There are two challenges to finding a great shotgun -- fit and suitability.
The shotguns section of Shotgun Life is dedicated to helping you recognize the perfect shotgun (that you’ll want to keep for the rest of your life, and then hand down to your family for generations to come.)
For some people, finding a great shotgun is simply love at first sight. For others, a great shotgun grows on them -- and they find themselves down in the basement cleaning it for absolutely no other reason than just to be in its company.
But for every shotgun owner who falls in love with their pride-and-joy, there are teams of engineers and craftsmen toiling away behind the scenes to bring your gun to fruition.
As you’ll see, shotguns are generally designed for a particular sport. Some shotguns have composite stocks and fore-ends to withstand the travails of duck hunting. Then there are single-shot trap guns with high ribs that help you intercept rising targets. And skeet shooters find that their beavertail fore-end is particularly adept at bringing about a smooth, quick swing.
So let the search begin. Here is what you’ll find in our shotgun section…
If you’ve ever been to a trap, skeet or sporting clays range, and most likely you have, you know without asking that hearing protection is required. And if you’ve traveled the world to many of the premier wingshooting destinations in remote places where you can shoot thousands of rounds of ammunition in a day, you find out quickly that hearing protection is pretty much mandatory there too. It is smart to protect your hearing under such conditions, but you quickly discover that without the right kind of hearing protection, communication with your fellow hunters and the outfitter, guide and staff becomes very difficult. Let me explain.
If you’re of the mind to start a quality shotgun collection, here’s one essential tip you need to know: understand the difference between a shotgun salesman and a consultant.
A salesman will sell you a shotgun that may not be in your best interest to own. A consultant should advise you on the best way to build your collection by identifying high-quality guns that are fairly priced, have investment potential, and satisfy the objectives and vision of your collection.
The GPS said my dog was 300 yards down a boulder-strewn gully. I stumbled over rocks and sage, and ten agonizing minutes later found the young wirehair staunch, one front leg raised. The chukar covey roared skyward, and I made a go-to-hell shot down the hill at 50 yards.
I missed, but not because of the Pointer shotgun I’d shouldered. It had been functioning fine in the field and on the range and turning heads, too. But in this case, only a Star Trek transporter could have beamed me into range of those devil birds.
It’s official: Longthorne shotguns are now available in the U.S. – bringing to American fine-gun afficionados the most advanced break-opens to appear from England in the past century.
John Herkowitz, owner of Pacific Sporting Arms in Azusa, California with a secondary location in Walled Lake, Michigan, took the first-move advantage in becoming Longthorne’s exclusive American agent after watching the gunmaker evolve over the past few years.
Turn back the clock to 2016 at a cocktail reception in a posh London suburb. Scotsman Grant Buchan was talking about his desire to build “a true Scottish gun” with the sales manager of a best British gunmaker. “He tried to take the wind out of me and said, you’re dreaming, you will never do it,” recalled Mr. Buchan. “Here I was, a Scottish guy with a small gunsmithing business and a dream of making my own best gun.”
That’s when Mr. Buchan experienced his David-and-Goliath moment: “I told him straight to his face, we’ll see”
I stepped down from the bird buggy marking our first stop on the South Georgia bobwhite quail plantation. I approached the side-mounted wood gun box and carefully removed an over/under from the padded brackets, exposed the breach and dropped in 20-gauge shells. We walked only a few yards when the pointer locked up. Our guide dispatched the hyper Boykin flusher into the understory. Shotgun at the ready, listening, watching, waiting, the pines and grasses aromatic of autumn conjuring a seductive beauty of the moment, when the covey exploded: bang, one shot, two birds down.
Setting a new Guinness Official World Record feels like a bridge too far for most of us. But Dave Miller of gunmaker CZ-USA made it a dream-come-true for the four high-school students on his team who established a world record for the most number of clay targets shot in 12 hours by a team of five.
Visit the Muller Chokes web site and you’ll see choke constrictions new to the shotgunner’s vocabulary. For example, Muller Choke constrictions are marked Ü1, Ü2, Ü3 instead of Skeet, Improved Cylinder and Modified. That’s because Muller Chokes does not believe in generic constrictions. One size does not fit all. Check it out:
When I invented and patented my Featherlite Chokes for clay target sports, thankfully I went through a major learning curve about how shotguns truly performed when it came to patterns and chokes. Whether the gun was a fixed choke barrel or came with choke tubes, I quickly realized that they all patterned differently and depending on what geometry that particular choke had inside. This Gun Specific Patterning Geometry (G.S.P.G.) made all the difference when it came to pattern consistency, pellet counts, evenness and shot to shot deviations.
A friend recently advocated his theory about the .410 in today’s America. He believed that as our wingshooting population ages it will find preserve hunting increasingly attractive. Knees and ankles not quite as sturdy in the rutted fields of South Dakota? That extra 25 pounds of belly fat making your Wyoming high country bird hunt more strenuous than you last remembered? Old eyes causing those explosive flushes to get away? Packing ibuprofen in the vest pocket next to your shotgun shells?
Imagine shooting a British sporting-clays gun anointed with Royal Warrants from every reigning monarch since Queen Victoria, up to and including present day. It’s a 12-gauge tour de force that moves to the target with grace and deportment – even on that low chartreuse crosser that blends against the leafy background until the trees swallow it like a tasty mint.