Open Skeet Chokes

Dear Bruce,

Any ideas about really open chokes for 12-gauge skeet?!! I was reading in Bob Bristers book about shotgun patterns that a Russian fellow used some extremely open chokes to run 200 straight in International Skeet. He mentioned that the actual muzzle diameter on this gun was approx. .830, or nearly .100 larger than the actual bore.

In my own experience, I have found that my .001 and .002 constrictions hit targets quite hard. Do you think that chokes more open than cylinder would help scores in the 12-gauge event.

Thanks again


Dear Greg,

I competed seriously in International Skeet for over a dozen years. We were allowed to use 32 gram (1-1/8 oz) loads then and I always shot with cylinder bore and a slight machined flare at the muzzle of my 1100 barrels. Beretta and Perazzi skeet chokes of the time were also either cylinder bore to a flare (Beretta) or a slight jug choke to a flare (Perazzi). My Russian Baikal MU-8 had a Tula choke (named after the Russian arsenal at Tula). This is what Petrov used to shoot that first 200×200. It was sort of like a built in Cutts compensator without the slots: cylinder to jug, to slight overbore choke to flare. Krieghoff and Perazzi copied the idea. The theory was that they would work better with the fiber wad loads. My jugged Baikal and Perazzi Comp One patterned better with standard Federal plastic wad loads than they did with the master blaster Winchester fiber wad International Skeet loads. They were both a pain to clean. My cut-off 1100s (cylinder to flare) also preferred the plastic wads. I had a couple of Krieghoffs (M-32s) also. One had the Krieghoff jug choke and one had a standard skeet choke. The standard skeet choke patterned better with the shells I was using, though I don’t remember what it miked. Today, Olympic loads are down to 24 grams (7/8 oz) and IntSk shooters have to choke up a bit.

In American-style skeet, where 1-1/8 oz is still permitted, standard skeet chokes run from cylinder bore to about .007″ on the tight side. Many domestic skeet shooters use the tighter end of the spectrum because they are really thinking about the doubles only shoot-offs that come after the automatic 100 straights. The tighter chokes let you “read” your breaks better, but cylinder bore gives a very slightly larger effective pattern (read the exhaustive article in SR archives on skeet patterns).

How important are big patterns at American-style skeet? I just don’t know. Many of the very best skeet shooters in the country win major twelve gauge events using 7/8 oz loads and 20 gauge tubes in their O/Us. .005″ to .007″ is a very popular constriction range for those 20 gauge tubes. They giving up pattern size in order to get gauge to gauge gun consistency. It sure works for some of them. Bigger patterns aren’t always the answer.

Best regards,

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

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Browning 725 Sporter

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Show Birds

Source: Ask the Instructor: Show Birds

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Shooting in the Rain

Source: Shooting in the Rain

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B-SS and M-42

Hi Bruce,

Let me first say that I thoroughly enjoy reading your column and will leave my PC on while awaiting your response…

I love to hunt birds of all kinds, in fact, during hunting season I’ll probably go every day. For the last two years I’ve been using a Browning B-SS Side-lock 20ga. for pheasant. This is a beautiful little gun that fit’s me almost perfect.

The problem is that this year I’ve noticed that the Pheasants I’ve shot have been a little more mangled than usual. To the point that some are uneatable. I tried using lighter loads than the 5’s I normally use. I’ve even tried using 8’s but I fear that I will wound birds and that is not acceptable.

Now, to the meat of the issue… I went out and purchased a grade VI Browning model 42 that fit’s me as well as the B-SS. I’ve been using the #6 2 1\2″ shells and it is working wonderfully. It just seems that this little gun isn’t all that sturdy. It has to come apart to fit in the case that I purchased for it.

Will breaking it down all the time hurt it? Is this a sturdy design? Maybe it’s just the pump action giving me false impressions? What do you think?

Thank you in advance for your response…


Dear Jim,

If you are mangling your pheasants, why not just have your chokes opened up a bit or get it screw choked? That 20 gauge BSS Sidelock is definitely a keeper. Briley can screw choke it for you for $350 and you can experiment with chokes to your heart’s content.

As to your Browning M-42- those guns are as long lasting as you could ask for. I own an original Winchester M-42 that was made in the first year of production (1933). I have owned it for over 20 years and have shot it an entire ton. It was a well used skeet gun when I bought it.

The weak spot of these take down guns is the threaded collar at the point of take down. This threaded collar can be adjusted for wear and it can be replaced with a larger size when the original has no more adjustment left. I don’t know if Browning stocks larger take-up collars for its reproductions, but you should get a tremendous amount of use out of the gun before you need one.

When I had my M-42 rebuilt by a man who used to work in the Winchester Custom Shop, he advised me against taking my M-42 down into two pieces after each shooting session. I simply bought a full length case for travel and store the gun muzzle down in my gun safe. I don’t think that I have taken the gun down very often since it was rebuilt- just when I disassembled it completely for major cleaning at the end of each year. If you only occasionally take the gun apart, the threaded section will last forever.

The single action bar does account for some sloppiness in the forend, but don’t mistake that for looseness in the gun. All M-42s and M-12s that I have used have had a bit of slop in the forend. That may be what makes them so slick.

I never owned a Browning M-42, but I did buy one of their 28 gauge M-12s. I was impressed by the workmanship (machinemanship?) and only had two complaints. I didn’t like the arched rib (yes, I know that Winchester did it originally) and I really, really hated the trigger interrupter that was added to the repros. I ended up selling the gun due to this latter feature. I have shot pumps for 25 years and I simply can’t abide that trigger interrupter. The little guns don’t have enough recoil to “set” the interrupter, so I always had to give a little push forward before coming back. It drives me crazy, but it doesn’t seem to affect some other people I know who own them.

The workmanship on the Japanese M-12 28 gauge repro was far, far cleaner than the insides of my original M-42 and my old M-12s. Of course, there was absolutely minimal hand work on the repro, but I didn’t find the work in any way inferior to my original gun (which also had minimal hand work for the period).

Now- as to using a .410 on pheasants. You must have a hell of a pointer and really be comfortable shooting that little gun to use it on pheasants. Even on preserve quail, I find that a high percentage of my birds are retrieved wounded when I use a .410. Still, if your .410 works for you and you aren’t getting too many running pheasants, don’t worry about wearing your little M-42 out. There aren’t enough pheasants in the world.

Best regards,

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

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Ask the Instructor: Puzzling Pair

Source: Ask the Instructor: Puzzling Pair

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Hartmann’s Hints: Withdrawing from a Shoot

Source: Hartmann’s Hints: Withdrawing from a Shoot

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Custom Stock Making On CNC Machine-Cole Gun

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Lessons With Ben Husthwaite

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K-80 Barrel Hanger

Dear Technoid,

Once again- great website! I have a question regarding a K-80. I bought a new K-80 earlier this year. I just recently noticed that the lower barrel has some “play” in the ring of the barrel hanger. The dovetail is tight but the ID of the ring is apparently too large. I never noticed that is was loose before.

Is this supposed to have some play? It appears that the ring just slips over the barrel so I assume that it isn’t an excessively tight/precise fit. Could this be wear? I don’t shoot “hot loads” in this gun.


Dear Matt,

Of course, I don’t know exactly how much play you have in that hanger, but some is certainly normal. The whole idea of Krieghoff’s barrel hanger is that it will permit the lower barrel to slide freely forward and back as it heats and cools during shooting. This way, when you are just using one barrel, as in trap, its expansion and point of impact is not affected by the stress of the other barrel. In order to do this, the lower barrel hanger has to be pretty loose.

Does the hanger idea work? Yes. Does it matter? Perazzi and Beretta certainly don’t think so and they have won a whole ton more Olympic and World Championship medals than Krieghoff.

Best regards,

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

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