View Full Version : Shotgun for a woman

March 28, 2002, 09:06 PM
(yes, again)

OK. Its time for my wife to get a shotgun. YES, I am following the cardinal rule of gun selection for women (she picks it). We have pretty much agreed that 12 g recoil is a bit much, and as this is a HD weapon, 16 or 20 should get the job done. Weight and LOP are factors as well.

She has liked both the 870 Youth and the Mossberg Bantam she has handled. I am trying to find a dealer that stocks Ithaca 37s as well...I'm thinking the 16g might be to her liking. Any other suggestions as to what to consider?

Specific questions:

In a similar gun using appropriate HD loads, how much lighter is the recoil of a 16g v the 12 g?

Anyone ever altered the LOP on a nice stock? how hard is this to do? If she likes the general ergonomics of the Ithacas, we might go that route...but the stock will almost certainly be a little long.

Aftermarket bbls for Ithaca 37s, 870 youths and Mossberg Bantams- how readily available, and how expensive? The Youth 870 had a 21" bbl, which would serve...but the only Mossy I saw had a 24" (?), and most Ithacas are out there as well.


March 28, 2002, 09:37 PM
Barrels (Especially in 20 Ga.) are far more common for 870's...

you could do far worse than a nice 870 youth model in .20 ga...

16 Ga might be a nice balance between power and recoil, but remember, shells are harder to find (but not impossible) and if she can't fina good ammo, she won't practice...

again, the Youth 870 has the short LOP... hard to go wrong with a gun that is already closer in fit...

good luck with it...

March 28, 2002, 10:09 PM
Had a GF that wanted a shotgun most just want to shoot pistols: Got her a H&R 20 ga. top break. One hour later and a couple of boxes of dove shot, she asked to shoot mine, Scattergun Tech's old "FBI Model" in 12 ga.

He handled it fine after brief instruction (dry first). However, she was a former gymnast and volleyball player (tallish, athletic, fairly strong) and was "raised around" guns. IME, some women are conditioned or think they should be afraid of guns and this impacts their ability to receive instruction. YMMV.

I'd start out with the single shot and see what see likes. If it is "too heavy" for her but she really want to learn have her exercise with the weapon. It helps. MHO.

March 28, 2002, 10:14 PM
not all a bad idea, KSFreeman... but one thing to remember... single shot break-action shotguns are usually light in weight, and high in recoil compared to a pump of equal Ga. and BBl length...

my 5' Nothing GF handles my 870Marine Magnum 12 Ga. like a pro... and hates my lightweight Ithica pump 20 "featherweight" with a passion...

the percieved recoil on the lightweight guns is pretty noticable...

March 28, 2002, 11:11 PM
Remington came out this year with a 16ga Youth Express----maybe that will fit the bill.

23" vent rib barrel-----mod choke tube-----13" black syn/stock----6.25 lbs------catalog #25203

from the chart on page 33 of the 2002 catalog

there is a normal sized 16ga Express too

Dave McC
March 29, 2002, 05:10 AM
Some good choices there. Another might be the 28 gauge Express. 5/8 oz kicks less than 7/8, and the weapon itself is the same weight so felt kick is much less. And, I doubt anyone will still be fully functional after a center mass hit at close range with a 1200 FPS, 300 gr, 50 caliber plus load.

The 20 gauge YE I got for the kids kicks harder with oz loads than Frank does with my 4 dram 1 1/4 oz Pheasant wackers. They weigh within a few oz of each other.The shorter stock means a smaller butt. Less surface area= more perceived kick.

Whatever SHE decides on, get a professional to fit her and another to teach her. Trust me on this...

March 29, 2002, 07:45 AM
Hemi, that's why I went with the H&R (or was it NEF?) because of the thicker barrel. With the dove loads there's little recoil.

To pick up on Dave's point, anything more than familiarization you better let someone else teach her. One helpful hint: always tell a female why something is that way. "Hold my arm how? Why?"

March 29, 2002, 10:04 AM
Mike- I think you should fit her up with a semi. I'm not sure how tall your wife is but if she's fairly small I'd say go with the Remington 1100 Synthetic Youth in 20ga. Here's the stats on it:


March 29, 2002, 10:18 AM
Heh. :)

She already knows how to shoot, and is pretty proficient with a pistol. She has difficulty with shotguns because the only ones we own are 12g 870s with full-size stocks. The LOP is simply waaay too long, and it looks like she has to hold her left arm locked out straight to reach the forearm. Awkward.

The 20 YE kicks as much or more than your full 870, Dave? Yeesh. Talk about being more art than science ;)

How much does it cost to have a stock fitted professionally?

Thanks again,

Dave McC
March 29, 2002, 06:25 PM
Yup, it does, talking about felt recoil. The smaller butt, shorter stock, and higher chamber pressures(Assuming 1 oz loads) all contribute.

As for a fitting price, it's up in the air. The Yuppie shops where everyone wears tweeds are more expensive for the same work than shops with the lot full of P/U trucks. Best guess, $25-100. That's getting the stock done, not just told what it oughta be. Pumps and autos do not need bending, which is effective but costly.

Mostly the idea is to get her head over the bbl and have her comfortable when she shoots. LOP and maybe a touch of shimming might do the trick. Remember, we can adjust the fit by a short ot long hold with the forward hand. There's limits of course, but it may help.

Somehting that'll look odd but give maximum protection is to mount a premium pad and not fit it to the stock. More surface area.

If she's built as females should be, round the toe of the pad off a trifle, which equals 1.4 skosh or .8 bit(G). Trust me, it'll help in the comfort dept.


March 29, 2002, 10:45 PM
I outfitted my petite wife (5'0 and <100# in boots and a coat) with a rem 1187 20g upland special with a 23" barrel. I thought it was perfect. She abandoned it and went back to her Browning micro-lightning O/U 20g. (shrug)
Let her pick

March 31, 2002, 12:56 AM
Have you considered just getting a short butt to stick on your 870, then having her shoot some reduced loads?
A shorter LOP, good recoil pad and the right load may be all she needs.
(And some training, of course.)

March 31, 2002, 04:10 PM
One of my best friends shoots skeet with a 390 12. She'll shoot up to 125 rounds a day. Shes 5'9".

If this is gonna be for HD and she is not going to be shooting 100+ rounds a day check out some of that Estate SWAT '00 buck, its low recoil.

April 27, 2002, 12:58 AM
Well, as luck would have it, I ended up picking up an Ithaca for her. I was looking for the first good deal on a 16 or 20 g, and I managed to snag the 16g I asked about on a pricecheck a few weeks ago.


The gun is light. 'Featherlight' is not an exaggeration.
She thinks Ithacas are 'pretty.' Hey, whatever it takes...
The stock was shortened for a child, and it is the perfect length
The wood is beautiful, and the blueing is in good shape.

Have not function-checked yet. Seems functional, however.
No one carries 16g ammo locally. Cheaper Than Dirt, here I come...
The barrel is...long!

What to do with that blasted barrel? The gun needs a short barrel, but I really don't want to cut this one. Ithaca Model 37 16g full-choke non-ribbed barrel...gotta be worth a dime or two.

Anyone have an extra short Model 37 16g barrel laying around? :D


Dave McC
April 27, 2002, 05:39 AM
Ithaca has those bbls,I'm sure. And they're making a new Deerslayer II shotgun,which is a 16. But...

Before a certain cutoff date, the bbls need fitting and just cannot be interchanged w/o some hand work at Ithaca.

The 37's a great gun, get ammo and have her ease into shooting it as is.

You also might want to look around for a MEC Jr in 16 gauge. If any current guage demands you reload to get versatility, it's the 16.


April 27, 2002, 08:37 AM
Yeah, I agree about the reloading bit. Since I'll 'need' to be able to reload for both 12 and 16 (and possibly 20), I might end up going with something that can do both easily.

My major concern is that barrel. Ultimately this gun needs to wear a shorter one. Whether this comes from simple cutting and re-beading by my smith, or it comes from buying a new barrel, I dunno.

I considered the 20' rifled slug barrels, but NIB from Ithaca, they cost basically as much as I paid for the whole gun. I'm also not sure what shooting buckshot through the rifled slug barrel will do. My guess is that it would make it a biotch to clean ( ;) ) and have zero effect on pattern at apartment-defense ranges.


Dave McC
April 27, 2002, 10:49 AM
It seems that the reloading cogniscienti that use single stage presses like the MEC 600 Jr tend to just buy a press for each gauge, rather than swap dies and so on.

Check Gun Parts Corp for a bbl. You may want to look over E bay also.

April 28, 2002, 01:00 AM
Before a certain cutoff date, the bbls need fitting and just cannot be interchanged w/o some hand work at Ithaca.Yeah, as my luck would have it, serial number 135XXX was manufactured in 1947, which puts it a wee bit before the age of interchangability. :D

Of course, this also reinforces my desire not to chop this full-choke long barrel, too. Even if its not worth much in dollars and cents, I dislike hacking up old things. Call me silly.

On the plus side, I have a line (kinda/sorta maybe) on a replacement bbl. Is this the sort of work that could be done by my smith, or would it be advisable to ship the whole kit and kaboodle to Ithaca?

Thanks again,

Dave McC
April 28, 2002, 06:00 AM
Not being a smith, dunno about the complexity nor your smith's expertise, Mike.

Check with the smith, most are pretty truthful...

April 29, 2002, 07:27 PM
870 with compstock. Nuff said. :cool:

April 29, 2002, 08:23 PM
Shotgun for a woman
Sounds like a good trade to me.

- Aion

May 14, 2002, 10:54 AM
Well, I snagged that mod 37. It came as advertised...bluing in good shape, the wood is very very nice, the alteration to the buttstock is the perfect length and well done. The scope and scope mount came off right away- the scope was crap, and while the mount may or may not be decent, it had no reason to stay. The receiver under the mount was fine, only 4 holes and a few scuffs. I also snagged a spare 16g shotgun barrel from a local range that just could not sell the thing and was looking to dump it.

Took the whole kit and kaboodle to my smith, looking for him to fit the new barrel, plug the holes in the reciever and hack the new bbl to 18.5". voila!, one week later I have a Ithaca Model 37 Featherlight 16g with a 18.5" riot bbl, a 28" (OEM) full-choke barrel and short buttstock.

Total cost: $275 + 1 case of Budweiser. (Hey, smiths don't work for free!)


Al Thompson
May 14, 2002, 12:07 PM

Dave McC
May 14, 2002, 04:22 PM
Sounds good so far, howzabout a range report?...

May 14, 2002, 10:14 PM
I fired it in long-barrel configuration. It had a bit of a kick with buckshot (featherlight is indeed the word), but it worked reliably.

I have yet to haul it out with it's riot barrel. It sure does handle nicely, though, even for me with short butt. I'll advise when my wife takes it for its shakedown cruise.

And she still thinks its pretty. :D


May 24, 2002, 09:51 AM
OK, the other thread reminded me I have yet to post the range report from my recent trip with The Wife.

We hauled out the gun in riot configuration, and sent 25 rounds of light game loads downrange. This was mostly just a shakedown cruise to see how well Wife and Gun perform together, and the results were decent. Her form (ahem...her SHOOTING form) is a bit rough, but thats to be expected. She also needs work on the manual of arms for the weapon and has difficulty hitting the action release lever properly. Ithaca seems to recess this part just far enough against the trigger guard that she has to pause and deliberately push it when needed. She also is not used to the trigger, which has a much different feel from the positive slap-*CLICK* of the 870. She short stroked it twice (again, minds out of the gutter, please :D ), but it was easily unbound by flipping the gun over and re-racking. Once she figured out that the gun needed to be racked with a little bit of authority, she had no further problems.

The gun did its part every time. Patterning is uncertain. There was no patterning board, and the range we used has a limit on how close you can put your targets (my PD range is currently closed down for in-service training). We weren't exactly using defensive loads, anyway. The gun handles wonderfully...it takes a bit of adjustment after using the Ninja-ized 870 which now has the ergonomics and aesthetics of a T-55 MBT.

I'll work with her on form, and will probably be tweaking the stock a tad. If anything its just a hair short for her, which is OK. Adding spacers or changing out pads is easy.

Oh, one small bruise on the arm where she failed to shoulder the gun properly. Still keeping the loads light, to avoid magnumitis.


Dave McC
May 24, 2002, 04:04 PM
Good start,Mike. If I may....

Leave the stock alone. Lots of folks work into their stocks, their form improves so that a stock that was just right ends up a tad short. For a "Serious" shotgun, no disadvantage. If it does go a bit too short add spacers 18" at a time.

Have her learn clearance and loading/unloading drills. And throw some clays, she will get really hyped when she busts her first one.

Gamebore offers some 2 1/2" light recoil/low noise loads in 16 gauge. Mo' costly than K mart, but the advantages will be well worth the few bucks spent.
Finally, be a mature and sensitive individual and congratulate her when she outshoots you(G)....

May 24, 2002, 11:57 PM

She already shoots my P232 as well as I do, just not as quickly. :D