Barrel Length And Waterproofing

Your Technicalness,

Please impart your wisdom on me regarding two concerns. If you have answered these in previous tracts, please forgive me.

First, I am looking at (more like drooling over) a Citori Lightning 12 ga. that I will use for everything from quail, pheasant and dove to ducks, snow geese and the occasional Canada to spring turkey. I had planned all along to get one with 26″ barrels, but you have given me pause. I’m 6’1 and 220 lbs.. I like the feel of the 26″, but your advice to others seems to suggest that a 28er is better.

One reason I like the 26 is that it will be easier to break and reload in a tight blind than a 28er and upland bird hunters seem to like the short barrels. I calculated that a 28″ (plus 9-10 inches to the comb and my eye) offers a 5% longer sight plane, thus a theoretical 5% increase in accuracy, all Other things being equal and a having decent level of shooting competence. Am I figuring this right?

At this time, I’m a low percentage hitter, but the Citori will be the first gun ever to fit me. It’s like they made it to fit me. I also plan to practice more swing-thru, since I always hit better when I don’t have time to make a sustained-lead shot. I guess I’ll find out.

For what I described here, does a 26″ barrel Citori Lightning sound like a winner, or will the added 2″ of a 28er likely make a worthwhile difference? I don’t know if I’ll do sporting clays, but once I have that fancy Lightning, I might find myself drawn to the places where respectable gunners play. I wouldn’t want to be laughed away because I showed up with a 26 inch meat stick. Mainly, I need the best all around gun and I do an equal amount of all-day upland and waterfowl blind-hunting and I hope you have some ideas.

My second question. On a brand new Gold (my wife’s gun), a little snow on the butt stock caused the glossy finish to bubble at the edge of the end grain. It went away as soon as the wood dried, but it made me wonder about sitting for four hours in a downpour waiting for ducks to show. When I get that Lighting, it’ll see the same action. What can I do to protect the end grain of these guns from moisture? Will the checker-edges do the same thing? What about the water that’ll run down into the action and find its way into the area between the tangs? They’re too nice of guns to beat up, but they must function in all conditions without deteriorating each time there’s a little precip.

Is paraffin wax, bees wax, gun oil or tung oil an option? If so, which ones and how should they be applied? Is there another answer?

Thank you. I look forward to your ideas and advice on these questions.


Dear Rusty,

As to a 26″ Citori: All the Citoris are fine guns. The only differences between models are barrel and stock dimensions, ribs and other gingerbread. The actions are all the same. You have made an excellent choice. Citoris clearly give the most value for the dollar.

As to barrel length, that’s up to you. I’m exactly your height and weight. I happily shoot a 26-1/2″ B-25 Superlight at all sorts of upland game and also at ducks with Tungsten-Polymer. I also happily shoot 28″ and 30″ barreled guns at stuff.

Far more important than the actual length of the barrels is the balance of the gun. I would pick the balance that feels best to you and get that gun without too much concern about an extra inch or so of barrel length. Citoris now use the massively heavy Invector Plus chokes. This makes the long barreled Citoris balance like a dead possum on a rake. You can get away with a nose heavy gun for clay targets, but it really sucks in the field. A shorter barreled Citori is more likely to have a more neutral balance and handle better in the field.

Of course, what you really want is “long and light”. That’s what made so many of the older solid choke guns balance so well in the longer lengths. Unfortunately, most manufacturers today have taken the cheap way of screw choking their guns. Standard dimension barrels are just jugged out and threaded. The heavy screw chokes are then added. Thus the barrels gain the entire weight of those two screwchokes right at the very tippy tip where it most hurts the dynamic balance of the gun. These chokes are strong and cheap, but heavy. Hey, everything is a compromise. So, in exchange for the convenience of screw chokes, you have to put up with a loady long barrel, or a decently balanced short barrel. I’d pick the short barrel that was well balanced every time, especially for field use. For a clays gun, I’d probably go the other way as you can learn to deal with a nose heavy gun at clays.

Bottom line: Any of the Citori models are great guns and will last a long time. Pick the model and barrel length which balances best for you. Accept what ever length those barrels happen to be to get that balance.

As to waterproofing: When I get any new shotgun, one of the first things that I do is to pull all the wood off the gun and give the interior of all the wood three coats of Tung Oil (any paint store), letting each coat dry for a day between coats. I pay particular attention to the head and butt of the stock and to the back edge of the forend. I have never tried thinned polyurethane varnish, but some people have told me that it even better than tung oil. What every you use, make sure that it is well thinned so that it can soak in.

Some gun makers do finish the insides of their wood, but many of the mass producers don’t. I don’t take any chances and coat everything I can see on the inside of the wood. It can’t hurt and it sure can help. It only takes a few minutes for three or four days running and then it is done for the life of the gun. The tung oil is so thin that it doesn’t build up and cause binding problems. If you use polyurethane, make sure to thin it.

As to the checkering, usually that has at least a coat or two of thin finish in it from the factory. You don’t want finish so heavy that it fills in the valleys of the diamonds (like Krieghoff does on their K-80s). If the checkering on your gun looks raw, then I’d give it a couple of coats using a toothbrush.

One thing: don’t use linseed oil. It may look nice on old English guns, but it isn’t waterproof. True Oil isn’t all that waterproof either, at least not as much so as tung oil or thinned polyurethane.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
The Technoid writing for Shotgun Report, LLC

This entry was posted in Shotgun related, Shotguns and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Barrel Length And Waterproofing

  1. D. Chinn says:

    Fuggitabout a wood stock for serious waterfowl hunting. Plastic stocks are the way to go!


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