Taming Slug Guns

Practical how-to to block shotgun kick.

by Brian Capps

One of my earliest memories involves a visit to the farm in rural Arkansas where my dad grew up. My grandfather kept an old Bay State break open .410 shotgun handy to add the occasional rabbit or squirrel to the dinner table. For whatever reason, I was fascinated and granddad offered to let me shoot it. He picked up a metal paint can lid from the barn and set it up in an open field. He knelt down next to me and, while holding the shotgun under my arm, had me pull the trigger. I was overwhelmed by the blast and delighted by the million holes (or so it seemed) that had magically appeared in that old can lid. Down deep he must have realized what a life changing experience this had been and told me the shotgun would be given to me when he died. A few months later, true to his word, the shotgun was mine. I was four years old.

Recently, I decided to return to my roots and put together a nice single barrel slug gun for deer hunting. It would be light weight for long stalks and rifled for best accuracy. I searched for something simpler, lighter and, with my tiny budget, cheap. A gun show was coming up and I figured there should be an excellent chance of finding a good, used shotgun for less than $100. Imagine my surprise when I spotted a new Rossi 12 gauge single shot for only a few more dollars! When I showed the shotgun to fellow gunsmith Verne Trester, he asked if I had gotten the chance to shoot it. I told him no. “Good,” he replied, “because it would have kicked the (expletive deleted) out of you.”

That brings up an area seldom considered: Proper gun fit, which applies to both rifles and shotguns. For me at least, the fit felt all wrong. Verne explained the angle of the rear portion of the stock would serve to make the kick feel worse than it needed to be.

Read more in our January 2015 issue. Back issues are available.

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