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Article 10 – 2017 (November)

people posing and smiling with shotguns

Russell Mark

Australian Shooter Magazine, Question and Answers

Article 10 – 2017 (November)


Question: I am toying with the idea of buying an all round shotgun to shoot mainly Sporting Clays, but also Trap and occasionally Skeet. I am a little confused as to what length barrel to buy. I have looked at 71 centimetre, 76 centimetre and 81 centimetre barrels. Is there an ideal barrel for everything? Also is buying a gun with several barrels an option?

Marty Dalgleish, Albury NSW


Answer: In short there is no ideal barrel length for all clay target disciplines. The answer in most cases depends entirely on your body size and experience. Over the years there has been a gradual move towards longer barrels in all clay target events. Just a few decades ago nearly every Skeet shooter had 66 cm (26 inch) barrels. These days it is hard to find one for sale. In the same time frame in Trap it was virtually 76 centimetre barrels dominating the entire market, but there has been a dramatic spike in the number of winners using 81 centimetre barrels and in Sporting Clays the same trend has seen the market go from 71 cm to 76 cm and now 81 cm barrels having a good percentage of the market.

In saying all of that if you are wanting an “all round” barrel then I personally believe 76 cm is the obvious way to go if you are an average sized male adult which I will make the assumption that you are. 71cm is a little too short for Trap and hard to control for longer sporting shots although very adequate for Skeet. 76 centimetres is on the money for the majority of Trap and Sporting shooters and certainly still short enough to shoot Skeet on Stations 2 and 6 where some barrel speed is needed. The 81 cm barrels would be hard for an inexperienced competitor to use on Skeet and for many to hard to point for Trap where as in Sporting on the longer crossing shots there would be a distinct advantage for the longer shots.

The second part of your question relates to buying several barrels for the one shotgun. This sounds great in theory, but you are starting to look at some serious money to do this. Unless the shotgun has been made with several length barrels to fit the same mechanical action then this in most cases will take some work from an experienced gunsmith to have them fitted. If you are using the same stock for all barrels then I would suggest you would struggle unless the stock has an adjustable comb fitted with the lowest setting to cater for Sporting or Skeet with the capability to be lifted higher for use in the Trap events. The other problem with multiple barrels fitted to the one mechanical shotgun mechanism is that the barrels will wear differently unless they are all used in similar amounts. I have had several guns throughout my life with three sets of barrels made for the same action, but after a while one barrel starts to become the favourite and before long the unused barrel does not fit the mechanism properly and needs professional work to modify its fitting.

I have always suggested that for any type of “all round” shotgun make sure you buy something with an adjustable stock, adjustable chokes and ideally a couple of different length shotgun recoil pads to the correct fit can be maintained from Summer to Winter seasons where different amounts of clothing is required. There are quite a few brands that offer these features so you should be in luck. Try and find a barrel weighing around 1.5kg in weight +/- .05kg.

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