O/U Barrel Convergence

Dear Technoid:

Boy, do I need advice! I am facing the necessity of parting with a few hard-earned bucks, and I never do that without advice from someone who knows more than I do. Fortunately, it is not difficult to find such a person – just e-mail the Technoid!

In a recent answer to someone else’s question, you praised the Beretta 686 Silver Pigeon (and older Silver Perdiz) in 28 gauge and 20 gauge. I couldn’t agree more – I have a 28 ga. that I just love, and last year I bought a 20 ga. like it.

Unfortunately, I have a problem with the 20 – the bottom barrel shoots about 4-5 inches lower than the top barrel at 40 yards. Beretta USA says it is within factory specs, so they won’t do anything about it. I realize it is not far off, but it is enough to mess with my mind, and I won’t be able to hit anything with that gun (either barrel) until I know it’s right.

I sent the gun to Briley, and today I got a “bad news” phone call from them. They can fix it (they can fix anything!) and in some cases the fix would not cost too much, but in this case fixing it right would cost more than the gun is worth. There is a cheaper fix (eccentric choke tubes), but that works only for the tighter chokes, and I need open chokes for sporting clays.

It seems the only way out is to buy a new gun and try to sell this one. You once remarked that “Beretta quality is a bit spotty… most examples of a given gun are good, but some are not.” With that thought in mind, how likely am I to have the same problem again? I prefer a new gun rather than a used one, which probably means I can’t test it before I buy.

Of course, I am also wrestling with another question (the ethics of selling a gun that I know has a problem) but since you don’t claim to be an expert on ethics (ethical, yes, expert, maybe not) any comments on that one are optional!

Thanks! Jim

Dear Jim,

Other than putting down my ancient dog when he could no longer walk, the toughest thing that I have to do as “resident expert” (often in error, but never in doubt) is to tell someone to sell a gun and take a loss. Well Jim, sell your Beretta 20 gauge with the non-concentric bbls and take the loss. There it is.

Non-concentric bbls are like a beautiful, but bad, woman. You WANT them to be good. Your try to MAKE them good. It just ain’t gonna work, son. Those (relatively meaningless) 4″ at 40 yards are going to work on your head no matter what you do. It really is no big deal, but life is too short to put up with that if it worries you. Sell the sucker. Sell it, buy a new one and do NOT test it for point of impact. Maybe fire it into the dirt a few times to see if it is in the ballpark, but leave it alone after that.

Don’t worry about the ethics of selling your old gun. The 4″ of non-convergence really doesn’t matter a bit in the real world. Someone far wiser than either of us will buy that gun and take it hunting and whack everything in sight. He could care less about convergence just as long as those birdies continue to fall. And fall they will.

I once had a Belgian Browning Superlight 12 ga with the solid rib and English stock. I shot an entire ton of birds with it over the years. I mean, I was deadly. One day the devil made me pattern test the gun and I found that the top bbl shot almost ONE FULL pattern high at 40 yards. I mean, WAY high. I swapped the gun to a guy who gave me a .410 Browning which he swore wasn’t salt wood. I didn’t know much better and took him at his word. Well, that gun was salty as all get out, but Browning gave me a new stock, so we came out even. To this day he is still happily whacking birdies with that gun. He particularly likes the way the top bbl knocks ’em down. Moral: test for point of impact BEFORE you buy the gun, not after.

Since every shotgun barrel is a law unto itself, soldering two of them together is often problematic. The better makers test each gun, but the mass produced guys (like Perazzi, Beretta, Browning and just about everyone else under $7000) sort of try to average things out over time. I have had barrel convergence problems with Belgian Brownings and Perazzis, but I am sure that if I had bought enough Berettas and Citoris, that I would find the same thing. Double barrel shotgun designs just seem to resist cooperation. Krieghoffs are immune to this because they have replaceable barrel hangers. That is, they do it, but you can fix it. Even if you fix it though, you are still shooting a railroad tie, so what’s the use.

Bottom line: sell your Beretta 20 and get something else before it drives you crazy. If you buy used (my preference), make sure to test for barrel convergence BEFORE you sign on the dotted line. If you buy new, don’t test because you are going to be stuck with it and it will break your heart.

What are your chances of picking up another gun that has a top bbl which is 4″ off at 40 yards? Very, very high. The brand doesn’t really matter. I have seen O/Us which ran 25″ high. The only way that you can be absolutely, positively sure that your barrel convergence is perfect is to shoot a single barrel gun. After that you are taking your chances.

By the way, you close by saying that you need open chokes for your sporting clays. You shootin’ some kind of woosie “skeet in the woods” courses, boy? Go shoot with the Connecticut Travelers and dine on humble pie. Misery loves company. Trust the Technoid, you can leave the #9s at home.

Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid

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