To Bend Or Not To Bend

Dear Technoid,

I would greatly appreciate some direction concerning how to fit a new over/under that I have just bought and where to find a reliable gunsmith to do this work.

I am a left handed shooter primarily interested in sporting clays, five stand and occasional trap. After a good deal of research I have just replaced a Citori field gun with a new a 30″ Beretta Silver Pigeon II Sporting model.I am 5′ 7″ and wear shirts with a 32″ sleeve. The stock on my new gun feels a shade long and even with the small recoil pad, it tends to hang up on my clothes from a low mount. The stock has about a 1/4″ cast-off that I am fighting a bit.

I have shot a left handed Benelli Montefeltro for some time and the cast-on with that gun makes the mount natural and fluid. The Citori was a neutral cast 20 gauge gun that always fit me perfectly, but this 12 gauge Beretta has an entirely different feel. Don’t get me wrong, the fit is reasonable but I do not feel as completely at home in this gun as I did with the Benelli and Citori. Comb and heel drop do not seem to be an issue.

Psychological or not, I think that I need to have this stock bent or have it replaced with a left handed stock. I understand that Beretta will retrofit a sporting gun with a left hand stock for a flat fee of $98, but I was lucky to find an SP II with grain and figuring you would expect on a higher grade gun. I am sure that Beretta will not have a stock that is as lovely.

I have talked to one gunsmith about bending the stock with a hot oil technique, but I know little about this process and am terrified of damaging the structural integrity of the gun or the quality of its finish. Also, this shop (Cole’s) will need to do the work long distance and I am skeptical about my ability to assess what really needs to be changed.

I live in Virginia and am having some trouble locating a gunsmith I would trust with this work. What would be your suggestions? To bend or not to bend? To have Accokeek replace the stock or not? To do the long distance dance or travel to a fitting in person? If fit it we will, whom would you suggest in this part of the country?

Thanks very much for our thoughts. Love your site.


Dear Stan,

Gun fitting over the internet has its limitations, but pure practicality won’t stop me from yakking for a while.

The easy way to fit a new gun is to go to a gunfitter, get measured shooting a plate and thrown clays with a try gun and then send those measurements and the gun to a competent stockmaker to have the stock bent and shortened. That’s the short course and certainly the way most of the English do things. They don’t give a second thought to bending a stock and many of the shops that sell even medium price guns offer the service. I have had a number of guns bent and it usually works out fine. I’ve never had one crack and only once have I had one that sprang back. Bending is quite common, but it does require someone who knows what they are doing. As I don’t live in your area, I really can’t recommend a fitter or bender. Black’s “Wing & Clay” booklet is a good source if you can’t find what you want by word of mouth. In the NY, CT area, most people use Keith Lupton (Dover Plains, NY, cell: 914-646-1528) to measure and he will get it bent for you by a good gunsmith.

It’s easy to experiment at home with length by just removing the recoil pad, protecting the raw wood with masking tape, and testing things with the stock 1/2″ shorter. Unfortunately for you lefties, you can’t test cast on as that requires wood removal or bending.

How’s this for a suggestion. Are their any dealers in your area who might stock the same gun in a left handed version that you could mount and test in the shop? Probably not, but worth a call or two. You might get lucky. Perhaps Millers in New Castle, DE, tel:302-328-9747. Lacking that, you live close enough to Beretta in Accokeek, MD that it might be worth a trip to go there. Call their service dept and tell them that you might want to swap a stock, but that you’d like to

1) try a left handed gun on for size, and

2) get wood of equal quality.

It can’t hurt and they might actually say “yes”.

You don’t mention that height’s an issue, so I’ll assume it’s OK. Thus, with a left handed stock, the only thing you’ll have to worry about is length and that’s an easy fix that any gunsmith can do. Remember, correct stock length is measured from trigger to butt, but the feel of length really depends on the distance from the center of the pistol grip to the butt. That could be why your Citori 20 and Beretta 12 feel different as to length.

So my game plan would be to test a left handed gun like yours and see if it suits as to height and cast. Don’t worry about length. If it does, then swap stocks with Beretta. If it doesn’t then get measured and get the stock that you have bent to fit.

Let me know how it works out.

Best regards,

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

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