Auto For A Lady


I have been a ‘struggling’ shooter, it seems, for a long time now. I started out with a Remington 1187 and really liked the way it performed for me. Then, my husband decided that I needed a Beretta 303 – and so it was. My shooting score average dropped, and I never could seem to get it back up there.

I have tried everything I could to get the Beretta to fit me properly, including ordering one of the new lady’s Monte Carlo-style stocks from Wenig. Still, not a good fit for me. I then realized, and it was pointed out to me by a gun fitter here in Houston, that the Berettas do have a tendency to shoot high.

Consequently, I went back to the 1187. One of the reasons that my husband (and a lot of other experienced shooters) thought that I should try the Beretta, was the fact that the 1187 continually jams and won’t eject the second shell – hence the famous ‘jamo-matic’ term. I had gotten the gun to fit me perfectly and my scores were rising again. But, I was having so many problems with the gun that I purchased a new 1187. It’s doing the same thing!!

Plus, I have trigger problems with the new one (as well as with the old one). I’m ready to scream.

My question is this…I have been told by several people, including the gun-smith, that the problem I’m having with the shells jamming stems from the fact that the gun is heavy and I don’t have enough ‘shoulder’ for the gun to recoil on in order for it to eject the second shell.

What??? Is this really a consideration? If so, it’s a shame because I do feel confident with the gun fit and hate to start all over again.

I know that there are better guns “mechanically”, out there, but I just don’t know what to try next. I’ve thought about a Browning Gold….but if there is a way to solve the problem with the 1187, I’d rather do that.

What’s your advice?



Dear Martha,

It is true that you need some “shoulder” to make a semi-auto or inertia triggered O/U work. The gas operated semi-autos (like the 11-87, 303/390/ Gold) are more forgiving than the recoil operated semi-autos in that respect, but they all need something.

I would try two things with your 11-87. First slop up the magazine tube, piston rings and gas chamber with BreakFree CLP. Leave it wet when you shoot. That will really free the gun up.

You don’t mention what kind of load you are using, but obviously the light loads cause the gas guns more trouble than heavier target load do. The BreakFree CLP will go a long way towards curing this. Try 3 dram 1-1/8 oz target loads and see if they work. If they do, then go to 2-3/4 dram 1-1/8 oz loads. Keep going down until you get a compromise that is comfortable and yet still works the gun.

If that doesn’t quite do it, try lengthening your stock by putting a spacer or two in between the recoil pad and the stock wood. Making the stock longer will ensure a firmer shoulder placement and thus more shoulder resistance to work the gun.

As to the trigger, once you get the gun working right, you’ll need a good gunsmith to fix that issue. My previous recommendation is no longer in business.

I have never thought of the Berettas inherently shooting high. My 303s certainly don’t. Perhaps this comment was sparked due to the unfortunate stepped ribs on the initial 390 sporting clays models. A stepped rib is designed to make a gun shoot high. Flat ribbed guns should shoot dead on when you look flat down the rib.

As to the reliability of the various gas guns, I have found that the Beretta 302, 303, 390, Browning B-80, Remington 1100 and 11-87 and Browning Golds all malfunction about the same for me- around 3 to 5 malfunctions per 1,000 rounds. Of course, that depends on whether or not the guns are performing properly to begin with. I keep my guns reasonably clean and I shoot them wet with BreakFree CLP. The big difference that I find in the reliability of the different brands and models is in parts breakage. There is a real difference there.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
The Technoid at <>
(Often in error, never in doubt.)

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1 Response to Auto For A Lady

  1. Tim DeVries says:

    My wife shoots a Syren XLR5. .For her, its a great fit, as long as the gun is CLEAN, runs faultlessly. BTW, My wife couldn’t shoot my beloved 303 either.. I have a friend who spent oh, I’m guessing all of $1200 for Wenig wood on an 1187, now he’s got maybe 2500 in a jam-o-matic (they are having about the same luck as Martha) Another regular at one of the courses we shoot a lot keeps cramming lightweight short stock 20ga ous under his wife’s cheeks, she won’t shoot 30 targets cuz they um, punch decidedly feminine physique, and smack her in the chops.
    I don’t get it folks. Maybe some people like the challenge of carve, shim, spend, bla bla bla, but here’s how we solved the problem: Buy the Syren already built for gals, spend time and money breaking targets instead of fixing guns!!


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