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Nilo Farms

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Fixing A Pistol Grip

Dear Technoid,

I have a shotgun that has a large distance between the trigger face and the pistol grip, making it challenging to get my index finger onto the trigger while gripping the pistol grip with my palm. I have small hands, even small for a lady. If I ball up a sock and hold it in my three fingers against the grip I can reach the trigger comfortablly. Mole skin is not thick enough to shorten that distance, so I was wondering if you know of a product that mounts to the grip to shorten that distance.


I don’t know of any “easy on, easy off” aftermarket product to build up your pistol grip temporarily. Usually it means a new stock with a tighter pistol grip.

But…. Bondo is an amazing substance. It’s a kind of putty often used to repair dents in automobiles. You put it on like clay, which then hardens. If the pistol grip were protected with a layer of Saran wrap and then built up with enough Bondo to form a comfortable grip, it would be temporarily attached and might meet your needs. And Bondo is easy to alter by just adding more or sanding some off. It will look ugly, but it just might work and it is certainly cheap. If it doesn’t work, just take it off and little is lost.

The other approach is to take the gun to a stock maker and have him remove the old pistol grip and affix a new one. There will be some cost involved, but it should work if the stockmaker knows what he is doing. Or you could go whole hog and get Wenig to make you a completely new stock built to fit you perfectly. It’s expensive, but that’s the way pros do it.

Another alternative is to see if your gun comes in a smaller lady’s or youth model. Those will have shorter length of pulls and shorter grip to trigger distances.

You don’t mention which what brand and model of gun you already have, but some guns come with adjustable triggers mounted on rails. If your brand of gun offers that on some models, perhaps such a trigger could be retrofitted to your gun.

Of course, the last ditch move is to get a new gun that fits you. But that’s the easy way out.

Best regards,
Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid

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The Good Fight

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391 Gas Valve Spring Modification


I own a Beretta 391 which I’m very happy with, but I also like to reload my shells. The 391 seems to toss my empty hulls a mile which isn’t too much of a problem on a skeet or 5 stand lay out which is very open. In a woodsy sporting clays situation however the hulls disappear into the brush and retrieving them isn’t that practical cause it takes too much time to hunt em up.

I presume the reason for this is that the 391 is designed to, and does in fact, cycle everything. I use the gun primarily for target shooting and use target loads, although I do use it for ducks as well and feed it 3 inch 1 3/8 oz steel shells for that. I don’t reload the steel so I don’t care about those hulls.

Is there a different spring set I can use for target loads that will keep the target hulls from flying into the next county? I’ve also heard of but never seen “hull deflectors” that are supposed to knock the hulls down as they are ejected. I’ve used a hull catcher which is fine for singles but not doubles. Any Technoidal insight would be appreciated.


Dear John,

You have a number of choices of ways to change hull ejection on the 391.

One of the easiest was is just to order a T&S shell clip from Brownells, http://www.brownells.com. It costs around $10. It instantly snaps onto the side of the gun and retains the fired hull for easy extraction. It snaps off just as easily. The downside is that it only functions as a single shot. If you are going to shoot doubles, you can’t use it. All the trap shooters use them. In addition to the T&S, there are and were any number of other gizmos to catch hulls. All of them, except the Morton modification, made your gun into a single shot. Unsuitable for sporting, of course.

You might also consider a shell deflector stud. You’ll need to be handy with tools or get a gunsmith for this. An ejector stud is simply adding a small “bump” in the barrel extension on the ejection port side so that the shell is deflected down towards the ground. If look carefully at the barrel extension on a Remington 1100/11-87 Trap barrel (not on any of their other barrels, just trap) you will see what I am talking about. The ejecting hull hits the little bump on the way out and gets angled down towards the ground.

The third way is to order a set of Rich Cole’s 391 valve springs. Here’s how they work: When the 390/391 fires, a small porting of the gas goes through the gas ports in the barrel and into the gas chamber under the barrel. Obviously, gas pushes equally in all directions. Inside the gas chamber there are two ways for the gas to go.

1) pushing the piston rearward and thus operating the action, and

2) pushing forward against the gas valve.

In operation, the gas valve’s function is to open first to bleed off excess gas so as to regulate the amount of gas used to push the piston. This in turn regulates speed and vigor with which the action operates, which governs how far the empty is tossed.

This gas valve is regulated by a valve spring. By changing the strength of the gas spring, you can regulate whether that valve opens early or late and by how much. If the valve spring is strong, the valve won’t open at all and all the gas goes to operated the action. This is perfect for a very light load that needs all the gas it can get to work things. When a heavier load is used with a heavy spring, the action cycles very quickly and tosses the empty a mile. When a lighter gas valve spring is selected, the gas valve opens earlier and bleeds off more gas, thus causing the action to cycle slower and not heaving the empty as far.

So, by getting a set of Rich Cole’s gas valves (quite inexpensive) and tinkering a bit, you should be able to regulate the bolt speed of your 391 and thus it’s ejection distance as to a specific shell. If you always use the same shell in the gun, then use a gas valve spring that will pitch the empty about six feet or so. That assures adequate bolt speed for proper functioning, but avoids the excessive bolt speed that increases wear and tear on the gun.

Most people find that the 391 works just fine as it comes, but if you like to tinker for not too much money, swapping gas valve springs is fun to do. You can always stick the original back in. The valves for the 390 came color coded and perhaps the ones for the 391 do also. You can confuse the enemy by asking an opponent whether he’s maximized his 391’s performance with the special light blue spring or does he prefer the red. It’s always worth a bird or two.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
The Technoid writing for Shotgun Report, LLC
(Often in error. Never in doubt.)

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Big Sky

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Chrome Barrel Work And Cones

Dear Bruce,

Thanks for your worthwhile advice in the past. My question today is;

I have an Ithaca/SKB model 500 o/u mfg in Dunville Ontario. I believe Chromed bores. I love this outfit beyond words, and have been shooting skeet using the current full/mod barrel config. with remarkably good results. Sure smokes the birds!!!!

Rather than investing in a new outfit, I am wondering if it is possible to have the chokes cut to skeet or I/C, and the forcing cones done without ruining the barrels.

Thanks for the advice in advance, and keep up the good work. I enjoy your site immensely.


Dear Don,

Chrome bores? No problemo. The chrome coating does make the first cut somewhat harder, but the gunsmith will just use a specially hardened tool. If he says, “Gee, this job requires a carbide reamer and I don’t have one.” then skip him and go on to someone who does this for a living. All the “majors” will do the work for you- Briley, Seminole, Rhino, Ballistics, etc.

Be careful when lengthening the cones. How long are your cones now? Did you measure them? It doesn’t cost a manufacturer one cent more to make the barrels at the start with long cones compared to short cones. Why do you think that so many pick short cones? There’s a reason. The shorter the cone, the quicker the transition from chamber to bore. This ensures a better gas seal if there is a possible problem with the wad due to wad design or cold weather. Long cones provide a smoother transition from chamber to bore and thus might possibly damage less shot, but at the expense of possible gas blowby under certain conditions. Stan Baker has done a great deal of research on long cones and feels that cones over 2″ simply don’t add any advantage. He also mentions that the 2″ cones really only help with larger hunting-size pellets. The effect on target pellets is minimal because their small size helps them flow better to begin with.

With modern plastic wads, it probably doesn’t hurt to have cones of 1-1/2″ to 2″, but you can go overboard. I once sold a Superposed to a friend who had the cones run out to 5″. When I shot the gun later that winter, I got off-sounding shells. It never did that before. Also, if someone says that lengthening cones reduces recoil by a noticeable amount, but suspicious of gas blow-by and reduced velocity.

I’m not totally against lengthening cones, but I’m suspicious. For example, people are always lengthening the cones on Berettas and most of them already come with 1-1/2″ long cones. That’s plenty long enough. They are wasting their money. Don’t just “lengthen” cones out of reflex. Know what you have, what you want and why you want it. If your cones are lengthened and the job isn’t done right, you’ve got a real mess- literally. That chrome is gone in the throat area and you will lead up and scrape plastic like you can’t believe if the coning job isn’t done carefully.

I have one FN Superposed that I had the cones run out on. I also have several absolutely identical FNs with factory short cones. I can’t tell the slightest difference in recoil. I’m sure that long cones do change the width of the pressure curve very slightly, but I’m just not sensitive enough to pick it up.

It’s usually very difficult to discern what longer cones do to the pattern because cones are almost never the only work that is done to the barrel. Usually there is also backboring, porting or screw chokes involved in the work done at the same time. This makes it harder to figure out what does what. It might make a lot more sense for you to get your chokes cut first and then do some pattern tests. If your patterns are good, stop there. If they aren’t what you want, then consider working on the back end of the gun.

Remember, these aftermarket barrel borers make their money by putting metal shavings on the floor. The more stuff they that they can cut out of your barrels, the more they can charge you. I’m not saying that it’s all useless. It isn’t in some cases. It’s just that “more” isn’t always better and sometimes it’s worse. It’s interesting to note that Miroku (Browning Japan) has gone to overbore and porting, but has refused to lengthen cones. It makes you wonder why.

Gun makers are like any other mass merchandiser. They sell what the public thinks it wants. If the average guy thinks that porting his barrels will actually do something other than make noise, then the makers will supply ported barrels until the craze passes. We are seeing that now as many shooters are starting to avoid ported guns. Beretta is still laughing at Browning for that one.

The bottom line to all of this is:

1) Yes, you can get someone to do work on chrome barrels if they have the right hardened tools, and

2) be a bit careful of the work you ask for.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
The Technoid writing for Shotgun Report, LLC
(Often in error. Never in doubt.)

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