Beginner Trap Gun

Dear Technoid:

My son has taken an interest in trap shooting; as a result I have also become involved and have found it most enjoyable. We are in process of identifying a gun to begin with. Thus far we have borrowed guns – Rem 870 & 1100, Win semi. I have found the info on the Shotgun Report Home Page most beneficial. My initial thoughts are a Rem 870, 1100 or 11-87. I read your cautions re the 11-87. However, it appears that all of the above guns are available second hand in the region I live, whereas a Beretta would probably have to be new or nearly new. Probably at least twice as much money.

I have concluded that if one becomes involved in trap shooting that it would be wise to reload shells to reduce the long term cost. Perhaps you could provide me with your recommendations for equipment for exclusively reloading 12 gauge shotshells. If possible, please give me recommended equipment required, manufacturers and model numbers if possible.

Thank you for your assistance.


Dear Cliff:

In the field of used guns for trap shooting, a nice old Remington 1100 is hard to beat. They are great pointers and the semi-auto action soaks up some of the recoil. There should be plenty of used ones in your area. You would want a 30″ barrel with a full choke. Some of the very last of the 1100s came with screw chokes, but those first Remington screw choke barrels were terribly heavy (leading Remington to make amends and produce the “light contour” barrels). The older 1100 barrels with the solid chokes are better balanced. Make sure that you get a gun with a trap stock. That is important. Remington made two styles of trap stock- standard and Monte Carlo. Frankly, it does not matter much, but make sure that you have one of them. Shooting trap with a field stock (which is lower than a trap stock) can be an exercise in frustration. I can be done, but it sure makes it harder.

Buy the cleanest used gun you can find. A quick and dirty way to judge the mileage on a gun is to check the bluing. If there is a lot of bluing wear, the gun has probably seen some use. The single shot demands of trap should cause the 1100 no problems. They have been used by some of the best shooters. If you find a used 11-87 trap gun, you may have to pay more, but it would also be just fine. My gripes about the 11-87 really apply more to sporting clays. The guns always die when you are three miles from the car. It is no big deal in trap.

My second choice in a used trap gun would be the Remington 870. As in the 1100, you will want the trap model with a trap stock and a 30″ barrel. By the way, some of the target grade 1100s and 870s came with very pretty wood- especially the Tournament Grade guns. The big advantage to the 870 is that they almost never break. The insides look as though they are made out of used beer cans, but their reliability is legendary. My 870s have caused me less trouble than my original Winchester Model 12s.

The big drawback of the 870 is recoil. Recoil is the trap shooter’s biggest enemy. If you go to the Grand in Vandalia, you will see 80 to 100 vendors of shotgun related products. Some vendors have permanent buildings on site, some drive up in a pickup truck. Almost all have one thing in common- they all sell something or other to reduce recoil among their various wares. The difference in recoil between the 870 and the 1100 is substantial. Recoil is a major factor. The longer you shoot, the more of a factor it is. If anyone tells you that recoil doesn’t bother him, he either hasn’t been shooting long enough or he has a head like an iron ingot.

Reloading: It is a great idea and quite cost effective. If there are two of you shooting, it will be nothing to for the two of you to shoot half a case of shells each time you go out. If you shoot once a week for a month you will use up two cases. Find one of the reloading cost calculators on the ‘net. You can input your cost for materials and they will quickly calculate the cost for reloading a box of shells. Any costs that I may quote here will quickly become outdated and meaningless.

The most popular reloader by far is made by MEC (Mayville Engineering Company). The two models that will interest you the most are the MEC 8567 Grabber and the MEC 9000-G. There are less expensive MEC machines, but you will not be satisfied with them. The single stage machines are much too slow for target shooting. The less expensive progressive MEC 650 does not resize. With pumps and autos, resizing is a must- especially if you will be using picked up hulls.

Either of the machines will load a case of shells in one hour. The 9000- G is auto indexing, while the Grabber has to be manually indexed and is thus very slightly slower. I recommend the Grabber for a new reloader. You lose a tiny bit of speed, but the Grabber is much less complicated. The auto indexing feature of the 9000-G can be a real pain when something goes wrong. I have both machines, plus a 9000-H hydraulically operated MEC. The Grabbers give me the least trouble by far.

One note on costs. The MECs are very popular. A used Grabber will sell for around $150 and a used 9000-G for around $200. That means that if you want to sell your machines you will be ahead of the game after you have been reloading for less than one month.

Best regards,
Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid

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