three make a load similar to this, but they all call it something different. A “heavy” 3 dram (1200 fps) 1 1/8 oz load in a standard gun will generate about 17.63 foot pounds of free recoil. A 1 oz load at 1150 fps in the same gun will cut the free recoil to 13.0 foot pounds- about a 25% recoil reduction. 1150 fps is enough speed to do the job and you are only giving up 11% of your pattern. It will make a noticeable difference in recoil.

There it is, Junior Technoid. You may now pull off those barn yard boots and mosey on down to the gunstore.

Best regards,

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

Recoil Pads And Soft Shells

Dear Technoid,

I hope you can take a little time out of your busy schedule to respond to my questions about reducing recoil:

1) I was about to write to ask about the Kickeez recoil pad when the reader from Malaysia beat me to it. They come in different sizes (small, med, large) and different thickness (1″ and 1.5″, I think). Could you comment on how to choose the correct size (I have a Browning 425, but generic comments are also welcome), or do I need to see a specialist?

2) I am taking your advice and want to reduce recoil through better shot selection. This means knowing the velocity and weight of the ejected shot. Is their an easy formula for velocity, some shell boxes list it and some don’t? I also want to go to lighter loads (12 gauge), 1 oz and 7/8 oz. However, these always seem to contain more powder, doesn’t that defeat the purpose? I have a feeling that I will have to start reloading to truely capitalize on the advantages of varying shot size and load.

I look forward to pulling up my boots and wading through your comments.

Regards,

Frank
San Jose, CA

Dear Frank,

Welcome aboard. Shotgun Report and the clay shooting fraternity are glad to have you. The 425 was an excellent choice and will render you good and faithful service. It will also pound you a bit, as you have already noticed.

1) As to recoil pads, there is more here than meets the eye. I prefer Kickeez pads for a number of reasons. Before we start, remember one thing: a good recoil pad will absorb recoil that comes into the shoulder, but it will NOT lower the recoil that comes into the face and cheek called “face slap”. Face slap is due to improper gun fit (usually too much cast or improper stock height) and the collapsing of the pad will only exacerbate it.

A) Kickeez pads are made from solid Sorbothane, the space age polymer that is often used in the insoles of running shoes. They really do absorb recoil without giving much rebound. Lack of rebound is important because that means less movement of the stock along your face and back. A soft rubber pad will absorb recoil just as well, but it results in more stock movement along the face as it collapses and springs back. This means more face slap.

B) Being solid, Kickeez pads are easy to grind to any shape that you wish. If you do it yourself, be careful to grind slowly as the stuff doesn’t take heat well. Also be aware that there is a metal plate in the base of the pad if you grind in too far.

C) The pads slick up nicely with use, but never become too slippery like the Pachmayr Decelerators and do. You pad should have a tiny bit of stick to it, but not too much.

On the down side, Kickeez pads are HEAVY. They weigh several ounces more than an “egg crate” Pachmayr of similar size. If you shoot a mounted gun, this doesn’t really matter. If you shoot a low gun, as in English sporting, FITASC or International Skeet, you must take this weight into account when setting up your gun.

Kickeez pads come in three thicknesses (.8″, 1.0″ and 1.2″), three butt sizes (sm, med, lg), two colors (blk, brn) and three or four configurations (round top “sporting”, hook trap, flat and a “ventilated magnum” which I have not tried). You might consider ordering a catalogue from Brownell’s (tel: 515-623-5401). It is the class room primer for all Junior Technoids.

I found that the 1.2″ pad was too thick and collapsed too much on recoil so as to increase my face slap. I tend to use the .8″ and 1.0″ pads on my clay target guns. I do not suggest that you select the hook trap pad if you will be shooting low gun unless you have an absolutely perfect gun mount. A mismount with a hook pad also increases face slap, sometimes to a considerable degree. I also do not like the “sporting clays” Kickeez configuration as I think that they have rounded the top too much. I just use the regular ones.

I recommend that you have the pad installed by a gunsmith if you have not done it before. Although you can do it in your cellar, it is an amazingly messy job with black Sorbothane grindings going everywhere. The job is made very much easier with special alignment jigs that the gunsmith will have.

Remember too, if you want to change your length of pull, the installation of a new pad is the time to do it. This is the time to cut the stock or add spacers. Note: the solid rubber spacers can also be very heavy. I skeletonize mine first or use the “100 Straight” brand of foamed spacers.

If the new Kickeez pad is too “sticky” after being ground, sand it lightly with emery paper to get you through until it slicks up naturally in a couple of weeks. Don’t spray it with Armor-all or silicone or it will take just that much longer to age properly.

While I am at it, I do not like the Pachmayr Sporting Clays Decelerator pads with the plastic insert. While they are light in weight, the pads have too much “collapse” and thus movement along the face. Also, the plastic insert is TOO slippery and (for me, maybe not for others) makes the recoil pad a bit harder to mount properly.

2) Reducing recoil through informed cartridge selection is certainly the easiest way to go about things. The dram equivalency rating used by the manufacturers today is very confusing, perhaps intentionally so. A “dram” of powder is an old black powder measure and indicates velocity in a round about way today. You really ought to get Lyman’s Shotshell Reloading Handbook (4th edition). It explains it all faster than I can do it here because the same dram equivalency changes velocity as the shot charge changes. You should really do all your calculations in Feet Per Second as measured in the American manner of 3 feet from the muzzle.

The easiest way to lower recoil is to lower shot quantity (from 1 1/8 oz to 1 oz to 24 grams/ 7/8 oz) and/or speed. You comment on the fact that the lighter loads (especially the 24 gram International loads) may contain less shot, but they pump up the speed to “compensate”. Not always, but in the standard promotional dove/quail Kmart load of 1 oz of soft shot at 3 1/4 drams, this is certainly the case. I always thought that they did it to get a Browning A-5 test gun to operate, but they have never admitted this to me.

Most of the International loads that I have chronographed push their 24 grams (about 7/8 oz) of shot at 1300 fps to 1350 fps (some are even hotter). They do this in an effort to maximize the potential of the little load. Recoil is not a consideration and the very slight advantage in pellet energy given by the higher speed is sought at any cost.

I feel that the combination which gives the lowest amount of recoil combined with the best chance of breaking a bird is the 1 oz load at about 1150-1180 fps. The Big Three make a load similar to this, but they all call it something different. A “heavy” 3 dram (1200 fps) 1 1/8 oz load in a standard gun will generate about 17.63 foot pounds of free recoil. A 1 oz load at 1150 fps in the same gun will cut the free recoil to 13.0 foot pounds- about a 25% recoil reduction. 1150 fps is enough speed to do the job and you are only giving up 11% of your pattern. It will make a noticeable difference in recoil.

There it is, Junior Technoid. You may now pull off those barn yard boots and mosey on down to the gunstore.

Best regards,

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

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All Around Chokes


Dear Technoid:

My question concerns parts for Charles Daly Mirokus (specifically 12 ga Ventura model, choked mod and full).

I read your response to a reader’s question concerning the Miroku, and finally learned the history behind the seldom used 12 ga. hiding in the back of the gun case. Armed with knowledge of its history, and based on your recommendation, I decided to turn it into an all around “upland field gun” (pheasant, quail, and dove). Because it had only a hard plastic plate in lieu of a recoil pad, I decided to have a recoil pad installed.

However, while talking to my gunsmith about also adding Briley screw in chokes for added versatility, he cautioned me on investing the $600 plus in light of the fact that parts for the gun were scarce. Hence my question: Is this true? If so, would you recommend keeping solid chokes, but opening them up? If so, what is your suggestion as to ideal chokes for an all around field gun as described above? Any suggestions on finding parts if (when?) the need arises.

Thanks for your help. I sure have learned much over the last few months since finding your excellent site. Keep up the good work.

TCP

Dear TCP,

The Charles Daly/ Miroku is the precursor of the Browning Citori and a great many, if not most, of the parts are interchangeable. I think. Probably. Sort of. Maybe. Worth a try.

All around upland solid chokes for pheasant, quail and dove? Sure. And which kind of car should I buy if I want to carry bales of hay on Monday and drive to the opera on Sunday? Well, you get the point. Everything is a compromise.

IC and Mod have been the traditional choice in America in 12 and 20 gauge when your first shot is a 20 yards and your second at 30. These are pretty standard field distances. If you are hunting out west where those wild quail can get a bit of wind behind them and those pheasants actually LIVE there, I might go to a bit more and use Mod and Full, but this would be more of an exception.

BTW, if you decide on IC and Mod, you might consider just opening the Full top barrel to IC and saving a bit of money if you don’t mind shooting the top bbl first. It is a bit odd and may hurt the resale value, but if you are going to keep the, it will work just as well. Generally, you want to shoot the bottom bbl first so as to keep the recoil from the first shot on a lower axis and lessen muzzle jump affecting the second shot. While I always prefer to shoot the bottom barrel first, I have been in driven shooting situations where one fired the top (more tightly choked) bbl first and I never noticed the difference. You probably would in target shooting though.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid

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Triggers And Stock Length


Dear Technoid,

I recently read Bob Bristers “Shotguning” and he refers to a technique called slapping the trigger as opposed to squeezing. What exactly does this mean?

Also, what is a good trigger poundage for ATA trap?

Where exactly should the trigger contact the trigger finger?

Can length of pull be accurately obtained by the old crook of arm to trigger finger measurement?

Thanks for your time.

C.W.

Dear C.W.,

That is a lot of questions. You had better pull on your TALL boots.

“Slapping” a trigger may mean different things to different people. I use the technique when shooting looong incomers at sporting clays where the shot is a long time in developing and I am using a sustained lead technique. My finger is resting on the trigger blade and, instead of easing the trigger back, I pull firmly and suddenly. It is actually sort of a yank.

Slapping the trigger can be helpful in these situations because it avoids milking the trigger and riding the bird too long.

For standard American Trap shots, I do not slap the trigger, but tend to apply smooth increasing pressure to the point of trigger release. It just works better for me at that game. There is a different tempo involved in ATA trap and slapping does not work for me there.

Good trigger poundage for ATA trap? I dunno. This is sort of a blondes, brunettes or red heads choice. Everyone has their own opinion and what works for one person might not for another. I tend to like fairly heavy triggers on my guns and set them up at around 4 1/2#. This is probably a touch heavier than the norm, but I have lost far more birds having the gun go off too soon due to a light trigger than I have jerking it due to a heavy one.

That said, I like my triggers to be crisp with no creep at all. To me, lack of trigger creep is far more important than half a pound of pull either way. Any shade tree mechanic can adjust trigger pull weight. It takes a decent gunsmith to cut a crisp trigger.

Where your finger contacts the trigger is personal. For bullseye pistol competition and rifle silhouette, I like the center of the front pad. For shotgun, I prefer the front pad, but over at the joint.

The standard method of measuring length of pull is a bunch of hooey! There, I said it and I am glad. Not only is the crook of arm to trigger not a reliable way to measuring length of pull, but the standard gunsmith’s ruler measurement of trigger to center of butt plate is no good either. Well, it is good for the gunsmith because it is easy to do and repeatable, but it doesn’t have much to do with how the gun fits you.

The problem is always the pistol grip. It is the position of the pistol grip on the stock which really governs stock length, not the position of the trigger. These “adjustable” lengths of pull via moveable triggers are just marketing flak.

Try this. Hold you shotgun in its normal way and mount it a few times to get the feel of it. Now move your right hand (assuming you are a righty) UP a good bit on the pistol grip and mount the gun. Feel longer? Now move your right hand all the way down the pistol grip as far as it can go and mount the gun. The stock will feel shorter. The LOP hasn’t changed, but where you place your hand on the pistol grip has.

The key to obtaining proper stock length is to get the correct distance between your eye glass lens and rearmost part of the thumb when the gun is mounted. Most shooters like around 1 1/2″, but it is personal. Some ATA shooters like Kay Ohye like their glasses touching the back of their thumb joint. The British sporting shooters like quite long stock, more so than the Americans. It is all personal preference, but it all depends more on the placement of the pistol grip and the positioning of the rear hand than it does on the absolute distance between the trigger and the butt plate.

Confused? Me too, but that is the nature of things.

Best Regards,

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

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Rabbits


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DoublesSkeetHowTo


Source: 0216DoublesSkeetHowTo.pdf

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Beretta 687 Silver Pigeon III


Posted in Shotguns | 3 Comments

Rebuilding An O/U


Dear Technoid,

I recently purchased a Browning 325 European model. I am very happy with the gun even though it has seen quite a bit of use over the last seven years. My question is in regard to the way the gun falls open when released to eject and reload.

Newer over-unders seem to be a great deal more difficult to open and close. As there has been other custom work done, could it be that a procedure was done to assist in the opening(something like what is done as an option to SxS doubles) or is this just a good deal of usage.

If from excessive wear can you point me to someone who can tighten up or rebuild a Euro Browning 325?

Thank you for improving my shotgunning.

Sincerely,
F.B.

Dear F.B.,

The Miroku designed Browning 325, as well as virtually every other standard type of O/U with which I am familiar, are strictly manual openers. There may be exceptions to this, but they do not come readily to mind. Most SxS guns are also manual openers, with some notable exceptions based on the early Beesley assist open design and other fully self opening designs. Some of the London side lock makers incorporated the action leaf springs to assist opening or added a separate set of springs in the forend area. While possible in the O/U, the basic trigger plate action of the O/U does not readily lend itself to this.

Your gun probably just has a little age on it. When makers are setting up the specifications for mass produced guns, they want them to start off just a little bit tight and “sticky” so that they will break in. Like a favorite pair of jeans (the old kind that actually started out dark blue, not “pre worn”), a gun goes through stages of life. Mass produced guns ideally should start a bit tight, spend most of the time “just right” and end up loose before a trip back to the gunsmith.

The fact that your 325 opens easily does not necessarily mean that it is loose enough to merit a trip back to the gunsmith. There is good looseness and bad looseness. A good way to test for inappropriate looseness is to close the (empty) gun and then take the forend off. Now hold the gun with both hands by the stock and wiggle it. If you can feel the barrel move against the receiver the gun may be “off the face” a bit and have excess headspace (barrels not closing tightly against the standing breech). I once had a Perazzi I shot until it would close on a business card, but that was carrying it too far.

If the monobloc/standing breech joint is a bit loose, it is probably time for a new locking tongue and/or to get the hinge pin rolled or replaced. This is pretty standard stuff and just about any gun shop should be able to do it for you. Art’s Gun Shop (314-944-3630) in Missouri specializes in Brownings and has an excellent track record. I highly recommend them. It is not an overly expensive operation and they will give you a quote once they have looked at the gun.

One thing to watch for in the older Citoris is a weak opening lever spring. As the spring weakens (and it started life a little too weak in those guns) the gun may develop the tendency to open when you fire it. This will definitely get your attention the first time it happens. A new $5 spring solves it. I strongly recommend that this spring be replaced as a matter of course during any maintenance on a heavily used Citori.

As a matter of fact, when I send a gun back for a little tightening session, I usually have them also replace the firing pins and related action springs. I leave the ejector springs alone as I like “soft” ejectors, especially on Belgian B-25s which tend to eat them. The Japanese guns are more reliable in this area, less so in others.

Your Citori/325 is a well designed gun and should have many rebuilds in it. Sporting clays champion Andy Duffy shot a 325 for quite a few years and had his gun rebuilt three or four times. Each time it came back from the shop good as new. There is just about nothing in there that you cannot fix or replace forever.

Best regards,

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

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Both Eyes Open?


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