New Gun Not Fit Like Old

Dear Bruce,

My question concerns gun fit. I’ve hunted all my life and shoot very well with most of my shotguns. A few years ago I took up the shotgun sports, trap, sheet and sporting clays.

For all three games I use a Browning 425 (12 gauge) and a Ruger Red Label (28 gauge)  and do quite well . Both guns are 28 inches but other than that vastly different, the Red Label has an English stock.

I’ve just bought a Remington 1100 for crow hunting and took it to the range to try it out on the trap field. Big Difference! couldn’t hit a barn, also tried a friends Remington 870 in 28 gauge and couldn’t hit one target on the skeet range. I grew up shooting a 870 as a kid!

Question is What is going on? Is there anything I can do to get the 1100 to fit or should I trade it? I don’t have access to a stock fitter. Is there anything I should look for to determine if a gun will fit me before I buy it. The 1100 felt ok and seems to balance well. Without going to a stock fitter is there a method a lay person can use to at least get into the ball park?

Anyway thanks for any help, I enjoy SR, A friend just put me on to SR, just the kind of information that is needed. I look forward to reading more of your articles.


Charlottesville, VA

Dear Richard,

C-ville? What a lovely part of the country. You’re a lucky guy. I loved the time I spent there and only wish that law school had left more time to grouse hunt in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

It is quite common to adapt your shooting style to one gun and then find that the next gun you buy doesn’t fit quite the same. Happens all the time and there are plenty of fixes short of a session with a stock fitter.

It’s not too hard to fit a gun to yourself by yourself, particularly with the easily adjusted semi-autos. Over the years I have gone into this in some detail. Still, I’ll give you the bare bones here one more time.

In the most basic way, you want your guns to all show you the same sight picture along the rib when you cheek with the same pressure. You also want them to all feel just as long.

Length: this is easiest, so I’ll do it first. It is also the first adjustment you want to make. Length first, height second, cast third. You can always just measure from trigger to center of butt plate/pad and transfer that measurement to the new gun. This may not be exactly correct as true “length of pull” is measured from where your hand holds the pistol grip to the butt, but it will usually be close enough if the pistol grips on the two guns are of similar design and position.

Your 425 comes with a fairly long and high stock, so to make the 1100 fit, you will probably have to add some length. A good temporary solution is to remove the 1100’s butt plate/pad, put in some spacers, and then reattach. You add any length you want this way. In the end, you may have to take it to a gunsmith to have a new recoil pad fitted along with the spacers, or you can do it yourself if you are handy with a grinder. Pad grinding is really messy though. Be forewarned.

Height: Your 425 is almost certainly higher in the stock than the 1100 is. At least that has been my experience with the two guns. Like adding length, adding height is easy. Just get a roll of tape (masking, duct, electricians, etc.) and start layering it along the top of the 1100’s comb until you get the same sight picture as you do with the 425. Nothing easier. Don’t run the tape over the side of the stock or you will change the cast.

When the view along the 1100’s rib appears the same as that of the 425, go out and shoot the gun for a bit and see if it shoots the same. Add and subtract tape until you get it just the way you want it. The guns may not shoot to quite the same point of impact and the ribs may be of slightly different height, so there may be some tinkering. With some experimenting, you can get it exactly right.

To make the adjustment to the 1100 permanent, you can 1) put a little pencil mark where your cheek goes on the 1100’s stock and take the whole taped up mess to a gunsmith and have him make the permanent adjustment. It isn’t expensive or hard to do on a gas gun. It is more involved on an O/U.

Or 2) you can do it yourself if the amount you must move the stock is minimal. Just loosen the 1100’s stock and insert a shim (I like cut up plastic hulls) between the head of the stock and the receiver (on the bottom side to raise the stock). Tighten things back up and there you go. You can also change cast at this time if you want to.

WARNING: You can use stock shims to move the 1100’s stock very slightly. If you move it too much, you will bend the main spring tube and the link will bind on full recoil. No, don’t ask me how I found out. My pain is your gain. If you find that you have to move the stock more than about 1/16″ at face, take it to a gunsmith and have him re-inlet the stock head and do it right.

Best regards,

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

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