Seminole 390 Lowers Recoil


Dear Bruce,

I certainly agree in reference to the subjectivity of recoil “reduction” and I guess my comments point to someone with a problem to solve such as flinching, target panic or the other myrial of typical shooter complaints.

I fired the original AL/390 (only changes were trigger at 3 1/2 lb. by Timney and a Kickeez) with 30 in. barrel and the fully modified Seminole gun (also 30 in. barrel and same Kickeez with an extremely heavy load and the recoil seemed at least half with the Seminole.

I then handed the gun to other shooters and they all said the same. I then tried various load combinations and arrived at my favorite light 1 1/8 combo (I adhere to your little lead soldiers downfield dictum) and have been extremely pleased with the results.

Last weekend a shooter asked to fire the Seminole Gold with their one ounce factory AA’s and stated it kicked less than their backbored 303 with the same load. Though not very scientific the universal opinion among my shooting companions is the Seminole kicks less.

In answer to the amount of work done on the stock 390 I had the full gamut (less trigger and recoil pad which were already done) including backbore, polish, port, cones, etc. The two guns weigh the same and fit and fire the same.

Backboring is .735 which is Seminole’s standard and allows me to interchange those expensive chokes. I did not add weight to the gun or guns as I noticed no change and there were no stock alterations. It is somewhat amazing to me how little I flinch with the auto’s versus the over/under (same loads) which points to the subconscious as a powerful enemy or ally in this game.

Before the auto purchases I almost gave it up as I was flinching away up to 10 birds per round depending on target presentation. I now adhere to move – mount – shoot because if I ride em sometimes everything leaves the station but the number 8’s.

I hope this is helpful. I also think there should be support groups for flinching shooters. Maybe it could be like the 12 step program and typical introductions would begin, “Hi My name is Bob and I’m a flincher.” I hope this answers your questions and I appreciate the reply.

Next question will address the willingness of your shooting community to be satisfied with low scores in order to improve prowess. I have seen a propensity to the exact opposite in most places (people want to break targets or they get moody) and the range owners adhere to the masses. (I don’t blame them) I guess FITASC and it’s nuances (and expectations) aid this attitude. It always seems to come to money and how we spend it!

Keep up the good work and watch those low stumps in the barnyard!


Dear Readers,

I have generally found that attempts to reduce recoil by backboring, porting and coning to be as much a matter of subjectivity as science. The only actual nose to nose test I did was swapping a backbored, ported and coned Ballistics 303 barrel with my stock 303 bbl on my own action. It is a real advantage to be able to use the same action on the two test barrels. I felt that recoil had definitely been slightly lowered (maybe 10%) as did every single one of the small group who tried my gun with both barrels. The problem was that everyone also noticed the loss of the two ounces that the barrel incurred during backboring. The owner felt that the barrel was now too light and sold it.

I have subsequently shot many, many Ballistics and Seminole 390 conversions and have yet to find one that is noticeably softer recoiling than my own unaltered 390. This makes me think that recoil reduction for many of us depends more on perfect gunfit than it does on barrel modifications.

When Seminole first introduced their customizing process I was much less than impressed. Two of my friends ordered Seminole guns and both returned them. We noticed no recoil reduction in the guns except when they failed to chamber the second shell. Then, surprise!, there was no recoil at all.

Yesterday, I had the chance to strip a brand new Seminole gun and I was generally impressed. They mirror polished the action bar, areas of the bolt carrier and the important parts of the trigger group (including the break-prone hammer struts) as well as the link. A real effort had been made. The gun had been backbored to .735″ and the cones lengthened. The cone job was fair. The cones were well polished and were quite long, but Seminole left slight cone rim at the front of the chamber. This is either poor reaming technique or poor reamer size selection. Either way, a ridge at the front of the chamber is the one place you don’t want a ridge.

The gun functioned perfectly with light Fiocchi loads on a warm spring day. It tossed the empties just about the same distance that my standard 390 pitches 3 dram target loads. The gas ports on the Seminole had been reamed out so much that they almost cut into each other to form a figure “8”. I am sure that the gun will work will with light loads, but then again, so does the standard 390 without all the modifications. Apparently, backboring changes the gas dynamics and requires increasing porting size. One modification requires another.

This particular Seminole seemed to have slightly less recoil, very slightly less, than my standard 390 field gun. I believe that most of that recoil reduction came from the fact that the owner of the Seminole gun lengthened the stock so that it was a tighter fit on my shoulder than my “loose” field dimensions.

I used the gun on our local FITASC parcour with a Seminole .010″ Improved Cylinder. It broke the birds just about the way the measured .010″ Beretta factory IC in my stock barrel does. This isn’t very scientific, to say the least. The owner feels that the Seminole chokes produce tighter patterns than the stock Beretta chokes. I was not at all convinced and would have to put it on paper to confirm.

The gun, the basic grade, was bought complete from Seminole, not as a conversion. The wood was noticeably nicer than the standard wood that I have seen on over the counter 390s, but not up to the grade of the Gold model.

The Seminole trigger job was perfectly acceptable and far, far better than the standard way it comes from the factory. I personally think that the Timney trigger conversion results in less creep than the latest Seminole conversion I tried, but the Seminole job isn’t bad at all.

Generally, my impression of the current Seminole 390 was far better than now than it was when I saw their first effort a couple of years ago. They have obviously learned something. People say that they are also a lot easier to deal with on the telephone now. You have to give credit where credit is due.

Is the gun worth the price of TWO stock 390 sporters? I don’t think so at all, but many other do.

I had questioned the recoil reduction of these conversions when I was corresponding with one of SR’s readers. He is a distinguished holder of the coveted JTOP(3) and thus can be considered a virtual font of veracity and perspicacity. Attached is his well thought-out reply.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid
(Often in error, never in doubt.)

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