Choke Chooser™


Choke Chooser™ now available.

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DT11 Anniversary


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Remington Ammo Update


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Cross Dominance


Dear Technoid,

There I was in the pouring rain, trying to do the right thing by the Travelers. After missing 3 left to right 20 yard crossers I realized that there was something wrong. Sooo I closed the left eye and quickly dispatched the remaining circular pitch disks. Well what have we here? It seems that my left eye has decided that it wants to compete for control in the sight picture.

The scene changes to Prado Italy. –
Day One:
Shooting a five stand with a borrowed Beretta O/U. Six of the machines of the eight are from the left. Miss, miss, miss.
Day Two:
Transparent tape on the left lens and the Italians come over to congratulate their new hero.

What do I do now?

  1. Relearn the site picture with the stronger left eye and keep my glasses clear?
  2. Put a diffuser on the left lens forcing my normally dominant right eye to do its job
  3. Say to myself “Think Right” ?

Help,
J

Dear J,

Cross dominance (no, not the kind with whips and rubber aprons) is a problem for about 15% of shooters. There are sorts of fixes. I am sure that one will work for you. One thing that you cannot do is “learn” the sight picture with new dominant left eye while you still shoot from the right shoulder. Unless your master eye is over the rib, your apparent leads will vary depending whether the bird is coming from the left or right. You cannot have that and stay sane for very long.

The whole idea of a cross dominance fix is to force your right eye to be dominant. The usual method is simply to weaken or obstruct the vision of the left eye.

If possible, you would like to continue to use binocular vision (both eyes) as that is what gives you your depth perception. Depth perception does not mean too much in trap and skeet where distances are well known, but it is helpful in sporting and 5-Stand. It’s loss is not insurmountable though as you do get to view the targets (with both eyes open) before shooting them.

The usual approaches to cross dominance are:

1) Switch shooting sides. If you are shooting right handed and the left eye is dominant, become a left handed shooter. This is usually the best approach with a new shooter, but is a very difficult adjustment for a seasoned shooter like yourself. If you go this route, just make sure that you really are left eye dominant and strongly so. All cross dominance is not strong. It can go back and forth with fatigue, age, injury or disease.

2) Blink down. Here you simply keep both eyes open as you raise the gun and close the off eye as the gun touches your cheek. This gives you some of the advantages of binocular vision, but the final stage of one eyed shooting. Some shooters find that this makes the target “jump” when they blink down.

3) Occlude the off master eye. Here you simply block or dim the vision in the off eye. You can use a darker shooting lens, a bit of frosted cellophane tape, a paper dot or any such thing. I like the dot because it allows you to use off eye peripheral vision.

When placing the dot, mount the EMPTY gun a la trap shooting. Have someone place the dot on your off eye lens just so that it obscures your vision of the front bead. The dot really doesn’t need to be bigger than 3/8″.

4) Lastly, you might consider eye exercises. There are a bunch of vision improvement tapes out on the market and they work for some.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid
(Your Tarzan of Technical Topics)

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Polychokes, Good Or Bad?


Dear Technoid:

The idea behind the polychoke seems inspired: why mess around with interchangeable chokes, when a twist of the wrist will do. I know two outstanding shooters who use them, and yet I have never read a review that didn’t either damn them with faint praise, or imply that somehow it is terribly unchic to use them. What gives?

Henry

Dear Henry,

In 1990 I lucked out and beat 240 other hopefuls (Including Andy Duffy and Charles Schneible) to win the Connecticut State Sporting Clays Championship. I used a Remington 1100 with a Polychoke. Since then Andy and Charles have turned professional (and progressed out of my league) and I switched to the more reliable Beretta 303 gas gun with standard screw chokes, but the Polychoke still has a warm place in my heart.

No damning the Polychoke with faint praise here. It was absolutely great. Each click was EXACTLY .005″ on my gun. I used it on a plain barrel, not vent rib, to keep the weight down. I also was using the caged model which, in theory, might have reduced a touch of recoil- tough to tell with the soft shooting gas pipes.

Funny thing. After winning a big shoot like that, I thought that everyone and his brother would ask me about that Polychoke. No one did. Not a soul. It was sort of like a fart at a dinner party. Everyone knows that it happened, but no one wants to comment on it. At that time you could not have gotten a sporting clays shooter to use a gas gun for love or money, much less with a Polychoke on it.

I have had Polychokes on three or four guns ranging from that 1100 to an 870 and a Model 12. The device has always worked well for me and, after a bit of testing settings at the pattern board, has thrown the entire range of patterns from cylinder bore to full. I have never worn one out or broken a collet. The Polychoke is not as popular now as it once was simply because most new guns now come with screw chokes. The instant choke selection of the Polychoke, particularily valuable in sporting clays and certain hunting situations, has been overlooked.

There are only three possible problems with the device. The first is that it might not be properly installed (put on straight).

The second problem is that installation of a Polychoke on a “collectible” like a Model 12 Winchester will absolutely kill its resale value.

The third problem is that some people object to the way that the Polychoke slightly intrudes into the line of sight. If you are an “aimer”, this could be a problem. Then again, if you are an aimer you already know that you have problems. If you concentrate on the target as you should, you will barely notice it. In fact, I found that the Polychoke kept me from aiming and thus stopping my swing.

Yes, sir. No faint praise for the Polychoke here. I loved them.

Best regards,

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

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The Classic Cutts Compensator


Dear Great Technoid,

Perhaps in your vast, intricate knowledge of the eternal abyss of the shotgun Netherworld you could answer . . .

When / why did the Cutts become popular, aside from the obvious of one barrel, multiple chokes? When and why did it fall into disfavor, anything to do with plastic shot cups? Any particularly strong negatives about hunting/shooting with one? So many older A-5 seem to be Cutts equipped!

The other answers to everything in the universe can wait . . .

Ciao,

Randy

Dear Randy,

Stand back. The Volcano of Knowledge is about to start spewing.

I have a lot of experience with the Cutts Compensator (conjured up by a Colonel or Major Cutts of the US Army). The devise was originally used to tame recoil on artillery field pieces and later on the famous Tommy gun. It was the first of the really successful muzzle brakes.

The Cutts Compensator was absolutely de rigour for American skeet in the ’40s and ’50s when the A-5 and early Remingtons were popular. The adjustable choke feature was not its attraction at skeet as the Cutts “skeet” choke generally employed was well over cylinder bore. I believe it was popular for a whole bunch of reasons:

1) it added a bit of barrel weight to help swing.

2) it really did reduce recoil by a modest, but noticeable, amount

3) it was supposed to allow the shot and the fiber wads (then in use) to separate so that the wad would not punch through the shot cloud and produce the dreaded (and largely fictitious) “doughnut” pattern.

4) it was also supposed to return back into the pattern the shot that had been scrubbed flat along the barrel walls. With felt wads, the pellets scrubbed by the walls were supposed to spread out away from the main shot column inside the plenum chamber, only to be nudged back into the pattern by the annular ring of the choke. This also was supposed to elongate the shotstring- a desirable feature at skeet distances, though not further out.

5) the big blob up front kept some shooters from “aiming” at the bird.

6) it made a nice, satisfying Fourth of July bang.

The famous Russian “Tula” choke (named after the Tula arsenal in the Soviet Union) was reputed to have been derived from the Cutts. It is said that in the ’50s the US Air Force skeet team dominated an international skeet match in Scandinavia. They were all using Browning A-5 autos with Cutts. After the match the Russian coach came over and offered to buy, for a large sum, the winning American’s gun. It was sold and a few minutes later the gun was returned- minus the Cutts and the front half of the barrel. Shortly thereafter the Russian Baikal MU-8s appeared in the hands of the future Russian world champion Yuri Tsuranov with the familiar “Jug” or Tula choke that Perazzi, SKB and Krieghoff have since copied.

I have owned a Winchester Model 12, Remington 870 and 1100 with Cutts Compensators installed. I have also shot a bunch of 1100s with the Kolar Comp (copy of the Cutts) installed. I found that the Cutts definitely reduced recoil and obviously added some weight up front (they came in steel and lighter aluminum versions). I never really minded having that big blob in my sight picture at skeet (I also prefer the Browning Broadway rib to the narrower ones for skeet). With plastic shells, I could see no difference in the pattern from a standard cylinder bore with a slight funnel bevel (a la Beretta skeet chokes of the ’70s).

As an aside (most of that the Technoid says is an aside anyway), I did some extensive pattern testing with Perazzi and Krieghoff jug choke guns comparing the fiber wad Federal International Skeet loads of the early ’80s to the plastic wad Federal skeet loads. I got the best patterns in the jug choke guns from the plastic wad shells. So much for the theory of the jug choke optimizing with felt wad cartridges. Those jug chokes do build up plastic though.)

I have no strong negatives at all about hunting/shooting with a Cutts if you do not mind the balance shift forward and can keep the twigs and briars out of the slots. I am pretty sure that Lyman still makes them as Brownells (tel: 515-623-5401) carries them in both 12 and 20. They carry the choke tubes too.

There it is. More than you EVER wanted to know about the Cutts Compensator.

Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid

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Cold Weather Reloads


Dear Technoid:

I have just started shooting trap on a regular basis (nearly every Thursday night since March) and have also started to reload (1000 rounds every 3 months since April). Must be some sort of connection here) Well, I am due to purchase another batch of components and was wondering about the effects of cold weather on my reloads. Are there any wads or other components to avoid in cold weather? Should I be making “hotter” loads for the winter?

I have started my reloading by making 2-3/4 dram equivalent loads. I have tried Winchester WST, Hodgdon Clays, International Clays and Universal Clays powder and am planning on trying Alliant Red and Green Dot on this next 1000. The wads I have used so far are the Winchester WAA12 copies by Claybusters and Western. I have only used Winchester 209 primers. Shot has been 7-1/2 chilled lead by various manufacturers.

BTW, I shoot a Remington 1100 in the trap setup and have noticed no real difference in felt recoil between the various reloads I have made thus far. I also have not noticed any difference in cleaning. This “clean burning powder” rap seems to be a lot of hooey.

Thanks in advance for your input.

tj

Dear tj,

In my clay target loads I prefer the faster burning powders, like Hodgdon Clays, Alliant Red Dot and IMR 700X. Many people feel that a slightly slower powder like Alliant Green Dot gives patterns of a bit more density. LIke you, I cannot really tell any definite difference in recoil between one brand of powder and another when all are loaded to the same muzzle velocity. Winchester Super Lite may seem slightly smoother to me, but it does not to some others.

I notice that you are still experimenting with various brands of powder. That probably means that you are buying them by the pound. Once you settle on one powder, buy it in the largest container you can afford. You will save a ton of money.

I do notice a big difference in cleanliness when using the single base powders like Hodgdon Clays. Normally, I also think that the barrel residue issue is a bunch of hooey. Sure, some powders leave more residue than others, but so what? In an O/U it really doesn’t matter and is just marketing hype, BUT in your 1100 gas gun less residue will mean a longer time between cleanings and a bit more reliability. All other things being equal, pick the cleaner burning powder for gas guns. Hooey is as hooey does.

Shells do lose a bit of velocity when they are cold, but there is cold and then there is COLD. If you leave your shells in the trunk of your car over night in sub-zero weather and then shoot them, you will notice that they have lost a bit of zip. If you keep your shells in the club house or passenger compartment of the car where it is much warmer, you will notice little change. Personally, in warm weather I shoot 2 3/4 dram shells (1150 fps) and in winter I up it to 3 dram equivalent (1200 fps).

The biggest difference that I have found in winter shooting has been in wad obturation. When cold, some of the “off brand” wads just do not seal correctly because they are made out of recycled polyethylene of an uncertain mix. During the winter, stick to major manufacturers’ brands. I have also had good luck with Clay Buster brand replacement wads in the winter. They may be replacement wads, but they are high volume producers and use virgin polyethylene.

One thing that I recommend is that I always use the highest antimony shot that I can obtain- especially for trap. I agree with you in going to #7 1/2s for winter trap (cold targets are harder to break than warm ones), but I very much disagree with the use of “chilled” shot for long trap shots, especially handicap. “Chilled” shot is the industry code word for low antimony. “Magnum” shot is the code word for higher antimony. Antimony is the main hardening agent used in making lead shot. It costs about five times as much per pound as lead, so the makers charge you more. The difference in antimony content of trap size shot is usually 2% vs 6%, though there is nothing to guarantee that since they are careful not to list the percentage content of that expensive hardening agent. I strongly recommend that you pay extra and get the “magnum” shot. Your patterns can improve as much as 10% and it only costs about 1/2 cent extra per shell.

Enjoy your cold weather shooting. Bundle up and smoke dem birdies!

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid

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Shoot Clays With A Game Gun?


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Golfers Lead Tape


Dear Technoid,

In your reply to the question about adding weight to the barrels of an O/U I was surprised to hear that you hadn’t found a way to add the weight along the entire length.

Have you tried lead tape? This is 1/2-inch wide lead foil with a sticky back. I get it from a Dynacraft, a golf club component supplier. It’s used to alter club head weight.

It’s thin enough and narrow enough that you could stick it on the side ribs full length. I think it weighs less than 2 grams per inch.

If you put it all on the off side of the barrels, you wouldn’t even be able to see it when the gun was mounted. Of course anybody to your left could, but what the heck.

Ken M.

Dear Ken,

Golfer’s lead tape for clubs! That is a great idea and I wish that I had thought of it. I obtained some today. The stuff I got came in 3 gram pieces, each one about 2″ by 1/4″ or so with stickum on one side. Each package had 8 pieces for a total weight just shy of one ounce. The adhesive seems quite aggressive and adheres well to degreased steel. We will see how long it hangs on. The tape is quite thin and molds well to a place between the ribs under the forearm. One ounce of additional weight is quite noticeable, two ounces is very much so.

Naturally, putting the tape under the forearm is not completely ideal from the point of view of moment of inertia, but cosmetically it is perfect. Clearly the tape could be stuck all along the sides of the barrel if you did not mind the look. Then weight distribution would be perfect.

Good idea. Thanks for the suggestion.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid

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Foot Position Importance


Dear Technoid,

In case you think your advice is “cast to the winds” I thought I would update you on our recent exchange. I queried you about two topics, one being barrel length and lead and the other on a flinch/lurch problem I have developed. Your answers were appreciated and your advice on foot position was heeded with appreciation.

I believed (beforehand) that I was paying attention to foot position. After our correspondence I purposely pointed the left foot at the perceived target break point and talked to myself about “gipping” (this is what a friend has named the condition).

Either the foot position or new concentration has paid dividends as I am doing it less and scores have improved (81 x 100 last weekend on a semi-hard course). On some targets the foot position improvement was very obvious in the result (broken target) and I thank you for your help.

Keep up the good work!!!
Bob

Bob,

Thanks for the kind words. I always try to include a nugget of truth amid my usual bovine remnants. 81 is a great score. At our Connecticut Traveler’s shoot this past weekend, we had 95 seasoned shooters, ideal shooting conditions and only two scores in the 80s. You would have been a hero.

For my particular shooting style (I am right handed), I find that pointing my left foot at the breaking point has me a bit too “open” for left to right crossers. For those birds, I would point my left foot a bit more to the right of where I intend to break the bird. The goal is have a foot placement that is comfortable for the follow through, not just at the point of firing. I know, it shouldn’t matter, but it really does. Good follow through is probably THE most important component in delivering an accurate shot at a moving target.

I also shoot with both knees very slightly flexed and my weight centrally located (NOT on my front foot) to start. As I move with the bird, I then shift my weight into it. If you start with most of your weight on your front foot you will still shift our weight forward and end up shooting while standing on one leg. Watch the heel on the rear foot of some shooters. It is completely off the ground. It is tough to shoot from one foot or when standing on your toes. With both feet firmly on the ground you can drive into the bird better. If your body cannot pivot with the target you will be forced to arm shoot the birds and that will inevitably cause the gun to come off your face sooner or later.

The main job of the arms is to lock the gun into the face. The main job of the body at the waist and knees is to provide vertical and lateral movement for the gun platform. Once the gun is in place, there really should be no further movement from the middle of the chest up. This is why it is so important to get the initial foot position and subsequent body movement correct.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid

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More On Plated Shot


Dear Technoid,

There have been a couple of recent questions that involved nickel shot. Which is what prompts this question. I know that some of the manufacturers use copper and nickel plated shot, primarily for long range shells. My question is; has the technoid done any long range patterning with copper and or nickel plated shot? Is it worth the extra money? Is nickel, as I’ve read elsewhere, really better than copper?

Thanks in advance, and keep up the good work. Your site is by FAR the best source of information to shotgunners.

Mark

Dear Mark,

Is plated shot better than unplated shot? If so, how much better (it costs over twice as much)?

I do not know from extensive personal experience. I have patterned 3 1/4 dram 1 1/4oz nickel plated #7 1/2 factory pigeon loads, one brand against another, but I have not patterned ordinary trap loads with and without nickel shot. That would be the real test.

I have recently obtained some nickel shot for just this purpose as I want to develop some FITASC long distance loads for later in the spring. When I do test, I will be sure to put it in as a FAQ in Shotgun Report.

The reason that plated shot is supposed to work better than unplated shot has nothing to do with hardness of the coating. It has to do with the plated shot’s superior ability to slither around in the shot column as it goes down the barrel and through the choke. The ability to slide around in the shot column helps it to avoid crushing to a greater extent than non-plated shot. This means more round pellets out of the barrel and thus better patterns.

Another reason that plated shot works better (by reputation) is that because the plating process is so expensive, the manufacturers only bother to plate the hardest possible shot to begin with. You are starting with a high antimony shot.

Pigeon and International Trap shooters just about always shoot nickel plated shot when they can afford it. In these games, the cost is considered secondary. I do not know if ATA (American rules) trap permits plated shot. I doubt it as I am sure that everyone would use it from the 27 yard line if they could.

Copper or nickel? Most of the target loads are nickel plated, most of the hunting loads are copper plated. Under a high powered magnifying glass, the nickel coated pellets are clearly smoother than the copper ones. I think that hunting loads use copper because it is more traditional (copper coating was made famous by the original Winchester “Lubaloy” shot- long before nickel coated pellets were used) and also because it is cheaper to make.

I have used a good bit of copper #4s on long range pheasant and do not really like them. The pellets “grease” right through the bird and do not seem to deliver as much impact as standard lead #4s. More of the standard lead #4s stop inside the bird and are surrounded by a little ball of grey feathers. The fewer copper pellets that I find inside the bird are clean. I cannot really tell whether the copper pellets give me better patterns or not. The normal lead pellets appear to give a better knock down in real life situations.

Once again, the Technoid has gone on at length after he admitted knowing very little about the question. Don’t you just love it. Well, OK, but is was free.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid

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