Top Barrel vs. Bottom Barrel Recoil and Chokes


I have an older 20ga O/U with fixed chokes, Mod-U / Full -O, I plan to use this mostly for Ruff Grouse and Woodcock so I will be opening up the barrels. Do you really feel there is a “significant”percieved recoil difference by shooting the Over barrel first with an O/U…….I can not say that I have felt any “major” recoil differences over the years when I have changed my selector for different situations. The simpleset and most economical solution would be to bore out the top barrel and keep the Mod in the lower and shoot the Over first.

Thanks…and always appreciate your thoughts.


Dear Scott,

There certainly aren’t any “major” recoil differences when firing the over barrel first, as opposed to the under barrel. There is slightly more muzzle rise and that translates into slightly more face slap but, unless your grouse and woodcock hunting involves a lot more shooting than mine did, it won’t be noticeable.

Before you do any choke opening, make sure to mike the barrels so that you know what your really have. It is always best to base your choke selection on distance. Figure out your average distance for your first barrel on grouse and your average distance for your second barrel. American woodcock tend to be closer shots because they hold better.

Let’s say that your usual first barrel shot is 15~20 yards and that your second is 5~7 yards further. 15~20 yards is a lot like skeet distance and a skeet choke in the 20 gauge (and all the other gauges too) is .005″. Another 5~7 yards on top of skeet would be something around Light Mod or Mod- ie. vaguely .012″ to .015″ in the 20 gauge. So, if your Modified barrel is more or less already in the .012″ to .015″, leave it alone and just bore out the top Full to .005″.

In addition to the choke constriction, equally important is the shell which you select. Shells can vary the pattern performance as much as chokes. Jay Menafee’s Polywad spreaders will open your Full to something around IC. You might want to expreriment with some before cutting the chokes.

And best of luck on those grouse. I’ve hunted birds all over the world, but I still think that the ruffed grouse is the most challenging bird around. You know what they say about grouse, “Hear twelve, see six, shoot at three and maybe, perhaps, if you are lucky, get one.” True words.

Best regards,
Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid

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