View Full Version : A shotgun and load for my Son....

Dave McC
July 25, 2001, 07:05 AM
Son's 14, small for his age, no athlete but a terrific kid I'm very proud of. He had tried the 870 20ga Youth Express I bought for Daughter and he but has trouble holding it up and the stock's way too long. Shooting it was an ordeal for him.

He likes shooting 22s and has been shooting my GM since he was 9, and recently stated he would like to try some trap shooting. He accompanies me to the range and has even reloaded a couple of boxes of my reloads, under close supervision, of course.

So, after reflection and research, I put a couple of projects on hold, emptied the piggy bank, and set out to build him a gun/load combo he could handle...

The gun part was easy. My first shotgun had been Pop's first,an H&R 16 ga with lots of drop in the stock,more kick than a jar of White Lightning, but a beautiful little carry gun of utter reliability. NEF(corporate descendant of H&R) still makes a single like the old one. So....

I found one at a reasonable price, practically new. The trigger, unlike so many these days, was clean, and under 5 lbs. This was a great stroke of luck, getting in the action of these is difficult.
Full choke, 28" bbl of course.BTW, total weight before stock trimming was 5 lbs, 11 oz.

So,I chopped off 2 inches of butt, added an Uncle Mike's slip on pad as a temporary fix, and turned my attention to the load. Here's where reloading your own has a BIG advantage....

Research showed me a 7/8 oz light load I could build with components on hand. All I needed to buy was a 7/8 oz charge bar for my well worn MEC 600. Did so, and ran a box yesterday. I had been hoarding a few boxes of AA Silver hulls for a special occasion, this was it, so Son has color coded loads to prevent confusion. This load was right out of the manual, I don't change things at all.

Gun and load were ready, Son said he was too, so it was hammer time...

At PGC, I put up a pattern target and took the first shot with my nose and right thumb in very close proximity. Son watched me, and I was gratified to feel very little movement from the gun. It hit a bit high,a stock that short has little drop. Son noted that the kick didn't move me back and I handed the NEF to him.

He was a bit nervous, being as hardheaded as I am, he had insisted on shooting the Youth Express his way and it rocked him. But he stepped up to the line with a resolute look I hadn't seen before and took some dry fire practice. I then handed him a shell....

He's still hardheaded. I had to put his head down on the stock three times before he fired, and it was off the stock when he did. The upper left quadrant of the pattern paper jumped, and we racked the NEF and went to see.He'd not been hurt by that shot, and seemed relieved. So was I.

After looking at the holes, we went back and did it again until the range closed. A silent prayer of thanks was said by me as we left, and maybe Son did also. Another shotgunner is born....

A few observations.....

Shortening the stock changed a muzzle light shotgun into a muzzle heavy one. I'm adding weight to the butt this AM after bandsawing another inch off. It's still a bit long. The weight will be a trash hull filled with shot, crimped and taped and secured in the butt so it won't move. The shortening also reduced the drop, so this will be a high shooter.

A permanent pad will be added, and it will NOT be reduced to fit the butt but left full sized. Extra surface area=less push per square inch=less discomfort. It'll look funny, but be comfortable.

Patterns from this load and choke at 30 yards are quite even and about 20" in spread. This is much tighter than my trap choke and load. And for armchair ballisticians, it's a bit faster, about 1200 FPS vs 1150.The smaller payload has less flyers, and enough density to bust clays at typical skeet or even trap distances.Recoil is miniscule.I may load a box in my red AAs and give them a try at the Geezer League at AGC today.

And Son wants to shoot again, if only I can get him to keep his cheek on the stock(G)....

July 25, 2001, 10:27 AM
You are indeed a good father Dave. My first shotgun was a Parker 20 with very short and narrow stock, plate instead of pad. Field loads mostly. Wasn't till I grew into a full sized 12 that I realized that shotguns don't have to hurt. I too was quite small for my age.

Probably why I laughed so hard when all three barrels on a lightish driling fired at the same time for my ol man.


Dave McC
July 25, 2001, 11:26 AM
Sam, paybacks CAN be rough(G)...

The NEF is still rocking Son a bit, but stalwartly on for him. I'm gonna leave the stock alone, it's close to right, and work up(down?) a 3/4 oz load, will pick up some components Friday. Meanwhile he's promised to practice his mount every day.

As long as we were at the range, I used up a box of those 7/8 oz loads. Shot 22/25, and the ones I lost were mine, not the loads. The ones I centered exploded just like heavier loads do. The others had bigger pieces left, but no one chip breaks.

Going to a 7/8 oz load from a 1 oz means two more boxes of reloads per bag of shot, and this load uses a bit less powder,so my old calculation of $2.56/box is obsolete.

July 25, 2001, 11:44 AM
Good work, Dave. You might want to open that choke up to Modified for 16 yard stuff with your boy.

Dave McC
July 25, 2001, 01:55 PM
Thanks, Clemson. The choke might get reamed out a bit, but this is going to be an interim gun. I'd rather let that Full choke teach him to hold tight at first, then maybe later go to a bigger pattern.

Playing it by ear, I'll let him decide. Once he hits his growth, he'll probably be big enougb for a standard stock and a somewhat used 870. Got my eyes open now for one.