The Classic Cutts Compensator


Dear Great Technoid,

Perhaps in your vast, intricate knowledge of the eternal abyss of the shotgun Netherworld you could answer . . .

When / why did the Cutts become popular, aside from the obvious of one barrel, multiple chokes? When and why did it fall into disfavor, anything to do with plastic shot cups? Any particularly strong negatives about hunting/shooting with one? So many older A-5 seem to be Cutts equipped!

The other answers to everything in the universe can wait . . .

Ciao,

Randy

Dear Randy,

Stand back. The Volcano of Knowledge is about to start spewing.

I have a lot of experience with the Cutts Compensator (conjured up by a Colonel or Major Cutts of the US Army). The devise was originally used to tame recoil on artillery field pieces and later on the famous Tommy gun. It was the first of the really successful muzzle brakes.

The Cutts Compensator was absolutely de rigour for American skeet in the ’40s and ’50s when the A-5 and early Remingtons were popular. The adjustable choke feature was not its attraction at skeet as the Cutts “skeet” choke generally employed was well over cylinder bore. I believe it was popular for a whole bunch of reasons:

1) it added a bit of barrel weight to help swing.

2) it really did reduce recoil by a modest, but noticeable, amount

3) it was supposed to allow the shot and the fiber wads (then in use) to separate so that the wad would not punch through the shot cloud and produce the dreaded (and largely fictitious) “doughnut” pattern.

4) it was also supposed to return back into the pattern the shot that had been scrubbed flat along the barrel walls. With felt wads, the pellets scrubbed by the walls were supposed to spread out away from the main shot column inside the plenum chamber, only to be nudged back into the pattern by the annular ring of the choke. This also was supposed to elongate the shotstring- a desirable feature at skeet distances, though not further out.

5) the big blob up front kept some shooters from “aiming” at the bird.

6) it made a nice, satisfying Fourth of July bang.

The famous Russian “Tula” choke (named after the Tula arsenal in the Soviet Union) was reputed to have been derived from the Cutts. It is said that in the ’50s the US Air Force skeet team dominated an international skeet match in Scandinavia. They were all using Browning A-5 autos with Cutts. After the match the Russian coach came over and offered to buy, for a large sum, the winning American’s gun. It was sold and a few minutes later the gun was returned- minus the Cutts and the front half of the barrel. Shortly thereafter the Russian Baikal MU-8s appeared in the hands of the future Russian world champion Yuri Tsuranov with the familiar “Jug” or Tula choke that Perazzi, SKB and Krieghoff have since copied.

I have owned a Winchester Model 12, Remington 870 and 1100 with Cutts Compensators installed. I have also shot a bunch of 1100s with the Kolar Comp (copy of the Cutts) installed. I found that the Cutts definitely reduced recoil and obviously added some weight up front (they came in steel and lighter aluminum versions). I never really minded having that big blob in my sight picture at skeet (I also prefer the Browning Broadway rib to the narrower ones for skeet). With plastic shells, I could see no difference in the pattern from a standard cylinder bore with a slight funnel bevel (a la Beretta skeet chokes of the ’70s).

As an aside (most of that the Technoid says is an aside anyway), I did some extensive pattern testing with Perazzi and Krieghoff jug choke guns comparing the fiber wad Federal International Skeet loads of the early ’80s to the plastic wad Federal skeet loads. I got the best patterns in the jug choke guns from the plastic wad shells. So much for the theory of the jug choke optimizing with felt wad cartridges. Those jug chokes do build up plastic though.)

I have no strong negatives at all about hunting/shooting with a Cutts if you do not mind the balance shift forward and can keep the twigs and briars out of the slots. I am pretty sure that Lyman still makes them as Brownells (tel: 515-623-5401) carries them in both 12 and 20. They carry the choke tubes too.

There it is. More than you EVER wanted to know about the Cutts Compensator.

Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid

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