March 12, 2008
You Always Hurt the Gun You Love
By David E. Petzal and Phil Bourjaily
In 1977, I was in a hunting camp in Montana where one of the attendees was a fellow who did nothing but shade-tree gunsmith the whole time he was there. Never hunted; just diddled with the rifle of anyone who wanted his rifle diddled with. Someone gave him a rifle to have the barrel free-floated and he hogged out enough wood to start a good-sized fire. To many people, guns are like cars before cars were operated by 18 computers; the urge to tinker is irresistible.
Sometimes it works. A crummy trigger can't be abided. A barrel that bears on one side of the channel has to be re-bedded. A thin, hard recoil pad should be replaced with something that does not give you hematomas. But aside from that, most tinkering is futile and a waste of money.
Competitive shotgunners seem to tinker more than anyone else. Trap guns with adjustable combs and recoil pads are particularly susceptible. Dropped a bird at handicap? Why, just to crank that comb up a tad and all will be well. I've been to sporting clays shoots where you couldn't hear for the racket created by electric choke-tube wrenches. Back in the 70s there was a very famous trapshooter who was known to wedge his shotgun barrel under the bumper of his care and bend the barrel just a tad to make it shoot a smidgen higher.
Hey, it's a hobby and it's mostly for fun, so why not meddle? Just don't think it's going to help.