View Full Version : low-recoil rounds for sporting clays?

June 9, 2002, 05:43 PM
I met a nice lady in K-Mart today. She was talking with an associate in the sporting goods department who got a deer-in-the-headlights look when she started asking about sporting clays. I answered what questions I could (always happy to meet a lady shooter!) but I don't know enough about shotguns and various shotgunning sports to give her a good answer to a few of them.

She's got a 870 Express 12 gauge chambered for 2 3/4 in shells. Right now she's using Winchester AA target loads with #8 shot in them. She said the recoil is too much for her to handle comfortably after several rounds of clays, and wants to know if she should move to a different shotgun, or if there is a particular brand of shells she can get for the 870 with reduced-power loads that will still reliably break clays and not make her shoulders ache when she's done.

I don't know what accessories she has for her 870, or what rules her club has, so I suggested trying a few shots from a 20-gauge shotgun if her club rents guns, or borrowing one from another member to test-drive. If she wants to keep the 12-gauge, I suggested looking for a better recoil pad or recoil reducer accessory to add to her shotgun, or using a vest with a generously padded shoulder panel. Aguila's mini-shells also came to mind, but I didn't know if they'd be appropriate (enough power / range) for clays and other shotgunning sports, or allowed, if her club has any restriction on what's usable on their shotgun range.

I'm looking for suggestions for both the 12-gauge she has or for a new shotgun / shell combination. What can she get that will keep recoil to a minimum and still be a reliable and effective sporting clays gun?

She told me where she works, so I'll go pay her a visit and give her the answers to her questions and we'll arrange some range time to go shoot some clays :)


June 9, 2002, 06:47 PM
Makes a nice 12ga load that is marketed as low noise/ low recoil. As has been pointed out to me, there is a trade off in patterning and probably velocity, but the recoil was definitely cut by a substantial margin.

She may also want to check the fit of the gun with a knowledgable gunsmith or pro shop. It may be the fit of the gun and her methods, not the loads.


June 9, 2002, 07:13 PM
Might be better off with a gas operated autoloader like the Remington 1100. Dampens recoil and makes follow up shot easier. Standard gun to introduce newbies to Sporting Clays.

Dave R
June 9, 2002, 07:25 PM
Clays shooters I know all want to use hot loads...

A quality recoil pad can make a big difference. I recommend she start there. Most of the clays shooters use shooting vests with pads built in.

Several rounds of clays? Hmmmm. Rounds tend to be 50shots, monimum. Several rounds would be 150 shotsor more. That much shooting might make anyone's shoulder a bit sore.

June 9, 2002, 07:36 PM
DaveR, I thought the same thing you did on the number of clays, so I asked about it. She told me she shoots 25 clays per round.

She got the 870 as a home-defense gun just before Y2K, so it's not really the ideal clays shooter but she enjoys it anyhow.


June 9, 2002, 09:12 PM
Only clays I have shot was a five stand hundred rounder. Used field gun and field loads. Interesting to say the least.

What would be wrong with using international trap loads.?
Around 3/4 oz shot....light recoil.
International birds being smaller and faster

Pattern might stink from gun not set up for em.



June 9, 2002, 09:20 PM
I would agree with Dave R. A good recoil pad would be a good place to start. I put Pachmahr Decelerators on all my 870's and it made a big difference in felt recoil.

Dave McC
June 10, 2002, 04:30 AM
While an 870 may not be ideal for introducing a tyro to Clays, it'll work fine with a few mods.

First, she needs to get the stock fitted to her. This takes more than sawing it off and sticking on a good pad. A bit more pitch and a little toe out will add to her comfort.

Rounding off the toe of the pad slightly should also help a bit.

A Pachmyer Decellerator pad is a good option. The standard Rempad isn't bad, but the Decellerator is better.

While doing all of this, adding a Sorbothane type piece to the grip(KickEez makes one) to tighten up the radius may help her. Wenig does this on their Ladies' stock.

Next,I'd have her switch to 1 oz loads.The promo loads should work fine if used at realistic distances.

And of course, she may have form glitches, and a few lessons from a qualified instructor will aid her greatly.

Last, give her the URL here. This BB could help anyone getting into all things shotgun....


June 10, 2002, 05:36 AM
There's no way to make a fixed breach shotgun recoil less unless you run light ammo through it. A good recoil pad will help as Rems. "brick" pad on their Express line doesn't do anything to take the sting out of recoil with even the lighter ammo.

International trap loads, while only using a 24 oz. payload, run around 1325fps and kick just as much as a stiff American-style trap load.

Best bet for her would be to get a gas-operated auto w/a soft recoil pad and run 1oz. loads @ around 1150fps through it. In fact most male shooters would benefit from the same type outfit.


June 10, 2002, 01:27 PM
Thanks for all the info. I'll pass it along. My first thought was to send her here to TFL and let her lurk and ask questions for herself, but she told me she doesn't have a computer at present.


June 10, 2002, 02:54 PM
Some of Federal's International target loads are down in the 1,1xx velocity range. That, with the light payload, should be a bit lighter in the recoil dept.


Dave McC
June 10, 2002, 04:55 PM
DFM, free recoil and felt recoil are two different kettles of fish.

Free recoil can, as you say, only be reduced by making the load lighter or the shotgun heavier.
Felt recoil's affected by fit,form, and padding.
Free reoil's objectively measured, Felt,AKA Kick, is subjectively measured.

Amen to the 1 oz, 1150 FPS loads. I use them for trap, and may load some up with 7 1/2 shot for a preserve shoot like the one last March. More is not necessarily better.

On those same lines, a 7/8 oz 12 gauge load at 1225 FPS is a creampuff.Still breaks trap Singles targets, tho not smoke them.

And a gas gun is oft a good to great idea, but this is what she has...

Dave R
June 10, 2002, 06:02 PM
Vertigo, you say she bought it as a defense shotgun? Has it got the 18" barrel? If so, then she should spend the $100 or so to get a hunting barrel 22" or longer. It will help with the longer shots in sporting clays. And the weight of the barrel will reduce recoil noticeably.

June 10, 2002, 06:09 PM
DaveR, she never mentioned what barrel length was on the 870, but if I had to guess I'd say it was probably the 18" one since it was a home-defense purchase. I'll tell her to check into the cost of a new longer barrel for it too. Thanks much.


June 10, 2002, 06:13 PM
All the above ideas on lightening recoil will help, but let's face it, a pump gun is always gonna kick. It would be smarter to just get into another gun now, rather than spend a dime trying to fix the problem with the 870. My wife shoots a 20ga. 1100 all day long, handles it real well on follow up shots. Has your new friend ever tried an autoloader?

June 10, 2002, 06:28 PM
I don't know if she's ever tried an auto-loader. I know a few of the local gun shops have a couple semi-auto shotguns in stock, so I'll send her round to check a few out. I've even seen Charles Daly and Beretta semi-autos at the local Wally-World.

Who knows, if she decides to get a new shotgun to replace the 870, I might be motivated to buy it from her, as I don't have a shotgun in my collection yet. That might take the bite out of buying a new one. I'd really wanted a Benelli Nova, but I could get to like a Rem 870.


June 10, 2002, 07:19 PM
we have a girl here in our shooting sports program/shotgun discipline that her arm hurts for a few days after shooting an 1100 with a recoil pad and shooting AA trap loads or something similar-after about 100 rounds-i personalyl have never felt any discomfort at all with my 870 WM-in 20-and it has the old buttpad not really a recoil pad-just a plate--except when shooting slugs-i shot 15 slugs just off hand and i felt them, but i was fine-i have no trouble with any other loads field or trap and multiple rounds-probably just get a recoil pad and a vest with a pad in it, that should dappen it up to non existance

June 10, 2002, 07:32 PM
If this lady is going to shoot clays regularly she should consider another gun, probably a semi-auto. A beginning clay shooter has enough to worry about without having to remember to pump the gun. If it's an HD model the problem is only worsened by the short barrels.

The low recoil, low noise shells produced by Winchester are to be avoided IMHO. While they work as advertised the pattern is very dense at short ranges, but so light that it quickly disperses beyond 25 yards. This is adds up to a lot of missed targets.

The 20 gauge option is a possibility except that most 20 gauges are very light guns and they can often tend to kick more. (If you don't believe me you can try a round of skeet with my 6-1/2 pound 20 gauge and then another with my 8 pound 12.) Women shooters in my experience, however, can often manage the recoil, it's the heavier gun they have problems with.

Here's what I'd suggest. Try a Remington 1100 in both 20 and 12. Use 1 ounce loads in the 12. Get at least a 28" ribbed barrel with choke tubes. She should buy the one she likes best. She should then sell the 870 (I know that's a heresy on the board) and use that money to buy a 21" smoothbore, slug barrel for her 1100. Sporting clays and self defense all in one gun.

Dave McC
June 10, 2002, 07:56 PM
Paul, one of the biggest lies is "One size fits all"...

No heresy, and I forgive you(G)...

Samesame with shotguns. An 1100 would probably be a better choice in this case than an 870 would (Collective gasp from the gallery).

A shortbbled 1100 in trained hands is an effective weapon of great effect, just like any other reliable repeating shotgun.

The only caveat I can think of is that the 1100 stock cannot be cut very short, and if this lady's a pixie it may be difficult to get a good fit.

June 11, 2002, 05:48 AM
Dave....¿ With pointy toed shoes and a funny hat ?

I don't have one of those 870 thingys and I'm not shy bout this board.

Threads like this one bring out a lot of things. Lots of good information that may well be applicable down the line for others.


Dave McC
June 11, 2002, 06:05 AM
Pixies are the Wee Folk...

Except when they're Jewish, they're Lepracohens then, heh,heh...

If a shotgunner chooses to shoot while wearing a funny hat and pointy toed shoes, they sure can.

After all, this is still America, and they're armed(G)....

Seriously, this is a good thread.

Dave R
June 11, 2002, 07:12 PM
Vertigo, in case you missed it, here is a current thread with some pricing and sourcing on replacement barrels.


June 11, 2002, 07:49 PM
DaveR, I've been watching that thread too, and taking notes. Good info.

DaveMcC, I'd have to guess the pixie-in-question stood about 6 feet tall. She's definitely not a small lady. I would guess the off-the-rack fit of the 870 would fit her.

I'll drop by and talk with her tomorrow morning to share the info you've all provided. Will post more after I get some feedback from her. Maybe then I get to stop doing all this guessing? :D



June 11, 2002, 09:15 PM
Maby invite her to join us. Where everybody learns from everyone else.


Dave McC
June 12, 2002, 03:45 AM
7, factory stocks (including the 870) only fit about 10% of the shooters well. Another 30%, it's close enough to work OK. I'm in the 30%. The lady in question may be built close enough to average to use the factory stock,but....

Women usually need a bit more pitch, and rounding off the toe of the pad is an almost universal improvement. Brister mentions sanding down the whole inside rim of the pad with a bit more taken off the toe, but I've not tried this myself.


June 14, 2002, 01:45 AM
Good Thread,

Sounds like gun fit to me. As suggested someone qualified to check fit would be beneficial. Trying other guns (fit) might be a good idea.

Brister's sanding rim and a bit more toe rounded - well have seen results and shot gun- yeah one can tell a difference.

Loads: partial to the old superlight loading, 1 1/8 at 1145, depending on targets/distance 8 and 7.5 shot.

Is the recoil bothering her shoulder or cheek ? recoil pads suggested are good ones, if comb a bit low, maybe moleskin applied might help with fit, and felt recoil on cheek, if abrasive, cover with electrical tape.

My .02

June 15, 2002, 07:25 PM
I caught up to my lady friend today and gave her all the great suggestions everyone kindly provided. She told me she'd gone out to one of the clays / skeet ranges in this area to check things out and ask questions, and the local gunnies there that day gave her such a hard time she left in tears. She didn't even get a chance to shoot a single clay pigeon. Please note I wasn't present for any of this, I'm just relaying what she had to say about her visit to the club.

I felt awful for her. She's a nice lady and didn't deserve to be treated like second-class trash just because she's a newbie shooter who wants to learn and asks questions. I invited her to go shooting with me anytime she wanted to, and assured her that not everyone in the shooting community is as crude and foul-mannered as the people she dealt with.


Al Thompson
June 15, 2002, 08:56 PM
Time to find a new club if possible. That's just asinine. :mad:

June 15, 2002, 09:50 PM
That is SICK !


Dave McC
June 16, 2002, 08:43 AM
7, that's a fine example of the Bozo Factor.

"It only takes one clown to #$%^& it up for everyone".

And this kind of churlishness is rarely found among the best shooters. The sort of discipline and dedication needed to get best often smooths and helps people skills.

I suggest you attend the next club meeting at that range and report to the members what she told you. And if it's not received well, tell them what they can kiss.

June 16, 2002, 12:10 PM
I'm thinking about taking a ride out to that club myself, and playing the part of the clueless newbie who's full of questions. It'll be convincing, shotguns aren't my forte, much less skeet / clays. Then maybe giving them an earful about being so harsh to newbies, remind them they were newbie shooters once too, and that the only way you will learn anything is to ask questions of more experienced shooters. I'm curious to see if I'll receive the same treatment she did even though I'm a guy. Will post back with an after-op report.