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Joined: Feb 2017
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Sidelock
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Sidelock
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I know this will sound like sacrilege to you guys. I used to be a descent shot on ducks, pretty good at ruffed grouse and pheasants were pretty easy. Then I took a 20 years break from hunting. Now, I only hunt pheasants and shoot like shit. I also found out that I don't care. Just being out in the field again, with nature, birds and dogs is all I need. But I do like nice shotguns.

Last edited by ksauers1; 10/09/21 11:34 AM.
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Sidelock
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Ksauers1, I am with you 100 per cent.

Strange thing is I too love shotguns and shoot them with mediocre results. On the other hand, I shot formal pistol sports for many years with above average results, yet I do not really like pistols, to me they are as attractive as wrenches. Go figure.

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Sidelock
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I had a shooting buddy who was a legit top 10-15 shooter in his sport. He became obsessed with equipment being his next step that he never got any better. In fact he quickly regressed and in two years was about top 50. Did he return to basics and refine his game? Nope, went from gun to gun, accessories to accessories and became a shooter who was never a serious top shot. Went on that way for 30 years. It was never the gun but always the man.

Perfect gun is not a definable thing. If you are happy I am happy for you. I like shooting different guns and would be sad if I found only one which worked for me.

Last edited by KY Jon; 10/09/21 01:29 PM.
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Sidelock
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You would be surprised at how good you can still get.

If you shoot presentations that mimic your typical wild game for the summer, with any reasonable frequency, all of your standard presentations in the fall become pretty easy. Especially pheasants over grass.

Dropping ducks in the hole? Practice!

Etc. etc. etc.

FWIW, I quit jump shooting mallards for exactly that reason. Too easy, and the first bird up is always a young hen.

If you don’t want to, that’s cool too, and the used gun market needs people that jump from gun to gun without practicing.

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Joined: Jun 2021
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Shotgunjones' story about the venerable Model 11 reminded me that I have one, a family keepsake made in 1919 and purchased by my wife's great uncle after his return from The Great War. A giant of a man, he toted that 8.5# cannon all over the West Slope from 1919 until his death in 1971. We acquired it upon my father in law's death in 1995, and I still take it out for a shoot now and again for old times' sake.

Just out of idle curiosity, I laid it across my finger and found that it balances 4.5" ahead of the trigger (unloaded). The receiver was milled from a block of steel and, with the butt, nicely balances the 28" heavy barrel and the 4-shot magazine. The old gun actually shoots pretty well, if the shooter is strong enough to carry it and can shoot "head up" to see over the receiver.

They aren't pretty to my eye. One of the local sporting clays shooters ported the barrel on his to annoy the gun snobs. That didn't help its looks.


Caution: Hunting and fishing stories told here. Protective footgear may be required.
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Sidelock
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You got me curious, so I dug the M11 'Sportsman' out. Never weighed it or checked the balance point. Nothing that I can do about it anyway..

8 pounds, 7 oz. balances 1/4" in front of the ejection port bolt closed, unloaded. The weight is quite centralized, and it actually swings pretty quickly.

Remington's finish process circa 1947 was very nice. This one retains essentially all the blue. The trigger is fair, and better than some modern production stuff.

I doubt the average American hunter of the day gave much thought to balance point.


"The price of good shotgunnery is constant practice" - Fred Kimble
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Sidelock
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Balance point, in conjunction with hand placement, tells you how the gun's weight is distributed between your hands (% of weight in the right and % of weight in the left). And that is all it tells you. Different shooters have different levels of sensitivity to this factor (balance). There is no one best/optimum location for the balance point. Balance point is the center of gravity (CG) of the gun and is useful in other factors.

The factors in gun handling are weight, balance point, swing effort unmounted and swing effort mounted. Each of these four factors can have an objective (numerical) value associated with it. There are no magic/secret combination(s) of the factors that are best. And, there is no one summative number; you have to have all four.

About those best work guns - - - yes I have, yes I do, and, yes, I plan to continue.

If anyone wants to talk more in depth, so post and we can extend this conversation --- gladly.

DDA

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Sidelock
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Here is a comment from Peter Powell, gunmaker, re balance of sidelocks and boxlocks:


"What are the merits of the two:
A Boxlock lasts as long as a Sidelock and some would argue that it is a lot more reliable. Due to its short stubby action length, it tends to feel heavier when finished to the same weight as a Sidelock. The feel of the best gun is all about weight distribution and the Sidelock spreads its action and locks over almost twice the area of a Boxlock, hence it feels more alive in your hands."

With the above in mind look at modern high end boxlocks in profile and you will notice that the makers have brought the trigger group forward nearer the receiver. The internal action tends to promote this layout, the sears are hinged on an axle at the back of the action thus allowing a forward m ove of the triggers. The sidelock design puts the sears and hence the triggers further back. One Italian maker told me that in his opinion having the triggers, and therefore the hand, closer to the action body aids handling. I have my doubts. It is not all about concentrating the weight in the smallest area possible. There is more at play here.

Last edited by Shotgunlover; 10/11/21 04:08 AM.
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Sidelock
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What Powell said "the Sidelock spreads its action and locks over almost twice the area of a Boxlock, hence it feels more alive in your hands.", does not jive with how I understand what Don Amos explained, concerning the moment of inertia, to me. I equate "alive in the hands" with the ability to move the gun easily about, at will, almost as if there was nothing in your hands and you were just pointing a finger, so to speak. This is accomplished by doing exactly the opposite of what Powell suggested. Concentrating the mass of the gun nearer the balance point has the effect of taking mass away from the extremities of the gun. It creates less resistance to the muscles moving the gun. In extreme cases it can lead to what one person may call "whippiness", or the quality that may cause one to wave the muzzles all about before they settle down on target.

The opposite scenario, lessening the mass at the balance point and moving it towards the ends (the muzzles and the butt), causes the gun to have greater resistance to moving from a static state, or changing direction. This can be a bad thing ........... or a good thing. I have a little 28" barreled .410 S X S that only weighs 4 - 14. Ordinarily one would assume it would be nearly impossible to shoot well, yet I found I could shoot it very well. I was a bit puzzled until Don (Rocketman) spun it for me on his turntable device and did some measurements. He told me that it even surprised him that the MOI was what it turned out to be, and that it was very close to that of a 12 ga. English game gun that would weigh considerably more. This was accomplished by using an aluminum alloy for the action frame, which lessened the mass near the balance point, and by leaving the barrels thicker nearer the muzzles, and also by stocking it for a full sized man, at roughly 14 3/4" LOP ............. thus shifting much of the mass from the center (balance point) towards the ends (muzzles and butt).

There is no disputing the numbers. The physics of this are not up for correction. The problem, IMO, comes when we try to assign terminology to how a gun feels. "Alive", "lively", "whippy", "quick", "alive in the hands" ........... as opposed to "sluggish", "heavy", "clumsy", "dead". Two people may never be able to agree on the proper adjectives to describe gun handling characteristics (because no two persons have the same muscle memory with shotguns), but to argue that dynamics are not greatly affected by internal weight distribution is akin to denying the sunrise. I consider my time spent with Don, and his MOI machine, at the top of the most enlightening times I have ever had in understanding gun handling. I've shot lots of shotguns in my life, at targets and game, including English best. I can find nothing "exclusive" about the way an English "best" handles, nor does it break targets or kill game any better than another make of gun. If beauty is where you find it, then I would advance that the perfect match for any one person, in a gun, is where you find it, too. Understanding the numbers can help you narrow that search, but ultimately it is how well you bond with that gun, and how much you shoot it. Once that "pearl" is located, one would be well advised to sell off whatever is necessary to acquire it, and then never let it go. The more you shoot it, the better the gun will "become".


Drinking from my saucer, 'cause my cup has overflowed .......
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Sidelock
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Exactly correct in all points Stan, and very well presented.


"The price of good shotgunnery is constant practice" - Fred Kimble
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