High Shooting Trap Gun

Dear Mr. Technoid

I purchased a new bt-100 about 10 months ago. My scores went from 18ish to 22ish a number I am happy about. However I patterned the gun about 3 months ago and with 3 shots on each sheet there are no more than 10 pellet holes below the horizontal line drawn through the bullseye I shot from about 15-16 yds using a full choke.

Should I be compensating for the high gun or is there something that should be done to the gun oooorrrr should I leave well enough alone and just practice.

Thank You for your time.

Dear Kevin,

Well, I just dunno. It all depends. Do your patterning at the distance at which you will be shooting the bird. If you are a 16 yard shooter of average speed, that will be around 32 to 34 yards. That will give you a real idea of how your gun is patterning in practical terms.

Let’s say it runs half a pattern high. Is that too high? It depends on what you want. Trap birds are always rising at the distance at which they are shot. A high shooting gun is an advantage. I set my gun up to be flat shooting because I use the same gun at sporting clays and skeet as well as trap. The advantage is that I get to use one gun for all the games. The disadvantage is that I have to cover a rising trap target and thus don’t see it as clearly as someone who has set his gun to shoot high and can hold slightly under the bird. It is all a compromise. With a single barrel gun, there shouldn’t be much of a compromise because you can’t shoot anything except trap with that gun. It might as well be set up optimally for trap and that means shooting a bit high.

So, a little high is good. How high is high enough is up to you and the way you shoot. Naturally, you don’t want it TOO high, but after a while you will be able to judge your breaks and tell where you pattern is hitting the bird. If you can’t see this, then ask a friend to stand behind you and watch the breaks. After a while he will be able to see if you are hitting them on the bottom, top or middle of the target. If your gun has screw chokes, use the tightest choke when doing this testing. It will show how the bird is breaking more clearly than an open one.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
The Technoid at <www.ShotgunReport.com>
(Often in error, never in doubt.)

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Shot Size


Having grown up with a 20 ga. Win. M 12 I like 20 ga. guns, except where 12 ga. is obviously needed, such as duck hunting with steel shot.

When shooting a 20 ga. O/U marked IC/M that throws about that based on my nonrigorous patterning I am wondering which shot size is indicated as the best bet according to the prognostications of Herr Gauss.

Patterns will be inevitably thin down range, there is no getting around this. Over the years, on game and clays, I have switched around, indecisively, between shot sizes. Sometimes I use #7.5 or #6 (if it is not a registered shoot I feel free to use whatever I might use in the field; after all that is what Sporting Clays was supposed to be all about) for dove and clays (sporting, skeet) thinking that I want a kill with a one-pellet hit.

Other times I may use #8 or even #9 thinking that filling in the pattern may be best. Then I think, “Why is 3 or 5 small pellets bouncing off the target better?” To confuse matters further I enjoyed reasonable success using #4 shot in 3″ .410 bore (M 42 & Fox SxS) on dove and quail; I knew I could not depend on the pattern, only the “Golden BB”.

Now that my Federal brochure lists Gold Medal 20 ga. sporting loads in #8 and #8.5 only and 28 ga. and .410 bore in #8.5 only I am doubly confused. Apparently Federal does not abide the Golden BB Rule and feels that patterns must be fleshed out to help insure multiple hits. If this were some other ammo maker I would not be bothered, but Federal’s Gold Medal brand stuff is legendary not only for quality control but for the science and engineering behind the product specification.

What is the Technoid’s opinion?


Dear Jay,

Well, I dunno. Gaussian distribution and the bell shaped curve don’t really care about pellet selection. All pellet sizes follow the same laws of distribution. Pellet selection is as much personal preference as anything else. Here’s a story:

I was down in the Cauca Valley of Colombia some time ago shooting dove. This was when they still had LOTS of dove and hadn’t changed crops. At times the dove were really high and I was shooting to #7-1/2s. I was getting a lot of “gliders”, birds that were hit but glided for a good distance. They didn’t fall right down they way they should.

At lunch I asked one of the other shooters whom I had seen shooting really well. He was taking dove at awesome heights. He said that he used #9s exclusively. He had been making this trip three times a year for quite a number of years and had experimented. His conclusion was that #9s worked best because the dove was a very “soft” bird, but also had a small vital zone. It was more important to get one small pellet into exactly the right place than a big pellet in the wrong place. The far greater pellet count of the #9s gave him a better chance of doing this.

Since shooting several cases of ammo per day was no problem with so many birds, I experimented with a case of #9s and found that he was exactly right. In spite of shooting at considerable heights (shots I had been passing up the first day), I killed more birds and I had a far larger percentage of dead in the air birds.

Today when I shoot #9s in American dove fields, people look at me as though I were crazy. They all want #7-1/2s or even #6s because the birds seem so far away. Dove always look farther away than they are. I stick with the #9s and have not been disappointed. The smaller the gauge, the more attractive the #9s are for dove because pellet count increases in importance as shot load decreases.

However, it all depends on the bird. On ruffed grouse (my favorite game bird), I use #7-1/2 in my open first barrel and #6 in my second barrel. I do this in 20 gauge or 12. Over the years I have found that this is the combination that works best for me and provides less work for the dog.

With pheasant, it is #5s and occasionally #4s. I was shooting at a FITASC parcour one day and shared the squad with an excellent shooter whom I had not met before. We got to talking and I commented on how much I admired his shooting, but also on the fact that I hadn’t seen him around. He said that he mostly went around the country shooting for springer trials and didn’t shoot many clays. Springer trials generally use pheasants and those dog handlers want that bird to fly a bit to show the dog off and then dropped DEAD for an easier retrieve. He said that he shot 1500 to 2000 pheasant a year. His Perazzi was choked Improved Modified and Full and the shell he and the other trials guns used was a Federal #5. If Federal #5s can reliably stone a departing pheasant at 35-40 yards, then that is the shell for me. This springer trial stuff is serious work and there is a lot of pressure on the guns to perform well. If there were a better shell than the best Federal #5s, they would use it.

The bottom line is that different birds can take very different shells. On clay targets, I switch around a good bit too, but if I were limited to only one pellet, I would take #7-1/2 in 12 and 20, #8 in 28 and 410. I am not a big fan of #8-1/2s for longer shots.

When we shoot sub-gauge sporting, we do so on a standard sporting course, not on some little dinky one with skeet shots. We equalize the little guns by giving them a handicap that we have worked out over the years. Everyone knows what a 410 can do on a 20 yard skeet bird, but you might be surprised what they can do at 35 yards with the right pellets. Like you, I shoot an old Winchester M42 in 410. When the moon is in the right phase and my biorythms are in sync, it can do surprising things at distance with #8s.

I reload all my sub-gauge ammo and shoot mostly factory shells in the 12. Reloading the sub-gauge makes sense in two areas.

1) I can get any size pellet I want and

2) you save a ton of money.

It costs less than $5/box to reload 28s and 410s, but they cost close to $12/box new. If you reload sub-gauge, it means that your round of 25 clay targets is pretty much free compared to buying the ammo. Modern reloaders are so good that you really can load quickly. I like the MEC Grabbers in 28 and 410 and can easily load 15 boxes per hour and probably 20 if we bet a beer on it. Besides, if you had your own reloader, you could experiment with all the different shot sizes. You can usually get high antimony #8-1/2s if you order them from your shot dealer. A lot of the skeet guys like them for doubles and I have seen more than one 16 yard trap shooter use them.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
The Technoid at <www.ShotgunReport.com>
(Often in error, never in doubt.)

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Same Citori

A question on Browning sporting clay shotguns. Browning made a GTI for a number of years then discontinued manufacturing this model. They now make a 725 sporting clay. What is the difference between the 725 and the GTI ? Why did they discontinue making the GTI ? I have an opportunity to purchase a GTI but do not know much about this gun.

Thanks for your help.

Dear Terry,

All 12 gauge Browning Citoris are basically the same. The only difference from one model to another is the wood configuration, barrel length, ribs and receiver decoration. There are some other running production changes in barrel thickness and monobloc construction too. Older guns like the original red letter GTIs had the short Browning Invector chokes.

I have no idea why Browning discontinued the GTI, but it probably had something to do with the trend in ladies’ hem lines. It is all really just fashion and the desire to have a new product to market. Personally, I always thought that the red letter GTI was one of the best feeling guns that they made, but I also like the 325, 425 and some of the later Ultras. It just depends on what you like. Under the skin, they are all the same strong, durable Citori.

If you like the feel of the GTI and have a chance to buy one in good condition for a fair price, I wouldn’t hesitate.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
The Technoid at <www.ShotgunReport.com>
(Often in error, never in doubt.)

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Which Choke?

Hi Bruce,

I have a Browning 725 O/U sporting ,12 ga.,with Invector DS chokes. I’ve been shooting sporting clays for almost a year now.Been reading all the stuff on different loads ,and chokes so I did some testing and what I found surprised me. I tested quality target loads,Challenger #8, Rem.Gun Club #8 and WAA #7.5 Tracker all 1 1/8 oz. I tested Mod. I.Mod. and Full chokes,four shots each at 40 yards and 30″circle .The best was the Challenger at 60%,WAA at 55% with Full choke,and I did count all the pellets in each shell so I think it,s accurate. I even measured a 27″ circle still same percentage.What I’ve read is doesn’t matter whats stamped on the choke it’how it patterns. So my question is should I be looking at getting a Ex.full choke or living with what I’ve got. Really enjoy reading all your stuff,keepup the good work,

thanks, Phil


I’m not familiar with the Challenger or AA Tracker shells. The former are Canadian-made and the latter are designed with a special wad to permit (in theory) observance of pattern placement in the air. I have no idea of the patterning qualities of these shells.

I am familiar with Remington Gun Club shells. They have softer shot than the STS, so will pattern 5% or or even a little more open in my experience. I’d be interested in seeing what your chokes do with STS shells or the better quality Federal target loads. Remember, the shell has as much to do with the density of the pattern as does the choke.

60% is the benchmark Modified pattern for 40 yards and a 30″ circle. 65% for ImpMod, 70% for Full.

In 12 gauge a typical Mod choke has about .020″ constriction. ImpMod is around .025″ to .030″ and Full is often .035″. But recent Browning chokes have tended measure more open than usual. When I reviewed the 725 Sporting for my column in Shooting Sportsman Magazine, my sample gun had a .740″ overbore barrel bore. But the surprising thing was the choke dimensions: “Five chokes are included with the 725 Sporting. With their constrictions, they are: Skeet, minus .003”; Improved Cylinder, .002”; Modified, .006”; Improved Modified, .014” and Full, .039”. With the exception of the Full, these are extremely open constrictions for their designations.”

An ImpMod choke that measures like a Light Mod can’t be expected to hold a tight pattern. That said, the Full choke of .039″ constriction is certainly up to snuff and should perform normally. Also remember that choke constriction and shell quality may be the major influences on pattern density, but forcing cones, barrel bores, gap where the choke seats to the barrel and some other small things also influence patterns.

Bottom line: Try using higher quality shells to see how much that helps. And do remember, in sporting clays a true Modified pattern of 60% should be able to deal with just about anything. Andy Duffy once told he that he won one of his National Championships with a Light Mod choke that he never changed during the event.

Best regards,
Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid

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Hardware: Stoeger P3000

The Stoeger P3000 delivers a tough-as-nails, reliable scattergun solution that you should be able to find with a shelf price in the mid-$200 range.

Source: Hardware: Stoeger P3000

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Tula Chokes

Dear Technoid,

Do you have any information regarding the tula choke, ie. where & who developed this design. I have a Perazzi which I believe has this configuration.

Thank you.


Dear HK,

I don’t know how absolutely right I am, but I can give you the story as I heard it. In the ’50s the US team was shooting an International Skeet match in Scandinavia. At that time it was mostly Air Force guys and some of them used the Browning A5 with a Cutts compensator. At the end of the match, which one of the US guys with an A5 won, a Russian came over and offered to buy the A5. His price was so good that the service man couldn’t turn it down. An hour later the Russian came back and gave the American back the gun, less the front 10″ of the barrel, including the Cutts. He said he didn’t need the rest.

Some time thereafter, the Russians produced jug chokes on their Baikal MU-6 and MU-8 International Skeet guns. Yuri Tsuranov and Evgenie Petrov used them to dominate IntSk during the ’70s. Perazzi and Krieghoff were quick to follow with their versions of the jug choke. The name “Tula” choke comes from the Russian arsenal of that name where it was thought that the development work was done.

The theory behind the Tula/jug/Cutts is all the same. Shot goes down the barrel bore until it enters the plenum chamber. The pellets on the outside which have been scrubbed and damaged by the walls of the bore start to separate out in this plenum chamber (remember, this was built for fiber wads). The shot column then enters a choke (larger than bore diameter, but smaller than plenum chamber diameter, and the scrubbed and damaged shot is vectored back into the shot column.

The jug choke also adds some shot stringing to the equation by slightly retarding the outer pellets. Due to the close range and high pellet count of a 32 gram skeet load of #9s (the current ISU load is 24 grams) a bit of stringing on the crossing targets works to your advantage.

What surprised me about the jug choke on my Perazzi Comp I was that it performed better with a plastic wad shell than it did with a fiber wad one. I had the special Federal T-123 fiberwad master blaster IntSk loads and tested them against the standard Federal paper 3 dram skeet load. The gun gave me bigger and better patterns with the plastic wad. Perhaps the jug choke acted to retard the wad slightly and separate it from the column in some way. My Perazzis had little gill slits cut by the factory in the choke area. They were supposed to reduce recoil, but didn’t do any more good than porting does today. Perhaps they helped vent pressure and retard the wad.

I also had some Krieghoffs- one with a jug choke and one with standard Krieghoff skeet chokes. The barrel with the standard chokes outperformed the jug choke barrel with every shell I tried in it. Other IntSk shooters have been very pleased with the jug chokes in the K-80, so perhaps my experiments had different variables- or they didn’t have a second standard choke barrel to test against.

Bottom line to all of this is that you absolutely have to go out and pattern with a bunch of different shells to find out what your gun likes best. No other way. You can read all the junk you want from know it alls like me and it won’t do you any good. You have to do the work or else take things on blind faith.

There it is, or at least my version of it. If you get a better story, I’d love to hear it.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
The Technoid at <www.ShotgunReport.com>
(Often in error, never in doubt.)

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Yet More On Breakfree And The 390

Dear Technoid,

Could you quantify “slop,” and are you putting it only inside the gas piston?

Also, do you lube your 390’s? I have been shooting my 390 dry other than a small drop of Beretta oil on the “feet” of the bolt. (My gunsmith’s recommendation.) The gun is not showing any obvious signs of wear and I have had very few malfunctions. I shoot 100-150 factory loads (usually Remington STS Light Handicaps) about once a week.

Thanks for your time and help,


Dear Pete,

Maintaining a gas gun is a lot like the story of the fellow who jumped off the Empire State building. As he fell past each floor, the people at the windows could hear him say “So far, so good.”

If what you are doing to your gas gun keeps it running to your satisfaction, then don’t change nuthin. When it ceases to work as you would wish, then remember my advice and try some BreakFree CLP inside and outside of the piston, on the piston rod and a few drops into the bolt via the charging handle slot.The few drops inside the bolt seem to splatter around and take care of the trigger group, bolt and bolt carrier.

Don’t wipe the BreakFree CLP off, leave it wet. I use about six drops on the outside of the piston, six on the inside, three on the piston rod and four into the bolt. Well, I don’t really count them, but if I had to come up with numbers, those would work. I just hate cooking recipes that say “cook until done” or “add a pinch”.

The amount and type of lubrication that you use really depends on your cleaning regimen, the shells you use and the way in which you use your gun. If you are a sporting clays shooter and likely to find yourself shooting a bunch of quick pairs while a mile or so from the car, you are in a far different situation than a trap shooter shooting singles on a field near his parked car (and tool kit).

When you shoot your gun wet with BreakFree CLP , you will find that it cycles faster and smoother than when dry. If you are really bad about your cleaning (as I often am), you can always “add oil instead of changing it”. A few squirts of BreakFree CLP on the gas works of a 390 or 1100 is generally enough to get the filthiest gun up and working again for a while.

Relubing a dirty gun also has the advantage of loosening up all th burnt on carbon, thus making the cleaning job much easier. I have often taken a shamefully neglected gas gun and slopped it up with BreakFree CLP just before my final 25 shots. When I cleaned it afterwards, everything is nicely loosened up and most of the cleaning of the gas parts can be done with a Kleenex.

Sometimes when I travel, I end up using range or rental guns. These are usually gas guns and if so, are never as clean as they should be. A few squirts of BreakFree CLP on the rental gun gives me a much better chance of having one work.

I really don’t mean to keep pushing BreakFree CLP as I have no special connection with them. It is just that their unique combination of lubricants and solvents does the job better than anything else I have tried to date. When something better comes along, I’ll push that.

By the way, it is not at all unusual for the 390s to show virtually no wear after quite a number of rounds. It is a remarkably well designed gun and the Italians make intelligent use of different metals and metal coatings. I have a Beretta 303 with 50,000 rounds through it and it shows virtually no wear on moving parts. At 50K, many name brand O/Us are heading for their first rebuild.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
The Technoid at <www.ShotgunReport.com>
(Often in error, never in doubt.)

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