I am not as eloquent as some of the people asking questions in their opening statements but respect your opinion just the same. I have a Browning Sporter Ultra Plus, 12 ga, 30″ barrel. Current LOP is 14″, previous owner cut stock. My problem is the gun never feels perfect when shouldering. There is approximately 1/4 to 1/2″ between mid and front beads when looking down the rib. I am thinking of having the gun fitted by Larry Feland in Houston.
My question is if the LOP is too short adding additional spacers is one remedy or an adjustable butt plate. This will be done by Larry anyway so should I attempt this myself initially or just let Larry perform his magic? I shoot well with the gun but the consistent good mounting feel is not there.
While I’m not an advocate of do-it-yourself dentistry, I do think that a shooter can do a great deal towards fitting himself to his gun. This doesn’t mean that a professional gunfitting isn’t a good idea, but you may not need to do it.
It sounds as though your Sporter is too high and too short. This is easier to fix than a stock that is too low and long. I think that if you lengthen the stock that you will find that you mount will be more consistent and you will also cheek further back on the stock. Cheeking further back will mean a lower cheeking point as the stock slopes down slightly from the front. You may kill two birds with one stone.
The way I set my guns up for proper length is by inserting spacers between the stock butt and the recoil pad. First remove the butt pad and take those screws to the hardware store. Get screws that are one inch longer, but the same thread size. Depending on how much extra length you think you might need, get the appropriate number of hard rubber stock spacers. You will also want to get a new recoil pad at this time.
I like the “100 Straight” spacers and the “Terminator” recoil pads because they are very much lighter than the standard hard rubber spacers and “Kickeez” or Pachymayr “Decelerator” pads. Up to you. The only drawback to the 100 Straight and Terminator stuff is that they don’t shine up as nicely on the sides as do the heavier pads. You can get all this stuff from your local gun store or order it directly from Brownells, <www.brownells.com>. Make sure ask for a complete catalogue. It makes neat reading. They have absolutely everything you could ever want.
Once you have all the stuff, put all the spacers you think you will need on the gun. Then add ONE EXTRA spacer. Then the recoil pad. Screw everything down. The spacers and pad will now be sticking out over the edge and look awful. Don’t bother cutting them yet.
Go out and shoot the gun. See how you like the length of pull. If it really feels too long, then remove one spacer. Leave it as long as you can and still be comfortable. Note that I am not recommending that you start with the stock too short and add spacers until if feels right. I think that you should start with the stock too long and subtract spacers until it feels right. There’s a big difference. You will have a comfort range of at least 1/4″, possibly more in the length you can tolerate. I like to set up my target guns on the long end of comfortable, not on the short end of comfortable. Longer guns stay on the shoulder better and move back less on recoil, thus kicking less. If your gun mount is good, a very slightly longer stock won’t make a difference in clay targets. My field guns are a bit shorter for obvious reasons.
As the length in your stock increases, you should see less and less rib. Your cheek will be positioned further back on the stock and, since the stock slopes down towards the rear, your eye will be closer to the rib. If you are still too high on the stock, then you will have to have it bent or cut.
But, no matter what you do, try just changing the length of the stock first and shoot it that way a while. You may be surprised that you can shoot a slightly high stock quite well. This is where a do it yourself gun fit has the advantage over a separate professional gunfit. The pro only gets to look at you once, gives you the numbers and, for better or worse, the gun is done. When you do it yourself, you can add a little and try it out. Then you can take some away and try that out. You can experiment to find out what feels perfect over the period of a couple of weeks in many different situation, not just one day in one place with one person. If you know what you are doing, it can really pay off.
Once you decide on the length you like, then take it to the gunsmith and have him grind down the pad and spacers until they are flush fit and look nice. You can have the stock bent down or shaved and refinished at the same time. If you are going to have it bent down, you might want to do that before any final grinding of the pad so that you can adjust the pitch.
If you find that this doesn’t solve your problem, then I’d go for a fitting. If it does solve your problem, you will have saved some money and learned a lot.
An aside on the adjustable butt plate: I really don’t like to see that sort of thing on a sporting gun because it invariably adds a bunch of weight to the butt of the gun. It’s fine for a trap or skeet gun that is shot from the pre-mounted position. For a sporter, shot from the low gun position, good balance is far more important. A whole bunch of hard rubber spacers added to the back of a gun will also add weight, but you can always get out your Dremel tool and skeletonize the heck out of them- or use the much lighter 100 Straight spacers. There isn’t much you can do with a great aluminum mechanical goiter hanging off your gun’s rump.
Remember too, all of this semi-wise advice is coming from a guy who can’t change a door lock or figure out how to operate his VCR.
The Technoid writing for Shotgun Report, LLC
(Often in error. Never in doubt.)