Best Type of Trapshooting Guns
What’s the difference and what’s best for trapshooting guns?
Field Gun vs Trap Grade Gun….
We’re now onto the third of many to come with Shotgun Sports Magazine, and I’m very excited to continue to share my knowledge of this sport and what I’ve learned along the way.
As with all my articles, I want everyone to know that the material covered is an overview of either how I shoot, or things that most people find helps them when out on the line. If you’ve been to one of our shooting clinics or talk with Matt or I at a shooting event, you know that we teach what we created called “Your Shooting Recipe”. This encompasses everything that you personally need to do to break targets, from stance/footwork, target load preferences, mental game/prep, stretching, one eye-two eye shooting, and much more. The material in these articles will be things for you to try, because once you find your recipe, great things happen.
In this article, I want to talk about field grade guns versus trap grade guns, and focus on the differences and why you might want to consider a trap grade firearm for your next purchase if you’re planning on taking your clay game serious.
If you’re new to this sport, lets first talk about patterning your shotgun.
Personally, I feel like patterning your shotgun is one of the most critical components when getting a gun setup for you. When patterning your shotgun, you’ll want to pay attention to your Point Of Impact (POI). POI is a measured ratio of the percentage of shot above and below the center aim point. This calculation is typically done at 30 yards. An easy ratio to remember is for every 2’’ above center, you add 10%. For example, if youre shooting 4’’ high, that’s 20%, giving you a 70/30 POI.
As seen in the reference photo, to calculate your POI after you shoot, start by drawing a horizontal line through the middle of the aim point, from there you can typically see a rough center of your pattern. Measure that distance from center. This is your POI.
SO WHAT IS A FIELD GRADE TRAPSHOOTING SHOTGUN?
A field grade gun is something you would tend to use for hunting (Benelli SBE, Browning Maxus 2, Beretta A-400, Etc). A field grade gun will have a lower rib height and typically shoot a very flat POI (50/50). This allows a hunter to simply point/aim at the target, whether waterfowl, wingshooting/upland or turkey hunting. A field gun generally is lightweight and compact which makes it easy to hike while on a public land pheasant hunt in the Dakotas, a wet bottom timber duck hunt, or your early morning walk in for a big tom. On a field gun youll typically see a shorter barrel length, with the most popular sizes coming in 26’’ and 28’’ for a faster swing.
They come in options of over/under, semi-automatic and pump action shotguns. If youre new, id strongly recommend a semi-auto like the Browning Maxus 2 for convenience and reliability.
Now there are two different grades of clay target shotguns, each with their own specific purpose and shooting discipline. Trap grade shotguns and Clay grade shotguns.
WHAT IS A TRAP GRADE SHOTGUN?
A trap grade shotgun is geared specifically for those shooting trap.
With a trap grade shotgun, you’ll have more adjustability and configurability to dial fit and POI for your liking. Some features include: adjustable comb, adjustable rib and rib heights, add-in weight to stock, adjustable triggers, etc
When you buy a trap grade shotgun, you’ll typically see a over-under platform, with much nicer solid piece wood used in production for the stocks and forearms. Some guns have a top-single (single barrel shooting from “over” position), or an un-single (single barrel shooting from “under” position, much taller rib options) depending on model and options.
When compared to a field grade gun, the first thing youll notice is how much heavier a Trap Grade shotgun is. This is a two part benefit: 1: More consistency in your swing and 2:Less recoil as the gun soaks up more of the felt recoil going into your shoulder. Since you can shoulder the firearm before shooting in trap, youll see gun fit being much more customized to each shooter.
Your trap grade shotguns are typically sold with a 34’’ barrel for your handicap and singles, and either a 32’’ or 30’’ barrel for doubles when buying a multi-barreled set. Again, more customization for each discipline.
WHAT IS A CLAY TARGET GRADE SHOTGUN?
A clay target grade shotgun is similar to a trap grade shotgun, but typically is a flatter (50/50) shooting shotgun as these guns are centered around the skeet, 5-stand and sporting clay shooters that typically need the firearm shooting right where they point the bead. A clay grade shotgun typically is seen in the over-under platform as well, with nicer wood stocks and forearms. In many of these guns you’ll see a flatter rib and less adjustability within the stock and rib. The clay grade shotguns are typically sold in a 30’’ or 32’’
With both your trap grade and clay grade firearms, they are built to shoot hundreds of thousands of rounds without any issues.
BREAKDOWN ON TRAP GRADE FIREARM’S:
Configurability: This is probably one of the most beneficial components of a trap grade shotgun. Simply, the ability to adjust a gun to fit to you is one of the most critical components in proper gun fit. There are many different areas of configurability from select barrel POI, to rib height, bead color options, stock and comb fit/adjustment, and length of pull devices that are either pre installed or can be purchased after.
Everyone has their own special needs and requests when it comes to configurability, but a lot can be gained by having the right adjustability.. lets go through some of the features of configurability.
Adjustable POI: This is a huge advantage for any shooter that likes a quick, easy convenience of adjusting the point of impact their firearm is shooting. Having an adjustable rib allows you the shooter to be able to get the stock fit to your face, once that is finished you can manually take to the patterning board and get your POI set for where you prefer to shoot.
Heavier: As mentioned earlier, theres a couple advantages to a heavier stock. The first is recoil management and reduction, a heavier stock reduces a lot of felt recoil from the shot.
The second advantage you have with a heavier stock is a more consistent balance and swing.
Recoil reducers: Some trap grade firearms come with a pre-installed recoil reducer such as a Gracoil system or R.A.D. system. These offer recoil reduction benefits, along with length of pull adjustments that give the shooter a more customized fit. Also, you can adjst and rotate the butt pad as needed incase of any cant in the gun, or for a better fit of the gun into your shoulder.
High, medium, and low rib configuration: Finding the right rib height configuration for you can be a game changer. After shooting a mix of high, medium and low ribs, you find that there are some huge advantages depending on how your eyes see movement and line up a target when shouldered.
The advantage of a low rib.. you don’t see a whole lot of the field, which gives you more room to concentrate on the bird. With a low rib shotgun everything seems to line up very easily, giving you a great opportunity to get on targets with ease.
The advantage of a medium rib.. if the look and feel of a low rib isn’t your style, that OK. A medium height rib gives you a better view of the field. With a medium height rib you can see a targets reaction to weather better, giving you the opportunity to make a move to the target without having to dip when moving.
The advantage of a high rib.. if you like the look and feel of a medium rib, chances are you’ll like the high rib as well. Many handicap shooters like to feel of a high rib as they have very little obstruction with the field. This, like the medium rib give you a great opportunity to make a move to the target without having to dip when moving.
Price will be the main con, with these clay guns ranging from $1k upwards of $25-30k (or more).
Weight: As mentioned before, a heavy gun can be nice.. but for hunting you’ll be lugging around a heavy piece of steel which can add up by the end of the day.
Breakable: Even the most careful hunter seems to know how to scratch up their guns on a hunt. Its getting beat up, scratched, rubbed and put through the elements. Its easy to ding up a pretty wood stock. For this reason, I recommend not hunting with an expensive gun.
To end, I recommend you figure out what purpose the shotgun will serve you. Then make a purchase plan after you’ve had the opportunity to test them out. If you need both a hunting specific and trap specific gun, go with guns that fit you well and you have confidence shooting. A word of advice, Matt and I don’t shoot the most expensive guns in the world, but they fit us well and we have confidence shooting them. Matt has the #1 average in the world for doubles with a stock Browning.
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