Article 7 – 2021 (August)
Australian Shooter Magazine
Question and Answers
Article 7 – 2021 (August)
Question: I have a Beretta 680 shotgun that is in its original condition. It was handed down from my father who received it from his father. It also has the original gun case. I would consider the firearm to be in a mint condition. The problem I have is that I don’t quite look down the centre of the barrel when I mount it to my shoulder. Several people have told me that it needs some cast added to the stock. The options I have been given is to shave some wood off the side of the stock so my eye become aligned or get an adjustable comb added to the stock and simply push the comb over to the right. I really don’t like either of those options as I would like to leave the stock in its original condition. I have however now been told that the stock could be “bent” to the right by using some heat on the wood near the pistol grip. What would your advice be? Is the third option viable?
Marty Douglas, Lismore NSW
Answer: I understand your attachment to the family heirloom, but a shotgun is useless unless it shoots straight. I will make the assumption that the problem is not in your technique and the gun actually does need cast added. Cast to the right for a right-handed shotgun as you have described is called “cast off’. Cast added for a left handed shooter is referred to as “cast-on”.
Personally, if it was my shotgun, I would get an original Beretta adjustable comb added to the stock. It might ruin the classic look that you want, but it will make the firearm far more functional and if you in turn want to pass the shotgun onto another family member in the future then the necessary adjustments can be made with the adjustable comb to make the gun shoot perfectly straight.
I suggested to get an original Beretta adjustable comb as these have the added bonus of not only adjusting the stock up and down and left or right, but also the amount of “drop” or angle from the front to the back of the comb can be adjusted. Many cheaper “after market” adjustable combs do not have this important feature.
Option one has some credence only because you need more cast and by thinning out the comb by shaving some wood off the side will indeed move your eye across to the right and hopefully down the centre of the barrel. Any decent gunsmith with wood working experience will be able to replicate the original finish on the stock so the appearance wont change. My only concern here would be just how much wood would have to be taken off the side of the comb. If it’s too much then the comb will appear thin and may even start to recoil onto your face. Be careful with this.
Your third option of bending the stock with heat is the worst one. Whilst stocks can indeed be bent by applying heat or hot oil around the pistol grip they can also bend back, break or damage the finish of the stock. To bend a stock accurately to obtain an exact cast measurement at the comb is an art, but it also changing the cast measurement at the heel which will push the shotgun further out onto your shoulder that may cause other issues. I have seen stocks bent, but I have never been a big fan of this technique as I like stock dimensions to be much more accurate that this technique allows.
Family heirloom shotguns are always nice to own and to use, but at the end of the day if the stock does not fit you perfectly then you may not get the enjoyment that you deserve out of the firearm. Adding an authentic adjustable comb to me is the logical solution and it will add value to the firearm if you decide to sell it or have no children to pass the shotgun onto. It may not look like a “classic” after the comb has been added, but it certainly won’t look out of place in any gun rack at a shooting range as many shotguns today have these combs fitted as standard.
Good luck with it.