View Full Version : A thought on stock fit...

Dave McC
November 5, 2000, 11:15 AM
Got a phone call yesterday from an old friend, known him for 30 years, hunted with him for 20. He now lives in TN, and called me to ask about shotguns, of course.

We were hunting together one day not long after I had acquired a little French 12 ga Game Gun, a sumptous little piece from St Etienne that weighed 6 lbs, 5 oz, had a checkered butt and all the pretties. A woodcock flight was in a covert we hunted that day, and I took all three I shot at, DRT with that little masterpiece.

He was rebuilding an older Savage 410 SXS for his 9 year old son, and wanted to ask about that checkered butt. As you may know, that's a stock w/o pad or plate, just checkered wood, Lightest stock around, but kick gets felt.No kick with a 410, so no problem there.

Buddy cited those three woodcock,and mentioned that in my long and checkered career, he never saw me shoot better. Since he's absolutely deadly in the field with his old A-5, that's praise. And then we chewed it about why I could shoot that little SXS so much better. No major insights then, but later....

I had some downtime last night at work, and got to thinking about that shotgun and why it worked so well for me.And while I was shooting a shotgun that was a gross violation of the Rule of 96, it didn't kick much. A 6lb, 5 oz shotgun shooting a 1 1/8 oz heavy trap load is supposed to let you know when it goes off. This was one soft kicker...

Let me describe that stock to you,and see if you can pick it up.

Stock length was either 14 1/4 or 14 1/8", depending on which side you measured it. It was an ergonomic stock, the butt started earlier on the left side of the weapon, more closely matching the cup one makes when shouldering the weapon.Centerline of the butt wasn't the deepest part,it lay a little to the right.Again matching the various convolutions of the human shoulder.

There was cast off, toe out, and a bit less drop than most old guns. IIRC, it had 1 1/2" drop at comb, 2 1/4 at heel, so it was a little straighter than most.Straight grip of course, so I had to concentrate on pulling the gun into my shoulder with the support hand as well as pointing it.

The gun should have been a hard kicker with those loads, but it wasn't. Even on clays, where one lacks the excitement and adrenaline surge of hunting, kick was quite mild. And the answer to why that is, is stock fit.


The sole surprise for me,once the smoke cleared, was that it took me so long to figure it out. IOW, the shotgun that I did best with for swing and pull shooting was a soft kicker,and the reason was the stock fit me better than others.

So after the season, I expect the bird 870 and I will head to the range for some serious patterning and stock manipulation. Will advise...

Art Eatman
November 5, 2000, 02:37 PM
Yup. "Stock Fit Is All", in shotty-guns.

If it's too long, you shoot low. If it's too short, you shoot high.

With proper drop and cast-off, when you mount the gun with your eyes closed and then open your eyes, you should be looking directly along the line of the barrel/rib; and you should not be low or high in alignment with the front sight.

John Satterwhite's comment was that the stock is the rear sight. Proper fit, proper sights, proper shooting.

And all these quail in my front yard are making me hungry!

:), Art

Dave McC
November 6, 2000, 07:54 AM
Bon Appetit, Art.

I'm getting acceptable results from my 870 stock now. A little shimming put most of the pattern over the POA and I can "Float" the bird over the muzzle rather than having to blot it out.

And I doubt I'll add any cast off, I like my shotguns to be able to be shot from the off side if needed. Patterning shows my patterns are centered as for windage, so I won't mess with that.

I will try out a spacer or two, just because I keep hearing that my stock should be a little longer due to my size, and I'll do a little carving on the pad to get the thing more matched to the contours of my shoulder. I already rounded off the toe of the pad a trifle for comfort, so this shouldn't be difficult.

And,for the moment I'm leaving the stocks/pads alone on the Deer and HD 870s. There shot more like rifles anyways...

November 6, 2000, 03:00 PM

"If it's too long, you shoot low. If it's too short, you shoot high."

Your comment caught my attention. Can you explain the relationship between the long/short stock and the low/high POI?



NRA? Good. Now join the GOA!

CMOS's Site (http://www.hal-pc.org/~thehaugs/second.htm)

November 6, 2000, 08:53 PM
Greetings from Texas. The long/short/high/low thing comes from the intended use of the gun. English shooters prefer a bit longer LOP, generally to give built-in rise for incoming driven birds. The rise helps in this situation. American shooters could be shooting at anything in the air and on the ground. The shorter LOP favored this type of all-around shooting. The large amount of drop on some vintage American guns is due to the 'heads-up' shooting style of years gone by.
The POI of a gun may be adjusted vertically quite easily. The closer the lead hand is to the action, the higher the POI. I use this when shooting my side-bys, it works well and is easily learned. Most American shooters can handle a slightly longer LOP than they generally use, and once they get used to a proper and practiced mount, most will prefer the new length.
Gun fit is everything, not everybody should buy the one-size-fits-all off of the shelf, but most do. Having a gun fit you as an extension of yourself is a joy that must be experienced to be appreciated. Thanks, OL

This year will go down in history. For the first time, a civilized nation has full gun registration! Our streets will be safer, our police more efficient, and the world will follow our lead into the future! - Adolf Hitler, 1935

Dave McC
November 8, 2000, 07:39 AM
OL, my leading hand tends to fall where most comfortable on the forearm,on SXSs with splinter forends it hits at the tip. This style feels natural to me,and I doubt I'll retrain to raise or lower POI.And on this shotgun at any rate, POI is fine. If I lengthen the stock, I may have to take out some of the shims to correct any shift.

In one of Steve Smith's delightful books on upland hunting, he mentions that stuff about a heads up style of shooting,and states it's true to an extent but overrated. He explains that in thick cover, a stock with some drop to it is faster,and thus compensates to some extent for the open patterns of those days from soft shot,short forcing cones,etc. Stock design in those days was oft driven by market hunting, and some of those folks would shoot 100 woodcock daily. I note most of the old big gauge shotguns I see here on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay have more drop than present day guns,but maybe a bit less
than small gauge upland or GP shotguns. I recall handling a Damascus Parker 8 ga that was huge, but held well at the shoulder. Felt recoil is less with a straighter stock,too.

November 9, 2000, 01:25 AM
Greetings from Texas, Dave. Thanks for the reply. Finally, I've found another double gun shooter here!
Your lead hand position on your side-by sounds perfect, and it works for you. I'm about the same with my lead hand, depending on the individual gun. The idea of raising POI by sliding in your lead hand really comes pretty naturally. During the mount on a hard incomer, the target is covered by both raising the barrels with the lead hand combined with sliding in the hand slightly towards the action (really the middle of the forend). This combined movement will allow rapid target acquisition and helps to maintain proper swing-through as the shot is taken. Sounds odd, but give it a try on incoming birds where a little built-in rise is helpful.
I also agree with you on the drop thing. The head-up style was indeed only a part of it. For fast shooting on fur or feather, a short stock with a lot of drop will help, and the shooter doesn't have to screw his cheek to the comb to get off a good shot. Drop allowed the shooter to get the barrel plane in his line of sight quicker than with a straighter stock. Market hunting, lousy patterns, weird shooting style, shotgun design influenced by the Kentucky long gun style, possibly a combination of factors....
Read you were looking for a 16 bore double. What do you want, what do you think? Do tell, OL

This year will go down in history. For the first time, a civilized nation has full gun registration! Our streets will be safer, our police more efficient, and the world will follow our lead into the future! - Adolf Hitler, 1935

[This message has been edited by Oldlightning (edited November 09, 2000).]

Dave McC
November 9, 2000, 06:40 AM
Thanks, OL. I think I'll stick with my shooting style,had consistency problems for years,and moving the forward hand may exascerbate them. It should work for someone not so set in their ways...

As for doubles, make it a 16, or a light 12 like the French piece mentioned in this thread.A SXS,of course,boxlock with straight grip, sumptous wood, good checkering, and no engraving. As clean and graceful as a Shaker chair. Two triggers, for instant choke selection, a swamped rib, with a tiny ivory bead.Open chokes,say 8 points of constriction in one bbl, 15 in the other, since this is an up close,small bird,small shot,fast,shotgun.

And make it made in the US,a vintage Fox, Parker(on the lightweight frame),or NID.