Shared Skeet Gun


Technoid:

I am a novice skeet shooter, looking to buy a great 12 gauge. But I want to share it with my daughter who is sensitive to recoil. Is there a measurable difference between a semi and an over under? What barrell length would you recommend? What would be your choice, price is not nearly as important as success and comfort.

Rick,

Sharing guns is like sharing shoes. Occasionally it works, but usually not. If you and your daughter are the same size, have the same shooting technique and shoot the same games, then the same gun might work. Other than that, one of you two is going to be shooting a gun that isn’t right.

If price is secondary to success and comfort (as it certainly should be), each of you should get your own gun. Gas operated semi-autos like the Beretta 303, 390, 391, 400 (not inertia autos like the Benelli) are noticeably softer shooting than O/Us, pumps or SxSs. That’s because the gas semi delivers the recoil over a longer period of time than the O/U. It’s more of a push than a poke.

Another way to dramatically reduce recoil is to lower the shotload or the velocity. Reducing your 12 gauge target load from 1-1/8 oz of shot at 1200 fps velocity to 1 oz of shot at 1150 fps, will lower the recoil of an 8# gun from 20.3 ft/lb to 15.3, a 25% reduction.

Combine that light shot load with a Beretta 400 properly shim-adjusted to fit your daughter and you have done about what you can do to lower recoil for her. Remember, a huge advantage of the modern gas semis like the Beretta is that the stocks are shim adjustable, so you can easily set the stock to the height suitable for the typical woman’s thinner face. Length is just a question of substituting a different length recoil pad.

In the auto for skeet, I’d get a 26″ barrel. Remember, the auto has a 3″ longer receiver than the O/U, so the effective length of a 26″ barrel on an auto is equal to a 29″ O/U.

If you really get into skeet, you will want to shoot all four gauges. That generally means an O/U with a second set of carrier barrels and full length tubes, if you want to go all the way. The gauge tubes from Briley or Kolar weigh around 11 ozs. If you put them in your standard 12 ga O/U, the weight change will be significant compared to the “naked” 12 gauge. This will throw off your shooting. To do it right, you either get a second set of lighter carrier barrels or you limit your shooting to 20, 28 and 410, using the 20 in the 12 events. Many people do this successfully.

At the high end of American-style skeet, Krieghoffs are very popular. You don’t see them in the Olympics because they are too clunky for the ultra fast Olympic skeet targets. Perazzi rules skeet and trap on the Olympic world stage. In the more modest O/U price range, Browning Japan and Beretta make excellent O/Us which will last as long as you live. People usually feel comfortable with one or the other, seldom with both.

Just remember, which ever skeet gun you buy now when you are starting, it won’t be your last. We target shooters are a fickle bunch.

Best regards,
Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid

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