The Adjustable/Hydraulic Stock

Dear Bruce,

Once again, I turn to the technoid for intelligent advice.

I have looked at the “Precision Fit” stock for my o/u (Browning). The folks who are using them tell me the benefits are :

1/ reduced recoil (attractive)

2/ Perfect fit of the gun through multi axis adjustment. (attractive)

3/ By changing the cheekpiece, one gun can be used for trap , skeet and sporting clays (Very attractive).

Your opinion would be appreciated, So far you have been right on target with the advice you have given to my prior requests.

Thanks for the help.


Dear Don,

Now a confession up front: Though I remember the adjustable features of the Precision Fit quite well, and how it felt when I handled the gun in the club house, I do not recall exactly the method of recoil reduction it employed. So take my comments with that level of abysmal ignorance in mind. As a gun writer, I’m more than comfortable writing about things I know nothing about. As reader, you ought to take what I say with a grain of salt and a sip or two of decent scotch.

I’ve only seen a Precision Fit stock a couple of times, but I do have three friends who bought them (at considerable expense, I might add). All three have since sold or retired them. I don’t know what their exact reasons were.

All the pneumatic/hydraulic-style stocks work to reduce recoil. Precision Fit, G-Square and Soft Touch are the current brands that come to mind, but there are others starting probably with the original Hydro-Coil and Dockwiller’s early Hydro-Coil conversions. I have shooting experience with the Soft-Touch and Hydro-Coil.

The one I’ve used most is Moe Bragg’s Soft Touch. That’s an all-wood conversion of the existing stock with an adjustable cheek piece attached internally to the butt so that it doesn’t slide along the face. In a properly set-up gun the recoil reduction is significant. The gun I used the Soft-Touch on was an FN Browning Superposed trap gun that belonged to a friend with a shoulder injury to protect. I shoot standard B25 FN Special Trap #6’s myself, so I was able to make a direct comparison “before and after”. To me, and of course this is subjective, the unpleasant, sharp aspect of recoil was reduced about by 1/3 or a touch more. I felt that the FN with the Soft-Touch recoiled about like a Remington 1100 gas gun. There was a marked difference in recoil. I see no reason why the Precision Fit shouldn’t reduce recoil just as much.

As an aside, I’ve also spent a bit of time shooting a Soft Touch installed on a Beretta 390 gas gun. It did NOT offer any significant additional recoil reduction from what I could feel. Apparently in this particular application, the whole is less than the sum of the parts. Works on a fixed breach gun, not on a gas gun. I’m sure it’s all a question of the timing of the recoil pulses.

All these stocks have one thing in common. They must be placed firmly on the shoulder to work. At premounted games like trap and American-style skeet, this is no issue. For low gun games like sporting clays and International Skeet, this can be problematic when you have the occasional less than perfect mount. At low gun games, the gun must often be shot “loose” on the shoulder. That’s because when shooting from a low gun position, you want to be able to raise the gun vertically, but never want to have to pull it back into the shoulder pocket. The movement of pulling the gun back into the shoulder will stop the swing faster than staring at the pretty little trapper girl. Absolutely perfect gun fit (mostly length here) combined with perfect technique will minimize this issue, but it will still exist. When a pneumatic-stocked gun is not seated fully into the shoulder, it recoils just about like any other conventionally stocked gun. It won’t be worse, but you will gain no advantage from it.

One other disadvantage to the pneumatic stocks I’ve tried has been added weight. I don’t know about the Precision Fit stock, the others are heavy. Again, for the pre-mounted gun games a butt-heavy gun is not a major problem, though it certainly isn’t ideal. For the low gun games, a poorly balanced guns is a significant disadvantage. Probably the only reason I’m not currently using a Soft-Touch or G-Square on at least one of my O/Us is the weight factor. Some shooters can deal with an extra 3/4 of a pound in the butt. Others shoot guns that are so muzzle heavy to begin with that weight in the rear isn’t all that bad. Of course, you end up with something that balances like a broom stick with a cinderblock on each end, but that’s better than a broomstick with a cinderblock on just one end. I like to start with well-balanced guns and have them stay that way. Since I’m not as familiar with the Precision-Fit stock as I ought to be, I don’t know how much weight, if any, they will add. That is something I would certainly find out before plunking my $1100 down on the counter.

One of the big advantages of the Precision Fit stock is that it is quite adjustable for length of pull, cast and height at nose and heel. For those who don’t know what gun measurements they shoot best, this can be a plus. If you know what you want, it’s just gingerbread. Of course, what gets adjusted one day, can come out of adjustment the next too. Notice how adjustable stocks are popular in trap and a bit in skeet, but almost not at all in sporting clays.

For the price of a Precision Fit stock, you can have your existing stock converted to a Soft-Touch or G-square set up with any dimensions you want. If you are a newer shooter and don’t know what you want, then the Precision Fit looks better. If you are an experienced shooter and know how to set up your gun properly, then other stocks look better.

One thing I don’t think you can change on the Precision Fit stock is the configuration of the pistol grip. The one I tried had a pistol grip that did not suit me personally. You’ll definitely want to check into that before committing.

Changing the stock fit for each game… What an appealing idea! How seductive! But it’s going to drive you loony. I shoot ATA trap, wobble, AmSk, Sporting Clays and FITASC all with the same gun configuration. I set all my clay target guns up so that I see flat down the rib (always a flat, never stepped or raised, rib) with 100% cheek pressure into the bone. Of course, you don’t actually shoot with that much cheek pressure. With normal cheek pressure (about 70% or so), I see a bit of rib. Something approximating what I would see if I put a nickel on top of the rearmost part of the rib and would still be able to see just a bit of rib at the base of the front bead. Or maybe up to 1/8″ of rib depending on how you describe it. It’s not exact.

For me, this little bit of rib showing still allows the gun to shoot pretty flat without forcing me to cover a flat crossing target. I do have to cover rising trap birds, but I’m used to it. With this set up, I can, and do, shoot any clay game. My field guns are set up a little lower and shorter simply because in the field I don’t have the time to invest in the gun mount, nor do I always cheek it with that 70% pressure. When I grouse hunt, I don’t know where the darn stock will end up. I just concentrate on flashing the barrels on the bird and then I pull hard, say a prayer and send the dog to see if I got lucky.

The point is that, for me, the fully adjustable features of the Precision Fit stock are a waste. I would never spend the time adjusting a stock for each particular game. You’re also spending almost as much for the stock as you did for the gun. Any dimensions that work for skeet, ought to work for sporting clays. If you feel you need something different for trap, buy a dedicated trap gun. I’ve never understood why gas guns aren’t more popular at trap. They have the precision single sighting plane plus low recoil. When used in doubles, pelting the guy to your right with your empties will absolutely, positively ensure that you will beat at least one other shooter. What more could you possibly want in a gun?

The “one gun does it all” idea is seductive. I certainly subscribe to it, but there are different ways of arriving at that paradigm. For me, the adjustability that the Precision Fit offers wasn’t a factor.

Besides- the Precision Fit stock is really butt ugly. As practical as I like to think I am, there are limits.

Best regards,

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

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