Stock Length And Balance

Dear Technoid:

I’m thinking of buying a Beretta 682 Gold Clays model O/U.I want to order the 30 inch barrels. The LOP is 14.7 inches and I shoot 13.7 LOP.

That will be an awful lot to cut off. How much will it change the balance and the feel of the gun? Any other suggestions such as different barrel length?


Dear Dale,

The best suggestion for barrel length is to use the length that BALANCES best for your gun set-up and method of shooting. The Beretta and Japanese Browning screw choke guns of late have tended to have heavy barrels. Removing wood from the rear of the stock will tend to shift even more weight forward in two ways:

1) the rear of the gun will lose the weight of the wood (up to a couple of ounces depending on wood and size of bolt hole), and

2) a shorter stock will shift weight forward as the rear of the gun becomes shorter in proportion to the front.

A 13.7″ stock might well work best with 28″ barrels, rather than 30″. Of course, it is all a matter of your preference for feel. There is no real ballistic difference in those two inches. You would be well advised to at least handle a 28″ gun in that model and form your own opinion.

If you do wish to cut the stock, you might consider that you can add weight back in the rear of the gun by your selection of a recoil pad. The Kickeez brand of solid Sorbothane is the heaviest one on the market. The Terminator brand of “foamed” polymer is one of the lightest. Pachmayrs are in between. Recoil pads are relatively inexpensive compared to the cost of a new gun. A little experimentation could produce the balance you require.

Adding a heavy (or light) recoil pad to balance a gun works if you don’t need too much weight change. It is better than adding a blob of lead as you get some other benefit from the weight. The new recoil pads really do work. If you require a big weight shift, then adding the weight all in one place won’t do it. It will destroy your “moment of inertia”. Weight is always best added throughout the entire stock length or throughout the entire barrel length, rather than just in one place. Still, for a subtle weight change, you can get away it in the stock. Balancing a gun is really rather an art, but properly balancing an gun can pay tremendous dividends by turning clunker into a sweet handling beauty.

One final thought- in my years of shooting I have noticed that more people tend to shoot a stock which is too short for them rather than too long. For some reason, this is especially true in sporting clays. Newer shooters gravitate to shorter stocks because they are easier to handle initially. Later, when their gun handling skills improve, they stay with that short stock. I am not suggesting that this is your case, merely that it is a situation many others have found themselves in. Trust the Technoid, a clay target stock is better a little too long than a little too short. Longer stocks require a cleaner mounting technique, but repay the effort with a more secure mount and less recoil due to a firmer shoulder seating.

Best regards,

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

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New Loads And Psi

Dear Bruce,

I understand that you create some of your own loads (I may be wrong) but you will not distribute the data. I understand. Liability is everything. I’m considering making some of my own. However, what I’d like to know is how to test the Pressure. Is there an outfit that can check this and is it expensive?

By the way, I love your motto. Most of us are so willing with our opinions but can’t accept that our heads must be “in the clouds.” Just for fun you should listen to the “duck hunters” at the sweatlines in CA. They are a hoot!

Of your articles I can’t say that I agree with you, but at least you give a rationale for your opinions. Some of the magazine articles seem to create reality to fit the situation.

Thanks again for the leads on Bismuth reloading and your refreshing views.


Dear Marc,

It pains me to admit that I did indeed “create” some of my own shotshell loads. I was absolutely convinced that I was on the right track until I had a chance to talk to the ballisticians at Federal and Lyman. It was sort of like a shade tree mechanic meeting NASA. Of course, they have to deal with the “corporate factor” of legalities and public sales, where the home brewer only has himself to blame when things erupt or frames stretch.

Over the years the one thing that I have learned is that there are enough published loads out there to cover any need that I may have. The more I shoot, the more I tend to standardize. This makes finding recipes and components easy. It also permits me to practice with the same shells I use in matches or in the field. For example, I load just about everything that I shoot to about 1200 fps. (I buy my steel loads). While the performance of a load of #9s at 1200 and a field load of #5s at 1200 is obviously different, I have gotten used to it. I find that nothing is to be gained by higher speeds that can’t be accomplished by proper pellet size selection. There are exceptions, but not many.

Now as to pressure testing- life has gotten a lot easier in the past ten years since the standard has shifted from LUP (lead units of pressure) to PSI on a piezo-electric pressure sensor. In the old days a special pressure barrel was used that had a hole drilled in the chamber area. A lead plug of an exact size was inserted and the gun fired. The lead plug was compressed by the shell pressure and the amount of compression was carefully measured on a tarage table where it was equated to a pressure curve. This was not back yard stuff.

Today piezo-electric sensors are placed on the chamber area of a standard gun and the resulting stretch in the metal can be easily read. No need for a special test barrel. That’s the good news. The bad news is I don’t know where you get one or get access to one. And I don’t think that it is backyard equipment yet as chronographs have become.

Ballistic Products is well known for carrying leading edge reloading supplies and, as you know, is a great source for bismuth components.

I appreciate your kind comments about the site. As to not agreeing with me all the time, heck, I don’t agree with myself all the time either. If I was always consistent or correct, I would never be learning anything new. The world of shotgunning has undergone some tremendous changes in the past thirty five years and I am just hanging on by my fingernails. But what a ride!

Best regards,

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

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Stewart, Vizzi, Carroll and Layer Earn Shotgun Spring Selection Match Victories | USA Shooting

Source: Stewart, Vizzi, Carroll and Layer Earn Shotgun Spring Selection Match Victories | USA Shooting

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Rhode Wins Silver in Cyprus | USA Shooting

Source: Rhode Wins Silver in Cyprus | USA Shooting

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Rule Of 96

Dear Technoid,

I love the pump gun and have used an 870 for years. More recently I’ve fallen in love with the M1 Super 90 for most of my duck hunting. A Benelli pump sounds like a marriage made in heaven.


Dear Craig,

Benelli has always built their guns light weight for convenient field use. A light fixed breech gun shooting those 3-1/2″ Roman candles is going to be a thriller to shoot.

Long ago the English came up with a gun weight to shot weight formula of 96:1. This meant that in order to be comfortable to shoot, the gun should weigh 96 times the weight of the shot in the shell it was designed to shoot. A six pound gun (6 lb x 16 oz = 96) should be designed to handle a one ounce shell. Any larger shell would be uncomfortable and “out of proportion” to the gun weight.

Each extra 1/8 oz of shot would add 3/4# to the recommended minimum weight of the gun. A 1-1/8 oz shell would be best in a gun no lighter than 6-3/4#, 1-1/4 oz would require a gun no less than 7-1/2# to shoot in comfort. The big 3-1/2″ Winchester steel load holds 1-3/8 oz of steel shot, so the gun should be around 8-1/4#. BUT if you get into the 3-1/2″ LEAD turkey load of 2-1/4 oz, in order to adhere to the rule of 96, your gun should weigh 13-1/2# ! That is a serious gun.

I’m not saying that the 96:1 rule is written in stone, but it is a guideline which has been around for years. The point is that any light fixed breech gun is going to be a handful with a huge shell. This doesn’t mean it isn’t safe to shoot it. I am sure that Benelli does their homework. It does mean that you will be exceeding the comfort level if you shoot very many shells. The nice thing about a pump, though, is that you can always use a lighter load when conditions permit it.

After owning a bunch of Model 12 Winchesters, I have become a big fan of the Remington 870. The 870 is MUCH easier to strip and clean when you drop it overboard in salt water when trying to haul the dog over the gunwale.

Best regards,

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

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Krieghoff Vs Perazzi Vs Browning

Hi Bruce,

I’ve followed your advice to the “7 steps to shotgun heaven” and am now in a quandary. I’ve looked at all of the high-end over and under shotguns, read all the advice, and am still unsure. I understand that gun fit and “feel” are very important and personal, but because I’m a closet technoid, given enough money and time I can have a gun fitted, and modified to feel very different.

I know you’ve said (many times) that a gun is a personal thing, but I’m wondering if you can separate all of the marketing propaganda from the facts. Are there any technical, factual reasons to choose a K-80, from a Perazzi, from a Browning B-25, from any other?

Because I plan to buy new and get the gun fitted, I’ve been looking for any concrete reasons to choose one of the three guns over another, but I’m so thoroughly confused by the marketing hype about fundamental design, trigger design, construction, quality, monobloc vs. chopper-lump, etc, etc, etc… Is there any truth to any of it?

I look forward to your sage advice!


Dear Dave,

Roland wrote that piece on the “Seven Steps to Shotgun Heaven”. Had I written it, I would have advised purchase of ALL the guns considered, not just the narrowing down to one. The only real decision would be which gun to get first, but knowing that one would eventually own then all eases the decision process.

Currently the most popular top quality target guns in the US are the Krieghoff K-80 and the Perazzi. The Belgian Browning B-25 is far less popular today than it used to be. The Perazzi is probably the most sought after gun in trap, the K-80 the most coveted in skeet. In sporting clays the most popular gun in the US is the Japanese Browning followed by the Beretta 682.

You don’t mention which game (games) the gun will be used for, so it makes advising a purchase somewhat problematical, but of course I will take a stab at it anyway.

Longevity: Comparing the Belgian Browning B-25, Perazzi Mirage/MX-8 and Krieghoff K-80, all three will outlast you. Target guns are built to be rebuilt. All three guns will wear and shoot loose. All three guns can be made like new again with little effort.

Malfunctions: I have owned at least several of each of the three. All three have had trigger problems which put me out of a shoot, but the Browning had the fewest of them. Devotees of each brand will tell you that they have fired a jillion rounds through their pet gun and never had a hiccup. I am just telling you what has happened to me personally and what I have seen personally. None of the three have a “problem” trigger and the current model of each would have to be considered extraordinarily reliable. The K-80 trigger is monstrously complicated, but with proper maintenance it is marvelous. The Perazzi trigger is also marvelous, but the best Perazzi models uses leaf springs and they don’t age gracefully. They stay perfect until they snap without warning. Coil springs (K-80 and B-25) degrade gradually. The B-25 Mark 5 trigger is not nearly as crisp as the other two, but I find it more reliable. My Mark 5 triggers wear slowly and require touching with a stone every 25,000. Depends on what you want.

Modularity: This is where the K-80 shines. You can literally stick just about any K-80 barrel on any K-80 receiver. Less so with the Perazzi and not at all with the B-25. If you like to swap barrels around, the K-80 is the choice. K-80 and Perazzi have screw on/off interchangeable stocks. The B-25’s requires a stockmaker to recut inletting when stock switching.

Balance and handling: This, of course, is the name of the game. Which gun you prefer will depend on the game you shoot, your shooting style, your physique and the phase of the moon. I have always found the K-80 to be “clunky” and “chunky”. It balances like a pig on a snow shovel. I sort of like it for ATA trap, but not for anything else. The skeet shooters just love it though because they can easily fit a set of carrier barrels and tubes. Perazzi’s balance is all over the ball park because they make so many different models. They concentrate mostly on the US trap market and so tend to make most of what they send us in “trap weight” (nose heavy- pig on snow shovel). Some of their pigeon guns are very nice, but I have never been fortunate enough to shoot a Perazzi that I felt was perfectly balanced for what I want to do. As to the Belgian B-25, I have always felt that they owned the balance and handling market. That’s why I shoot them and not the K-80 or Perazzi. Not all the B-25s are perfectly balanced (some of the American market 32″ Broadway trap guns were too heavy up front for my taste), but due to their field, not target, heritage, most are very nice indeed. Some are simply exquisite. The current B-25 30″ sporter comes to mind.

Recoil: K-80 by a long shot here. I have never been able to figure out exactly why K-80s kick me less than other O/Us, but they definitely do as far as I am concerned. It certainly has something to do with the fact that they are heavy, have minimal head space (something generally overlooked when considering shotgun recoil), have split barrels, long cones and backboring, but it may also have to do with the design and lock up of the gun. Most Perazzis that I have owned or shot have kicked me just about like any other O/U. The exception has been a couple of the Perazzi pigeon guns I have shot. For some reason (probably perfect gun fit) they kicked less than the other Perazzis. B-25 Brownings have the reputation for being hard kickers and it probably isn’t too far from the truth. They aren’t as bad as the Winchester 101 (nothing is), but they do have noticeably more recoil than a K-80. I think that the generous head space is a major culprit, but I am sure that there is more to it. If recoil is a major concern, buy the K-80 and live with the handling.

Stocks: Getting a gun “fitted” means different things to different people. If you go with a K-80 or Perazzi, you can select from many different configurations of stocks that simply bolt on. Little bending will be required, just adjusting the length. With the B-25, if you buy it new from the US Browning custom shop, you can get anything you want as it will be made to your dimensions. If you buy it ready-made from Europe, you will end up bending to fit. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s an extra step. The one thing that you will have trouble changing on the K-80 and Perazzi stocks is the grip. That part is sort of built in. I have size Large hands and for some reason the K-80 and Perazzi pistol grips have never felt right. I just can’t get comfortable. Beretta O/Us too. The grips on anything that says Browning, Winchester or Remington feel fine. The grip is a VERY important part of stock comfort so don’t overlook it. It is also hard to change.

Used value: I think that K-80 is the clear winner here, with Perazzi not too far behind. Browning is WAY behind. The reasons might surprise you. When Krieghoff first came into the country in the ’50s, it sold for $100 less than the Belgian B-25. It became quickly clear that the Krieghoff was too clunky for field work (though some of the earlier M-32s did have nicely balance barrels) so its sales were limited to the much smaller pool of target shooters. When Hal duPont came aboard and took over distribution, he quickly realized that he wasn’t going to make money on volume, so he decided to do it on markup. Backed up with a good quality gun, a good ad campaign aimed at target shooters and excellent service, the K-80 has been able to command an extraordinarily high price- and keep it on resale too. I keep thinking that the bubble will burst, but so far it hasn’t and a used K-80 still brings a good price. Perazzi is more problematical as they have so many different models that no one can keep track of it. Perazzi has also produced some “cost cutter” guns that further muddy the picture. A Mirage or MX-8 is still a known quantity and holds resale quite well. The Belgian Browning (currently selling new in Europe for just as much or more than K-80 or Perazzi Mirage) has been a victim of its own success. So many guns were brought into the US in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s that a huge used gun bonanza overhangs the new market. You have to be insane to pay $8 to $10 K for a new B-25 when you can pick up a good used one for $1200. Used Belgian Brownings are by far the best used gun deal in the US. When the Brits come over for shoots, they just can’t believe the prices of used B-25s. I saw one Brit buy the entire used Belgian Browning inventory at the Orvis display (at least 6 guns) at the SCA Nationals at Okemo, VT some years ago. They would be upgraded and sold in Britain.

Engraving: Perazzi. Period. No one else is even close to the Italian engraving quality. Standard Belgian Browning engraving ranges from average production line piece work to really bad attempts at acid etch/ hand chasing- as is seen on the Diana grades of the ’70s. Production line Krieghoff engraving is better suited for serial numbers on Tiger tanks. It is deep and durable, but that’s about it. Krieghoff upgrades tend more towards slathering on gold inlays than Browning (Midas exception) or Perazzi. It all depends on how you like to display your wealth.

Chokes: The B-25 is not available with screw chokes, the others are. That is one of the reasons that the B-25s balance so well. Factory screw chokes and the jugs and threads to accommodate them are notoriously heavy. If you simply must have screw chokes on your B-25, send it to Briley and get his Thin Walls installed for $350. That won’t alter the weight.

Where to buy: K-80s are best bought right through the normal channels in the US. I think that the best deals on both B-25 Brownings and Perazzis are through Andrew Litt in England. I don’t have his address in hand, but can dig it up if you really want it. He advertises in all the English magazines. Litt can get you a Perazzi Mirage with any set of options you can conceive of (including long, light flat rib solid choke barrels not available in the US) for about $1000 less than it would cost in the US if you could get it. You can literally build your own Perazzi to your own specs, including barrel weight. He can also get you the fabulous B-25 32″ sporter for less than you can get it over here through Browning. It costs a good bit more than a Perazzi Mirage though. New B-25s aren’t cheap.

Make sure to ask around and talk to other shooters who own the three guns. They may have different opinions (probably) and might have different experiences with a particular brand than I have. Just beware of the guy who tells you that his Brand X gun has never broken. He is either possessed of a faulty memory or he hasn’t shot it enough. You won’t go wrong with any one of the Big Three, but they are very different. Which brings me down to the usual canard: “Buy the one that feels best”. It always comes out to that.

Best regards,

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

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Mythic Choke Quality

Dear Technoid

I purchased a couple of new Browning over and under shotguns and they are great guns except for the chokes. Of course you already know this is a problem with Browning shotguns. I have been thinking about buying an automatic shotgun. My question is this, Does Beretta or Benelli make better screw in chokes than browning, or am I going to have to buy another set of Briley aftermarket chokes? Any help you can give me would be greatly appreciated.



Dear R.,

I think that I may have had better luck with the current Browning chokes than you have. The original short Invectors were generally marked a full degree of choke tighter than they actually were. This made everyone think that they were “bad” in some way. They really weren’t. They were just mislabeled. If you did a little patterning work, you quickly found that the “Full” invector printed a pretty good modified pattern and so on. The only real problem was that you couldn’t get a Browning choke tighter than their listed “Full” so modified was the tightest you could go without buying aftermarket.

As with any choke, you HAVE to pattern it before you know what you have. This is true with every maker, including Briley. Just because the choke has some name printed on it or mikes a certain diameter, that doesn’t mean that it will pitch a certain patten with the shell that you are going to use. Since mass producers like Miroku (Browning’s maker in Japan) can’t possibly test each barrel/tube combination, they cut to a certain size and hope that it works. After you get production tolerance shifts in barrel ID and choke, everything becomes approximate anyway. This is fitting as shotgun shooting is only an approximate game to begin with.

Generally, when I set up a new gun with screw chokes, I make a point of sorting through all the dealer’s chokes to come up with ones that mike out at the standard choke dimensions. For example, .020″ is generally considered to be a “modified” choke (60% pattern), so that is what I start testing with. Most .020″ chokes will pitch a 60% pattern with some sort of shell, but it may not be the one you are using. Your shell may print 60% with a .015″ or .025″ choke.

Where relying on miking the chokes causes problems is due to the skirt relief area that screw chokes have. All screw chokes are set up with skirts that fall well below the bore line. This is done for obvious safety reasons. Problem is that each choke maker has his own ideas as to how to cut that skirt angle. Some use a very short skirt cut, others really taper it out so that it forms an effective “jug” choke and thus alters the pattern from what you would expect of a solid choke of the same diameter. This is why you HAVE to do your pattern work no matter what is stamped on the choke or what it measures. I just don’t know of any other way if you really want to know what you have. Maybe a blind-faith and untested assumption that your choke actually prints what the label says is the way to go. If you never test it, you will never know the truth. Ignorance can be bliss.

My gripe about the current Invector Plus chokes has little to do with their performance. I just think that they are big and heavy and add far too much weight to an already nose-heavy gun. That’s just my opinion though and many newer shooters who have no experience with solid choke guns have gotten used to the blob of weight at the front and even feel that they shoot better with it. They may well be right.

I shoot a Beretta automagic a good bit and have the stock short flush Beretta chokes, flush Briley chokes and extended Briley chokes. I like the Briley chokes better because they seal better at the skirt and I get less gas blowby, which keeps the chokes cleaner. I think that Briley also uses a different grade of steel which is easier to clean. That said, the Briley chokes don’t pattern any better or worse than the Beretta chokes of the same measured size.

If I were you, The first thing that I would do would be to pattern those factory Browning chokes to see what you really have. Ignore the choke designations stamped on the chokes. Then I would fill in any gaps you find with aftermarket chokes or Browning chokes, which ever you wish. Dealing with Briley has one big advantage. If the choke you buy from them doesn’t perform the way you want, they will swap it for another constriction. This is a major plus for dealing with Briley and one of the reasons that they are a favorite company of mine.

Remember, shotgun patterns are Gaussian in nature. They follow the laws of the bell shaped curve. What this means in practical terms is that, over a number of iterations, there is no difference between one 60% pattern and another 60% pattern. It doesn’t matter if the first 60% pattern comes from a Mossberg and the second from a Purdey. 60% is 60% and they will all average out with the same number of holes if you take enough examples. This means that there really isn’t such a thing as a high quality or a low quality choke IF they produce the same pattern percentage with the same shell. Where choke/shell quality differences become apparent is when you are trying to obtain tight patterns. In that case quality does make a difference because the poorly made choke or shell simply can’t reach the high pattern percentages of the good stuff no matter how much constriction is used.

Clear as mud, right? Well, I’m confused too and I hate to suffer alone.

Best regards,

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

Posted in Shotgun related, Shotguns | 1 Comment