View Full Version : Shotgun Help Needed.......

August 12, 2001, 07:31 AM
I have recently got involved with shotgunning sports and have been shooting sporting clays, trap, also the five stand. I have at the current time an 870 Express 12 ga. and am looking into getting something else which will be a 12 ga. also.

I was wondering what is the benifits of using an over and under versus a side by side?

Also I am possibly considering a Remington 1187.

I did see a over and under that caught my eye it was a Traditions imported by Fausti Stefano firearms in Italy.
Do you guys have any comments on the 1187 or the Traditions O & U I mentioned?

August 12, 2001, 07:45 AM
An over/under is usually more expensive than a side by side. That's the biggest difference I have seen.

August 12, 2001, 01:43 PM
My experience is different from that of Preserve Freedom's. There are a lot more affordable, quality over/unders than sxs on today's market.

To answer the question directly, over/unders are usually a little heavier than sxs which is a good thing for clay target shooting. The single sighting plan is supposed to favor targets while the dynamics of a sxs are generally considered better in the field. I own both and prefer the over/under for targets and sxs for upland game. Were I limited to only one gun it would be an over/under.

In North American, the sxs is a rare choice for clay games with the exception of certain specialized shoots. They are more common in the UK but for competitive shooting the over/under is usually the gun of choice.

Dave McC
August 12, 2001, 04:27 PM
I regard the SXS as a great field gun, the O/U a great target gun, all else equal. Inexpensive examples of either tend to lack the handfitting that puts both patterns together. Longevity is also suspect.

You have an 870. Use that for trap singles and maybe even doubles. Get further into the sport before adding any more variables like more guns.

Over on The Shotgun Report, the gurus say the same thing. Shoot the same gun for a year, then decide if you need to add to or replace your shotgun, or not.

Later, after you've shot more and have been exposed to a lot of different shotguns, you will be able to make a more informed choice.

Clay gamers are a friendly group. Lots of us will let a well mannered stranger handle and swing their pet shotguns, and will explain why their's is so much better(G). You may even get to pop off a round or two. This input is of tremendous help before the checkbook comes out.

August 12, 2001, 05:11 PM
Hey Guys
Thanks for the feed back about the differences, but do you guys have any experience with the Rem. 1187 or the Fausti O & U.

I don't plan on getting anything right now, but my wife wants to get me a new gun for Christmas:) so she told me to make a decision on what I would like:D
I was thinking of a Ruger GP100 .357 with a 4" barrel since I already have 2 in 6", but figured another shotgun would be more practical due to my new found sport in shotgunning.

August 12, 2001, 07:28 PM
My two cents is to consider a name brand over and under. The big advantage in shooting, especially trap is that you have an automatic backup. You also can load the two barrels with differing loads and choke . . . great for sporting clays.

It is also nice if you reload or have concerns about bad loads. If a wad gets stuck in one barrel and you shoot your next shot, no problem.

Regardless, get a popular name brand gun. Then when it fails or needs work, you have a chance of getting it done at the shoot and sitting out the competition.

Dave McC
August 13, 2001, 06:02 AM
OOOHHHKAY, SFS, that's different!!

In that case, check out the Browning and Beretta O/Us at your local shop. Both are highly regarded by folks who shoot a lot.

If these seem pricey, look for used ones, oft advertised at the range on a bulletin board.

August 13, 2001, 09:11 AM
Dave McC--you are right on! I agree with your suggestion!

August 13, 2001, 10:00 AM
I take that you would not recommend the 1187 to fit my needs.
Also what exactly do I look for when purchasing a used shotgun to make sure it isn't shot out?

August 13, 2001, 11:03 AM
SFS to answer your question about what to look for in a used O/U, the best thing you could do is take the gun to a competent gunsmith familiar with O/U's. Have him check the gun out and make sure it is safe.

There are things to look for. Check the barrel to receiver fit by trying to open it without operating the lever. Try to twist the barrels from the action. Don't go overboard with this, especially if you are looking at a gun that belongs to someone. The object is to see if the action is loose, not to damage the gun!

Some shooters test the tightness of the action by inserting a sheet of paper between the barrels and receiver and closing the action. If the paper can be pulled out without much effort the action may need tightening.

If possible remove the barrels from the receiver. Hang the barrels on your hand using the underlump or other projection and tap the rib with your knuckle. If something is loose you will hear a rattle. If the ribs and barrels are tight they will ring. (Exception here with ANY Ruger O/U, they all have loose ribs. They are made that way as the rib is soldered at the front and rear rather than at every contact point.)

The toplever should be to the right of center on most O/U's (this is NOT a good test for Krieghoff, Remington 32 and 3200 and Tikka shotguns with sliding top covers). If it is on center or to the left the action may be worn and may need repair. ( This is with the gun pointed as it would naturally be used, barrels to the front!) some guns may be set up for left handed shooters, the opposite would then apply if the lever opens to the left rather than the right.

Check the interior of the barrels by holding up to a light. Do they look straight, are the choke tubes concentric with the barrels. Any dents, pitting, rust or discolored areas? Are the barrels tight together and solid with the monobloc (the part that attaches to the receiver and contains the chambers and all the locking thingies)

Check the screws to see if the screw slots are damaged. This is a sure sign that some dufus has tried to gunsmith something. (The Brits have a term for this, they call it Buggering) If you hear someone mentioning buggered screws you know what they are talking about. Real gunsmiths have screwdrivers ( or turnscrews in uppity shotgunner lingo) that will not damage screws.

Look at the receiver for any dings or dents, gouges or scratches. Another sign
of basement gunsmithing.

Ask the gunsmith if all parts look original, and if the barrels are original. Has the previous owner added aftermarket parts like release triggers.

Do the choke tubes screw in and out without difficulty. Are they the proper tubes for the gun?

Many guns that have had a lot of use can be fixed and made as good as new! So don't pass up a bargain if it can be fixed easily. All it may need are some springs and such.

Have the gunsmith check the thickness of the barrels. This can tell you a lot about the gun and whether the previous owner has has backboring done.

That's all I can think of right now, maybe someone else has some additional points.

Geoff Ross

Dave McC
August 13, 2001, 11:53 AM
AA, thanks.

SFS, I know little about autos, and have to rely on other's reports mostly. The 1100 has a good rep, the 87 started out shakily, with myriad probs, and while most or all seem corrected, they got a bad rap, especially when compared to the 1100. If the 1100 had been a turkey, the 87 would have been hailed as a rescue effort. Since it wasn't, it was compared unfairly.

The only real problem child if that line was the 11-48, with its cracked forend and muddy trigger.
Even the 48 handled great, according to long time friends, and one swore by a 20 ga one for quail.

If you'd rather have the 11-87 than an O/U, no great disadvantage thereby. You lose a bit of choice for chokes,gain reduced kick, and there's tons of aftermarket stuff for it. Custom stocks from voluptously figured Walnut made to your dimensions to the Robo Stocks like Precision Fit abound,tho quality costs. It's all up to you....

Sounds like a Win/Win situation, you lucky guy(G)!

Geoff, my hat's off. Great diagnostic....

All I can add is that major brands tend to look beat up if they are, and the cycling of the action can show any unusual amounts of wear and tear.

August 13, 2001, 02:00 PM
Thanks for the word of wisdom on what to look for.
But unfortunatly there isn't a reputable gunsmith in this state... There is only one and I will not say any more :rolleyes:
I know of one supposedly reputable pistolsmith in MD. that a fellow TFL member recommended to me to go to for an action job on my revolvers.
But I wish I could find a good all around gunsmith in this area or even in the next state since De. is so small.
Thank you once again...
But for some reason that 11-87 Premier Edition is real purty and I keep eyeing that one up...
But have not made a definate decision yet.

What sought of problems did the 11-87 have? I have a friend of mine that has one and in the 4 yrs he has had it, it never choked and the only thing that he has ever done to it was run a Bore snake down the barrel and wipe the exterier down with a silicone cloth.
I myself am very meticulous when cleaning my guns.
I don't like the synthetic stock of the 1100 so that wouldn't be an option.

Dave McC
August 13, 2001, 02:43 PM
SFS, the best shotgun smith I know of is Greg Wolfe, associated with Albright's in Easton, Md. That's just down the road from you.

11-87s had feeding probs, trigger group probs, and some doubling,IIRC.

Not all 1100s have synthetic stocks.

August 13, 2001, 03:41 PM
When I was looking at my Remington Catalouge all they showed is the 1100 in synthetic..
Is there much of a difference in the two besides the 1187 being able to handle 3" shells?
I know you said you believe they corrected most of the problems they had, but have you heard of any recent problems with the 1187?
What is that guys # at Albrights?
Also do know anyone in the Md. area (fairly close to me) that works on rifles, or is a all around good gunsmith?

Dave McC
August 13, 2001, 07:41 PM
I'm sorry, don't have Albright's number at the moment. Try directory assistance.

Nothing recent on 11-87s, you might want to check the BB over on trapshooter.com and search the archives there for 11-87 threads. There's a couple going right now.

For military style rifles, Fulton Armory in Savage, Md, near me has a good rep. At Valley Gun Shop, Parkville, Md, near B-more is Mike Thomas. He's an old friend and has done both shotgun and rifle work for me. The bad news, he's a forensic expert for a govt agency these days and smiths part time.

Valley's at 410-668-2171.

August 13, 2001, 09:13 PM
I take it you are in or near Maryland. Maryland has some of the best known Sporting Clays courses. The Eastern shore is known world wide for it's clays courses. I find it hard to believe there are no gunsmiths in the state?

May I suggest obtaining a copy of 'Blacks Wing and Clay" AKA Shotgunners Handbook. It is well worth the few dollars it costs and lists all kinds of gunsmiths and whatever you might need.

Geoff Ross

August 14, 2001, 06:08 AM
I am in Delaware and there is one gunsmith like i mentioned before but his work is not very good. I have to start looking in Md. area for a gunsmith Dave told me about one.

August 14, 2001, 05:47 PM
Hey Guys
I have a question and it may sound stupid but remember I am new to this sport.
Like I mentioned earlier I have an 870, and have no idea what type of patterns it shoots.

After going to the range and shooting at a target. How can I tell by looking at the target what type of pattern I am shooting. Also what type of pattern am I looking for?

Also at the present time when shooting the five stand, sporting clays and trap I am using a modified choke tube is there a better choke to use? I have an I.C. and full choke tubes right now.
Should I get a skeet tube?


Dave McC
August 15, 2001, 05:32 AM
The ONLY stupid questionsmScott, are those that dn't get asked....

There's old threads on patterning but a short reprise may do the job....

Set up a 4'X4' piece of paper, mark the center and shoot at it at a given distance. Does the center of the pattern match where you want it to be? Some folks like a pattern that hits a bit high for most work.

Also look for areas w/o shot holes and/or clumping in the pattern.If you're ambitious, picky,or obsessive/compulsive, grid off the target and count the holes. 1 shot per 2 sq inches should bust any clay, or drop a bird, assuming sufficient energy left.

When using tube chokes, use the one that gives you an even, 24-30" pattern at the distance you take your birds, bust your clays, etc.

That IC choke should work for sporting, 5 stand etc,but it's not quite ideal. I like a Skeet tube myself, but only some experimentation on your part can show what will work best for you. A Skeet tube and trap loads, which pattern tight but are wondrous consistent, are a good place to start testing.

Any discussion of choke has to deal with load also. We can move from IC patterns from an IC choke to a Modified pattern by switching from a soft shot "Game" load to one with hard,rounder shot. Or vice versa.

And as long as we're on chokes.....

When I decided to get heavily into trap last winter, I knew that busting birds at trap range mandated a Modified choke. I went with a Full, for good reason. The tighter pattern MADE me hold tighter,and I steepened the learning curve thereby.Also, it was easier to read my breaks, and adjust my computer. I traded some lost birds at first to get proficient faster. It worked.


August 15, 2001, 08:03 PM
What choke tube is ideal to use when patterning the shotgun? Also if the shot is clumping what do I do to stop that?
I plan on picking up a skeet tube this weekend and I will see how that works for me. I have used both the IC and modified and my score stayed about the same.
You seem pretty familar with 870's (by reading some of your posts) how do they usually pattern out being its more of a field gun?
By the way I plan on sticking with the 870 for at least a year before getting another shotgun so I can familar myself with this gun. No sense of getting another shotgun cause then I will be having to familar myself with 2 guns instead of 1.

Dave McC
August 16, 2001, 05:39 AM
(Opening up fresh can of worms).....

Interior ballistics of shotguns has as many factors influencing the results as the stock market.It's an arcane art with some guesstimation even in these knowledgeable times.

With the disclaimers out of the way....

Use an open choke(Cylinder,Skeet I, Improved Cylinder) for stuff within 30 yards or so.Use Modified and Full for further shots. Some testing and practice will show you the best tube to use for each. I'd stick to ONE load at first to keep things consistent in the tests, then check again with a load for a specific purpose.

Clumping may be from overchoking,bbl profiles, inferior ammo, or just luck. Shoot more patterns to get a better idea of the average spread and distribution.

Field and competition guns really do not have much difference in the interior dimensions. Nor do they differ much in performance, given equal concentricity, finish, profile, etc. One reason I'm fond of 870s is practically any 870 will give similiar performance with similiar choke, cone angle, and bore. So, one can almost "dial in" the pattern with a bit of work and a little luck.

IOW, using one load in an 870 with say, a 2 inch cone, a .730" bore, and a choke of 15 Points Of Constriction is likely to produce similiar patterns in other 870s of like characteristics. The major exceptions are buckshot and slugs. These have laws of their own.

I applaud your decision to stick to the 870 for now. I think your shotgunning skills will improve more rapidly using just one gun. Consistency again...

August 16, 2001, 04:30 PM
I went and looked into getting a skeet tube and found out Remington makes 3 different ones, regular, improved and extended.
Well what I understand from reading is that the regular skeet tube will deliver approximately 50% of the shells total pellets in a 30" circle at 25yds. If that is true what will the improved do?
Also what is the benifit of the choke being extended out of the barrel?
Thanks again for your help,

Dave McC
August 17, 2001, 06:50 AM
Extended chokes add a little weight at the muzzle, often a good thing for a steadier swing.

They also need no choke wrench, tho some require hand tightening after a few rounds. I've a couple extended chokes here, but see no difference in performance as far as patterns go. Folks that change chokes more than I do like Sporting Clays folks oft have the extended versions.

Dunno about the improved versions. Might be a marketing ploy.

August 17, 2001, 07:14 AM
Dave this is what you mentioned before about using an open choke. "Use an open choke(Cylinder,Skeet I, Improved Cylinder) for stuff within 30 yards or so.Use Modified and Full for further shots."
What did you mean by Skeet I,?
I thought you meant skeet improved when you wrote (I) after the skeet choke.
I do know that the improved skeet is .725 in diameter and the regular is .732.

Dave McC
August 17, 2001, 07:45 AM
Scott, once upon a time skeet shooters used Skeet I and II.Skeet I was considered about .003-5" and II was in between IC and Modified, say .015. Sometimes these were called Skeet In and Skeet Out.

Naturally, different folks had different "Ladders" of constriction. Common today are:

Cylinder- .000
Skeet I- .005
IC- .010
Skeet II- .015 (AKA Light Modified)
Modified- .020
IM- .025
Light Full- .030
Full- .035
XF- .040

Complicating this even more, some skeet chokes are reverse choked, actually larger in diameter than the bore. That .732 you mention may be one of these. On the other end, I've an extended Turkey Choke, running .675". In a standard bore, that's 55 Points Of Constriction. Overkill, patterns are kinda ragged.

And, the markings and diameter only indicate probabilities of a set percentage of the shot arriving in a 30" circle at a given distance, usually 40 yards.

BTW, all this is for 12 gauges, smaller gauges require a bit less constriction to reach a set percentage of shot in the circle, usually.


August 17, 2001, 08:01 AM
You might want to check out Briley's website for choke tubes. I use Brileys' in my Remingtons (Originally bought for my Peerless O/U, the less said about that gun the better) and they work better than Remingtons chokes.

They are extended chokes that stick out from the end of the barrel which makes them easier to change (good in Sporting clays). I found they threw more consistent patterns. They even make them in pretty colors if you so desire :D


I use them in my Remingtons and Krieghoffs and sware by them. They are competitive in price with Remington chokes.

Geoff Ross

PS Rats their website is not working:mad: Here is their phone number, get them to send you a catalog 1 800 331 5718. I HATE when this happens:rolleyes:

August 17, 2001, 11:37 PM
about a year ago my mother in law gave me a beautiful
old A 5. that led to shotgun sports and tomorrow morn
i will be shooting my new 425 at the local sporting clays
match. great info on this thread. i am sure i will reference
it for quite a while. thanks dave and geoff!

Dave McC
August 18, 2001, 06:05 AM
Congrats, Stickman, the closest thing to that my MIL ever gave me was boots(G). Enjoy the 425, too....

August 18, 2001, 08:33 AM
Hey Dave,
You mentioned earlier about Albrights in Eastern Md and them having a good gun smith. Have you personally ever had work done by them? If so does he work on rifles at all do you know? Its also a Remington.

Dave McC
August 19, 2001, 07:05 AM
Greg Wolfe did the bbl bobbing, cone and choke work on Frankenstein, my overpublicized parts 870.

He also did work on another 870 cone, and a trigger job on a 700 Remington for me.

If I get the cone and choke done on my TB, he'll do it...

August 19, 2001, 08:08 AM
Hey Dave
Thank you for telling me about him..
I called over there yesterday he wasn't in. I was speaking with the Mr. Albright I understand he was written up in several rifle magazines and was rated one of the 10 best smiths in the country.
I was told he is also a master smith and if it shoots (or suppose to and doesn't) he can repair it.
It seems like a bunch of nice folks there. Im hoping to take a ride over there next week. How is there gun selection over there on used and new guns?

Is he pretty easy to talk to?

I know some of them can have a really bad attitude.
How are his rates? Also how about his turn around time whan you had stuff done by him? Cause I have a 700BDL I want a trigger job done too.
And most of all why do you call your 870 Frankinstein?


August 19, 2001, 11:25 AM
I prefer how the O/U swings and its sight picture. Also what
AAshooter said:
My two cents is to consider a name brand over and under.
You also can load the two barrels with differing loads and
choke . . . great for sporting clays.

Dave McC
August 19, 2001, 02:39 PM
Most of the stock in Albright's, SFS, is out of my reach. The rates for work are commensurate with the quality. IOW, a bit high.

Trouble is, this time of year EVERYONE wants to get their stuff done. March is a good month for gunsmithing. The guns that broke last season are fixed and the people that procrastinate are doing just that.

Greg's as nice a guy as you ever saw with a 60-80 hour work week. IOW, get in, get your message across, and get out of the area PDQ. They'll talk to you in the shop downstairs, tho.

Last time I was in there were doubles by Fox, Parker, Baker, and Lefevre. And some good Spanish guns.

As to Frankenstein's monicker, what would you call a shotgun made from mismatched finishes, with parts from at least 4 870s, that turned into something different from the specialized Turkey gun it was supposed to be? Right now,Frank has taken birds from Woodcock to Snows, but no gobblers.

When Son gets back from visiting the Grands late next week, I'll ask him to take a digital pic and maybe I'll post it.