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Determining Muzzle Length

Determining Muzzle Length

I got an email from Grant Lewis this week asking about how we determine the best muzzle length for shooters. He mentioned that some of the better shooters have gone to 34 instead of 32. Well, I called him and he was shocked when he answered the phone and it was me. Oh well…

He was excited to tell me that he has been putting keywords in the search engine on the Knowledge Vault and was shocked at the fact that there was an answer for everything he had searched for. Except for the question on barrel length. Well, Grant, here goes….

Barrel length is something that is a personal choice. When we began shooting sporting clays 30 years ago, we were using 28-inch skeet guns with that big beavertail forearm that I modified by sanding down the forearm back boring porting and installing Briley thin wall chokes, and re-inletting the stock to a lower dimension.

Everywhere we traveled we won or placed in the top three or four, and just about everywhere we went someone wanted me to make a “Gil Ash Citori” for them. This gun evolved into the Browning Special Sporting Clays and the Lightning Sporting Clays – both with 30-inch barrels. There were even some two barrel sets of 28 and 30-inch barrels. All of them were choked improve and mod so they could be sent to Briley for screw chokes because the original factory chokes were very short and often not what they were marked – and sometimes even off-center. I feel that the manufactures were looking at screw chokes and the game of sporting clays as a fad that would fade into the sunset.

The Birth of the Extended Choke

It wasn’t long after our success in shooting all over the country and the continued frustration with the factory short chokes that I had an idea to make a choke that stuck out the end of the barrel that allowed for the factory chokes to be replaced with longer chokes, offering Briley long choke technology. Well, the extended choke was born.

In 1990, I had Briley make me 10 sets to fit a Browning. I took them to the National Championship and gave them to friends to use – not top shooters, just our friends. I can still hear Jess Briley saying “Gil, do you think that people will actually buy those ugly things that stick out the end of their barrels?” Well, after just the first round at Nationals, people were crowding the Briley booth wanting the “chokes with the gnarled end” on them – not because they would perform better, but because they were easier to change! Go figure. And thus, the extended choke was born.

During the evolution of the Browning sporting guns, they sent me a version of the special sporting with 34-inch barrels to try. Man, it handled great on long crossers but was a little too hard to change directions on quick pairs. So I sent it back and we stuck with the 30-inch barrels.

The birds were not nearly as long as they are now and we used a lot of skeet IC choke combinations. As the targets began to get longer and manufacturers began to look for new innovative products, the inevitable birth of 32-inch barrels occurred with its origin being in trap. And that’s pretty much where it stands today. Some shooters prefer 34s, but the vast majority settle with 32s.

Most of the salesmen talk about the “longer sighting plane” but they don’t shoot and are trying to sell products. We feel that the reason for the 32-inch barrel dominating the scene is the balance and the smoothness they deliver, because, at the end of the day, it’s more about smooth and controlling your swing speed than any other thing. But you gotta be strong enough to handle the weight and control the muzzle speed.

If you do decide to try a 34-inch barrel, be aware that the bird/barrel perspective will change and you will be ahead of everything you shoot for the first few flats. You will get the feeling that you are just shooting right at the target when you hit it. But after 300-500 rounds, everything will look normal again. It’s amazing how quickly the subconscious brain can adapt and learn. We’re continually being amazed by it.

The Power of the Kill Shot Reviews

On another note, if you have not checked out the Kill Shot Reviews, don’t waste another minute. Do it now!

Randy Lawrence of Sporting Clays Magazine looked at the 10-minute video of 38 kill shots and called immediately all lathered up and excited.

His words: “You have found the missing link in shotgunning. The mystery in shotgunning has always been what it really looks like, and you have not only shown the reality of it, but the OSP system is so simple and makes all targets (clays or birds) so simple to hit consistently. It really is the missing link. Congratulations!”

We discussed how a person could just simply look at the 10-minute video of ShotKam kill shots over and over and that would program the brain more clearly than anything else what we’re trying to get it to do. It will make the preload before each shot easier and more consistent, as well as make the shot and results more consistent. To say we are excited would be an understatement. We would like to hear from all of you after you have looked at the Kill Shot Reviews and implemented the stabilized picture at the end of the shot, seeing the bird behind the barrel.

One bit of advice: insert the muzzle too far in front of the bird and see it come to the muzzle as you stabilize the picture. When the picture is stable, the lead is perfect without you having to do anything with it.

Doug Mellen of Liberty Golf Cars said that as far as he is concerned, the video should be treated like the original formula for Coca-Cola.

More Videos Coming

We are on our way to the 74 Ranch to shoot quail with the ShotKam for the Knowledge Vault and will be doing the same on pheasants Monday or Tuesday at Rio Brazos. Then we will have ShotKam shots on all birds to share with all of you. We anticipate adding 500-600 ShotKam shots on KV in the coming months, with selected shots having a virtual animation done on the most common shot for each species.

We will also be doing the kill shot review again and inset a front shot of the shooter so you can see what the mount looks like. And we will also be placing a green ring around the red dot when the gun is mounted so there will be no doubt at what point during the shot the gun is mounted. This will let you see better what it looks like when the target is coming to the gun and the picture stabilizes. This is exciting to us and really is going to take improving performance with a shotgun to the next level.

Art Romberg is learning how important the preload is – not only on game day but in practice as well. He has been winning his class regularly and will punch into AA soon. We can’t wait to see him at the Advance Class at the 74 Ranch.

Please let us know how you are doing in your shooting in the shooter’s forum. Vicki and I have committed to blogging more often this year – hopefully weekly. We’re dedicated to sharing all your successes with everyone on the KV. So let us hear from you about your successes and “a-has!”