Article 8 – 2014
Question: I have just put an adjustable comb in my Miroku Sporting shotgun and I was experimenting with the angle on the top of the comb. Is there a perfect position for this? I am sorry if this is a stupid question.
Andy Smithson, Ballarat VIC
Answer: It is far from a stupid question Andy. The angle of the comb is one of the most important parts of the equation in achieving the perfect stock fit.
The angle that you refer to is commonly called the “drop” in your comb. It is measured by running a large ruler along the rib of your barrels so that the end of the ruler overhangs the stock by around fifty centimetres. Another ruler is used to measure the distance down from the overhanging ruler to the front of the comb and then again measured to the back of the comb. On a typical sporting shotgun the front of the comb may be 40 millimetres and the back may measure 60mm. This will give a drop measurement of 20mm (the height difference from the front to the back). For sporting or field shotguns this difference of 20mm from the front to the back of the comb is considered to be very standard.
Field shotguns, some sporting and many ISSF skeet shotguns have this amount of drop because when the gun is mounted from “off the shoulder” this degree of drop enables the stock to be very quickly positioned under the shooters cheek bone therefore allowing a fast reflex type shot. As a general rule trap shotguns have no more than 10 millimetres of drop and many have no drop at all, which is called a parallel comb, or even “negative” drop where the back is slightly higher than the front. Parallel combs or negative drop combs are common when the gun is pre mounted to the shoulder before the target is released.
The advantage of a stock with 20mm of drop is the speed it can be mounted easily, but the disadvantage is that the angle of the comb will have a tendency to boot the user in the face when the gun recoils. When the first shot is fired the stocks angle will be pushed back against your face. Unless the other measurements of the stock are correct, particularly the angle of the kick pad against your shoulder (called pitch) and the length of the stock is suitable, then there is a great chance you may not stay perfectly aligned down the centre of the barrel to gain an accurate second shot if needed.
There has certainly been a world-wide trend in recent years to have less and less drop in American Skeet and Sporting Clay stocks for the exact reasons as outlined above. There are many of the worlds leading shooters in both these disciplines using shotguns that have a slight “Monte Carlo” configured stock. In recent years this style of woodwork on your gun was the sole domain of American Trap shooters.
There is no perfect amount of drop. Each shooters technique, neck size and of course what the shotgun is ultimately being used for will determine how much drop is needed. You are lucky that you have an adjustable comb that has the ability to change the angle of drop as many cheaper model adjustables do not allow for this important adjustment.
Experiment with it until you find the perfect balance.