Sensitive to Recoil

Dear Technoid:

My wife has a shoulder problem that makes her sensitive to recoil. We like shooting clays. In the interest of continuing the sport she leaves her Belgian Browning O/U 20ga at home and shoots a new Beretta 303 20ga. The gun was fitted with a nice pad by Chuck’s here in Atlanta. She still complains about the recoil. She shoots light loads. I presume that adding weight to the gun is the next alternative. Are the mercury filled attachments worth consideration? What advice do you have for me?

Second question. The pistol grip on the Beretta’s stock is proportioned for a larger hand than her’s. The trigger is more difficult for her to reach on the Beretta than on the Browning. I have seen leather attachments for other areas of the stock. Do you know of any similar attachment that might fit in the grip area? Do you have any other suggestions?

Thanks, Brad

Dear Brad:

Many people assume that all 20 gauge guns kick less than all 12s because the shell is smaller. ‘Taint so. As you rightly stated, weight is an important component of the free recoil formula. Most Beretta 303 20 gauge guns are under 6.5 pounds and I have seen them as low as 6.25. At that weight, even in a gas gun, there is some recoil.

Adding weight is the way to go. You will probably want to add equal amounts of weight to the front and back. Mercury recoil reducers work just fine because they are heavy. I have a bit less faith that the mercury sloshing back and forth adds any measurable recoil attenuation. Some people find it irritating, some do not. “Breako” and some other companies make mercury reducers for the 303. You might try one screwed on to the front in place of the forend nut and have one fit inside the stock. If you keep the weight addition to no more than 1/2 pound in front and the same in the stock, you will have done about all that you can do.

The reducers will change the moment of inertia of the gun- sort of like comparing a broom stick that balances in the middle to the same stick with a brick on each end, but still balancing in the middle. You wife may find some increase in the moment of inertia to be acceptable, but you can go too far.

Second question: the pistol grip. Beretta semi-auto pistol grips fit very few people and there are a lot of complaints about them. You might try building up the inside of the pistol grip with duct tape to shorten the finger reach. If that works, take it to a stock maker and have him cut a piece out of the grip, add in a bigger piece and shape to fit. I have also seen some people use Bondo or other putty type auto body repair products to build up grips and palm swells. Andy Duffy’s palm swell is made out of something like that- or perhaps it is denture mould compound.

Another approach would be to shorten the stock where the head of the stock meets the rear of the receiver. You would have to cut a relief rim on the stock and tinker with the washer on the through bolt, but that would be an ideal way to move the pistol grip forward. It would also raise the stock slightly- usually of benefit to a woman. They tend to shoot higher stocks than men because their faces are smaller.

Good luck. Jeff’s Outfitters ( in Cape Girdeau, MO make a market in Beretta stocks if you screw up and want to start anew.

Best regards,
Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid

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