Article 8 – 2016
Question: I want to know how I should “balance” my shotgun better. I own a Miroku Model 10 Sporting model and everyone who picks it up tells me it is too “barrel heavy”. Is this a myth and is there a way to fix it?
Gary Sanders, Hawthorn VIC
Answer: An unbalanced shotgun is certainly no myth and in your particular case it sounds fairly easy to rectify. The term “barrel heavy” simply means when the shotgun is placed on its central balancing point, which on a standard over and under shotgun is virtually on the pivot point where the break open action of the firearm connects to the barrels, the gun will fall forward. This means the barrels are much heavier than the stock thus making the gun feel as though the barrels are too weighty. Ideally the firearm should be balanced on this central point therefore the barrels will neither fall forward or back when independently left to support itself on the central balance point of the shotgun.
To rectify your problem it is as simple as adding some lead weight into the very rear of the stock. You may have to drill a small hole in the wood under your recoil pad to add the weight or if you like you can use the stock’s internal bolt-hole. Whichever you chose you need to pack the lead in tight because if it becomes loose you will find the added loose weight moving freely around in your gun stock will cause a significant increase in the actual recoil of the shotgun. Remember if you put the weight in the stock hole it will at some stage it will need to be removed when the gun requires servicing as the bolt needs to be accessed for the internal trigger mechanism of the shotgun to be become free. Lead fishing sinkers are a good source of gun weights and it will probably take a little trial and error until the desired balance point is reached.
If a shotgun is “barrel light” then some wood may need to be removed from the stock or alternatively some weight added to the barrels or even added under the shotguns forend to achieve the desired balance point. Wheel balancing weights are perfect for this. Remember that decreasing the shotguns overall weight will make the firearm feel livelier to shoot with, but it will also make it harder to control especially under pressure. Of course the other problem that you will face with a lighter shotgun is more recoil.
Many models of shotguns are now starting to appear with barrel weights added into the stock of the gun so adding or subtracting weight is a simple as unscrewing a small screw inside the stock of the gun. Balance is a very personal thing, but nearly every reputable manufacturer will balance their own shotguns before they send them onto their distributor for sale.
Question:I used steel shot for the first time at this years at duck opening and was surprised by the results. Would you recommend the use of steel shot for sporting clays?
Keith Gauci, St Albans VIC
Answer: Keith if all your shots at the sporting clay range you compete at are under thirty-five metres then it may be OK. Not perfect, but OK. Steel shot does not weigh as much as lead and at greater distances it will not have as much breaking power on the rim of a clay target. My experience tells me that you are optimistic to think that every target is within these confines so my preference will always be towards high quality 5% antimony lead shot when longer distances are required to break clays. Whilst there are some grounds around the world that require the use of only steel shot there are some that actually prohibit it’s use so always ask before using it. The other hidden wildcard is that some firearm manufacturers will not support the use of steel shot through any barrel which has a choke in it tighter than modified (half choke) as they say it increases the risk of barrel damage and therefore your warranty will not be honored. This point alone is well worth noting before using steel shot in any situation.