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Old June 19, 2002, 08:51 PM   #1
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Fitting the Serious Shotgun

I was going to title this post "Fitting the Defensive Shotgun" but I dislike inacurate terminology. Pistols to me are defensive, long arms are to be grabbed when there is a problem imminent, therefore technically offensive. I'll instead use Dave McC's term, "Serious Shotgun". I recently purchased an 870 Express 12 gauge that had been worked over by the Gunsite smithy. Vang Comp barrel (no ports), MMC ghost rings, Side Saddle, shortened stock (12 3/4"), etc. I now have 400+ rounds through the gun and have come to some conclusions about gun fit and the serious shotgun. As usual these conclusions are mine only and may not pertain to your situation.

Prior to searching the archives I knew next to nothing about the proper fitting of a shotgun. All I knew was that a fellow pointed the shotgun at a target, pulled the trigger, gun goes bang, and sometimes the target is hit. Much has been written about fitting a shotgun for the shooting sports or the hunting field. The serious shotgun seems to receive little attention when it comes to fit. Most of the advice is to a take a stock shotgun, throw on some accessories, and have at it. The ghost ring sight seems to be almost a prerequisite for many. Because of my facial structure (high cheekbones, thin face) I have to raise my face a tad off of the stock to see the bead on a stock shotgun. A ghost ring sighted arm compounds the problem by raising the line of sight. In order to achieve the correct sight picture, I had to lift my face around 3/8" off of the stock. I've learned that with heavy recoiling buck and slugs, a less than solid cheek weld is an invitation for loose fillings and migraines. It also takes time to hunt for the sight picture, and in a life/death situation time is of the essence. In attempt to remedy the situation I shimmed the bottom of the stock/receiver joint with layers of tin foil and reduced the drop of the stock. This still wasn't ideal so I began applying small strips of duct tape to the comb, mounting the gun and checking sight picture, and adding more strips till a perfect sight picture was achieved. Now I can bring the gun up for a snap shot and have perfect alignment. My initial target acquisition has increased dramatically and subsequent shots are faster and much more accurate.

My conclusion: Adding a ghost ring sight sight (or rifle sights, for that matter) does not negate the need for the proper fitting of the shotgun to the shooter. My gun now mounts like a good upland bird gun, with the peep sight there to reassure me that everything is in proper alignment. These are simple and inexpensive solutions that will pay off big in competition, the hunting field, and most importantly, combat.
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Old June 19, 2002, 09:15 PM   #2
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While were on the subject:

shorten the buttstock and grind off the -CENSORED--CENSORED--CENSORED--CENSORED--CENSORED- pad at the top to facilitate a fast mount from the low ready.
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Old June 19, 2002, 09:36 PM   #3
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Yep. The heel of my pad was already rounded and I ground the toe to a more rounded contour. Much more comfortable during recoil and easier to mount.
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Old June 20, 2002, 04:43 AM   #4
Dave McC
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Good thread,and you did your homework. A coupla points for others who may need to do something similar...

GR sights are not mandatory, just a good to have.
Much excellent "Serious" work has been done with a bead. Whatever sights are used, they need to be rugged and easy to acquire.

Instead of duct tape, try the CheekEez pad. This neoprene pad has a bit of cushioning for the cheek and raises the comb height either 1/16, 1/8 or 1/4", IIRC.

While I like a curved pad for trap, stuff requiring fast mounting is best done with a flat pad, or one flatter than a trap pad. A belt sander and a little cut and try work can aid comfort and effectiveness no end. Go slow and easy. And do this after shimming the stock, if you do.

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Old June 20, 2002, 11:12 AM   #5
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I've never had a shotgun (or any gun for that matter) that was not serious

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Old June 20, 2002, 07:21 PM   #6
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an exellent, well thought out look at fitting a shotgun to the shooter. I think that every firearm I have, needed to be fitted to some extent. My best shooting rifles are Mannlicher-Schoenauers, that just seem to fit better than other rifles.

I never really think of a shotgun as a serious weapon, since I really believe that a handgun or a Carbine AR, an AK, or even my GI .30 Carbine is better for CQB than a shotgun. The closest I have to a 'serious shotgun' is a stock Mossy 590.
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Old June 20, 2002, 08:43 PM   #7
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Mannlicher--Those full length Mannlicher-Schoenauers are dandy guns. Is it true that the stocks are full length in order to be used as a walking stick while hunting? I also have debated with myself about the use of a shotgun as a CQB weapon. The more I research and think about the shotgun, I come to see it as a rather specialized anti-personnel tool. As an overall arm (sport, hunting, self-protection) it is extremely versatile. It is however a limited range, high recoil, and low capacity weapon. Before I had a family and lived alone, a 4" .44 Magnum, an AR, and a .30-30 carbine were my bedside companions. Overpenetration was not a concern (nearest neighbor 2 miles away). Now that I have a little one sleeping in another room and a spouse that keeps odd hours, I have come to the conclusion that no other weapon delivers as much power with as little risk of overpenetration as the properly loaded shotgun. With #8 shot in the mag, 00 buck and slugs in the sidesaddle, I feel comfortable that I'll be able to handle most situations in my environment. Would I prefer a rifle if I had a screaming mob 100 yards down the road? Of course. But there is no way I'm discharging a centerfire rifle inside my double wide manufactured home (they used to call them trailer houses).
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Old June 20, 2002, 08:47 PM   #8
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When it comes to recoil pads, it seems like the Pachmayr sporting clays pad with the hard plastic insert would be just the ticket if one was concerned with snagging. I don't hear of many people using these on serious shotguns. Anybody know why?
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