Gun for Trap

Dear Technoid

I am a novice to trap shooting and have previously received your helpful advice. I previously thought I would purchase a used Rem 870, and may still do so. However, thus far I have been unable to locate one in trap grade. I am becoming more inclined to purchase an O/U since I gather that that may be a better choice and may be where I end up anyhow. Hence perhaps it would be more economical in the long run; your suggestions.

I have the opportunity to purchase a new, but not current model year, Browning Citori Trap O/U Grade I, 30″ barrels, not ported, probably 1993 or 1994 model year.

What recommendations do you have? Is Citori a good choice? Barrel length? Is there any difference between Grade I and better grades in the actual gun mechanism or is the difference exclusively in the cosmetics and appearance? Is neglecting the ported barrel a feature to reconsider? Or would you recommend sticking with the 870 at 35% of the price?

Please provide me with all the information you feel would assist me in making an intelligent decision.

Thanks for your input.


Dear Clifford:

Citori O/U or Remington 870? That would be a hard decision for me. Each gun is an excellent example of its type. Each gun will give you reliable service. At trap I have done much of my shooting (International bunker trap) with an O/U, but I still prefer the single sighting plane of my Beretta 303 autos for the slower domestic style trap. The 870 would also have this single sighting plane. At the big trap shoots you see plenty of O/Us and also single barrel guns. Either way you will be in good company.

If you know that you are going to stick with trap, a major consideration is that your gun come with a “trap” style higher stock. Obviously, the Citori Trap model comes appropriately fitted, but it sounds as though the only 870 models available in your area are “field” grade guns with lower stocks. Most people, not all, shoot trap better with the higher trap stock. All is not lost however. Numerous mail order companies offer inexpensive trap stocks for the Remington 870.

As to barrel length, 30″ would be perfect in a pump or auto, but if you are a large man it might be a bit short in an O/U. Remember, the auto or pump has an extra 3.5″ of length due to the longer receiver. 30″ used to be the absolute standard for O/U trap guns, but now you see many 32″ also. Neither is the wrong choice. Your gun should fit your stature.

The O/U does offer some theoretical and some real advantages to the trap shooter. You can shoot adequate doubles with a pump, many have, but it is harder than with an O/U. In doubles, the pump will also limit you to one choke selection- a slight disadvantage that you can partially overcome by careful shell selection. Personally, I think that the single barrel is easier to point than the O/U, but that is very subjective and you might feel just the opposite.

As to quality, the Citori is just fine. I feel that the Citori quality is more consistent than Beretta’s. One day Beretta makes very nice guns, the next day not so good. The Citoris are all the same quality- above average and a great value.

Unlike the Belgian Brownings where the higher grades are polished on the insides, the higher grade Citoris are strictly exterior cosmetics. Better wood (often VERY nice) and “better” computer engraving and gold plating.

Porting. I am not a fan of porting and would pay more money for a gun without ports than I would with ports. Those older Citori ports were LOUD. They would not make you popular on the trap line. Olympic trap does not permit ported guns. I have never been able to tell that Browning factory porting made the slightest difference, except in noise and irritation. I feel that the single best barrel modification that you can make is to lengthen the forcing cones, something that Browning refuses to do, but that Beretta includes on all their latest guns.

Since you are asking for advice, have you considered a semi-auto? The biggest concern of the trap shooters I have met has always been of some way to reduce recoil. When you go to the Grand in Vandalia and look in many, many shops that are there, all of them have at least one product in common- something to reduce recoil in some way.

Semi-autos are built in recoil reducing machines. To me they have all the advantages of the pointability of the pump, but none of the disadvantages of the extra motion required to operate. Recoil reduction compared to a pump or O/U is significant. Trap shooters often shoot 200+ birds in one day and the trap stance permits very little body movement to vector off the recoil. The 1 1/8 oz load is standard. That recoil just has to add up. When the O/U guys are going to lighter loads and claiming that they shoot better (“No, I’m not at all bothered by recoil, but I do like these light loads.”), the guys with the autos can comfortably use all that the law allows. Don’t every kid yourself. All other things being equal, more is always better. Trust the Technoid on that. Don’t ever shoot fewer pellets than you are allowed to in competition.

Semi-autos have very few disadvantages at trap. Even if you don’t keep them clean, you can always get one shot out of them. Longer sighting plane and recoil reduction as mentioned above are, to me, significant. The stocks on semi-autos and pumps are very easy to shim up and down for the slight adjustment that makes for perfect fit. Adjustment of an O/U stock is quite involved.

Downside of the semi-auto: the triggers could usually use an hour with the gunsmith. Same with the pump though. The semi-auto will not be very reliable on the second shot if you don’t keep it clean. Cleaning is no big deal, but you have to do it if you want it to work right. Semi- autos toss their shells out on the ground. That means if you are a reloader you are going to get some
exercise after the round (and maybe a few extra shells while you are at it). T&S makes a little clip that will retain you shell when shooting singles, but it does not work on doubles.

Parts breakage. You are most likely to see two brands and four models of autos. Remington 1100s are fairly reliable but will require some simple parts replacement as they age. Since you can literally rebuild almost any gas gun in 10 minutes, this is not a problem. The newer Remington 11-87 should be an improvement over the 1100, but it has not been as reliable. Remington changed something in their metallurgy or production and the 11-87s have been having more mechanical problems than they should have.

I feel that the Beretta auto is clearly superior to the Remington product (I own and shoot several examples of each). I prefer the less nose heavy feel of the older 303 trap gun to that of the newer 390 trap gun, but that is personal taste. The big advantage of the Berettas is that they have a very, very low parts breakage rate. Berettas also include a shimming feature that will allow you to make subtle stock adjustments with just a screwdriver and a socket wrench. To me they are the clear choice among current semi-autos.

One last thing to consider. If you are buying a used gun for a fair price and it does not please you, you will be able to sell it for close to what you paid for it. After the first “mark down from new”, used target guns tend to hold their value quite well unless you abuse them or just wear them out. This means that your “exposure” on a used gun is rather small and it will not cost you too much to try one out and sell it if it does not please you after a year. Your first gun purchase will not be your last. Trust me on that too.

Best regards,
Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid

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