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View Full Version : Conversation with a shotgun smith....


Dave McC
October 4, 2001, 12:21 PM
The man was older than even I, and he moved slowly. But, his fingers were deft as they staked down an errant shellcatcher on my 870 TB.

The morn had brought some down time, so I went over to PGC to get in a couple practice rounds. I had been struggling to get back to my performance level presurgery, but I was still dropping a few birds more than typically, and the ones I hit were oft less hit than before.IOW, more chips and bigger pieces. I had figured that all I needed was more practice, but it hadn't come together quite like it should.I had a couple of 25s, but they came harder and farther apart.

So, when I saw the trailer set up behind the line, I mosied over.The sign advertised....

Big Ridge Gun Smiths, Bill Gillette. Based in Fla,he traveled to the bigger shoots and did on site smithing. I had met him before here, and now he was on his way back down to Palm Beach.

A simple query about flinching had led to the smith lowering my adjustable pad a bit. He told me to try it out, and I did. Hit 24, and I know why I mised the one, and the hits were itty bitty pieces instead of chips.

So, I asked him to stake in the one shellholder that came loose every time I dropped the trigger group, and picked his brains. I'm not shy about pestering someone I think knows more than I. So, here's some Q&A some folks may find illuminating.

Questions are in normal format, answers in all caps like THIS.

What causes flinching?

FLINCHING IS MENTAL. THE BRAIN HAS A CONFLICT, IT BOTH WANTS TO GET THE SHOT OFF AND NOT, BECAUSE IT KNOWS IT WILL BE HAMMERED A BIT. THE CURE, ONCE WE HAVE GOOD FIT, IS TO CONCENTRATE ON THE TARGET.

I'm fairly new to this volume of shooting, and I want to avoid a flinch. Everyone says I'll end up with one eventually. How do I avoid it?

IT'S NOT INEVITABLE. WORK ON YOUR FORM, MAKE SURE YOUR FIT IS GOOD, AND USE MEDIUM POWER LOADS.

I'm using a 1 oz, 1150 FPS load, does that qualify as medium?

SOUNDS ABOUT RIGHT.

I've been shooting 870s for a long time, does anything go wrong with them?

NOT REALLY. THEY HOLD UP VERY WELL. THERE'S NO OTHER PUMP THAT WILL HOLD UP LIKE AN 870.

What about the Model 12?

NO. THE 12 HAS MORE PARTS, SO IT'S MORE LIKELY TO BREAK DOWN.THE 12'S A LITTLE HEAVIER, AND THAT'S GOOD ON A TARGET GUN.

870S ARE INCREDIBLY TOUGH, AND SO ARE 1100S. I'VE SEEN 1100S WITH A MILLION ROUNDS THROUGH THEM THAT WORK FINE. I HAVE TO BE CAREFUL STICKING MY FINGERS IN THOSE, EVERYTHING WEARS INTO A RAZOR SHARP EDGE. BUT THEY KEEP ROLLING ALONG.

When you measured the bbl and choke on this, you found it had 38 points of contriction. What do you think is optimum for a 16 yard trapgun?

.025",WITH A BIT OF VARIANCE, OF COURSE.

How do you feel about doing the forcing cone?

IT IMPROVES PATTERNS. AS FAR AS REDUCING RECOIL, THE IMPROVEMENT IS NEGLIBLE.

Thanks....

zauer
October 4, 2001, 02:51 PM
as a new 870 owner, I'm trying to avoid flinching but it's nearly impossible...btw...what is a forcing cone? thanks.

Joe

Dave R
October 4, 2001, 03:05 PM
zauer, the forcing cone is the section of the shotgun barrel that transitions from the chamber to the "true" bore size.

Lengthening the forcing cone means a more gradual transition from chamber to bore. That is "kinder" to the shot--less abrupt movements--so it tends to yield better patterns. So I hear. It is also reputed to reduce recoil a bit, because there is less "spike" to the pressure as the shot "eases into" the barrel.

Geez, its not even all that expensive. Why haven't I had a 'smith do that to my shotguns, yet?

The aswer to reducing flinch is in the original post. That, and use lighter loads. Do you know how to "read the numbers" on the box of shells to determine how light or heavy a load is?

Basically, smaller numbers mean less recoil. Less shot (7/8 oz, vs. 1 oz vs. 1&1/8oz) means less mass means less recoil. Less powder (2.5 drams vs. 3 drams) means less power means less recoil.

Shoot light loads until you feel comfortable. In fact, shoot light loads all you want. You really only need heavy loads for shooting big birds (I never notice recoil when I am hunting) or for more competitive shotgunning sports, where more shot might mean a better pattern.

Dave McC
October 5, 2001, 05:03 AM
Thanks, guys...

Dave R has it, Zauer. The forcing cone is the funnel between the chamber and the bbl. The longer and more gradual the "squeeze", the less the shot deforms, and better patterns result. The best patterns come from truly round shot.

Beginners should start out on the lightest loads they can find.A flinch can be built from Shot One,
and reducing the kick until good form is developed is an extremely good idea.

Winchester makes a Super Light load that has been recommended to me by someone that really knows this stuff. Also,anyone that you know that reloads for shotguns can tailor a light load, like a 7/8 or even 3/4 oz creampuff. I did so getting Son started, look for an old thread on guns and loads for kids.

If the kick is still bothersome, there's other things one can do. The first thing t'is upgrading your recoil pad, I use a PAST wearable pad for bench work. A better pad on the gun helps no end also.

You can heavy up the gun, Adding weight reduces kick on a 1/1 basis. IOW, if you add 12% in weight, you cut the Free Recoil 12%. More on this can be found over on the Shotgun Report.

HTH....

Dave McC
October 5, 2001, 05:53 AM
Sorry, folks, I asked one more question and forgot to include it before. Since this comes up frequently, here goes....

Is there any difference in quality or performance between the newer 870s and the old ones, including the Expresses?

NONE THAT I SEE......