Gun Balance


Bruce,

Yesterday I was in the local gun shop and picked up the beretta A400, Browning Gold Hunter and the Remington 11-87. Each was different, the Remington balance was heavy out front, the Browning more even front to back and the Beretta felt light out the front.

What should i look for in a balanced gun? Is it even weight distribution or what. I have been told that the heavier guns help keep you swinging, is the inertia, momentum thing happening?

You views would be appreciated.

Regards,

Nick
Oakville, ON Canada

Dear Nick,

I can no more tell you what kind of balance to like than I can tell you which is the most pleasing color. I can tell you what I like (for what ever that is worth in the real world) and I can tell you what others like. From there on, it is up to you. None of the three popular autos you mention is unsuitable, but they are different.

In ’94 and ’95 Andy Duffy won the Nationals a his Browning Gold. I have shot his gun a good bit. Like you, I find the over-the-counter Gold sporter to be extremely nose heavy for my tastes. Andy had his barrel backbored and probably took 1-2 oz out of it to give it a bit more life. Again, note that the advanced shooters are quick to alter their guns until they get them the way they want them.

Though I am not a big fan of the mechanical reliability of the current crop of 11-87s, the 30″ sporters that I have tried all seemed well balanced to me. I don’t know of any top ranked shooters who use them in competition, but if I had one (and I am not a top ranked shooter) I would probably leave the balance alone.

To some extent, the balance of any automatic is adjustable. If the gun is a touch heavy up front you can add a bit of weight to the stock (just a bit, this doesn’t work well when you add too much) or back bore the barrels to remove weight. A typical .010″ backbore removes about 1.7 oz from a 30″ barrel.

If your gun feels a bit light in the front, you can drill out a bit of wood from the stock or add a bit of weight inside the magazine tube or screwed onto the forend nut. It is much easier to alter the balance of an automatic than it is with an O/U.

What balance SHOULD you look for? What is best? Dunno. The paradigm of the English game gun was balanced between the hands to be very “fast”. All the modern skeet champions used tubed sets that are extremely weight forward and balance like a pig on a snow shovel. But that is what wins.

As to sporting, it really depends on how you like to shoot. I tend to “muscle” my guns and so like a heavy one with a bit of weight forward bias. Not too cumbersome though. The K-80s are just too “dead” for me. Others like a slightly faster gun because it permits more subtle gun movements and easier corrections. A simo pair off 30 yard looping battues can often require a rapid barrel movement between birds and the lighter barreled gun will excel here. The heavier gun might be an edge on big crossers.

Remember too, it may well be a bit easier to add weight than remove it (just like real life). Many shotguns have balancing weights that allow for placement in both the barrel area and the stock area to adjust a gun’s balance to better suit your preferences.

It is not that hard to alter the balance of your gun. We have enough “unbalanced” shooters as it is.

Best regards,
Bruce Buck

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

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