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Article 3 – 2013

people posing and smiling with shotguns

Question: I have had numerous questions from individuals in recent months about the advantages of the higher sighting ribs on many of the latest model shotguns that are currently appearing on the market. I will try and combine all these questions in one answer.


Answer: Nearly every major shotgun manufacturer in the world now offer models that feature higher ribs on their barrels. The standard flat rib, which many of us have grown up with, is around six millimetres in height above the barrel. The ribs now on offer vary from 11mm to 50 mm above the barrel. Many of these ribs can also be adjusted on either the front or back pivot point therefore changing the height and angle that the user looks down along the line of the barrel.

What are the advantages of a higher rib? Clearly the biggest advantage is target acquisition. In laymen’s terms this is simply seeing what you are shooting at better. The higher ribs clear the blind spot caused by (in the case of right handed shooters) the shooters left hand under the forend. The benefit in trapshooting is tremendous, but only if you are opening both eyes to shoot at your target. “Two eyed” shooters have the advantage of being able to start their gun when they call for the target with the shotgun positioned above the trap house therefore being able to cut the target off in its flight path which in essence means less gun movement which equates to less margin of error. If you are forced to shoot with one eye closed, for whatever reason, you cannot shoot with your gun with an above the trap house starting position because with your left eye closed there will be a huge blind spot caused by your left hand. Try this for yourself. Go out to station three on a DTL range hold the gun a metre above the trap house and then close your left eye. Your left hand will be obscuring the view of the front edge of the trap house thus making it impossible to see the target leave the moment it leaves the trap. One-eyed shooters do not have the advantage of peripheral vision that the higher ribs highlight. For this reason alone I would not recommend a high rib gun for a one eyed shooter in any of the trap shooting events.

Does the high rib work well in the field or even in Sporting Clay competitions? The same philosophy applies to these applications of a high rib gun. If you shoot with two eyes open there will be some visual advantages, not as great as in trap, but any benefit is better than none.

A common myth is that having a high rib gun automatically lets you mount the gun with your head very erect. This only is the case if your high rib gun has a stock made correctly. Many of these guns have stocks that have huge “Monte Carlo” stocks made for them. I recently had a high rib shotgun which had a Monte Carlo of 35mm. This is measured by the distance from the top of the end of the comb down to the top of the recoil pad. If the distance is too great then the problem you will have is that your head will be erect, but the recoil pad will sit too low on your shoulder thus having most of the pad sitting below your armpit. Too little or no Monte Carlo for many shooters means that your head will scrunched up on the stock therefore promoting the habit of lifting your head off the stock especially when you are under pressure. I had to get my stock modified to reduce the Monte Carlo distance to 10mm. This is different for everyone. The answer is simply that just like a conventional stock a high rib shotgun needs to have a correctly fitted stock attached to it to ensure its advantages are maximized.

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