3-1/2″ Benelli

Dear Bruce,

To make a long story short I bought a Benelli Super Black Eagle, the one that is all synthetic and takes 2-3/4, 3, and 3-1/2 inch shells interchangeably.

In my neck of the woods Gun salesman and car salesman are bred in the same pasture. This guy was good, very good! I walked out the door with that new gun thanking GOD I got one because he only had 17 left. Now I have a gun that appears very durable but I don’t know anything about it. It fit’s better than any other shotgun I own. Is this a good system? Is it durable? Did I do good? Please enlighten me great one…


Dear Jim,

Depending on what you want it for, you may or may not like that 3-1/2″ Super Black Eagle Benelli. Sometimes it is actually best to Ask The Technoid ffiirrsstt! Of course, that’s like bringing your mother along to advise you when the bartender says “Last call” and the girl on the corner stool smiles at you.

Here is what your gun is good at: It won’t break. It will probably shoot under water. It will definitely shoot full of mud, ice and Twinkie wrappers. IT will shoot 3-1/2″ shells all day (notice, I said IT not YOU, unless you are the Man Of Steel). It will also handle 3″ shells and HOT 2-3/4″ stuff with equal aplomb. It looks neat. It is easy to strip and clean, but it doesn’t need much maintenance at all. Benelli has a shortish stock and it comes with Beretta’s shim adjustment kit so you can go up, down, left and right as you wish. That’s nice. Benelli’s pistol grip and forend design are really, really nice, especially on the synthetic stocked models.

Here is what your gun is NOT good at: If you ever take it to Cordoba, Cauca or the rest of the high volume dove places, shooting four cases of InduMil loads through that sucker in one day will pound you into the ground like a tent stake. At least, it would me. The higher stock configuration of the Benelli is going to place your cheek much closer to the part that is going to whack you.

You will also have problem shooting light loads. That will depend on how dirty your gun is, temperature and humidity, and the nature of the shells, but the 3-1/2″ Benellis are not known for tolerating light loads well. When I was down shooting in Argentina on the Parana River, the 12 gauge dove loads they had for us were one ounce Fiocchis. My Beretta 390 just sucked them up fine, but your 3-1/2″ Super Black Eagle ain’t gonna like them. You can forget about the Super Black Eagle for target shooting with target loads.

So, you did good in buying a high quality, tough-as-nails hunting gun built for hunting loads. As long as that is what you want out of it, you have a winner. If you want a target gun, buy a dedicated target gun. That way you will have two guns and be twice as happy.

Best regards,

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

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Buying A Gun Safe

Dear Technoid,

Thanks for your recent response to my question (question from a novice-about purchasing a new gun) I’ve decided to take your advice and put off buying that new gun. But, it sure is hard.

Do you have any opinions on gun safes? Browning vs. Winchester vs. Liberty vs. Am Sec. etc. ?



Dear Thomas,

I don’t have a very strong opinion as to a particular brand of gun safe and do not have a lot of experience with a broad range of them. On the chance that I haven’t covered the “safe” issue before, I’ll tell you what I know now. If it is at odds with something I said before, pick the opinion you like.

If you just want to keep young kids out, one of those thin steel cabinets that lock will be fine. If you want to keep an intruder out, then any one of the “vault” type safes will do it. Nothing is doing to keep out a determined burglar who is willing to spend some time, but that type of robbery is rare.

A friend of mine was a New York State Trooper (before he got into politics) and one of his jobs was lecturing groups on “burglar-proofing” the home. He said that the vast majority of burglars took less than ten minutes to go through the house. If an item wasn’t readily accessible, it wasn’t taken. Anything that was in a safe is going to be pretty safe, unless the burglar knows what he wants, has the tools required and is in a position to take the time.

I have a Browning brand safe and it seems just fine. The dial-set combination lock has worked reliably for a number of years. Nothing has broken. I guess that a safe is something like an anvil in that you don’t expect anything to actually break. I am certain that a thief could get in there if they were really determined, but it would take a long time and some experience.

In buying a safe, I would look first to size, then to features. Trust me on this one- you want the biggest safe you can afford. You will never have a gun safe that is too large. Never. I can’t tell you how many of my friends bought a safe just the right size to suit the firearms and other stuff that they had and then proceeded to outgrow its capacity. They were forced to buy a second safe at a far higher combined price than they would have paid for one really large one in the first place. Make sure that you get the capacity you will need down the road, not just for now. Junior Technoids- where safes are concerned, BUY BIG! You can always fill it up later.

My particular safe did not come with peg board on the inside of the door. I removed the solid metal sheet and installed peg board. The peg board is a great place to hang pistols. If the safe came with a peg board on the inside of the front door, that would be nice and save you the effort of the installation.

All sorts of interior arrangements are offered. I use my guns frequently, so I opted for the “Easy Out” setup. It is sort of a “U” shaped gun rack. It isn’t quite as space efficient as a storing the guns in rows, but you don’t have to remove a whole bunch of guns in front to get to one in the back. My safe also has some shelves on the side, but I would have been better skipping the side shelves and using that area for long guns. A single shelf located above the guns would have been enough for me. Get the interior tailored to your needs.

By the way, I store my guns MUZZLE DOWN in the safe. This does a couple of things:

1) any errant oil (I try not to every use too much) drips forward, not into the head of the stock; and

2) resting muzzle down takes pressure off of the wrist of the stock. On my slim wristed hunting guns this helps to avoid having them take a set.

Combination lock: I have a standard S&G dial safe lock. I have to put my glasses on to operate it. A combination dial lock is also somewhat confusing to operate and it is harder to remember the combination if you don’t use it all the time. Some of the new safes have pushbutton locks and I would have found those more convenient. It all depends on how often you are in and out of the safe.

Rust guard: Gunsafes are a great place to grow rust. If you live in a humid area, you are going to have to do something about rust prevention inside the safe. I use a “Golden Rod” heating element. I raises the temperature inside the safe very slightly. This effectively changes the dew point and lowers the chances of condensation. The Golden Rod combined with a wipe-down with Birchwood Casey’s “Sheath” rust preventative each time I put a gun away has worked for me. Some people like to use a desiccant cannister- the kind that are full of special pebbles that you dry out in the oven. I have one, but it fills up so quickly that I don’t bother with it any more. Use what works for you, but make sure that every now and then you pull all the guns out and wipe everything down inside and out just to be sure. Once rust has started, the gun will tend to re-rust in the same place very easily.

Another feature of the safe that you have to consider is how you are going to get it in and out of the house. This is a real concern. Make sure that you can get your measuring done ahead of time so that it will fit through the doors and hallways. Running a 36″ safe through a 35″ doorway means some carpentry.

Another important aspect of buying a safe is the transportation and installation. Make sure that you know what the cost of delivery is and exactly what that delivery entails. Many safe companies will deliver from the factory to your drive way. It is a LOOONG way from your driveway across the lawn down the cellar steps and into the corner of your basement reloading room. Make SURE that you have made arrangements to get that safe to its final resting place before you sign on the dotted line. This is not a detail you want to forget unless you want a permanent monolithic lawn ornament.

One final thought- spending a bunch of money on a safe may seem to be an extravagance at first, but once you get one you will wonder how you lived without it. Not only is it virtually mandatory to keep your guns in a safe if you have children, but it is also a nice place to put the other valuable stuff that you don’t use daily in addition to your guns.

Just remember what I said above, buy a BIG safe. Give your self room to grow.

Best regards,

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

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Ancient Oak Gun Club Closing

Ancient Oak Gun Club in Lakewood Ranch, FL announced in an email sent June 16, 2017 that they were closing. Here is part of the email:

We are writing to inform you that The Ancient Oak Gun Club will permanently close for business on June 30th, 2017. The property will revert to agricultural uses until future development plans are finalized.

Their website has the full notice. www.ancientoakgunclub.com


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Hi Bruce,

I do so enjoy you web site. You’re a wealth of information and a marvelous source of thought stimulation (at my age any stimulation is to be relished).

In re-reading your technical tract on barrel modifications, I got to thinking. I’m not an engineer or any such thing, but a bit of a tinker and mechanic, and was wondering what you might say to following.

All other things being equal, changing to a larger diameter wheel cylinder on a hydraulic brake system of an automobile will increase the required pedal pressure to achieve the same pressure on the brake lining.

Using this line of thinking, my question is; could the larger diameter of the barrel and subsequent wad piston actually cause more perceived recoil, be it ever so small?

I don’t know the technical term, but I think it has to do with the pressure concentration. Kind of like how it hurts a lot more when a 120lb female steps on your toe with her spike heel vs a 175lb guy in street shoes.

This has keep me awake for a while and I certainly don’t know if there is any valid basis for my thoughts, but at least I’m thinking.

Keep up the good work,


Dear Don,

Well, I am glad to hear that other people stay awake at night thinking about really dumb things- just the way I do. I thought I was alone.

Here’s the problem with figuring out recoil. It is easy enough to measure “free recoil”. There are a number of formulae for it, depending on exactly what you want to show. SAAMI has one that I use, but most are about the same. The ONLY ingredients that free recoil takes into account are the weight of the gun plus the weight and speed of the ejecta. Nothing else. Not backboring, slow powders, gas actions, recoil pads, porting, cones- none of that.

“Subjective” or “perceived” recoil is another thing entirely. It is very difficult to measure because it is so personal. What is subjective to one person, may not be perceived by the next.

For example, hold you shotgun from your shoulder and shoot it in the normal way. You will feel a certain amount of recoil. Not hold the same gun with the butt on the end of your nose and fire it. You will feel an entirely different level of recoil. Subjective recoil has changed, free recoil has not.

The shoulder/nose analogy closely parallels the variance of stock fit and goes a long way to explain why a particular gun won’t kick one person, but will pound the next one silly. The stock fits the first guy better. Any time you are taking recoil in the face, you are dealing with stock fit more than free recoil.

Barrel modifications are a different subjective recoil deal because they should produce the same results for everyone. If backboring does indeed reduce or increase recoil, it should do so for everyone regardless of stock fit. Well, there doesn’t seem to be any unanimity of opinion at all.

In theory, the larger the bore, the shorter and broader the shot/wad column, the greater the base area of the wad for gas to push on and the lesser the friction. Result: more shot velocity. More shot velocity equals more free recoil. Stan Baker claimed an extra 50 fps for his “Baker Big Bore” 12 gauge barrels of .800 diameter.

So, if backbored guns kick more in theory because they increase velocity ever so slightly, why are they promoted as reducing recoil? Answer: because backboring really doesn’t do much of either, at least not enough for the average person to notice one way or another, so the ad campaign can say just about anything it wants.

It is the same with porting. In theory, porting works by vectoring gas vertically to push the muzzle down. We know that porting works on high power competition pistol compensators. That means that it must also work on shotguns, opines your Technoidal Mahatma. Right again, but the problem is that shotgun muzzles work at gas pressures very, very much lower than high power pistol muzzles, so the small amount of gas being vectored up by a shotgun barrel does very little, if anything, to keep the muzzle down. A proper left hand grip is far more important. If a shooter has a weak left hand grip, then he might notice some difference with porting. If he has a normal left hand grip, he won’t. Subjective again.

Bottom line, technically I agree with you that backboring should very slightly increase free recoil because it increases velocity. Your sleepless nights were not in vain.

As to your analogy of being stepped on by a 120 pound woman with spike heels vs a 175 pound guy, the girl hurts more when she steps on you, but the guy hurts more when he belts you. What really hurts is when that guy steps on you with those spike heels.

Best regards,

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

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No Patterning, Please!

Dear Technoid,

I’ve noticed that all Beretta skeet chokes have the constriction very close to the skirt end of the choke tube and then it flares out to a reverse choke at the muzzle end. All other Beretta chokes have the tightest part of the constriction at the muzzle end of the tube as does all other makes that I’ve checked.

Theoretically, what are they trying to accomplish with this configuration and would it lend itself better to the smaller shot sizes.

Please don’t make me go pattern it! It seems every time I’ve patterned a gun or shell I end up going into a mini slump (if not a major one). I play too many head games after staring at holes in the pattern, point-of-impact off by a few millimeters, out of round/out of balance pictures, etc… I know it shouldn’t be that way but I seem to turn it into reality. Theory only please.

Feet up, boots on.


Dear Bruce,

Waddayamean “don’t make me pattern”! Any Junior Technoid worth his Twinkies just lives to pattern. Patterning is our salt, our bread, our very essence! (And- the more patterning I can get you guys to do, the less I have to do cause I hate doing it also.)

Beretta has generally preferred its skeet chokes to be cylinder bore to a flair. That is certainly what they used in the solid choke Beretta skeet guns I have owned. Measuring a screw choke may be confusing as they have also to include the skirt relief plus account for ganging of tolerances.

What does Beretta know with its skeet choke of Cylinder Bore to a flare that Remington, Winchester, Browning, Briley and Kolar don’t with their conventional .005″ or so skeet chokes? I dunno, but it will surprise many people that the Italians have won more Olympic medals in skeet than most other nations. The Italians have actually produced more skeet Olympic medals than trap, for which they are noted. They must know something.

I competed in IntSk at a high level for fifteen years using a custom choked barrel with cylinder bore to a flare. Sure, a lot of the guys with conventional chokes beat me, but I beat a lot of them too. It wasn’t the choke that decided things. Of course, this was with 32 gram loads in the ’70s an ’80s, not with the current 24 gram loads. I haven’t experimented with the 24 grammers since I retired from serious competition.

The Russians did a lot of developmental work on cylinder bore choke when they constructed their famous Tula jug choke (after examining our Cutts compensator). The Tula choke, since sort of copied by Krieghoff and Perazzi “jug” chokes, was cylinder bore to a plenum expansion chamber and then back down to a “choke” at the muzzle that was actually larger than cylinder bore. It is exactly the way a Cutts skeet choke works without the muzzle brakes. Perazzi even used muzzle brake slots when they copied it, though their plenum chamber wasn’t as big.

When I experimented with 32 gram IntSk shells for the Baikal’s Tula choke and the Perazzi’s jug choke, I found that the Federal skeet shells with a conventional Federal plastic wad outperformed the fiber wad International shells (Federal and Winchester at that time) for which the Cutts/Tula choke was purportedly designed. Not everyone agreed with me though. The guys at the US Army Marksmanship unit got good performance in both conventional and Tula choked guns with the hot fiber wad International loads. You really had to do the patterning and then shoot the shell long enough to build up a good data base.

What is the theory behind the cylinder bore to a flare choke? It is probably that 1) no choke is needed at skeet distances, and 2) a flare, rather than an abrupt cut off barrel, allows a smoother gas escape behind the wad so that the wad won’t be pushed through the shot column. That’s my guess.

Does it all work? It sure worked for the Italians and Russians in Olympic skeet, but it doesn’ t seem to be popular among Americans at American-style skeet where the conventional .005″ skeet choke is more popular (with the exception of the amazing Wayne Mayes and his Cutts compensated auto). Take your choice. Of course, you COULD actually risk that slump to pattern and see what works best in your gun. Lacking that, why not just shoot skeet for a month with the Beretta cyl/flare choke and then get a Briley flush mount choke with .005″ and shoot that for the next month. See which one does better for you. Maybe patterning would be easier after all.

Best regards,

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

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Stock Length And Balance

Dear Technoid:

I’m thinking of buying a Beretta 682 Gold Clays model O/U.I want to order the 30 inch barrels. The LOP is 14.7 inches and I shoot 13.7 LOP.

That will be an awful lot to cut off. How much will it change the balance and the feel of the gun? Any other suggestions such as different barrel length?


Dear Dale,

The best suggestion for barrel length is to use the length that BALANCES best for your gun set-up and method of shooting. The Beretta and Japanese Browning screw choke guns of late have tended to have heavy barrels. Removing wood from the rear of the stock will tend to shift even more weight forward in two ways:

1) the rear of the gun will lose the weight of the wood (up to a couple of ounces depending on wood and size of bolt hole), and

2) a shorter stock will shift weight forward as the rear of the gun becomes shorter in proportion to the front.

A 13.7″ stock might well work best with 28″ barrels, rather than 30″. Of course, it is all a matter of your preference for feel. There is no real ballistic difference in those two inches. You would be well advised to at least handle a 28″ gun in that model and form your own opinion.

If you do wish to cut the stock, you might consider that you can add weight back in the rear of the gun by your selection of a recoil pad. The Kickeez brand of solid Sorbothane is the heaviest one on the market. The Terminator brand of “foamed” polymer is one of the lightest. Pachmayrs are in between. Recoil pads are relatively inexpensive compared to the cost of a new gun. A little experimentation could produce the balance you require.

Adding a heavy (or light) recoil pad to balance a gun works if you don’t need too much weight change. It is better than adding a blob of lead as you get some other benefit from the weight. The new recoil pads really do work. If you require a big weight shift, then adding the weight all in one place won’t do it. It will destroy your “moment of inertia”. Weight is always best added throughout the entire stock length or throughout the entire barrel length, rather than just in one place. Still, for a subtle weight change, you can get away it in the stock. Balancing a gun is really rather an art, but properly balancing an gun can pay tremendous dividends by turning clunker into a sweet handling beauty.

One final thought- in my years of shooting I have noticed that more people tend to shoot a stock which is too short for them rather than too long. For some reason, this is especially true in sporting clays. Newer shooters gravitate to shorter stocks because they are easier to handle initially. Later, when their gun handling skills improve, they stay with that short stock. I am not suggesting that this is your case, merely that it is a situation many others have found themselves in. Trust the Technoid, a clay target stock is better a little too long than a little too short. Longer stocks require a cleaner mounting technique, but repay the effort with a more secure mount and less recoil due to a firmer shoulder seating.

Best regards,

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

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New Loads And Psi

Dear Bruce,

I understand that you create some of your own loads (I may be wrong) but you will not distribute the data. I understand. Liability is everything. I’m considering making some of my own. However, what I’d like to know is how to test the Pressure. Is there an outfit that can check this and is it expensive?

By the way, I love your motto. Most of us are so willing with our opinions but can’t accept that our heads must be “in the clouds.” Just for fun you should listen to the “duck hunters” at the sweatlines in CA. They are a hoot!

Of your articles I can’t say that I agree with you, but at least you give a rationale for your opinions. Some of the magazine articles seem to create reality to fit the situation.

Thanks again for the leads on Bismuth reloading and your refreshing views.


Dear Marc,

It pains me to admit that I did indeed “create” some of my own shotshell loads. I was absolutely convinced that I was on the right track until I had a chance to talk to the ballisticians at Federal and Lyman. It was sort of like a shade tree mechanic meeting NASA. Of course, they have to deal with the “corporate factor” of legalities and public sales, where the home brewer only has himself to blame when things erupt or frames stretch.

Over the years the one thing that I have learned is that there are enough published loads out there to cover any need that I may have. The more I shoot, the more I tend to standardize. This makes finding recipes and components easy. It also permits me to practice with the same shells I use in matches or in the field. For example, I load just about everything that I shoot to about 1200 fps. (I buy my steel loads). While the performance of a load of #9s at 1200 and a field load of #5s at 1200 is obviously different, I have gotten used to it. I find that nothing is to be gained by higher speeds that can’t be accomplished by proper pellet size selection. There are exceptions, but not many.

Now as to pressure testing- life has gotten a lot easier in the past ten years since the standard has shifted from LUP (lead units of pressure) to PSI on a piezo-electric pressure sensor. In the old days a special pressure barrel was used that had a hole drilled in the chamber area. A lead plug of an exact size was inserted and the gun fired. The lead plug was compressed by the shell pressure and the amount of compression was carefully measured on a tarage table where it was equated to a pressure curve. This was not back yard stuff.

Today piezo-electric sensors are placed on the chamber area of a standard gun and the resulting stretch in the metal can be easily read. No need for a special test barrel. That’s the good news. The bad news is I don’t know where you get one or get access to one. And I don’t think that it is backyard equipment yet as chronographs have become.

Ballistic Products is well known for carrying leading edge reloading supplies and, as you know, is a great source for bismuth components.

I appreciate your kind comments about the site. As to not agreeing with me all the time, heck, I don’t agree with myself all the time either. If I was always consistent or correct, I would never be learning anything new. The world of shotgunning has undergone some tremendous changes in the past thirty five years and I am just hanging on by my fingernails. But what a ride!

Best regards,

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

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