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Article 5 – 2019 (June)

woman posing and smiling with shotgun and medal

Russell Mark

Australian Shooter Magazine, Question and Answers

Article 5 – 2019 (June)


Question: I have an opportunity to buy a high-grade second hand Sporting shotgun for a reasonably good price. The firearm was imported from the United States where the previous owner had some special barrel work that made the top barrel shoot considerably lower than the bottom one. I am keen to get your opinion on this. I have asked around and many people are telling me to think hard before buying the firearm.

Greg McIntosh, Scarsborough, WA


Answer: Think very hard. I am really struggling to find a good reason why you would want one barrel deliberately shooting lower than the other. I have heard plenty of theories about this over the years, but am yet to be convinced that the practicality of this will help you hit more targets.

The major gun manufacturing companies go to great pains to have both their top and bottom barrel of all of their under and over shotguns hit in exactly the same place. Personally if I bought a new shotgun and found one barrel hitting in a different point of impact than the other I would be asking for a refund.

In many cases the second barrel is called upon as soon as you have realised that you have missed with your first shot. This is usually happening within tenths of a second and the extra shot that is required will become completely instinctual. Your brain simply does not have time to make a calculation to readjust for a second barrel that has a different hitting point from the first. The point where you pull the trigger of your shotgun in relation to the target is called your sight picture. In many cases this imprint between your eye, brain and trigger finger takes many thousands of shots to perfect. If you start interfering with this then you are inviting a whole world of hurt in my opinion.

You might be able to throw examples of situations where the second shot required is at a flatter target than that of the first. In Trap shooting the Double Rise event at times can certainly offer this scenario. In perfect conditions the second shot in Doubles is often fired just as the clay is flattening out in its horizontal trajectory so you may argue that a lower shooting second barrel could help, but if all of a sudden you are faced with a howling headwind and the second target is climbing faster than the first then a flatter shooting second barrel would be a disaster.

I would be asking a few more questions about the barrel and exactly why this unusual adjustment was made? If it was me and I had the money I would find someone I really didn’t like and give them the shotgun as a gift for Christmas.


Question: Is there any advantage in shooting higher velocity shot-shells with fewer grams of shot at clays? I have often thought that a really high velocity load of 21 grams of shot would work really well in any of the clay target disciplines. I shoot a bit of Sporting for fun and Trap at times and still manage to break clays with these lighter shells. I have found a reload recipe that I would like to try that gives me the added advantage of an extra sixty metres per second in velocity. The extra speed would mean I would need to lead the target less and the less shot would mean less recoil. It seems to me a win-win situation. Do you agree?

Tony Grech, Coogee, NSW


Answer: In a word, no. I could leave it there, but let me briefly explain by example. If you were using typical 3% antimony 28 gram 7 ½ shot at a Trap or Sporting Clays target you would be getting about 350 pellets per shot-shell. 21 grams give you nearly 100 pellets less. At targets that are more than 30 metres away those extra 100 pellets will become a huge advantage where shot-shell pattern density becomes a huge advantage. The simple age-old shooting rule of “more lead more dead” applies here. Sure 21 grams of shot will bust clays at short distances all day and with standard velocity loads the recoil will be less, but speed really doesn’t come into it how far you need to shoot in front of crossing targets in Sporting or angled targets in Trap. You may be surprised how little difference there is in the vertical lead required between the fastest and the slowest commercially available shot-shells when shooting at a 40 metre target, but that’s a whole new topic.

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