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Old May 22, 2012, 08:10 AM   #1
dyl
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First Shotgun. Help with "fit" and sight picture.

Hey all,

I'm more of a handgun guy. But I'd like to get into hunting and it seems I can do the most with a shotgun.

I've done some reading on the forums and I'd appreciate your assistance because I've run across some snags.

What I know:
1) I should buy a shotgun that comes close as possible to fitting me
- supposedly this means that if I close my eyes, raise the gun to my shoulder and cheek simultaneously, the gun will be pointed at where I am looking.

But what is the proper "sight picture" for a shotgun? How do I know it is indeed pointing where I am looking? How do I know it fits? Is it purely the bead on target or some vent rib as well?

2) I've had a bad experience with a Remington 870
- back when I shot a little trap with a friend's gun a few years ago. I ended up with a hard lump of scar tissue inside my cheek that was later removed. This could be a fit issue and in addition we were both untrained. I was under the impression that I had to scrunch down so that only the bead was visible. I remember it felt hard to do on the 870. Yet this is the same gun I'm considering purchasing simply based on reading about reliability.
- I'd consider a Remington 1100 if the stock "fit me" better - but again I don't know what "proper fit" looks like. Any basic guidelines would help - information about sight picture is surprisingly sparse.

I've tried asking Local Gun Store employees and they are not quite able to explain if a gun fits me or what the proper sight picture is. "Can you see the bead?" - yes. But I could also see the bead when the shotgun was still on the wall.

As of right now I'm between a Remington 870, 1100 or 1187.

I'd also received some advice from a person in a gun store that recommended a youth stock Remington 870 - for anyone, saying that it makes the shotgun more handy. I would think this decreases LOP though and exacerbate the problem I experienced previously.

Your thoughts please. Assistance much appreciated.

Last edited by dyl; May 22, 2012 at 09:19 AM. Reason: grammar
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Old May 22, 2012, 08:17 AM   #2
dyl
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From Chuck Hawks website

Quote:
The comb must position your eye properly over the barrel rib without hitting you in the cheek on recoil. The butt plate should be sufficiently generous in surface area to spread the recoil over a large shoulder contact area.

Take from my own personal stupidity of shooting guns that didn't fit far too often. The eventual result was oral surgery to remove scar tissue from inside my right cheek. Bleeding over a stock is a venture without much future in it. Let my pain be your gain.
- so does "properly over the barrel rib" mean just over - so only the bead is visible, or more? I guess I have something in common with Chuck Hawks. His paragraph on "stock fit" is only a sentence longer than what's posted above.

I'll likely be limited to shouldering these shotguns in a gun store with little assistance.

Last edited by dyl; May 22, 2012 at 09:17 AM.
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Old May 22, 2012, 08:45 AM   #3
oneounceload
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Quote:
Is it purely the bead on target or some vent rib as well
If you see rib, then you will be shooting high - the more rib you see, the higher (over) the target you will be

It is not a M-4 and no, you should not be "scrunched" up like those who use a stock that is too short. There should be a few inched between your thumb and your nose. You may have to lower your head forward a little, but not "scrunch".

If you are getting cheek slap, you have a gun that doesn't fit quite right, and/or you are pulling your face off the stock just before you pull the trigger, allowing the gun to beat you up


"Eye on the rock, head on the stock"

Added: go to your local gun club (the trap and skeet type) before buying anything and talk to the folks there, explain your issues, and most will let you try a few shots through their guns is asked politely - find the one that fits
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Old May 22, 2012, 08:51 AM   #4
tws92E05
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This is a good video that explains how a shotgun should fit you and what you should be seeing when it does. He also has a video that shows you exactly what you should be seeing when fit properly, just search through you tube and you will find it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vteCAoPwn-s

I had alot of the same problems as you since I never knew how it should fit I didn't know what I was truely looking for in fit.

I used a 870 that didn't fit for over 30 years. When I was bird hunting and shooting a box or so of shells it wasn't all that bad. When I started shooting clays with my sons in leagues I really noticed the fit was poor and I felt the recoil especially when I was shooting several rounds. I bought me a properly fitted Benelli Super Sport and love it. I can shoot it all day without the side effects of recoil.

My sons shoot an 1100 and a 1187. The 1100 has some cycling problems with lighter target loads. The 1187 has had no problems cycling even with lighter loads.

Hope this helps.
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Old May 22, 2012, 09:39 AM   #5
dyl
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oneounce
- Thank you for stepping out and saying it's just the bead. I do understand that for trap some set up their stocks to deliberately shoot high, knowing that a visible rib shoots high. My concern would have been a slug for 4 legged creatures going high. Thank you. Last night I read a response on a different forum that stated something like "every shotgun will shoot to a different sight picture so the only way you know how to aim is take it to a patterning board". I think that gentlemen grew up breathing too much Kentucky windage alone.

tws,
- Great video. i was unable to find the one about sight picture by that same man although I did find http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLHTQ...9C8897A52678C0 by midway usa. They confirm that bead only is proper for a field gun.

Do you guys know if it's possible to lengthen the drop on a Remington 870 or 1187?
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Old May 22, 2012, 10:36 AM   #6
BigJimP
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To keep it simple ....if the gun "fits" ...then it's point of impact is where you look. Ideally you want to check it at a target or pattern board...where you put a full choke in the gun and shoot at a 3" dot...and see where the guns point of impact is. Then you adjust the stock and comb and recoil pad...and length of pull, etc - so the gun hits the dot ...where you look.

The double beads...you should see a figure 8 with one bead on top and one on the bottom. If they're separated.. then the gun might be too short, too long, or comb is too high or too short. Which it is ...takes some time ...and hard to do on the internet / if not impossible.

You're right most gun stores have no idea / they're selling guns ...and they know next to nothing about fit. Its a problem in the industry - especially in the big box stores... you need to get around some Skeet or Trap shooters and discuss stocks and fit ..and they'll understand it better. Most retailers - have little experience in shooting clay targets../ or they go 3 times a yr and shoot 200 shells. A lot of Skeet, Trap and Sporting clays shooters shoot 300 shells a week at least...

You've already been thru some bad fit issues on an 870 - so don't go down that road again. Go with the 1100 or the 11-87 and look at a Jack West stock ...synthetic, with an adjustable comb. That will maximize the adjustability of the gun / and maximize the potential for it to "Fit" you.

Fine tuning a pattern for Trap shooting....where some of us like the gun to shoot a 60%/40% pattern over the point of impact is a whole different issue ...and you primarily adjust the comb up or down to do that.

For most adult males ...a youth shotgun is a poor idea...they're too short and too light.../ stay away from that. Go with the 1100 or the 1187 and a Jack West replacement stock ...and you'll be fine. Wood stocks on the 1100 and 1187 can be made to fit...but its a lot harder to do / because the combs are angled ...not parallel like the Jack West stock. Parallel comb stocks - with adj combs ...can be adjusted to fit 99.9% of the shooters out there ( and no more scar tissue in your face or mouth...)...whether you shoot slugs or bird shot is irrelevent.

Point of impact is point of impact !!! Patterning a gun is a different thing...you need the gun to Fit ...so it hits where you look / and so it doesn't beat the daylights out of you - as a gas operated semi-auto will reduce a lot of recoil and help.
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Old May 22, 2012, 03:51 PM   #7
dyl
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I took a look at the Jack West stocks.

Looking at another 200 - 400 dollars with all the bells and whistles!

Yikes.

Are any of you folks able to recall any off - the - shelf shotguns that had more drop at the heel?
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Old May 22, 2012, 04:15 PM   #8
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Maybe the Winchester 101

If the gun doesn't fit, shooting won't be any fun and not very successful. It would be better to take a $400 gun and put another $400 into getting to fit properly than to buy a multi-thousand dollar gun that does not fit right at all.

Last edited by oneounceload; May 22, 2012 at 05:10 PM. Reason: stupid ten thumb typing errors
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Old May 22, 2012, 04:28 PM   #9
tws92E05
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Dyl,

The Midway video was the other one I was talking about, it shows you exactly what you should be seeing. I watched so many they kind of ran together. It is very hard to know if a shotgun fits you if you don't know how it is supposed to fit in the first place. I watched a ton of videos and read alot right here on TFL and learned alot.

Oneounce gave great advice. Go out and try and shoulder and shoot as many of the shotguns that you are considering as possible. My local gun shop owner has alot of his personal guns and has let me take many of them out to the local skeet range to shoot them to decide what shotgun that best suited me.

$200 to 400 is not that bad considering a buddy of mine just had his 1100 stock fitted for him and it was $650. Or like me I bought a benelli 1,800 and it fits like a glove and when I shoot trap I just add a higher comb piece (extra 100) and my point of impact is just right for trap.
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Old May 22, 2012, 06:46 PM   #10
BigJimP
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For a parallel and fully adjustable stock ...the Jack West stock is very, very inexpensive....

I know we all have budgets.....but for the money, Jack West makes an awful good product.
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Old May 23, 2012, 07:50 AM   #11
dyl
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Gentlemen,

Thanks for the input. Can't write much at the moment but here are some thoughts:

You're right about the price. Being a hand-gunner the sticker shock shouldn't be such an issue (mainstream acceptable "decent" guns start at 300, service pistols ~600)

I guess I got into the mode of seeing the price range of the Remington 870 and Mossberg 500. My plan is to go to the stores again during the next few days to see if the info you gave me will give me a better idea when hefting. Then I know on the weekends some trap/skeet shooting happens at the local Izaak Walton. I'll try make it out if not too busy and see if any of their instructors (don't know if amateur or professional) can give me any input and let me heft a few samples. Meanwhile I'm going to post a specific question about an ATI spacer I saw.
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Old May 23, 2012, 01:31 PM   #12
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Sure, I understand....but price and quality are relative...

even in handguns ...there are a lot of very good guns ( that could be considered service weapons ) between $ 2,000 - $ 4,000 .....like a lot of 1911's ( Wilson, Brown, etc ) / a lot of older S&W revolvers like mod 27's that are only available at $ 1,000 plus ...a lot of nice single action revolvers...like Freedom Arms, Clarke custom, etc ...that start at $ 2,500 or so ....even and a lot of production guns like Sig Sauers that are listing at well over $1,000...where even a plain Sig 226 lists at $ 1,068 and the Sig 226 elite stainless at $ 1368 ...both very good service grade weapons...

Each of them very good handguns for the money ....depending on your budget, perspective, etc.../ personally, when I carry - and it isn't often, I carry a Wilson Combat 1911 in .45 acp - because its a gun I shoot the best. Its not inexpensive...it is, what it is...

Browning and Beretta in the O/U shotgun arket give you a lot of gun for the money ...and in Browning's Citori line of guns ( there are 28 models I believe ) and a gun like the Citori XS Skeet with the adj comb ...
http://www.browning.com/products/cat...3&tid=066&bg=x

listing at $ 4,000 ....is a lot of gun for the money / a gun that will last 3 or more generations...and its a nice gun / but a gun a lot of us would consider an upland bird gun, a skeet gun , a sporting clays gun....not a fancy gun / not a "spare boat paddle" either...a lot of gun for the money ( with a lot of adjustability ).....

A Rem 1100 or 11-87 with a Jack West parallel, adj comb stock on it ...is comparable to the Citori XS Skeet in terms of adjustabilty ...which is why I say, for the money, its a good value. I'm also not saying a Rem 870 is a poor gun ...its not ...but is it a 500,000 shell "target gun" , no probably not...my point is, price will sometimes define durability, adjustability, etc...$ 4,000 shotguns aren't just about pretty wood / you want expensive shotguns ...look at Krieghoff, Perazzi, Blaser ....etc / and you'll see a lot of them in the "competition world" / and a lot of us started in these games with pump guns....and moved on to guns that were more adjustable ...and more suitable for long term competition ...even if we were only competing at a club level...

Rem 870's ....Browning BPS's ( their pump gun)..Mossberg pumps ...and their respective prices ....are just a small piece of the big picture !
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Old May 23, 2012, 03:09 PM   #13
Dave McC
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I see you're in VA. If you can make it to Prince George's County Trap and Skeet Center near Beltsville MD some weekend soon, I'll be glad to walk you through a round of wobble or trap and do a live version of Shotgun 101.

O course, no charge....
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Old May 23, 2012, 06:49 PM   #14
dyl
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Update: went to the gun store. I hefted

- a used 870 Supermag synthetic stock: the bead didn't line up easily. I saw a good bit of vent rib when shouldering each time. $350 The darn thing was heavy being a Supermag.

- a new Remington 1187 much easier to see just the bead. $750. I guess either the rib is different or the stock is different to allow me to see just the bead. I didn't think the stock would be different but it is. I saw some used from GunsAmerica but they might have problems or the stock will be different (saw a used premier grade). It was heavy, but it seemed better balanced than the Super magnum 870. I wish the store had a plain - jane 870 express but they didn't. Strange isn't it?

- some type of new synthetic Winchester pump shotgun. The bead was a bit easier to see. Same with the Mossberg. I was just trying to stay in the Remington lineup.

- Remington 1100 - 2 old used specimens that had worn bluing that looked brown. A fixed choke kind of turned me away.
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Old May 23, 2012, 07:00 PM   #15
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In terms of pump guns ...most mfg's will vary a little on stock dimensions / sometimes they will even vary between models from the same mfg.

Winchester is part of the Browning family now ( and both are owned by FN ) ...but Browning appears to be running the shotgun divisions. Both Browning ( in their BPS line of guns has several models ) ...and winchester has at least 4 or 5 in theirs ( that are almost identical to the BPS models ).

I agree with you - that you should stay with a gun that has screw in chokes / so its more versatile in the long run.

If you want to stay with Remington for some reason ...then you should do that...but personally I think the Browning BPS ( like the Hunter model ) is a much better gun ...( built cast neutral, bottom ejection, safety on top of the tang....).

There are so many shotgun models out there....inventory on guns is up and down at a lot of stores.
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Old May 23, 2012, 07:42 PM   #16
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I wouldn't let a fixed choke totally scrap a deal. Mike Orlen in Maine can thread a barrel for about $35. That is cheaper than buying a new stock or having one fitted
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Old May 24, 2012, 10:26 AM   #17
dyl
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DaveMcC - Thank you for the generous offer! This weekend I'm hoping to make it up to the Izaak Walton to see what I can glean from the shooters there.

Oneounce - I had no idea you could go back and thread for chokes.

BigJimP - You know what, I did see a Browning BPS there but I didn't bother checking it out because it was either in 16 or 20 gauge. It hadn't occurred to me to check it out and see if I like it and then consider the possibility of ordering one in 12.

I might just have to do that.

I also saw a couple Stoegers. I'd heard they made shotguns but I don't know about replacement parts. I think they were priced around $400 but I don't even remember if they were pumps or semi-autos.

I hung around the store until the lights went out.

Last edited by dyl; May 24, 2012 at 10:26 AM. Reason: spelling
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Old May 25, 2012, 01:28 AM   #18
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We all have budgets and priorities. My original budget only allowed for a Remington 870. Later, after the hook was set, I sprang for a Citori XS Skeet.
When I did, I was seriously thinking about just laying out the money for a Jack West stock. Right now I here that a new 870 can be had for $300 and don't forget to check out the used market.

Meanwhile, my son and I had both the 870 and the Citori out at the range today. I still may end up getting that Jack West stock.

I would avoid the Stoegers.
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Old May 25, 2012, 01:31 AM   #19
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Quote:
Later, after the hook was set, I sprang for a Citori XS Skeet.
Those bad people you associate with are to blame!!!
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Old May 25, 2012, 09:05 AM   #20
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Here's one more to consider

If you can find a used Beretta 390 or 391, these guns are pretty easily adjusted. You can remove the butt stock with a single nut, and you will see that there is a shim used between the butt stock and the gun. Cole Gun sells the set (you need the shim and the matching washer for the stock). They are inexpensive. I used them to get my 390s to fit me like a glove. To say that it was money well spent would be an understatement. It helped me hit more targets.

You can find used synthetic 390s in the range of $500. Ones with wood stock cost more. FWIW, they are relatively simple autoloaders and are easy to clean IMHO. Cole Gun also sells different size springs so if you have trouble cycling light loads (I don't - have cycled 3/4 in my 12 ga), you can get lighter springs. I think their spring set costs maybe $30.

The Beretta 390 is a very flexible gun and can be adjusted easily to fit.

Now you need to know that a good fitting 12 ga is like a gateway drug to shooting more. Then you will get tired of picking up your shells, and then you will want an O/U. I'm just saying.
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Old May 25, 2012, 11:14 AM   #21
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Quote:
Now you need to know that a good fitting 12 ga is like a gateway drug to shooting more. Then you will get tired of picking up your shells, and then you will want an O/U. I'm just saying.
You're right on the mark about the gateway aspect of shotgunning: First it's a bargain pump, but you can shoot it good enough to get hooked. So, you buy a reloader so you can shoot more. Then it's an autoloader to shoot better doubles. Your scores go up with the autoloader; but, it's a bigger bother policing your hulls than the pump was. Next, you find yourself with a reloader's dream, an O/U. After the newness of the O/U wears off, you realize that you'll be shooting even better if you get higher grade O/Us specific to each of the shooting environments. You're on top of the world in all environments; but, then, you realize that there's a world beyond shooting just 12-ga... so it goes.
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Old May 25, 2012, 12:24 PM   #22
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And that, my friend, is why I went from my 390 directly to a pre owned O/U with an adjustable comb, adjustable butt plate and full set of sub gauge tubes with removable chokes. I'll need to get a whole lot better before I "need" to spend any more money.
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Old May 26, 2012, 04:21 PM   #23
dyl
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Looking at the 390/3901

Saw a new one online for about $650- after shipping and the FFL fee.

That sounds pretty good right? It's a tad cheaper than the local price for the 11-87 which is $769 (unsure if that's before tax...)

I'm still wary of aluminum receivers though.. Here's why it caught my attention
1) no O rings involved
2) cole guns sells receiver / stock shims.

Cons: I've heard poor customer service and I haven't had a chance to hold one in person. Fortunately I've also heard things don't break easily.
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