Chroming Barrels

Hello Technoid,

Anyway, I am curious what a chrome barrel does. I have always shot wingmasters with regular (whatever regular is) and with my Benelli, one of the features highlighted was the chrome. Is this somewhat new? Of much value?


Dear David,

As to chrome lining a barrel bore, I like it. The chrome process that they use isn’t like the chrome on the bumper of your parents ’53 Buick and it doesn’t flake off. The stuff is really tough and on there to stay. Although I don’t know for sure, I believe that chrome plating is a slightly cheaper way of putting on a smooth final finish than barrel polishing is. I may be wrong, that that’s my guess. The Italians are big exponents of chroming the barrels of their less expensive guns. I also have some Belgian FN B-25s with chrome bores and my Japanese Parker Reproduction had chrome bores, except for the choke areas.

On the plus side, chrome bores can’t rust. I haven’t noticed that they are any better at keeping plastic from building up though. My 303s have chrome bores and plastic up heavily if I use shells with cheap wads. My non-chrome polished bore American market B-25s do exactly the same.

On the down side, the chrome used in shotgun bores is extremely hard. If you are going to do any subsequent barrel work to a chromed barrel (lengthening forcing cones or recutting the chokes on a solid choke gun), the gunsmith has to use an especially hard reamer, usually tungsten carbide. This makes the procedure more expensive, but still quite possible. The Parker Reproduction people solved this problem by chroming the entire bore with gunmaker’s chokes (extra, extra full) and then cutting the working chokes with carbide at the factory, leaving the choke area “naked”, but the bore and chambers protected with chrome. That way, if you wanted to do further choke work, you could without using special tools. Nice touch on an otherwise flawed little gun.

Belgian Browning B-25s are notorious for rusting while you watch. The chambers are a particular problem, especially if you are lax in your gun cleaning. At the factory the B-25s were (are?) offered with the option of chrome plated chambers. This makes a lot of sense.

Most modern mass production guns are now screw choked. Screw choking works great with chroming because the rust-prone area at the choke threads gets the extra protection of the chrome and there is no need to recut any chokes. I am surprised that more makers don’t take advantage of this process. Beretta does, but Browning Japan (Miroku) doesn’t nor does Remington, Perazzi or Krieghoff. I can’t remember what SKB does.

Bottom line: chroming a shotgun’s bore is a nice little plus, but not of any earth shaking consequences if you keep things clean on a regular basis.

Best regards,

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

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Frozen Targets-Hard Or Brittle?

Dear Technoid:

Recently I was shooting clays at the local club with a couple of the instructors. We got into a discussion about shot sizes and winter shooting. For years I have switched to 7 1/2 shot in colder weather, believing that the targets are harder and therefore require more force to break. I believe there are also some advantages, at least in theory, to bigger shot retaining energy through cold, dense air and bigger shot are a bit faster which might help overcome the speed loss due to colder ignition temperatures.

One of the instructors, however, said 9s are the way to go in the winter, as well as year round. His reasoning is that clay targets are mostly pitch and in colder weather are more brittle and easier to chip. He always shoots 9s.

Do you know of any research done on targets to determine their durability in colder weather vs. warmer? I’d appreciate your opinion on the size shot to use in colder temperatures.


Dear Don,

I don’t know of any published studies done on clay targets/shot size/ cold weather, so I will post this in the hope that one of Shotgun Report’s observant readers might have seen something. Until then, lack of published information gives me the chance to mouth off with my own semi-informed, biased and opinionated conclusions without fear of contradiction- for the moment at least.

My general rule of thumb is that I increase pellet size and raise velocity the colder it gets.

You don’ t mention which games you shoot. If your instructor is using #9s all the time and you are going to #7-1/2s for the same game, I still can’t guess. You don’t want to shoot skeet with #7-1/2s or trap with #9s no matter what the weather. Sporting clays always requires a little bit of everything.

If it helps, here’s what I use when I am shooting in normal temperature and calm winds. I use #9s to about 20-25 yards, #8s to about 30-35 yards and #7-1/2s thereafter. In sporting I will change things a bit depending on the type of bird being thrown (rabbits and rockets can be bullet-proof), but you get the idea.

In the winter, I switch to #8-1/2s for skeet type shots and #7-1/2s for just about everything else. I suppose there are many situations where #8s would be helpful in cold weather sporting, but when I get that cold my brain freezes as well as my fingers so I don’t want to make too many decisions. I am just more confident with #7-1/2s when it is cold. I also always carry some spreader #8s with me because I shoot a single gas barrel gun at sporting.

Obviously, I am in your camp as to believing that winter hardens birds up. Your instructor is quite right as to the content of a clay target. They are pitch, lime and paint. That’s it. But I don’t draw the same conclusions about targets being more brittle and likely to chip in the winter.

My experience has been that frozen birds (remember, the targets are usually stored outside or in an unheated shed) are harder to break than warm ones, not easier. That’s why I want bigger pellets for more energy on target. I don’t base this on any scientific tests (don’t like to get boggled down in facts, you know), but I do base it on shooting a whole bunch of clay targets over a whole bunch of winters.

One of the first things that I notice in winter shooting is that it is much harder to puff a bird with a direct hit. Well-hit birds are more likely crinkle in the cold rather than explode the way they do when it is warm. I get more once piece breaks in winter. You can look at that two ways:

1) birds are more “brittle” in the winter and more likely to give off a chip where you would have gotten none in warm weather; or

2) birds are harder in winter and give up only a piece when you would have gotten many in warm weather.

I subscribe to the latter theory because I notice that the chunk that comes off in the winter is usually a big one, as though the target were reluctantly splitting, rather than a little bit of a chip that indicates a fringe hit.

At first I felt that my poorer winter breaks were due to a loss of velocity due to cold shells, but I tested that on my Pro Chrono and found that my shell velocities didn’t fall off much at all in cold weather. This jibes with what I have read and also with what the ammo makers claim. The only winter problems I have experienced with shells have been attributable to poor quality wads that hardened up and didn’t properly seal the powder gasses. When something like that happens, you (and all your squad mates) can hear it.

Just to be sure, I began to shoot 3 and 3-1/4 dram 1-1/8 oz loads in winter. This was more to assure proper operation of my gas guns than to make up for any velocity lost due to the cold. Gas guns do slow down more quickly in winter, so a little extra oomph is always a good idea.

In spite of going up in velocity, the cold weather breaks that I get continue to be more marginal than what I get in warm weather. This is very easy to see in trap and skeet where you can consistently break a bird at a certain distance and compare it to the mental picture you have of thousands of the same birds being broken at other times. I notice it more on fringe hits than on center shots. I feel that going up in pellet size a bit where possible will give me the little extra edge on these hard birds.

Another advantage of increasing pellet size and speed a bit in the winter is that there always seems to be more wind in the winter and spring. Perhaps I just notice it more in the winter due to wind chill. At any rate, the larger pellets do a bit better in the wind and that is another reason to go to them.

Bottom line: I agree with you and find that birds are harder and more break-resistant in freezing weather. For that reason in winter I use more shell- bigger pellets at a faster velocity.

Best regards,

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

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Wild Quail Hunting In Texas

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3-1/2″ 12 Vs 10 Gauge For Waterfowl

Dear Technoid,

Any advice on 10 gauge versus 12 gauge for waterfowl? I am undecided between a 3.5 inch Benelli Black Eagle and a Remington SP 10 gauge? Impressions are helpful?


Dear Rich,

The best gauge for “waterfowl”? Well, I dunno. If it is teal over decoys, any 12 is more than adequate. If you are pass shooting geese, you probably want all you can handle, but shotload alone doesn’t tell the story.

Personally, I find the 10 gauge guns a big clunky and like the way that the big 12s handle a bit better. A lot of that will depend on your size, stature and particular comfort level.

One of the most important reasons that I like the 3-1/2″ 12s better than the 10s is that it is very unlikely that you are going to practice very much with the 10, the cost of shells being what it is. That 3-1/2″ Benelli will shoot hot 2-3/4″ target loads well enough to let you practice a good bit on certain “waterfowl-like” shots at your local sporting clays range. A good bit of shooting practice with your waterfowl gun is far, far more valuable than hurling up another 1/8 oz of steel shot.

The 3-1/2″ Benelli has a good reputation just as long as you don’t try to use light target loads. It won’t work reliably with those no matter what Benelli says to you. That’s no big loss as there are plenty of 1-1/8 oz 3 dram target shells around and it ought to work OK with them. The occasional malfunction shooting practice clays isn’t going to matter anyway. The key is to practice with that gun so that you feel comfortable with it. Knowing how to shoot your gun is far more important than shooting the biggest thing you can lift. A little practice will also help you in your distance estimation- one of the most important skills that any pass shooter can develop.

Of course, if you want a 100% reliable 3-1/2″ waterfowl gun, there’s the 3-1/2″ Remington 870. If you don’t forget to pump, it won’t forget to work.

Best regards,

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

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USAMU Set to Host Spring Selection Match | USA Shooting

Source: USAMU Set to Host Spring Selection Match | USA Shooting

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Quick And Dirty Gun Fit

Dear Technoid,

What would the main cause of shooting low be? If I lengthened the LOP would that make my gun shoot lower or higher ? Since buying a new superlight Citori most of my shots seem to be hitting low. I have a shorter LOP on this gun than my Red Label which had a pad otherwise stock dimensions are almost identical.


Dear Bob,

Generally, if a stock comb slopes down as it goes rearward, the longer the stock, the lower your face will be placed in relation to the rib and thus the lower the gun will shoot. At least that’s the theory.

In fact, there are a ton of other reasons why one gun will shoot to a different point of impact than another. It can be stock design, rib design or even the way that the barrels are set up. A low stock can even make you shoot too high if it causes you to raise your head.

Don’t make the assumption that just because two stocks from two different makers measure the same that the guns will shoot the same. Surprisingly, it is almost never the case. I have found that it is very difficult to transfer exact measurements from one O/U to another and impossible to transfer the same measurements from an O/U to a SxS or gas gun. There is more to where the gun shoots than just the stock.

Here’s what I would do if you want to adjust where your new gun is shooting. First, set the stock to the length that you want. Then start layering duct tape on to the top of the comb (not over the sides unless you want to change the cast) until you get the point of impact that you want. Experiment by adding and subtracting the tape. Shoot it with the tape on it for quite a while until you are sure that it is perfect. Then put an “X” on the tape where your cheek bone touches and take it to a stock bender. He will bend the stock up so that it will fit perfectly. After bending it up, you may choose to reset the pitch or you may not.

If you choose not to bend the stock, you could “slab” it by cutting off the comb, adding a block and sanding it down to what you want. Or you could install an adjustable comb. Each method works well in certain applications, poorly in others.

Best regards,

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

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You Gotta Pattern

Dear Technoid,

I took up sporting clays about 1 year ago. I switched to lefty due to cross dominant vision. Not easy but probably worth it for the long haul. Previous shooting was not frequent.

I purchased a new K-80 this year.The factory chokes have been described to me as being “tighter” than normal. As an example the K-80 Imp. Cyl. is closer to a Lt. Mod. I would appreciate your opinion on this as well as any advise you might offer on the K-80. Your position on chokes in general is really unique but makes sense.

Affirmation from a guy who is a cross shooter and a computer Dinosaur! You guys are doing great work.


Dear Bill,

I have owned a few Krieghoff Model 32s, but never a screw choke K-80. The people who have them seem to like them, depending on the sport. They are monstrously complicated inside, but so well made that they actually work. Leave it to the German craftsmen. They are also universally soft shooting because

1) they have some interesting design features, and

2) they weigh more than a Buick Electra.

Good move on swapping sides. Everyone can’t do it, but if you really are strongly cross dominant and haven’t yet developed a large shooting “memory bank” right handed, crossing over is the way to go. It took some courage to do and I’ll bet that the results weren’t what you wanted at first, but once you have made the transition you will be a better shooter for it in the long run.

As to K-80 chokes, the same rules apply here as they do to every other choke bored gun- you have to pattern test. No way around it. I wish that there were, but there isn’t if you want to do it right.

Measuring the choke dimension only goes so far. Just because one of your chokes measures .020″ constriction, doesn’t necessarily mean that it will throw the industry standard pattern of a Modified 60% with your favorite shell. Different guns with the same choke constriction will shoot different patterns. You simply HAVE to test IF you really want to know.

That’s a big IF. Lots of shooters don’t want to know. They would rather shoot with blind faith. Although it is heresy from the Technoid, that’s probably not the worst thing for most shooters. You can really get too much caught up in this choke stuff.

There are only three real distances in shooting- near, middling and far. There are also only really three leads- none, normal and a bunch. The game of shotgunning really isn’t a precision game (handicap trap excepted), so you are usually better going with “close enough” and concentrating on follow-through than you are trying to rifle shoot the bird. I am always amazed how much a little extra follow-through can “tighten” a choke and produce a better break. And no, swinging doesn’t spray the pattern around more. A good follow-through just assures that you don’t stop the gun swing prematurely.

Here’s what I would do if I were you. Since you have a nice gun and will undoubtedly keep it for a while, why not invest the time in actually seeing how it patterns? Get a roll of “red resin flooring paper” from your local home supply store. Using the shell you will be using for target shooting, fire three patterns with each choke at a piece of paper with an aiming point Magic Markered on it. The distance is 40 yards (measured) from paper to muzzle. Using a wooden yard stick with some holes in the right places, mark a 15″ radius circle on the paper AFTER YOU HAVE SHOT so as to encompass the most possible pellets. This probably won’t be centered on the aiming point. Note the distance away from the aiming point the center is so that you can adjust for gun fit later.

Now count the pellets in the 30″ circle. Then pull apart three of the cartridges and count the pellets in the shotshells. DO NOT use tables. They aren’t accurate enough. Divide the pellets in the circle by the pellets in the shell to get a percentage. Although the numbers aren’t exact, 40% is Cylinder Bore, 50% is Improved Cylinder, 60% is Modified and 75% is Full. More or less. Regardless of what your choke is marked, what it shoots is what it is.

This is all a pain in the neck, but it is the ONLY way to know what you have. There are a lot of things in my life that I am willing to take on faith, but patterns aren’t one of them. You have to do the work. Three tests of each shell/choke combination is the absolute minimum. If they vary a great deal, then you have to do five. I wish there was a simpler way, but there isn’t.

By the way, the difference between Improved Cylinder (50% pattern in 30″ circle) and a Light Modified (55% pattern) is so slight as almost not to be measurable. You will get that much variation shell to shell. You can change an entire choke designation by changing the brand of cartridge or the size of the pellet. It isn’t an exact science. It isn’t even close to it.

Best regards,

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

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