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December 29, 2011

Thoughts on Stock Length

By Phil Bourjaily

How long should your gunstock be and how much does stock length really matter?

The Beretta 391 in the picture came with spacers allowing me to alter the length. I made it 15 inches for shooting in T-shirt weather back in dove season, intending to remove a spacer to accommodate bulky waterfowling clothes. Instead, I left it and never noticed the extra length.

As long as you mount the gun by pushing it out toward the target, you can shoot a longer stock than you might think you can without tangling it up in your hunting coat. The advantage to a longer stock, I think, is that it makes a gun mount smoother. If I mount this gun correctly, bringing it to my face, the stock just meets my shoulder without my having to pull the gun back into my shoulder pocket, possibly pulling the muzzle off target as I do so.

On the other hand, sometimes I wonder how much stock length matters. I could always shoot my son’s 13-inch youth stocked 1100 pretty well. As long as you aren’t punching yourself in the nose with the thumb of your shooting hand, maybe stock length doesn’t matter.

It was, and may still be, a trend among some sporting clays shooters to shoot absurdly long stocks. I have seen people my height (6 feet) shoot guns with a length of pull as much as 17 inches. I could sort of shoot their guns if I mounted them first, but I couldn’t mount them from a low gun start at all.

Comments (11)

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from Sayfu wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

AHH, great you asked! A pet subject of mine. IMO the stock length should place the stock grip thumb several inches from your nose when you naturally mount the gun. That will prevent getting whacked in the nose. A lot of stock length has been based on English thought. The British recommended the longest stock length one could manage as it would provide a better sight plane. But the British often had time to mount their guns given they shot at driven birds. My much shortened stocks, and I am 6' tall, make for a much, much smoother mount with no hangups on garments. But there are two tips that can assist in mounting the gun properly, and that involves the stock hand grip....not down from the top producing an angled wrist when the gun is mounted, and a low mount, but a grip where the hand is in line with the stock when it enters the trigger guard producing a straight wrist, and higher mount where the gun should be. Stocks that are too long when wearing heavier clothing in the Winter?...you can have two different thickness butt pads made that can be interchanged, and, if you grip the forearm CLOSER to the receiver rather than your arm extended longer..the gun comes up easy with no catch as the gun can be pushed easily away from you.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

17" LOP??? Bet they premounted their gun. Mine are 13 1/4" Not many decent shooters are going to carry a gun in the field for upland birds that get out quick using guns with a 17" lop I do not believe.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from sargegcso@juno.com wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

I think more importantly is the drop to heel. Most all guns for me is to short. My old KNICKERBOCKER 12 damascus
has a 3 1/2" drop and fits just right.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from tleichty1989 wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

When I was younger I received a Mossberg 500 with a youth stock. Today almost 15 years later I use the same stock deer hunting because it is easier to shoulder when your adrenaline starts pumping. It doesn't get all caught in your jacket. But for pheasant hunting, and clays I love a long stock, and it makes tracking the pheasant through the air seamless. I guess its all what you use it for and personal preference.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clay Cooper wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

For hunting, I like the stock about 3/4 to a inch shorter to accommodate for the heavier clothing

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mark-1 wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

Too long a stock will cost most people crossing shots percentage IMHO. I was told by very good wing shots to pay very close attention to pitch and length of pull. These folks want to see their trigger hand/grip thumb as close to the cheek as possible. Following this I became AA shooter.

Also noticed with too long a stock my vision was restricted to almost a “V” at the end of the barrel. Proper length stock had me seeing a large, full circle.

I’ve seen and commented on Phil’s shooting pics. He likes a very long, straight stock. His head in some pics was half way back on the stock. Don’t know how he does it, but I won’t shoot for cash with him. :-)

I see scores go down in winter shooting, Clay. All that clothing is tough on the swing.

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from z41 wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

I guess the most important thing is that its long enough to reach your shoulder. :)

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from wingshooter54 wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

As long as my nose is approximately 1/2" back of the comb, I can shoot the gun.......I do not like having my face way back on the stock as it feels uncomfortable. Pushing the gun away from your body is a good idea as your forward hand starts the leading process of the barrels. You should not have to do it to make the butt clear your shoulder.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from RES1956 wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

LOP is a personal thing, although, it has been my experience that a longer stock is better for reducing apparent felt recoil. It just seems that a stock that is too short kicks harder and makes the shotgun uncontrollable.
My field guns are 14 3/8" and when I pursued the clay target sports (skeet and sporting) I settled on 14 3/4".
When Browning introduced the 325's they came standard with 14 3/4" LOP and seemed quite awkward at first. After 100 targets, everything else felt wrong. Learning proper technique to mount a shotgun is paramount if success is to be achieved either in the field or on the sporting clays course.
One fact to bear in mind is that when increasing the LOP, you increase the drop at comb (unless it is a parallel stock) because you are moving the position of your head back on the comb by virtue of the longer LOP.
Sayfu makes a very good point regarding placement of the hand further back on the forearm to facilitate a smoother mount, and swing, for that matter.
And Mark-1, I don't know about that thumb/cheek relationship stuff, guys who shoot like that break good scores, but sure do have to work hard at it. Try mounting your gun to your face with a straight posture and relaxed, and you will run with the AAA big dogs one day.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mark-1 wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

RES1956, Have my plate full running with the A and AA shooters, and if there's a shoot-off I'm back in the club house with my tail between my legs after Station #4. :-)

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from RES1956 wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

Don't feel bad Mark-1, I've lost more than a few on 4, but then I've fallen in the back door to win more than a bunch on 4 also (usually coming back).
Just remember to break the first bird before moving to the second bird. The first 3 or 4 pairs were always the hardest for me, after that I was usually in the zone and then it was simply an endurance event. Really good doubles shooters really make it look easy.
Keep at it, the butterflies go away after about 10 years.

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from RES1956 wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

Don't feel bad Mark-1, I've lost more than a few on 4, but then I've fallen in the back door to win more than a bunch on 4 also (usually coming back).
Just remember to break the first bird before moving to the second bird. The first 3 or 4 pairs were always the hardest for me, after that I was usually in the zone and then it was simply an endurance event. Really good doubles shooters really make it look easy.
Keep at it, the butterflies go away after about 10 years.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

AHH, great you asked! A pet subject of mine. IMO the stock length should place the stock grip thumb several inches from your nose when you naturally mount the gun. That will prevent getting whacked in the nose. A lot of stock length has been based on English thought. The British recommended the longest stock length one could manage as it would provide a better sight plane. But the British often had time to mount their guns given they shot at driven birds. My much shortened stocks, and I am 6' tall, make for a much, much smoother mount with no hangups on garments. But there are two tips that can assist in mounting the gun properly, and that involves the stock hand grip....not down from the top producing an angled wrist when the gun is mounted, and a low mount, but a grip where the hand is in line with the stock when it enters the trigger guard producing a straight wrist, and higher mount where the gun should be. Stocks that are too long when wearing heavier clothing in the Winter?...you can have two different thickness butt pads made that can be interchanged, and, if you grip the forearm CLOSER to the receiver rather than your arm extended longer..the gun comes up easy with no catch as the gun can be pushed easily away from you.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from sargegcso@juno.com wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

I think more importantly is the drop to heel. Most all guns for me is to short. My old KNICKERBOCKER 12 damascus
has a 3 1/2" drop and fits just right.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from tleichty1989 wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

When I was younger I received a Mossberg 500 with a youth stock. Today almost 15 years later I use the same stock deer hunting because it is easier to shoulder when your adrenaline starts pumping. It doesn't get all caught in your jacket. But for pheasant hunting, and clays I love a long stock, and it makes tracking the pheasant through the air seamless. I guess its all what you use it for and personal preference.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from RES1956 wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

LOP is a personal thing, although, it has been my experience that a longer stock is better for reducing apparent felt recoil. It just seems that a stock that is too short kicks harder and makes the shotgun uncontrollable.
My field guns are 14 3/8" and when I pursued the clay target sports (skeet and sporting) I settled on 14 3/4".
When Browning introduced the 325's they came standard with 14 3/4" LOP and seemed quite awkward at first. After 100 targets, everything else felt wrong. Learning proper technique to mount a shotgun is paramount if success is to be achieved either in the field or on the sporting clays course.
One fact to bear in mind is that when increasing the LOP, you increase the drop at comb (unless it is a parallel stock) because you are moving the position of your head back on the comb by virtue of the longer LOP.
Sayfu makes a very good point regarding placement of the hand further back on the forearm to facilitate a smoother mount, and swing, for that matter.
And Mark-1, I don't know about that thumb/cheek relationship stuff, guys who shoot like that break good scores, but sure do have to work hard at it. Try mounting your gun to your face with a straight posture and relaxed, and you will run with the AAA big dogs one day.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

17" LOP??? Bet they premounted their gun. Mine are 13 1/4" Not many decent shooters are going to carry a gun in the field for upland birds that get out quick using guns with a 17" lop I do not believe.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clay Cooper wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

For hunting, I like the stock about 3/4 to a inch shorter to accommodate for the heavier clothing

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mark-1 wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

Too long a stock will cost most people crossing shots percentage IMHO. I was told by very good wing shots to pay very close attention to pitch and length of pull. These folks want to see their trigger hand/grip thumb as close to the cheek as possible. Following this I became AA shooter.

Also noticed with too long a stock my vision was restricted to almost a “V” at the end of the barrel. Proper length stock had me seeing a large, full circle.

I’ve seen and commented on Phil’s shooting pics. He likes a very long, straight stock. His head in some pics was half way back on the stock. Don’t know how he does it, but I won’t shoot for cash with him. :-)

I see scores go down in winter shooting, Clay. All that clothing is tough on the swing.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from z41 wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

I guess the most important thing is that its long enough to reach your shoulder. :)

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from wingshooter54 wrote 2 years 16 weeks ago

As long as my nose is approximately 1/2" back of the comb, I can shoot the gun.......I do not like having my face way back on the stock as it feels uncomfortable. Pushing the gun away from your body is a good idea as your forward hand starts the leading process of the barrels. You should not have to do it to make the butt clear your shoulder.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mark-1 wrote 2 years 15 weeks ago

RES1956, Have my plate full running with the A and AA shooters, and if there's a shoot-off I'm back in the club house with my tail between my legs after Station #4. :-)

0 Good Comment? | | Report

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