Shooting Threads

Dear Bruce

A friend and I are having a disagreement over the wisdom of shooting without a Briley Slimline choke installed in the barrel.

I think it is unwise, and my friend went out and shot 150 rounds though his chokeless barrel.

Who is right?

Dear BK,

As always, you are right. I am not familiar with the Briley “Slimline” choke, but if it is anything like their “Thinwall” custom choke for solid choke barrels, Briley cuts the threads with a wide, flat topped thread. Width gives it strength, while the flat top makes it thinner and thus suitable for using on solid choke guns. Factory choked guns use the standard sharp edged machine threads as they have more room.

Every time you “shoot threads” you whack those threads with the wad and often some shot. This is never good. At best it clogs the threads. At worst it can damage them. Clogged threads can cause some very subtle problems. As the threads fill up, when a choke is reinserted at a later time, the build-up in the threads might prevent it from being fully seated when it is screwed in. This will cause an increased gap between the choke skirt and barrel. This will build up with carbon and plastic as gas forces underneath the choke skirt. Under certain conditions this can force the skirt above the line of the bore. When this happens, you are going to add about an ounce or so of tubular stainless steel to your next load of shot as it exits the barrel. This happened regularly on an early screw choke version of one popular brand of Italian gun. It has since been corrected, but caused some very unpleasant surprises for a while.

Shooting threads is also not very productive as to time. Sure, you save time by not screwing in new chokes, but you will absolutely, positively have to clean those threads carefully at a later date. This takes more time than screwing in the proper chokes in the first place.

Also, without the thinline chokes in the gun to give the muzzles strength, the tips of the muzzles are VERY susceptible to dings and dents. The muzzles on my FNs threaded for the Briley Thinwalls are absolutely paper thin. I wouldn’t dream of using the gun without the added strength of the chokes. Factory screw choke guns have much more meat in the muzzle (hence the nose heavy balance that most of them suffer from) and so it might be safer to shoot threads, but why take the risk?

Screwing in a set of cylinder bore chokes really doesn’t take too long, especially using the most excellent Royal Wrench. If your pal is too cheap to buy a couple of cylinder bore chokes, then he is playing the wrong game. I use cylinder bore a great deal, but I do it with the proper chokes in place. I never do it with threads.

One final argument against shooting threads: No manufacturer that I am familiar with recommends the practice. I know that most people don’t bother to read the manuals that come with their guns, but it might be worth a moment or two of their time.

Best regards,

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

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Parallel Combs

Hi Bruce:

Could you please run down the pro’s and con’s of the so called parallel comb for shotgun stocks. It sounds to me like a good theory, but I notice that I have never seen an English game gun, or a top flight tournament shooter with one.


Dear Mark,

Parallel combs: I ruined a nice 30″ Fabrique Nationale going that route once, but I shoot an almost parallel comb today. Here’s the problem with parallel combs- In trap and pigeon shooting, where the parallel Monte Carlo originated, the cheek is always placed in the same spot and the bird is always shot at about the same height. The relation of the head and the stock don’t have to change during the shot. Parallel combs work great for this.

In sporting, the head position changes all the time. The head is more upright on a “valley” shot, while it is more forward on a driven. On a low shot, as the head becomes more erect, the effective distance between the cheek notch and pupil increases. This would make you shoot high if it weren’t for the fact that the rear of the stock drops a bit more than the front.

On a driven or high teal, as the muzzle is raised to the bird, the head is effectively tilted forward, decreasing the distance between the cheek notch and the pupil. Putting the pupil closer to the stock would make you shoot low if it weren’t for the fact that the front of the comb is higher, thus compensating.

Try mounting your gun a few times with your eyes closed. Mount as though for a very low target, say one down in a valley. Note exactly where your cheek was placed. Now, with eyes closed, mount as though for an overhead driven. Most shooters will find that they mount further forward for the driven and have their head tipped forward more. This is where the sloping stock compensates for head placement and angle. The English game gun has it all figured out for the past 100 years. You never see them with parallel combs.

That said, in the controlled target situations of sporting clays, more experienced shooters can get away with very little head movement regardless of the angle of the target. They might benefit from an “almost” parallel comb. This is why most of the better shooters use trap stocks- not so much for the height (though the more you shoot, the higher your stock gets), but for the fact that the average “non-Monte Carlo” trap stock is about 1-1/2″ at nose to 2″ at heel . This is 1/2″ drop is very little slope at comb front to back and is a good compromise for many between a parallel stock and one that offers more flexible head placement.

Parallel or near-parallel stocks are also much more comfortable to shoot. As it is with cast-off, the more the stock deviates from parallel in any dimension, the more it slaps the face on recoiling rearward. One of the biggest problems with the new Beretta 390 flat rib sporters is that the slope from nose of comb to heel of comb is excessive. It is almost like the dog-legged rifles of the 1700s. The result is severe face slap for about half the shooters who use them. Others who shoot with an erect head seem less troubled. Perhaps Beretta will get around to changing it some day. Perhaps not. The Browning Gold gas sporter does not have this particular stock problem and runs almost a parallel comb.

I am sure that there are all sorts of other theories on parallel combs, but those are mine. I don’t think that most shooters need to go parallel, but they ought to be fairly close to it for sporting clays. General hunting is less so.

Best regards,


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Swedish Screw Chokes

Dear Technoid,

I’ve just found your site. I really like it. But there is no doubt you’re sometimes in error.

You claim chokes should have a forcing cone and a parallel section. How do you intend to prove that? In fact, some guns – high quality stuff, like the swedish stainless Flodman – uses screw chokes with just a forcing cone. No trace of a parallel section. And I can guarantee that they produce patterns just as good as any “parallel-section-choke”. Like you pointed out, it’s a Gaussian thing.

The question of “better” chokes only apply to the Full end of the scale, you say. Well, it might be as bad at the Cylinder end. Certain shells don’t produce a cylinder choke pattern when shot from a straight cylinder bore, while the same shell can produce the desired pattern from a screw choke barrel. This is often achieved with a parallel section that has a diameter in excess of the bore, so I guess skirt drop-off isn’t always bad.

Why bother, you might think, choose another shell. It’s not that simple. Over here (Sweden) we have several sporting competitions sponsored by ammo manufacturers, and only there stuff is allowed. So you can see the problem, right?

best regards
Ralf R.

Dear Ralf,

I don’t believe that I ever said that a choke HAD to have both a forcing cone and a parallel section. I believe that I said that MOST do. I am well aware that many chokes have only the tapered area. All swaged chokes are this way. If I lead you to believe otherwise, I apologize.

The theory behind the parallel section is to “stabilize” the shot momentarily. Whether it works or not is, well, Gaussian. The fact is that most of the better choke specialists use a parallel section, especially where the choke is of tighter constriction.

As to the skirt drop off altering the pattern of a cylinder bore screw choke, it should tighten it if anything. Some screw choke skirt drop offs are so long and deep that they act as a “jug” choke. Jug choking is a common way of introducing some choke to a cylinder bore barrel by grinding a recess just behind the muzzle. How much of a recess you can grind depends on the thickness of the barrel steel.

I haven’t fooled with a Flodman or Caprinus for over a decade, but the ones that I shot were early screw choke guns and their chokes were of an early design. I really liked the gas operated ejectors on those guns. Too bad that they never caught on here in the US. They were pretty pricey here.

Best regards,

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

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Teal, Incomers And Long Crossers


This year instead of shooting Sporting Clays for fun and practice for hunting I have joined the CSCA (Colorado SCA) and I am attempting to become a better shooter. I am presently in “D” class, but will probably be placed in C in the next couple shoots. Although I can normally go out and shoot a course and score in the high 70’s, the stations are a lot tougher for the CSCA Shoots and I am having a tough time with Long Springing Teal, Long incomers, and Long 40 yard crossers.

I shoot a Beretta 682 with 30″ barrels and shoot all three methods. I predominantly shoot Maintained lead or Move Mount Shoot, but I think this is causing me to stop my swing or stab at the clays so I have gone more to pull away and am improving. Can you give me some pointers on how you shoot these shots. I need some help.

Also I’m in search of an instructor. Can you give me some advise on what questions I need to ask to find the correct instructor. How about the instructors NSCA Level. Do you think this matters at this time. I live in Denver, CO and based on the list in “Sporting Clays Magazine”, we only have Level II’s and I’s. Can you recommend any instructors in the area or even recommend a school to attend out of State.



Dear J.D.,

It is hard for me to recommend local instructors I haven’t met. I guess that the NSCA instructors are your best bet, but you might also be able to get a lesson from one of the traveling schools.

There are no hard and fast rules of how to shoot certain birds because each presentation varies to a slight degree, but here is how I generally handle the birds you mention.

Teal: Everyone has trouble with long teal. If they are going pretty much straight up, I have had the best luck swinging up through them. I generally start my muzzle right on the trap and shoot as quickly as possible using swing-through. This works fine on a vertical bird, but not on those really sneaky “leaning” teal that you always seem to shoot over the top. With a teal that is half way between a teal and a trap target, I wait it out and shoot it at the crest or a little before.

Long Incomers: The biggest problem with these is riding the bird. Try this. Follow the bird with your muzzle as it comes in, but don’t mount the stock to your face until you are ready to shoot. When you decide to take the bird, mount and fire right away. The more time you spend with your face on the stock, the bigger the chance of missing a slow incomer.

40 Yard Crosser: I try to sustain these, but also make a point of making a good follow through. Here the follow through is vitally important, even more so than elsewhere. Also, watch the height. It is very common to shoot over long crossers, especially if you take them a bit late.

Best regards,

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

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Stevens 301 Turkey .410

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Mossberg 500 .410 Turkey Hunter

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Stock Bending

Dear Bruce,

Once again I find myself needing your help. I’ve purchased a 470 SXS. The stock needs to have 5/16 more cast off and about 3/16 more height. (Determined by the 16 yard Churchill method).

I had thought Rich Cole could do the work but they don’t work on the 470s. They suggested Wenig, who said that the stock once bent probably would not stay bent. He did say he could make me a new stock, and if that is the “best” solution I’m willing to go that route.

You see I’ve been spoiled, both my over-unders fit me well. And I’ve adjusted my 391 so it also fits me perfectly. Now I’m just not willing to shoot a gun that doesn’t fit.

I’ve found several gunsmiths who advertise stock work but I don’t know anyone who has had them do any work.

So, do you have any suggestions for a stock man to either try bending or to re-inlet the stock. I love the gun and am prepared to spend the money to make if fit. As always,

Grateful for the guidance!


Dear Phillip,

Nationally, Dale Tate at <; has a good reputation and offers full gunfitting and bending services from an established gunsmith out of Purdey. As a fitter, Dale may be able to shed some light on the Churchill 1″ @ 16 yards = 1/16″ at comb measurements. There is quite a bit of difference in the measurement at face and at heel/toe so you want to make sure things are measured right. You may be able to confirm your numbers with Dale. Usually the measurements from your O/Us won’t translate to the SxS. My SxS usually take more height and definitely more length than my O/Us, but I shoot only double trigger SxS so that accounts for the length difference. I haven’t had Dale do any work for me personally, but he is well thought of.

In any case, please say that I recommended you. A little credit in gunmaker’s heaven never hurts. Dale is good a moving stocks. Obviously, reinletting will not spring back. Bending might, but I’ve personally had very good luck with bent stocks over the years. So much depends on the walnut being used. Then again, I store my guns muzzle down in the safe to take all pressure off the wood. Obviously, there are many, many more gunsmiths competent to bend and reinlet stocks. These are simply two that I know of.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
The Technoid writing for Shotgun Report, LLC
(Often in error. Never in doubt.)

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