More On Leads

Dear Technoid,

Can you refer me to a good detailed description/analysis of the so called ‘swing-through’ technique. I have recently adopted this method after years of using ‘sustained lead’ with which I developed a tendency to stop the gun. However, with ‘swing-through’ have found it necessary to mount up to 10 feet behind 70 mph crossers at 40 yds in order to generate enough overthrow to break the target. (The trigger is pulled as the muzzles appear to pass the nose of the target.). Why is this? Furthermore, if I track the target (i.e. move the muzzles after the target at the same pace as the target) and then pull through a miss is almost certain. Why?

By the way congratulations on your web site. I rely on your incisive analysis.


Dear Adrian,

The famous English gun maker and coach, Churchill (he of the famous 25″ barrels), was the first really vocal proponent of the swing though shooting system. He claimed that with swing through, you never needed any lead at all. You just shot right at the target and if your swing was the right speed, the delay between when you think that you pull the trigger and when you actually do will build in the proper lead. Of course, swinging “at the right speed” is the catch.

Most hunters use the swing through system, especially on Eastern ruffed grouse where the bird almost always gets the jump on you and you are doing all that you can to catch up from behind. Sustain lead and pull away may work well on incoming or passing ducks.

You might try picking up a copy of George Digweed’s “It’s got to be perfect” sporting clays book. He is the best shot in the world right now and he swings through his targets. He claims that it is easier to “take the line” of the target that way. With his results, I certainly am not going to argue with him.

I use swing through most of the time, but prefer to sustain rabbits and really hot, short window crossers.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid

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Ask the Instructor: Occlusion

Source: Ask the Instructor: Occlusion

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Hartmann’s Hint #14: Unfamiliar Venues

Source: Hartmann’s Hint #14: Unfamiliar Venues

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Point of Aim

Source: Point of Aim

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Kerrville Hosting Opening Stage of 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Shotgun | USA Shooting

Source: Kerrville Hosting Opening Stage of 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Shotgun | USA Shooting

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Ultralight 12S


I am looking to buy a very light 12 gauge o/u gun for grouse shooting (here in Virginia it’s many a steep mile between shots at grouse). The two which I’ve been considering are the Beretta 686 Ultralight, a sort of pared-down 686 weighing about 5.5 pounds. The other is an unusual French gun called a “Baby Bretton.” It is all aluminum–including the barrels–and scales in at about 4.5 pounds. The BB (which I’ve only seen in pictures) is ugly as home-made sin, and I can’t tell how the safety operates, but it certainly would be light.

I’d appreciate your thoughts on these two field guns (or any alternative suggestions).


Dear Tom,

“Ugly as home-made sin” describes the Baby Bretton perfectly. The gun is a caricature of a shotgun. Yes, they are light, but they are also close to unshootable for me. Perhaps you can hit something with a 4.8 gun, but I sure can’t. Six pounds is about the lightest gun that I can actually shoot.

Both the Bretton and Darne SxS use a sliding breech action. I don’t remember where the safety is on the Bretton, but it is inaccessible on the Darne. I wonder if you can put a tang safety on a sliding breech gun. If you are hunting quail over staunch pointers, then you might get away with a non-ergonomic safety, but grouse? Not a chance. It would force you to hunt with your safety off and it is hard to find repeat hunting partners when you do that. Remember also that the Bretton is a double trigger gun, if that matters. Mandell Shooting Supplies in Scottsdale, AZ carries the Baby Brettons for just under $1000.

The Beretta Ultralight is a real gun. It has all the right things in all the usual places. I recommend them highly as light weight hunters. To me, it is the clear choice between the two guns. The gun lists in the catalogue as 5.7#. The 28″ one that I put on the scale was 5lbs. 13oz- close enough. It felt and balanced like a real gun, though light. I didn’t campaign it on clay targets for 50,000 rounds, but it looked strong. It has a titanium strip down the breech face, probably to reinforce the firing pin holes. They are chambered for 2-3/4″ shells and seem strong enough to take any reasonable load if you can handle the inevitable recoil. It was a comfortable gun with 1 oz target loads. The earlier ones had modest dark anodized receivers, but the current models have gone to bright silver with particularly trashy “engraving”. Why do they do that to a perfectly nice gun? The Italians are supposed to be artistes.

The alternative would probably be a light 20. Beretta makes a nice 686 model out of steel that comes in at just about 6#. I find it far more attractive than the Ultralight, but I will always hunt with a 12 in preference to a 20 if weight is not a factor. To me the only reason to ever pick the 20 over the 12 is to obtain a lighter gun. I think that the Beretta Ultralight makes that point moot because it weighs less than the 20.

I also hunt grouse and woodcock in the hills of New England and Canada. Parts of it are just as steep as your beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. I carry an old English 6#4oz SxS. The gun has a good “carry” and I can manage the weight, but I wouldn’t want it any heavier. It is a let-out 2-1/2″ gun, so I limit myself to low pressure 1 oz loads. You wouldn’t have that restriction with the Beretta Ultralight. If I used O/Us more in the field, I would own one.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid

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Dickinson Plantation SxS

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