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Educate me on barrel length

Barrel length matters because...


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I’ve been shopping around for a new over/under for clay sports. Most everyone I’ve talked to has either implied or flat out informed me that I “want” a 30 or 32 inch barrel. I see very little benefit to a longer barrel other than weight. I’m a big guy (6’5”) and it feels like most people have referenced my size when making their recommendations. I get that length of pull and shoulder comfort are important but I just can’t wrap my head around the longer barrel thing? I feel like I shoot better with 28” and even 26” barrels. What am I missing?
 
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I would not listen to anyone (including me) in a forum or on-line. Go to a range and shoot some skeet, trap, sportg clays, 5 stand and learn why the regulars shoot what they do. Then decide what works for you.
 
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AndyinEverson

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For me...
I voted :
Longer guns swing better...
And
Doesn't matter , don't listen to the experts...

Firearm fit and preference is very subjective and personal...what works for how I shoot , may be vastly different for someone else.
With a shotgun , how you shoot it and how it fits you ...is even more of a personal thing.

Get and shoot what works for you...What you can safely shoot and hit with , is all that matters here in the end.
Andy
 
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None of the above.

Longer/heavier barrels tends to result in a smoother, harder to stop swing due to the extra length and weight. Once you get it moving it's hard to get it to deviate from the line or to stop. Great for flat crossing shots. Not uncommon to see 30" barrels on the American skeet field where this type of shot predominates, especially on single barrel guns, but the majority of O/U's there are probably in the 28" range.

I've got a Browning 10ga pump with a 32" barrel that is great for pass shooting waterfowl. The barrel alone weighs more than my .410 O/U. It absolutely sucks for anything else as you can't make last second adjustments when a teal decides to zig or zag.

Are you shooting low gun or pre-mounted? Makes a difference. You can get away with longer and heavier with a pre-mounted gun.

If the "clays" you're shooting tend toward the above mentioned flat crossing shots then longer barrels will probably serve you well. If you're mixing in faster, short window of opportunity type shots where getting the gun moving in a hurry is important then a more mid range barrel length will work better. Going too short/light can be a problem as the gun becomes flighty and you over control it.

Been shooting clays for the better part of 40 years now and barrel length tends to be one of those "trendy" things. Long (30-32") will be the "thing" for a while and then they tend to trend back down to around 28" for an O/U. If you're happy with 26-28" barrels then stick with it. If it ain't broke don't fix it.

Then there's trap shooting. Not going there as it's a whole 'nother ball game.

If you’re a TCGC member, there’s a whole bunch of people out shooting 5-stand Sunday mornings if you want to handle different shotguns.
 
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Ura-Ki

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It all depends on the intended tasks! Longer barrels tend to be more accurate for bustin clays, and shorter barrels tend to swing faster in the duck/goose blind, and with steel shot and and good choke's, it's really doesn't change accuracy or pattern density, so decide what suits YOUR needs best and go for it! Even my trap/sporting clays guns have 26" barrels, same as my hunting guns!
AND....................I can shoot just as fast and accurately with my 1897 "Trench" Winchester with a 21" Barrel, an especially nice gun for Quail! :D
 

Dyjital

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I run a 20" barrel but I'm a terrible shot with any shotgun barrel and a moving target. My brain just won't relax to intercept.

Don't listen to me.
 

bbbass

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Oh, okay, we're talking about shotguns!! o_O

For hundreds of years, the first maxim of shotgun experts has been to get the fit right. In old England and in Europe shotguns were all customized in the stock length, rise, cant, and comb, to precisely fit the shooter. Because it's an instinctual sport, not a thinking sport... the shotgun must become part of the body mechanics of the shooter. In the U.S. we all buy production shotguns and very few are lucky enough to get the right fit. Make sure you at least get the stock length correct for your height and reach, and try if you can to get the right rise for your eye. An experienced shotgun shop is a bonus.

The second maxim is that it is all about the swing. It's not point shooting, it is swinging thru the bird.

As for length of barrel and the amount of choke to use, it depends on the task. Back in the days before removable chokes, I shot 16yd American Trap with a 12ga Ithaca model 37 pump with a 26" modified choke... it was just right to get on the bird quick. I used a 12ga Remington model 31 trap with a 28" full choke for 27yd trap. It was fine for an occasional trap shooter that would take the same guns into the field for birds. But the serious Trappists used the longer barrels and wouldn't even think of having less than a 32" in either a single or an O/U.

Though I used 12ga for skeet because I sucked so bad, Skeet used to be lighter guns, 20ga 28ga and even .410, shorter barrels with a straight pipe or a skeet choke. The was because one had to get them swinging quickly on crossing targets vs trap where one needed to track an outgoing bird more precisely. (Edit: Not sure, but I think today's skeet shooters are spot shooting)

Sporting Clays is beyond my experience.

Hunting is basically the same principal, a longer barrel for a steady swing, and a shorter barrel for a faster swing. I like 12ga in a 30" or better for geese and pass shooting doves, 28" for jump shooting ducks and ducks over decoys, and 26" for Pheasant. I like 20ga with 26" barrels for huns, quail, chukar, and grouse. YMMV
 
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bbbass

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Yeah, that bit about stock fitting is hilarious!!!

FWIW:

Stock Fitter's Bible was written for one purpose - to help clay target shooters improve their scores. Following a brief introduction explaining how the book was written and the syntax that is used, is a very short history about the author. That is followed by a history of the stocks on personal guns to introduce the reader to stock (or gun) fitting - how personal guns evolved and eventually, how stock designs changed to fit the evolution of shooting forms and gun designs that have been used during previous centuries. Some principals of shooting forms have been retained and refined while others have been eliminated. Today, coaches and trainers teach specific gun mounts, stances and body postures (shooting forms). To shoot up to your full potential, you must use a good form. To do that, your gun must have stock dimensions that allow someone of your individual size and shape to use the form. If your gun doesn't fit YOU, a correct form cannot be used. It's that simple. To help you shoot better, the book describes the elements of good shooting forms and continues with step by step instructions to make your gun fit you, one stock dimension at a time. When you are shooting a well fitting gun, the benefits will include (among others), smoother and more accurate swings, more consistent gun mounts and shooting from one day to the next and reduced felt recoil. The book also explains how to see targets better, how to visually prepare for targets before calling for them, ways to reduce stress and how to postpone fatigue. Since some readers may be unfamiliar with the terms used in stock fitting, a complete, alphabetical glossary will be found at the end of the book. (Don't guess what a term means, look it up.) Almost anyone can improve their shooting. Stock Fitter's Bible explains how to do it.

Stock Fitter's Bible: Second Edition: Rollin Oswald: 9781451570380: Amazon.com: Books
 
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(Edit: Not sure, but I think today's skeet shooters are spot shooting)
Uh, no way. Been shooting skeet for the above mentioned 40+ years, managed to get AA rated in both 20 and 12 ga using a 20ga 870 Wingmaster and shooting low gun (I'm a bird hunter first). Also got an Instructor Certification from the NSSA.

The preferred method of lead is maintained lead. You still need to have all the other methods (swing thru, pull away, declining, and ,yes, spot shooting) in your bag of tricks in case things go wrong (ie, that high two beats you out of the house and you're behind the bird).

For real S&G's try International Skeet.
 

bbbass

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Uh, no way. Been shooting skeet for the above mentioned 40+ years,
Oh, okay... you're old school then! :p;):D

IDK, I was shown diff ways to shoot diff stations. By old Navy guys... never had a coach. One guy timed doubles from one of the stations and got them both. Same thing on Station 8 High House single.... swing for that one and you're going to miss! :D
 
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Well, I’m an old Navy guy, too. Every NAS I was stationed at had a skeet field because they were originally used to teach basic concepts of aerial gunnery back when the bases were first built. Been told once a pilot got the hang of leading a flying target, they would put him in the back of a pickup truck and drive it across the skeet field while throwing targets for him to shoot (shooting a moving target from another moving target). Sounded like fun, but I’ve never been able to convince a range operator to let me try It.
 
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"Clay sports" pans a wide range. It seems barrel length is getting closer between them than in the past (when shorter barrels were more common with skeet). There is also a significant difference between actions types; my 870 trap with a 30" tube is about 3" longer than my O/U 3200 with the same length of barrel.

Agree with others that if a 28" works for you then great. Some people tend to over swing with short barrels and I find the 30" length to work well (for me) with trap. With trap, you are only moving the muzzle a few inches where with other sports (and hunting) there is usually much more barrel swing.
 

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