Converting A Trap Gun Into A Sporter Gun


Dear Technoid,

I own a fairly new Browning O/U B425 Trap with 3/4 and full fixed chokes. As it’s usage is more or less restricted to shooting trap, I wonder whether this gun could be modified/converted in order to be able to shoot (in addition to trap), Skeet as well as sporting clays (gun down disciplines).

The alterations I have in mind are:-

1. To fit Briley chokes.

2. To add on an adjustable comb to the existing stock. I am not sure whether the stock on my gun is hollow and also whether it is possible to modify a trap stock. On the other hand, would it be better to fit a new stock with an adjustable comb?

3. To lengthen the forcing cones. There is a theory that by lengthening the forcing cones, (a) felt recoil can be reduced substantially, and (b) pattern quality can be improved.

Is this correct? I would imagine that the makers would have designed the barrels to achieve optimum performance. I am rather confused, therefore please clarify.

Thank you,

Best regards,
Charles

Dear Charles,

You have an ideal gun for trap, skeet and sporting clays. Since your gun came with fixed chokes, it has lighter barrels than Brownings screw choke guns so it handles better. Screw chokes are an easy conversion and Briley does a marvelous job. It will cost you around US$365 and will include your choice of 5 chokes. You can order more at an additional price. You might consider ordering Sk, Sk (two skeets), IC, Mod and Full. That will certainly get you started.

Many of the very best sporting clays guns are simply converted trap guns. The Miroku 38s and 3800s and the Perazzi sporters that Andrew Litt sells from England are just tricked out trap models.

You really shouldn’t have to replace your stock. As to having an adjustable comb done, that’s up to you. I shoot trap stocked guns on ALL my clay target games. I have high cheek bones, so a trap stock isn’t all that high for me. I see a figure 8 with the middle bead just under the front bead. I’ve found that this sight picture is absolutely perfect for skeet and works for me at sporting. I’ve gotten used to covering my birds at trap with this slightly lower sight picture. I also shoot a lot of wobble, so I am used to covering those low birds.

I would suggest that you get the gun screw choked and try it out on skeet and sporting. Actually, even with your tight chokes, you can experiment at skeet and sporting before you get it screw choked. The tight chokes will give you a very good feedback on where your gun is impacting. Then you’ll know if you need an adjustable stock. If your gun does shoot high for you, you may find that you can just cut your existing stock down a bit as a compromise. Take off a little at a time. You may find that you can keep it high enough for trap and yet have it perfect for sporting. It depends as much on your trap shooting technique as anything else.

One downside to the adjustable stocks is that the mechanism often adds some weight to the rear of the gun. You may or may not want this depending on how you like your guns balanced. Find out from the stockmaker how much weight will be added first. He may be able to remove an equivalent amount of wood to keep the balance the same. A stock maker shouldn’t have any trouble fitting an adjustable comb to your trap stock. Make sure to ask what provisions the mechanism has for not coming loose. Some adjustable stocks insist on adjusting just when you don’t want it.

The jury is still out on lengthened forcing cones. Beretta always had medium length cones and has just gone to super long cones in their Optima Bore guns. It may just be a marketing ploy, or they may have done their homework. They aren’t saying. Browning has always had short cones and doesn’t seem to want to budge. Stan Baker feels that cones lengthened to 1-1/2″ ~2″ are ideal and that you don’t need more than that. Seminole, Ballistics, Briley and the rest all push super long 5″ (1-1/4 degree or thereabouts) cones. That’s how they make their money.

I have not seen any proven, written, statistical pattern before and after work on any improvement from lengthened cones. I have had the work done on several Belgian Brownings and haven’t been able to detect the slightest difference in recoil or pattern. Others of my friends claim that they can feel a difference in recoil. There’s an argument that long cones kick less because they lower velocity a bit. I never put a chrono on a gun before and after, so I don’t know if that is true. In theory, the longer cones should help the shot transition, but I think that his is most seen on very large pellet sizes used for hunting. For a goose gun, I would look into longer cones. For target-sized shot, I think that the benefits of coning are like the benefits of porting. It works in theory, but the big question is whether it works enough to notice in the real world. Since your Browning bore isn’t chromed, you really don’t have too much to lose if you want to experiment. Ask Briley what they think and why they think it. Get specific test results. I’d love to hear what they say.

One downside to long cones that no one (except me) discusses is that chance that they will produce “bloopers”. A pal of mine lengthened the cones on a Belgian Browning to 5″ or so. He found that in cold weather and when using promotional loads, he got some off-sounding shells. The wad was failing to properly seal in the cone area. This did not occur in warm weather or with higher quality shells. I’ve tested two Berettas with the Optima Bore barrels and long cones. I had no problems, but there is that potential. A modest lengthening of the cones to 1-1/2″ or so would be a safe compromise.

Best regards,

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

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2 Responses to Converting A Trap Gun Into A Sporter Gun

  1. Paul Heintel says:

    Thank you for your comments on using a trap gun for all shooting disciplines. I was foolishly thinking of trading my Browning AT for a sporting model. It seems all I need is a pair of skeet chokes for my AT, wich fits me very well.

  2. Having read the questions and comments concerning the use of a trap gun for sporting clays, I concur with Bruce’s reply. Why? I am 66 years old, a former gunsmith at Browning, a certified shotgun instructor, and former competitor in trap and skeet. I no longer chase the registered circuit, but I still compete with myself at trap, skeet, and sporting clays. I must confess, sporting clays are my first love.

    I converted to trap stocks on my Remington 1100 skeet guns back in the 80s at the recommendation of some of the best skeet shooters in Missouri at that time. Skeet shooting with a low gun to improve my hunting skills was my primary game until sporting clays came along. My shooting improved immediately and I have never looked back. As a side note, I still shoot low gun when shooting sporting clays or skeet.

    I no longer use 1100s, but rely on two guns primarily, a Beretta 391 trap with 30″ optima barrel, and a “Joel Etchen” Beretta 687 over and under trap gun with 32″ optima barrels. The barrels have been ported by Ballistic Specialties and I installed Graco Adjustable Pad Hardware with Kick Eez recoil pads on both guns. The 687 had an adjustable comb installed at Joel Etchen guns before I purchased it. After getting the comb in the right place to obtain a figure 8 hold, I installed appropriate spacers and have not moved the comb since. The 687 is my go-to gun, but every now in then I use the 391 to keep it from getting lonely.

    My enthusiasm for trap stocks has spilled over to all of my field guns as well. My favorite quail gun was a 6 pound 20 ga. Browning Citori Superlight with 26.5′ barrels. I had the top barrel bored out to cylinder at the factory and the bottom improved cylinder barrel was not touched. Other then the stock, no other modifications were performed. The stock was another story, Factory dimensions were, if I remember right, 1 1/2″ drop and comb, and 2 3/8″ at the heel. Overall length was 14 1/4″ with a plastic butt plate. In the early 80s, adjustable combs were unheard of. So down to basement I went, fired up the radial arm saw, and cut the stock in half lengthwise. When I showed my wife the new stock I had cut in half lengthwise, she thought I was losing it. Maybe I was, but I new I could not use the field dimensions successfully in the field. I then glued in a tapered piece of American Walnut 1/8″ thick at the front and 3/4″ thick at the back between the two existing pieces. After gluing the comb of the stock, the tapered piece of walnut, and the bottom of the stock back together I let it dry for a week. Removing the excess glue and wood from the sides was done and the stocks comb was brought down to finished dimensions of 1 3/8″ at the comb and 1 7/8″ at heel. Subsequently I stripped and refinished the stock and forearm with Tru Oil in a satin finish. The finished product had an offset comb and a thin Pachmayr English pad. Over all length was set at 14 1/4″ and I gave the stock a little more pitch.

    Quail are scarce in Missouri now unless you want to hunt the “put and take” variety, but back in the 80s and 90s this gun accounted for many quail and woodcock. Limits of 8 or 10 birds, depending upon the years regulations, were very common.

    The group of folks I shoot sporting clays with regularly use a variety of guns, including Berettas, Brownings, Krieghoffs, and Caesar Guerini over and unders, as well as several Beretta semi-autos. We have a few beginners in the group but most of us have been shooting for a long time. Not one shooter, including the new folks, use a stock with field dimensions. Some of the guns have adjustable combs, some have had the stock replaced, some shoot trap guns (like me) and the autos have been adjusted to elevate the stock via the shim system. Bottom line we all prefer the higher stock dimensions afforded by trap stocks, shim systems, or adjustable combs.

    In conclusion I am a user of trap guns for all target disciplines and have been for 40 years. My field guns have been modified with trap stocks or modified other ways to get the stocks up to trap stock dimensions. You will not be disappointed with the results.

    GW

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