Your Shotgun Doesn't Shoot to Point of Aim


Many, many shotguns don't. In a recent test of a variety of turkey chokes, it was easy to name the brands of shotguns that shot to point of aim at 40 yards: none of them did. It is a very, very common issue and a problem that is commonly ignored, for if you don't bag up your shotgun and print patterns with it, you'll never know. Most people don't bother. How well I can understand that, for proper patterning is boring beyond words. Yet, struggling to read breaks tells us nothing of substance, except that we apparently have a shotgun and we managed to break a fragile piece of clay somehow with hundreds of pellets.

One MOA (1/60 degree of angle) is roughly one inch at 100 yards. You might not think that means much to a shotgun enthusiast, until you realize that .008 inch of misalignment at the muzzle of a shotgun, the thickness of a couple of sheets of newsprint, is over three inches at 40 yards. The thickness of an American dollar bill is .0043 inches. Most would consider a “stack” of three one dollar bills to be much thickness at all, yet that is enough to move the center of your pattern over 5 inches at forty yards, and beyond that it just gets worse. It isn't something readily eyeballed on a shotgun, for it could be a choke problem, a choke installation problem, a barrel ring that is brazed eccentrically to the barrel, a bent magazine tube in the case of an Automatic-Five, a warped rib, and so it goes.

As shown by A.C. Jones, the 27" 75% pattern is close to that thrown by his skeet gun (and many open choked guns) at 21 yds. A shotgun can well be off a foot at 20 yards, two feet at 40 yards, and the shooter has little hope of knowing this with any precision. Patterning with heavy loads off of bag and cradle isn't pleasant, so to get away from the pain a few like to use things like the “Lead Sled.” Unfortunately, the muzzle rise off off a lead sled often means your pattern shows as being artificially high as opposed to normal shooting off of your shoulder. While we like to chat about “60 / 40” and “70 / 30” patterns, some time at the patterning board reveals “5 / 95” patterns, or worse, a lot more than we like to think. The brief video clip above shows just one example; many shotguns are far worse.

Copyright 2014 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.



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