Hi, Bruce! There’s been a development …
A couple of weeks ago my wife wanted to find out more about this weekend addiction of mine known as “sporting clays.” So we went to the range together … and she loved it! On our first outing, she chose to use my 12ga Teknys Gold Target with a 30″ barrel. She broke several targets, but the gun was unwieldy and heavy in her hands, so for the next trip a female shooter-friend offered to let us use her 12ga Urika Target with a 28″ barrel and a shortened stock. When my wife picked up the gun, she declared it to be “perfect” — it was significantly lighter than the Teknys, and the fit was spot on …
… and then she started shooting it. The Urika’s recoil was much more pronounced than that of the bigger and heavier Teknys, and the cycling of the Urika’s action felt noticeably more “mechanical” and less smooth than that of the Teknys. So my wife switched back to the Teknys at the sixth station, and she was a much happier camper thereafter.
My wife is 5’6″ tall and her weight is 110 lbs. She has previously and happily shot my Beretta 20ga. Silver Pigeon 1 when shooting clays in the country with our nieces and nephews, but she has already decided that she likes the smooth swings associated with my heavier guns (whether semi-autos or O/Us). Still, she isn’t totally comfortable with any of my heavy and long 12ga gas or O/U guns.
I think that men oftentimes do a terrible job of choosing guns for women (I think that most men tend to buy the guns that they want their girlfriends, wives, or daughters to have, instead of allowing them to purchase their own damn guns for themselves with the assistance of a trusted and knowledgeable person who works at a local gun store), so I intend to let my wife find and buy her own shotgun for sporting clays. Nevertheless, I’m sure that your female readers often tell you about some of the reliable guns that they are shooting, successfully and comfortably, right? — guns which can be adjusted, or which are already scaled, for women, right?
BTW, would it be a dumb idea for my wife to consider any of the so-called “youth guns” …?
Your insights would be appreciated! Thank you!
My wife is almost exactly the same height and weight as yours. She shoots a Beretta 28 O/U and will cleave to no other. I tried her on an auto, but there was a “fingernail issue”.
Where possible, I always recommend gas autos because of the reduced recoil and the ability to shim fit the stock (one day Remington will catch up to this on the 1100). Beretta is the most popular gas auto for clays by a long shot and with good reason. There is no meaningful mechanical difference between the Urika and Teknys, so I am unable to explain why they felt different, other than the way that the guns were set up.
I’ve really never noticed a meaningful difference in the recoil between the Beretta 390, 391 and 400 when they are set up the same way and based on the clays model. That said, I do feel that the 301/2/3 models without the secondary bleed valves did have a little less recoil. All the 12 gauge Beretta gas guns I’ve shot could handle 1200 fps 7/8 oz loads, so that it an easy way to lower recoil.
As a reference, a 7.5# gun shooting a 1200 fps 1-1/8 oz load has 21.6 ft/lb of free recoil. Lower that load to 7/8 oz at 1200 fps and recoil goes down to 14.4 ft/lb.
Perhaps you might consider a 391 or 400 20 gauge. They are fully as adjustable as their larger mates, but a bit lighter and easier for a lady to handle. You can also easily add Briley weights to the front and rear of a gas gun to bulk it up and change balance as needed. As to recoil, a 6.5# 20 gauge using a 1200 fps 7/8 oz load would have 16.6 ft/lb recoil.
As to adjusting a gun for a woman your wife’s size, the stock will probably end up being shorter, but also noticeably higher (to account for a woman’s thinner face). Both are easy adjustments to make with a gas auto with a shim adjustable stock and replaceable recoil pad. I’d certainly also look towards a shorter barrel. Remember, with a gas gun you have an extra 3″ to 3.5″ of receiver, so a gas gun with a 30″ barrel has the same sighting plane as an O/U with a 33.5″ barrel.
Caesar Guerini/Fabarm has come out with a Syren line of guns sized specifically for women. That might be worth a look.
And don’t forget the 28. Take a look at one or two of those too. In for a penny, but not in for a pounding.
Shotgun Report’s Technoid