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Article 1 – 2020 (February)

person aiming shotgun at target range

Russell Mark

Australian Shooter Magazine, Question and Answers

Article 1 – 2020 (February)


Question: I noticed that there are several different types of ribs now on shotguns. I like the higher ribs because they feel comfortable, but as I am new to the sport I am really lost as to whether I am suited to one of these or not. I mainly hunt and sometimes shoot sporting clays for fun. Can you explain the options in ribs that I should be considering?

Bert Aldrin, Ipswich QLD


Answer: High rib shotguns have certainly made an impact on the market over the past decade or so. Pretty much every manufacturer offers a higher rib configuration and some have gone as far as discontinuing the original flat rib shotgun. Let me explain the three basic rib options to help you understand what they are specifically suited for.

The most common type of rib is still the basic flat rib. This rib sits approximately five millimetres above the barrel. Generally the stocks attached to these flat rib shotguns have anywhere from 10 millimetres to 20 millimetres drop in the comb from front to back. This configuration is perfect for smaller people with short necks, as the stock when mounted correctly will be very high on the shoulder. One of the main criticisms of the flat rib shotguns is the heat haze that is caused when they warm up from constant use and this certainly can have an adverse effect at gaining a perfect sight picture on your target.

Next there is a mid rib or step rib. This configuration often has a small inclination on the original rib a few centimetres down the barrel raising the height of the rib up another five to ten millimetres. This allows for a stock to be made with less drop in the comb and even “Monte Carlo” type stock. This will allow the shooter to keep their head more erect and enable easier target acquisition with a comfortable gun mount.

Finally the flavour of the month is the raised high rib. These can be anywhere from fifteen to thirty millimetres above the shotgun’s barrel. This type of rib is generally made in conjunction with a larger Monte Carlo stock with an indentation at the heel of the comb of anywhere between twenty five to fifty millimetres. For larger shooters and particularly ones with longer necks this design is ideal for keeping the gun mounted perfectly on your shoulder whilst keeping your head erect therefore allowing you to use your eyes correctly.

Originally the raised ribs were used exclusively for trap shooters, but more and more Sporting Clay shooters have tried them with varying amounts of success. The raised ribs on many models also have the added feature of having some adjustability changing the point of impact of the shotgun without changing the stock dimensions.

Apart from different height ribs there are also different width ribs. Trap shooters traditionally have broader ribs than hunters. Many shotguns have tapered ribs that start broad at the back and are honed gradually narrower towards the front sight. Some firearms have the opposite, broad at the front and narrow at the back that gives the optical illusion of the same width rib all along the barrel. It is just a matter of personal preference.

It is impossible to answer what is perfect for you personally without actually seeing your body shape and how you actually mount the gun. My personal preference for competition would be a raised rib that can be easily adjusted up or down depending on what discipline you are competing in. A hunter walking through the bush with these types of ribs can be challenging as grass, tree branches and just about anything else tends to get caught up in the open space between the barrels and the rib.

If you were lucky enough have visited the SSAA Gun Show of recent years you would have noticed more and more new gun designs appearing on display. These shows are the perfect opportunity to have a feel how each different configuration suits your technique without actually firing the shotgun. When setting the firearm up for use on the range or in the field I would always do this with the aid of a pattern board.

Questions to:

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