Schnabel Rant


Can you please enlighten me on the magical properties of the Schnabel forearm.

Its seems that any gun that has a Schnabel forearm attached instantly becomes a “Sporting gun”. This is true without regard as to type of rib or stock configuration. Also if the Schnabel forearm is required on a sporting gun, why do none of the “Sporting” semi-auto shotguns have the all important Schnabel forearm. Other than block my pointer finger I truly do not know the purpose of the Schnabel.

Maybe I just didn’t get the memo but I’m sure you did, so please tell all.



Dear Mike,

This is a great opportunity for me to go into my usual diatribe against the Schnabel forend, that Hapsburg Lip of the sporting shotgun. I don’t have the vaguest idea why the Schnabel (“bird’s beak” in German or named after the gunsmith who popularized it- take your pick) has become the de facto sporting clays forend. But you are right, it has. The manufacturers love the Schnabel because they can stick it on a field gun and claim it to be a sporting gun. Of course, they put Schnabels on field guns too now, so perhaps that argument is specious.

That attraction of the Schnabel is that it is racy looking and it is also slender, giving the gun a livelier feeling than a trap-style beavertail would. So far, so good. On the downside of the Schnabel there’s the fact that the lip is a bit fragile. Beretta had a real problem with those lips getting dinged during shipment due to poorly designed packaging.

However, the main problem for me with the Schnabel, and why I simply loathe, abominate and detest them, is that they limit where some shooters can place their index finger on the forend. If you happen to shoot holding your left hand well back to the rear of the forend, then this won’t be a factor. But if you, like me and many others, have long arms and like to run your left hand forward a bit, if you also point your left index finger forward, it will get dinged by that darned Schnabel lip every time the gun goes off. Either that, or you are forced into some uncomfortable hand position to avoid it. A forend is supposed to help you find a comfortable hand position, not force you into an uncomfortable one.

So, if I’ve got a gun with a Schnabel that is causing me misery, I simply haul out my trusty wood rasp and shave the sucker down. I did this on a Superposed Superlight and it looks just beautiful. Of course, it’s easier to simply avoid the Schnabel in the first place.

What kind of forends do I like? Glad you asked. On an O/U Sporting Clays gun, I’m a less-is-more kind of guy. My absolute favorite is the Perazzi “UK Sporter” that used to be available by a now defunct UK Perazzi dealer/importer. It’s like the Perazzi game forend, but about an inch or so longer. This forend gets you as close to the barrels as the Schnabel does, but without the stupid lip. It’s better looking too. The lip is an abrupt line in an area of the gun where the long smooth lines of the barrel dominate. It just doesn’t fit. The Perazzi UK sporter forend mimics those long smooth barrel lines and looks smashing. At least it does to my eye, but that’s only one guys opinion.

I was talking to a shotgun importer just today to arrange for some guns to test for my magazine columns. He told me that it was a great gun, but that I probably would object to Schnabel forend for the reasons stated above. Then he went on to say that he intended to import some guns with conventional, yet slender, forends in addition to the Schnabels to address this issue. There may be progress here and I’d be proud to think that I had something to do with it.

Bottom line: my main argument against the Schnabel isn’t aesthetic, it’s functional. For some shooters the Schnabel limits where they can place their left hand. This is a functional flaw and is the reason I try to avoid this feature.

Next time I’ll go into my rant about big, tight, vertical Italian competition pistol grips on clays guns.

Best regards,

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

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

2 Responses to Schnabel Rant

  1. Bill E. says:

    My objection to the aptly nicknamed Hapsburg Lip, is that since they serve no purpose, as explained by the Technoid and are ugly, why have it?

    The Scnabel forend protuberance, only belongs on a rifle equipped with a Manicher style stock. Even then it can be overdone.

    I am happy to see that this “styling” trend
    seems to be fading in use.


  2. Ted Cherry says:

    Schnabel forends are abundant because they look great and are especially good for people with shorter arms, and those with very small hands. Long live the Schnabel forends! 🙂


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