Building a SO trap gun.


January 5, 2003, 03:29 AM
My SO surprised me (again!) this week by not only wanting to go with me to the trap range this week, but by saying "That looks like fun. I want to try it but your gun is too heavy and kicks too hard." That last line was deliverd with a universally recognizable look that means "I told you what I want, now I expect _you_ to figure this out."

So I'm looking for an inexpensive, light, low recoil gun. Basically, what would you get if you were 5'4" and weighed 100lbs? I don't have any experience with these guns, but I would think that something like a H&R youth model 20 ga. single with a fixed mod choke would be a place to start, but I am open to other ideas.

If you have any advice, I'd love to hear it.

(A very happy) OverUnder, out.

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January 5, 2003, 03:45 AM
Anybody allow the SO to try their guns? Ladies especially? My first thought goes to a used 1100 , 12 or 20 ga. The later is/has proved to be a fine gun for new shooters , regardless of gender.

As you know FIT to her is the main thing. Letting her choose is wise and thats why I suggest If a lady lets her shoot hers...lady input and all, a good way to go.

1100 20ga is the best kept secret in a HD shotgun btw
especially used from an individual whom chooses to move up in platform in clay games.

Used beretta 302,303 another kept secret. Fit a bit higher in comb IIRC

Mom uses a NEF 20 ga as an HD--good gun !

Dave McCracken
January 5, 2003, 05:48 AM
There's quite a few ways to do this wrong, and I did most of them.

A suggestion, most ranges have loaner or rental shotguns, have her take a lesson or two from a qualified instructor and try out some different shotguns. Let her pick one out and have it fitted to her by a good smith. Use the lightest shells that can be found or made. And reconcile youraelf to being bested, women that shoot oft beat men quite handily.

January 5, 2003, 09:26 AM
There are a few ladies that shoot trap with us every week. 2 shoot Beretta 390's. That gun has all the qualities your looking for. The Remington 1100's are fine guns as well, but run a bit "dirtier" from what I understand, compared to the Beretta. No big deal, they just need to be cleaned more frequently. Light weight = more recoil. A good fitting autoloader will be the softest shooting gun.

The key will be to have the gun fitted to her. I realize that this is an expensive proposition, especially if you don't know if the Mrs' will get into trap shooting.

Whatever you decide, seek out low-recoil trap loads. They are available on-line from places like It would be worth your while to get a case or 2. If you reload, even better. Whip up some 7/8oz loads...I will suggest sticking with the 12 gauge. With the right loads, it will kick no more than a 20, and in many cases, less.

The H&R 20ga youth gun is a hard kickin' piece. My son started (trap) shooting with one of these when he was around 11.

Will Fennell
January 5, 2003, 10:21 AM
Get her to try several guns......even better if you can arrange for her to do it with someone else[instructor], instead of you. The WORST person to help a female shooter is her SO.

Some rules of thumb....

Gunfit is the BEST recoil reducer...

Gas Operated Autos really make the felt recoil MUCH more tolerable....

Generally VERY lite 12ga loads are softer shooting, and more effective than smaller gauges...

Don't drop down in the size gun and load to the total detriment of performance....nothing will turn a new shooter off faster that NOT breaking the targets. Little guns are for experts.....

Keep the shooting sessions SHORT. That is the best way to aviod fatiuge and make them want to come back!

Ideal set up generally consists of a Beretta Auto[391] with lite 1 oz or 7/8's oz loads, with the gun set up to fit her. The gun has a alloy reciever that help keep the wieght down, and with 12 ga 7/8 oz load[or even lite 1 oz] the gun is lightweight, very comfy to shoot, and will smash targets. Also Beretta's adjustable shim system for the stock makes it easier to fit to different body styles. They even make a RL[reduced lenght] parallel comb model just for ladies and youth.

Remember, shooting ranges are great places .......shooters aer generally eager to help new folks, and luv to let you try a few ounds through their guns. Take advantage of that.....lady shootrs generally like to have input on what guns they shoot.

January 5, 2003, 10:39 AM
Don't do the 20 ga single!!!!!!!!!

1100 or 390/391 in 12 gauge.

January 5, 2003, 12:34 PM
While a 12 GA is overall better for her in terms of breaking clays, and recoil isn't that bad in an autoloader, I still advocate an 1100 20 GA, possibly the youth model. Weight is a concern here, and the best way to keep recoil and weight down is go with a 20 GA. The 1100 is a proven gas system that will make the recoil from a 20 GA almost unfelt. A lot of women, my wife included, have short arms. The youth model is good when this is the case, as it gives a shorter length of pull. Dealer price on the 1100 youth with a 21" VR barrel and Rem-chokes is 389.95 Dealer price on the regular 1100 20 GA with 26" barrel is 329.95 Both are a bargain in terms of a quality autoloader.

January 5, 2003, 11:33 PM
Thanks for all the advice!

Unfortunately, most of the ranges in my neck of the woods (SF Bay area) do not have rental guns. Whatever I buy, it will probably have to be modified by a 'smith.

The biggest complaint of my GF was that my gun, 7 1/2 lbs with 30" bbls, was too heavy and too slow for her to swing. It was not the overall weight that was the problem as much as the weight of the bbls.

After reading your suggestions, I am going to try some of the 7/8 oz. extra light loads through my gun to see what the recoil reduction feels like. If the recoil is managable I am going to take a look at the Mossberg 12 ga. Bantam 500, which has a 13" LOP, weighs 6 1/2 lbs, and a 24" ported bbl with adjustable chokes. It looks like a good match from the numbers.

If light 12 ga. loads kick too much I'll start looking at the gas guns and 20 ga. options.

-U/O out.

January 7, 2003, 05:08 PM
My wife uses the Mossberg 500 Bantam in 20 GA. The youth model is just what she needed. After two seasons of doves and some clays here and there, she has decided she's ready to move up to a 12 GA autoloader.

Your testing is a good idea, but remember one thing: Your wife is not only smaller and assumedly less robust than you, but probably does not have the level of enthusiasm for shotgunning that you have. This means the amount of recoil she's willing to put up with to shoot 50 rounds of ammo is less than what you would put up with if you were that size. If this is her first shotgunning experience, I would still advocate the 20 GA to make sure she initially enjoys the sport, and will stick with it. There's nothing wrong with using the gun for a year and then selling it and getting her into a quality 12 GA. The Browning Gold series has the least felt recoil of any autoloader, in my experience. I have nothing but good things to say about my Gold Sporting Clays. Both guns (M500 and Rem 1100) will hold resale very well.

The preceding paragraph assumes several things, but is true for the majority of couples. Read it with that in mind.

January 7, 2003, 05:30 PM

All very good points. While I doubt that I am *tougher* than my SO (Fellas, lets's not delude ourselves on that one. Our SO's put up with us on a regular basis!) her having less of an interest in the sport does mean that she needs lower recoil starting out.

Having said that, I am still interested in the ability of light 12 ga. loads to reduce recoil. According to an internet recoil calculator the a 20 ga. 7/8 ounce load at 1155 fps has 14 ft/lbs of recoil. A 12 ga. 7/8 ounce 2 1/2 dram load has 15.5 ft/lbs, and my 1 1/8 oz. 3 dram loads have 22 ft/lbs. (Using a 6 1/2 lb gun for the light loads and my 7 1/2 lb gun for the heavy load.) An autoloader woudl be nice, but I'm trying to do this on the cheap.

Like I said, I have some testing to do. Guess I'll just have to go back to the range...



January 8, 2003, 01:16 AM
You know I guess I forgot you can load 7/8 oz 12 GA loads. Its been so long since I used anything but 1 1/8 oz it skipped my mind. Come to think of it, at the opening of dove season, Wal-Mart always sells cases (10 boxes) of Remington 7/8 oz light field loads for $29.98. I never buy them because I want to put max lead in the air, but they would be handy for clay shooting. Good luck with your testing!

January 8, 2003, 01:41 AM
If you are using anything other than a O/U the weight problem is going to be length. Shortening the LOP may be helpful for fit, but will not solve the problem. What you need to do is to get the weight back between her hands, and shorten the entire gun.

For the most part that means getting rid of the long action inherent in pumps and autos. I will bet that if you try her on a O/U (even with 30" bbls, though 28" would be best) she'll find that much easier to handle and shoot.

If all you're going to shoot is trap then I would look for a used Browning BT99 with a 28" bbl. That single shot trap gun is very user friendly.

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