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,

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 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 felt 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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