View Full Version : Field and "Serious" guns for clay games....

Dave McC
January 23, 2001, 09:31 AM
This keeps coming up,and the E mail box has had two separate queries about this in the last week, so here's my opinions, and they ARE opinions.

Others may differ, and probably will.

The question goes something like...

"Can I use my _____(Fill in the blank) for trap/skeet/SC/ live pigeons, or rats down at the dump?".

The quickneasy answer, of course.

While whatever shotgun you have may not be the best shotgun for whatever game,it still is the shotgun you have, and should be exercised regularly. Few things in life have quickneasy answers, tho, so....

Field guns get carried a lot and shot little, and the other way around for gamer guns.

Most gamer guns run heavier than field guns, especially those used on smaller birds like grouse, or quail. And the balance points differ, at least for most folks. Trap guns run tight on chokes, and the balance point lies a little further out than clay or skeet guns. The POI is a little higher, few trap guns run less than 8 lbs, a good lb more than what I like in a field gun.

Skeet guns shoot more to POA, balance more like field guns,
but are still heavier. I'd feel comfortable taking most skeet guns out for upland game, tho I'd wear out faster than usual.

SC games, ditto. While SC started as a game where people could freely compete with their hunting shotgun, that's gotten lost in the sauce. This doesn't mean that you won't have fun shooting, it means few of the trophies in the world will ever have your name engraved on them. To me, hardly important.

As for "Serious" shotguns, anything I may have to bet my life on is going to get used until it feels like a body part, not a tool. A GR sighted, flat black, pump gun with all the accessories ST or ROBAR catalog may not look or score like a Perazzi or one of Geoff's K guns, but a few rounds of some clay game periodically will aid your handling and abilities like nothing else.

BTW, a 28" bbled 1100 with a full mag entension balances like a trap O/U and weighs about the same. Same sight radius also.Something to think about...

Caveat, some shotguns are capable of lasting decades when only used for hunting but fold quickly under the more constant use common to gamers.A gamer will shoot more shells in a year than most hunters in 10, so the best choices tend to be durable designs, which aren't usually the cheapest.

Finally, shooting rats in dumps(a recreation of my wastrel and misspent youth) is one of the few legit uses for the 410. Use eye and ear protection, 9 shot, and remember there's lots of flat surfaces for pellets to rebound from.

Questions, comments, donations?....

January 23, 2001, 12:44 PM

Good post...IMO if you want to seriously get involved with a certain sport you should have the right gun for it. I already have had an experience using a "Sporting Clays" gun for trap. Didn't work for me at all especially when just new to the sport. Now if I could only learn to shoot two-eyed. ;)


January 23, 2001, 12:45 PM
Dave , what I like the most about shotguns is their versatility. I think one can do most things with most shotguns and do it well.While I wouldn't use trap guns in the field I have shot the different games with my hunting guns,with enough success to please me. When you look back at why games like skeet and sporting were invented it was for practice on shots that would be encountered in the field with hunting guns.In some ways I think it's sad that we have become conditioned to the idea that target guns and hunting (field) guns are different things but I guess that's the price of competition.
As I get older My feelings about what shotguns I own
(or would like to) have changed, instead of wanting a safe full of different guns and gauges I find I would rather have 1 or 2 quality shotguns (12gauge) that I can use with confidence to do what I need.

Dave McC
January 23, 2001, 01:14 PM
Carol, I bowhunt with a longbow, no sights,stabilizers, cams, release aids, etc. It might not be something I'd win with at 3-D, but I do shoot 3-D with it and have a great time. And, I drag something out of the woods with it often enough to keep me going.

Same with shotguns. I'd score higher on any of the games with a specialized tool, but I prefer(at least here and now) to use my "anything flying" 870, AKA Frankenstein. And, I don't do so bad.

If I ever answer all of Regis's questions or hit the Lotto, I might have many more shotguns(Quite a few!!), but until that day and with both Wife and Daughter in College, my discretionary income is limited.

And all hunters need to get in some practice with their field guns. The clay games do that, with the focus on getting better with what you have rather than having what you can hit best with,under artificial conditions and rules.

This is no slam on anyone with differing priorities. I started the thread with the idea that plenty of folks see a dichotomy here that's uncrossable.It is not.

Huntsman,shotguns ARE versatile.What's under discussion here is just how versatile ONE shotgun, set up one way can be.

Frankenstein was an attempt first to have a turkey gun, but it became quickly obvious that it would be suitable for all flying game and the games also.With an open tube, it does a good imitation of a quail/woodcock/grouse gun, a little tighter works for pheasant and ducks, tho the bunty bbl MAKES me concentrate on the swing. I imagine it would work just fine with buck, probably slugs, and serve as a good HD tool as it sets right now. I have more specialized shotguns for those purposes.

Thanks and have a good'un....

January 23, 2001, 02:43 PM
I shoot clays with my Mossberg M590A1, 20" barrel, eight round mag, heavy barrel and bayonet lug. Sometimes I leave the strap on. I use a pistol grip fore end to minimize tendonitis in my wrist.

Dave McC answered many questions and helped me learn to enjoy the games as well as increase my proficiency. Fast target acquisition and accurate shooting are skills that transfer over to more serious use of the shotgun, I would think and hope.

My next question: Will a Vang Comp job help my trap score (I am almost 100% serious)?

Regards to all.

Cannon Cocker
January 23, 2001, 04:08 PM
Very good and infomative post, thanks!

You've convinced me to look at getting another shotgun for clay games. I might also consider getting a trap barrel for my 1100 special field, but I think that would throw the balance of the gun off.

In any event this is a good excuse to get another shotgun :D

January 23, 2001, 10:07 PM
I have 4 shotguns. A single 410 w/ broken ejector, sxs 20ga, and 2 Mossberg 500 12ga's with accu-chokes(actually one is my boy's). I use the 500 for everything now, then again I suck at clay games. I have a 28in, the boy a 24in ported. I'm thinking of getting a 24in barrel myself, makes the gun balance like the double 20 (only had it 25yrs).

BTW, what is Frankenstein?

You guys do realize 870's have the safety in the wrong place, right?

John Hunter
January 24, 2001, 03:17 AM

Is the the same Dave McC from the old Prodigy Classic Shooting Sports BB? If so drop me an email [email protected]

Dave McC
January 24, 2001, 08:40 AM
Guilty as charged, John. You knew we'd meet again in cyberspace, didn't you? Check your E mail.

Grimel, Frankenstein, AKA 870 #3 or my "Anything Flying" shotgun is an 870 I built. Look for an old thread called a Kitchen Table 870 if you're interested. It's undoubtedly the ugliest 870 in Howard County...

Dave McC
January 24, 2001, 08:44 AM
Sorry, Led, missed your query about whether or not a Vanging your shotgun will improve your trap score.

Answer, yes, IF you've progressed to a plateau where only an equipment upgrade can result in a higher score. If you're that proficient now, go for it....

And Grimel, the 870 safety IS placed correctly, for those of us with enough digital dexterity to use such a sophisticated piece of technology(G)....

January 24, 2001, 01:49 PM
Hi Dave,

If I keep shooting without getting any better does that count? I have definitely reached a plateau, my shooting partner (whose clock I can clean at pistols and rifles) is now out-shooting me at clays with his 27" barrel Mossberg 500, a gun that I suggested he buy (the one that comes with two barrels). This out-shooting me crap started about a month ago. I consistently shoot between 15 and 20 out of 25.

It's gotta be the equipment, right;)? Thanks again for all your help.



Dave McC
January 26, 2001, 07:53 AM
Led, when my shooting plateaus,(or deteriorates) I go back to the basics, and work on my form. Also, since we're gaming here, it oft is a problem of concentration. Keeping the same level of concentration shot after shot is difficult. One thing that helps me is focussing on the smallest part of the target I see. Instead of trying to break the clay, I try to break the leading edge.

"Vanging" or similiar high dollar mods are for the guy who cannot stand the idea of only shooting 99 straight.

January 27, 2001, 10:22 PM
Dave Mc, I'll bow to your knowledge on shotguns in general, but that doesn't change the FACT that 870 safeties are WRONG! 1/7th of the population is left handed! I can make an 870 safety either right handed or left handed, but not both; the Mossberg (and Browning I believe) are in the correct (thumb) location. Being that I am left handed, yet my wife and son are right handed ambidextirous firearms are a must. House guns even moreso.

BTW, I like the idea of a Frankestein gun. Might have to do that to my 500. Guess I might have to dig up an old thread for ideas.

Dave McC
January 28, 2001, 08:15 AM
Grimel, when I instructed for the state we would shoot offside just to see if there were any problems the sinistrally advantaged had with a weapon or procedure.Or, as a loose system of handicapping for an informal side match udring lunch.

While it takes a split second longer to do the safety with the thumb after sliding the hand around the grip, it didn't seem to make much practical difference in time nor scores. Motivation,committment, and training made much more difference in effectivness than which hand one scratches with.

Seriously, the Mossy is an OK weapon, I just like the 870 better. A trained, cool hand with a Mossy is well armed and capable of defending themselves and family.

January 28, 2001, 09:03 AM
Dave, I started with a Savage 311 26yrs ago. I'm sure I could learn the 870 drill. Only thing is it seems to add extra movements to complicate things. If the Browning's weren't so expensive ... I really kick myself for selling an old S&W pump.

The final determining factor will be when I get my wife convinced she NEEDS to be able to use a shotgun, not just a handgun and lever 44. What ever SHE is happy with will become the house gun and as usual, I'll adapt. With my luck she'll decide on an auto Benelli.

Dave McC
January 28, 2001, 10:48 AM
Grimel, operating an 870 with some skill reflects usage, like any other tool. However, it's not rocket science. And, a few rounds of any clay game will groove in your responses. At this point in time, it's as natural as breathing.

To misquote a salty old E-5 I worked for under conditions both unpleasant and dangerous:

"Unless you can load, unload, make safe as needed and operate that weapon in total #$%^&* darkness,troop,you're a handicap, not a $%^&* asset".

Both the M-14 and 16 have more complicated Methods of Operation, IMO.

As for the wife,good luck. Mine has no problem with handguns, and any intruder here will have plenty of 38 +P+ rounds to worry about. But, she doesn't care for shotguns in the least. So, the HD 870 is mine alone.

February 1, 2001, 12:17 AM
just got my full chokes in the mail today, so I'm heading down to the trap club tomorrow for a practice round w/ my 28. Like everyone's said, if nothing more, it should be fun. I love to carry it in the field, so I might as well use the shooting to get better...since I'm not setting any records w/ the 12 ga..(=