View Full Version : Short bbled "Sport" repeaters....

Dave McC
September 25, 2001, 08:31 AM
The Invitation said it was a Redneck Jamboree, but a gathering of friends, family and huntin' buddies would better describe it. The idea was to get together, do some shooting, eat various game and side dishes, and rid ourselves of cabin fever.

It was held at a hunting lease deep in Md's Eastern Shore, in March following a cold and nasty winter.

After some fun offhand shooting at a 110 yd gong target with everything from Muzzleloaders to sidearms, we broke out the shotguns and an ancient Outer's trap.As I uncased Frankenstein, the banter commenced....

"Dave, what happened to the rest of the bbl?" said a friend.

Another asked with a grin if it fit into a violin case.

In my best Sicilian accent,"Fuggedaboudit" quoth I as I dropped a trap load into my little 870 and readied myself for the first bird. The shotgun was held, "Low Gun", and as the bird sprang from the trap, I swung,mounted and shot. The bird exploded, and the banter resumed.

After a while, we took a break and shot the bull.
When asked why I had pruned the bbl down, I let them swing Frank until they realized how much differently it handled than their own, 28" bbled pump guns.

I told them something like this....

" Not all field shooting requires 3 inch mags and heavy shotguns. This piece runs less than 7 lbs, and is balanced 3" in front of the trigger. Besides the bbl, some other metal was removed from the front, and some wood under the pad was hogged out to keep it from being too muzzle light. It's now just muzzle heavy enough to keep a swing going and light enough to tote all day following a big running bird dog. Yep, recoil's heavy with goose and turkey loads, but few shots of those are fired in a typical day.I've good recoil tolerance, so YMMV.

With 1 to 1 1/4oz loads, it's a joy to shoot. While not ideal for pass shooting, it works fine if I keep it moving".

At that point in time, Frankenstein had been changing my ideas about shotguns for a coupla years. The nice thing about a parts built, el cheapo 870 like this is one can take a risk and experiment a bit w/o breaking the budget.So, I got to play with the balance, fit, effectiveness and POI/POA.Some trips to a Sporting range showed me that it was quite capable at taking Sporting Clay targets, if I did my job.

Right now, the fashion in all the clay games is to long bbls. New metallurgy and techniques mean one can get an O/U with 32" bbls that weigh the same as 28" bbls of equal quality did a few years ago.

So why am I advocating a short bbl on a repeater?

That long receiver evens it up some.

Frankenstein, with its ostensibly 21" bbl was similiar in O/A length to a 27" bbled,delightful little French SXS I had. My 870 TB trap gun has a 30" bbl, and is longer than 32" bbled O/Us and 34" bbled trap SBTs.

And while some folks rave about the superior handling of a SXS or O/U over,say an 1100 of the same weight, pruning the bbl and getting it balanced to what works for you means more of the weight lies between the hands, and the handling is sweet indeed.That's what counts, not action type.


Blast is increased, and muzzle flash in low light.This may contribute to flinching, so watch it.

With less inertia, it take some concentration to keep the piece moving smoothly. If I shoot this regularly, no prob.Switching betwen this and the TB means a period of adjustment.

So, I've convinced you to try this idea out, but you've no short bbls handy. What now?

Beater police turnins make a good starting point. So does buying another bbl for your pet 870, M-37, 1100, 500 etc. Choke tubes greatly add to the versatility, but a standard fixed Police Cylinder, Cylinder or IC choke are fine. Take a bit of weight off the hind end to bring the balance forward, and shoot it. A few more cut and tries, and you have a fine sporting repeater, terrific for upland work, and good enough for waterfowl.

Hope this helps explain everything, sing out if not...

September 25, 2001, 08:57 AM
Yep, Dave. Glad to see somebody thinking outside the box. My sport repeater is a Beretta 1201 FP. Rifle sighted, cylinder bore. Works for me, although I do think a nice SXS has a lot to say for itself also.:D

Dave McC
September 25, 2001, 10:57 AM
Thanks, BigG. I like SxSs, but like lots of folks, economics comes into play. The 5 870s here cost less than most decent classic doubles do by themselves.I'm equipped for anything from Mastodon to card shoots.

Rifle sights for wingshooting have never worked well for me, but others do OK with them. As for Cylinder bore, it's a great choke for shot ops inside 25 yards or so with the best modern ammo.

September 25, 2001, 10:54 PM
Dave, I always look forward to reading your posts with your thoughts and observations.
I have gradually come to much the same conclusion regarding the importance of balance and what works for me. I thought I absolutely preferred short barrelled SGs but then began to realize that I could handle some quite well and others not so. My favorite almost-never-miss field gun has been the 12g Browning SxS 26" tubes I purchased over 20 years ago. The 20g mate I purchased later is even sweeter. I thought a certain 24" light contour BPS would be just the ticket but the balance isn't right and shooting it well is an effort. I had an opportunity to try a borrowed 20g Beretta 390 with 26" tube that came close to perfection for me. I can't always identify exactly what makes a shotty right for me but I soon know when it is or it ain't.
I still like those compact short tubes when everything balances just right. I learned to hunt and shoot with my older cousins and I had to learn to snap shoot or watch them take all the birds (mostly pheasant). The short stuff seems to come to shoulder faster and not alot of tracking and followthru was needed. Maybe now that I'm getting older, balance has a bigger role in my technique.

Dave McC
September 26, 2001, 06:03 AM
Kingcreek, thanks for the compliments.Flattery will get you anyhing(G)...

Many factors influence handling and feel. Shortening the bbls is a quick fix that, in SOME cases,will sweeten the feel. Restraint is highly recommended. Brister mentions shortening a 20 ga M-37 and ruining the feel.

A coupla things....

First, there's some alternatives to shortening the bbls if one wants to lighten the front.
Frank's forearm nut and mag cap have been reduced in weight by grinding. A fixed choke bbl is usually lighter (Per the Technoid) than a tubed one. Backboring will remove a few oz of metal and this can aid handling also.

And, of course, moving your front hand a bit back will speed up the swing.

Will Beararms
September 26, 2001, 02:11 PM
Beretta AL390 3" 12 GA. Advantage Camo w/24" Barrel: Dove Gun, Squirrel Gun, Duck Gun, Timber Buck Gun and Home Defense Weapon.

Modern powders negate the need to use longer barrels for 3" Magnums fwiw.

Dave McC
September 26, 2001, 02:39 PM
Will, American Rifleman had an article years ago about measuring pressure spikes with the most modern powders and established that almost all combustibles burn inside 23-24 inches, Besides using a pressure bbl, they photographed, IIRC, the muzzle flashes and compared them.

And your 390 sounds like a nice clay games gun also. A bit of skeet, SC or trap....

September 26, 2001, 06:11 PM
After my first trip to South Dakota I realized that I needed something short and fast. I found a really ratty 1100 Special Field. It has imp cylinder and is most effective on those big SD roosters. I don't mind carrying it in the rain either.

Dave McC
September 27, 2001, 06:30 AM
They're built to be used,Max.I wouldn't drag my trap gun through a salt marsh,but I've no compunctions about so doing with the other 870s here.

September 27, 2001, 08:39 PM
My other SD shotgun is a Ruger Red Label and I tend to take care of it. It has gotten wet a time or 2, but the Special Field gets the nasty weather days. I am starting to get attached to the 1100 and am thinking about having it refinished.

Dave McC
September 28, 2001, 06:48 AM
I tend to live with less than perfect finishes, Max, especially on "using" guns. And,some "Smiths" should be given 100 strokes with the Bastinado for wirebrushing off the old finish.

You may want to consider a low shine finish for that 1100. Parkerizing, matter blue, etc, are great for bad weather shotguns.