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Article 2 – 2020 (March)

Russell Mark

Australian Shooter Magazine, Question and Answers

Article 2 – 2020 (March)


Question:    I am interested in getting my shotgun balanced correctly after I was told it is too “barrel heavy” and this I am told causes me to shoot inconsistently. Can you confirm where the shotgun should be balanced and how to achieve this? Thanking you in advance.

Liam Wilson, Wollongong NSW


Answer:       Reputable manufacturers will take great care in ensuring that their shotgun is balanced virtually on the hinge pin where the shotgun’s action joins the barrel and forend. If you close the firearm and rest it on your closed hand the shotgun should not fall either forwards or backwards.

You describe your shotgun as being “barrel heavy” which means the stock is too light for the barrels. This is easy to rectify. The simplest way is to unscrew your recoil pad and place some alfoil in your stock bolt hole and on top of the alfoil pack a lead fishing sinker weight into the hole tightly ( but not tightly enough it has to be forced as this may crack your stock) and fill the remaining void with some more alfoil so there is no chance of the sinker coming lose. Loosely put the pad back on the stock and after a bit of trial and error with different size sinkers you should get the shotgun to balance above the hinge pin. If you need to unscrew the action of the gun through the stock bolt hole the sinker can easily be removed and replaced again. Make sure it is in tight as if it becomes loose this will drastically change the actual measurable recoil felt through your firearm. A loose lead weight will act like an increased payload of shot reacting against your shoulder.

If by chance you are shooting a shotgun that is too heavy in the stock and therefore when testing the balance the barrels flip upwards you can either take some walnut out of the back of your stock or add a barrel weight or some lead tape underneath the barrels until the desired balance point is reached.

As previously mentioned the balance point is located at the hinge pin and this should also be roughly the half way point from your hand gripping the stock and your other hand supporting the barrels holding the forend. You mentioned in your question that you thought that the unbalanced shotgun was causing you to be inconsistent in your shooting and this could certainly be the case. I would never advice anyone to shoot a competition with anything other than a perfectly balanced shotgun and I am always critical of custom stock makers that sell a client a new stock, fitted to the millimetre to perfectly suit a particular body shape, but no time has been spent rebalancing the firearm. I would consider this attribute as important as the length of pull, drop or cast.

Firearms can become unbalanced simply from fitting a new recoil pad. Many factory produced shotguns are fitted with very thin, lightweight recoil pads, but adding a longer heavy duty pad will often push the shotgun to appear back heavy and therefore somewhat harder to control particularly under pressure when adrenalin and a high heart rate comes into play.

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