View Full Version : A Balancing Act....

Dave McC
June 18, 2002, 05:37 AM
My E mail had someone asking about the proper balancing point for a shotgun. Here's an edited, paraphrased version.

Balance,weight,length,fit, etc all contribute to that subjective set of biases we call "Feel". Usually, the proper Feel means a shotgun that's responsive, reasonably quick,and does a good job on the target despite us.

So, how do I want a shotgun to balance? How long is a piece of string?

This is as subjective as finding the Woman or Man of your dreams.

The usual criteria, skipping some mumbo-jumbo about balancing on the hinge pin for doubles, is about 3" in front of the trigger, front trigger if there's more than one.

Like most rules of thumb, this is crude but does work most of the time.

More aptly, go by how the thing shoots for you, and the mission.

Clay gamer guns tend towards being weight forward, or muzzle heavy. This aids the swing with a bit of inertia.S/C guns tend not to be as W/F as Trap or Skeet guns, but it's not a great difference.

Pass shooting guns also tend towards W/F. Same reason.

So do "Serious" shotguns with mag extensions. This keeps the muzzle down for fast recovery.

Upland guns are more neutral, with exceptions.

One,many grouse and woodcock hunters prefer a shotgun with the weight to the rear, a butt heavy feel that's fast for snap shots.

Two, ultralight shotguns seem to work better if they are SLIGHTLY W/F, this counteracts the tendency to stop the swing so common to sub 7 lb shotguns.

The best way to find how your shotgun should shoot is by shooting it,then adding or subtracting a bit of weight here and there. A coupla oz of lead under the pad on a "Serious" shotgun can counter a full 8 shot mag.

Leverage being what it may, an oz at the muzzle can change the feel the way 2 oz do at midpoint. (Finally, an excuse for that bayonet lug on 590s).

Samesame, an oz just under the pad works better than one halfway up the bolt hole.

So, play around a bit and see just what works for you and a specified mission.


June 18, 2002, 08:42 AM
Good post.

Reminded me of the Technoid's favorite saying at shotgunreport.com - Balances like a brick on a snow shovel. Or something like that. Maybe it was a pig on a snow shovel. Okay, I can't remember.

Seriously, you're right on target about being aware of where the weight is. A broomstick with a brick tied on each end will balance in the middle - but it won't swing like it would with all of the weight near the middle.

Gotta run,


Dave McC
June 18, 2002, 06:32 PM
Thanks, John. The Technoid is who I want to be when I grow up.....

I cribbed an analogy from somewhere, apologies to whomever.

Take three steel bars 6 ft long and the same weight. Make one a straight cylinder. Make the second a spindle shape, with the middle the thickest part tapering to the ends. Number three's shaped like an hourglass, thinnest in the middle and thickest at the ends.

Now use all three like Little John's quarterstaff. The spindle will be the most responsive, the hourglass the steadiest and most likely to keep swinging.