Choke Chooser™

Choke Chooser™ now available.

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Hartmann’s Hints: Damaged Shotguns

Source: Hartmann’s Hints: Damaged Shotguns

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Question of the Week: Ammo Shipping and Supply

Source: Question of the Week: Ammo Shipping and Supply

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Mixed Team Bronze For Garrison & Reynolds | USA Shooting

Source: Mixed Team Bronze For Garrison & Reynolds | USA Shooting

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Faith is Golden: Pendergrass Claims Trap Gold at Junior World Cup | USA Shooting

Source: Faith is Golden: Pendergrass Claims Trap Gold at Junior World Cup | USA Shooting

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Beretta Ultralight

Dear Technoid:

Here’s another “which gun should I buy” question.

I am addicted to quail hunting. I usually try to hunt 50+ days a season and don’t have any problem killing them. I shoot a Remington 1100 12 gauge with a 26 inch barrel and Imp. Cyl. choke. Recently I have decided to buy a new gun. My gun is so heavy that sometimes my neck will hurt for hours after a day’s hunt, therefore I want to get the best, lightest gun available.

I have “shopped around” for some time and tentatively decided to purchase a Beretta Ultralight. Most of the ads I see for these guns only show a 28″ barrel. Additionally I was reading your reply to a similar question and you mentioned that for an upland hunter the 28″ was best. Why? I’m no gun expert and simply thought since I’m used to a 26″ barrel, my new gun ought to be a 26 also (not considering the differences between O/U and semi-auto guns). Additionally, I would appreciate any other suggestions you might have.


Dear Mack,

First of all, some nuts and bolts: It would make my life much easier if you would set your Email up so that someone can respond by just hitting “reply” and not being forced to cut and past your address. Normally, if I have to cut and paste the return address, I don’t bother to answer as I have so much other mail and not all that much time to spend on it. BUT since you hunt quail 50 days a year, I figure that you are a pretty sick puppy and need all the help that my semi-wise advice can give you so I’ll make this exception.

The Beretta Ultralight is a heck of a gun, though I preferred the earlier version with the dark anodized receiver. How can a nation that gave us the Sistine ceiling have such poor taste in production line gun decoration. At any rate, mechanically the Beretta Ultralight is a winner. It combines the light weight of a 20 with the ability to shoot any sane load. I have handled and shot the guns and they are surprisingly well balanced. Of course, nothing comes for free and light weight 12s are natural born kickers. You may well find that you prefer shooting one oz loads after a while.

As to 26″ vs 28″, the Beretta catalogue shows that both are available, but you never know from Beretta. Just because it is in the catalogue doesn’t mean a thing when it comes to availability. Consistency is a some time thing with them. The Ultralight I shot was 28″ and it balanced perfectly for my taste. Whether or not the 26″ barrel model would feel as good is simply conjecture as I haven’t tried one. Usually very light guns can benefit form a little extra barrel length to smooth them out. Considering that the major part of the weight loss on the Ultralight came from the aluminum receiver, I anticipated that the gun would be nose heavy because it retained the standard steel barrels. This wasn’t the case and the 28″ version balanced properly, so they must have pulled weight off the gun equally all over. Good job, Beretta.

I don’t remember saying that 26″ wasn’t a good upland barrel length (of course, I don’t remember where I live sometimes too). It really depends on the particular gun. I have a 26-1/2″ barreled Belgian Superlight that is perfectly balanced for upland close work. I have also handled one or two 30″ SxS English guns that wouldn’t have been too bad for close stuff. It just depends on what things weigh and how the weight is distributed. As a rule of thumb though, 28″ in a fixed breech gun makes a nice general upland gun compromise with a balance adequate for short grouse shots and long pheasant shots.

You might find that the 28″ model will seem closer to your 26″ 1100 than the shorter barreled Ultralight would. The semi-autos have about an extra 3-1/2″ of receiver when compared to the O/Us. The 28″ Ultralight will actually be about 1-1/2″ shorter than your 1100.

One of the biggest (and nicest) differences that you are going to find when switching from a semi-auto to an O/U is the tang safety. I have never been as comfortable with trigger guard safeties as I am with tang ones, especially since I usually hunt grouse and pheasant behind flushers. If your quail hunting is behind staunch pointers, then I guess that it doesn’t matter as much.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid

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Smith, Ahlin, Rhode & Elliott Add to Raise The Flag Performances at Shotgun World Championships | USA Shooting

Source: Smith, Ahlin, Rhode & Elliott Add to Raise The Flag Performances at Shotgun World Championships | USA Shooting

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7/8 vs 1-1/8

Dear Bruce,

I am confused about something. Can you explain to me, once and for all, whether or not a shot charge of 7/8 ounce will break a clay target, specifically a skeet target, better than a full 1 1/8th load of shot? In other words, is their some proof that can substantiate the reason why the International Trap and Skeet scores went up after mandating a lighter shot charge?

I have read some of that technical stuff in the archives about it, but am still unclear.

I always thought the more lead you can put in the air, the greater your chances were to break the bird.

I would appreciate your input on this. Also, thanks for adding some of my questions to your site.


Dear Greg,

More barnyard effluent has been written about the “improvement” of scores using 7/8 oz loads than you can shake the back end of a cow at. Naturally, I would like to add another layers to the corral.

More is always better UNLESS you can’t take the recoil. You can Trust The Technoid on this one. Look at it this way- there is a 7/8 oz load riding on top of every 1-1/8 oz shot column. That extra 1/4 oz of shot has to go somewhere. Most of it will go into the pattern. Even if the last 1/4 oz of shot isn’t as efficient as the first 1/4 oz,

Yes, some Olympic discipline scores went up with the 24 gram (a tiny bit under 7/8 oz) loads, but not at first. At first they went down, except for bunker where they lowered the speed and distance to make up for the smaller shell. Skeet scores are now back up to what they were with the old 28 gram (one oz) loads.

Does that mean that the 24 gram loads are better? Not hardly. Olympic athletes get better every year. Shooters are no exception. Scores with the old 1-1/8 oz loads got better each year, so International Skeet had to change the rules and add more doubles to toughen the game up. The philosophy behind Olympic skeet as an elite sport is very much different that it is in our domestic skeet game.

If people run faster and throw farther in each Olympics, why on earth shouldn’t the natural progression be to also shoot better? Gotta be. Going down in shot size did slow the progression down a bit, but now talented athletes have overcome the smaller shell and scores are back up.

Remember, the 28 gram one oz shell and the 24 gram 7/8 oz shell were around when it was legal to shoot 32 gram 1-1/8 oz loads, but no one used them in preference to the heavier loads. I will absolutely guarantee you that every national team of consequence tried them out to see if there was any advantage. Everyone, and I mean everyone of Olympic caliber, ended up shooting the largets shell that the law allowed.

On reason that scores with the small shells are not tremendously less than they are with the big shells for some people is that most people can’t handle recoil. If someone is sensitive enough to recoil, they may actually shoot 7/8 better than 1-1/8. This doesn’t mean that the 7/8 oz load is better (it isn’t), just that the person shoots it better. There is an important difference. Switching to a soft kicking gas gun lets you have your cake and eat it too.

Like a lot of “facts” and “statistics”, you have to look behind the scenes to understand what is really happening. Higher scores happen in spite of smaller shells, not because of them.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid

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