Trap Gun Advice

Hi Bruce:

I am considering purchasing a trap gun. I currently own a Beretta 391 which I use for sporting clays. I shoot well with it in sporting clays, but I feel that I am somewhat at a disadvantage with it in trap. I also seem to struggle just to shoot a 21 or 22 with it.

I am considering purchasing either a model 870 trap (particularly after your positive review of it) or a model 12 trap gun. I love to shoot pump guns, particularly because I believe they are a great american tradition, and I can shuck real fast. I currently own a plain barrel model 12 (30″ full) field gun that I love, I shoot so well with it that I’ve thought about using it for everything, even with the abuse I would get from the sporting clays shooters (you really need an over and under,etc,etc.).

I’m going to be shooting in a trap league in the fall, and although I have no visions of Ohio, I would like to be competitive without going the way of Perazzi, Krieghoff, etc.

Any suggestions you have would be greatly appreciated.



Dear Mark,

Those were my partner Roland’s comments about the excellent 870 Trap gun, but I heartily endorse what he says. If I had to pick between a new (or fresh) 870 trap gun and a Model 12 trap gun, generally I would pick the 870. New beats old from my point of view.

I don’t question the reliability of the Model 12, but it does have a lot of parts. Also, your chances of getting a really clean M12 are lower than your chances of getting a real clean 870 simply because M12s have been out of production since the “Y” series wrapped up in the ’70s. Also, because buying used is catch as catch can, you’ll have a bit less choice of rib and wood configuration. Finally, add in a minimum cost of $1000 for a really clean M12 trap gun.

The 870 is available new if you wish it. I’ve always been at more at home with the 870 style of trap rib. The 870 trigger can tune up just as well as the M12s. If you are going new, get the solid Full choke barrel. Remington’s been having a bit of a problem with their screw choke installations recently according to what I have been hearing. You will also pay a lot less for a new 870 than you will for a good used M12, though the M12 retains more value when you sell.

Now, let me ask you a question. Why not a Beretta 391 Trap gun instead of a pump? You say that your 391 sporter puts you at a “disadvantage” at trap. Chances are that’s because the gun isn’t set up for trap with the high stock, greater weight and long barrel. If you bought the dedicated 391 Trap gun, say with my personal favorite 32″ barrel, you would have soft shooting gun that is propoperly set up and dedicated for the game. The 391 Trap gun and Sporter have very different feels.

The big advantage of getting a second 391 would be that you would have a “complete set” of spare parts at all times. The Third Technoidal Truism is that “Gas guns are like sheep. They know when they’re alone and they don’t like it.”

I enjoy shooting a pump as much as the next guy, but they don’t do much for recoil. Serious trap is a game of recoil. Trap shooters shoot more than any other clay sport and they do it in a way that assures that they suck up every possible ft/lb. It takes newer shooters a while to realize this, but after 200K or so, it will start to dawn on them. Then they will start to go to the special recoil pads, the lighter loads, release triggers and the other things. A gas gun’s recoil attenuation can be a life (and back) saver over time. There are all sorts of tricks for reducing the kick in pump guns (adding weight, barrel work, fancy stocks), but they all also apply to gas guns and the result is even less recoil.

So, my pick for your new trap gun, in order of my personal, biased opinion is:

1) Beretta 391 32″ Trap gun
2) Remington 870 Trap gun
3) Winchester Model 12 Trap gun

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
The Technoid writing for Shotgun Report, LLC
(Often in error. Never in doubt.)

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