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 Post subject: Adjusting the stock fit of a Beretta 303
PostPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2007 7:50 am 
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There have been several threads on this board lately in which comments were made about the 303 having shims or not having shims to adjust the stock dimensions. Perhaps I can help clear up this question, because I have recently been researching the 303 for an addition to my book on Beretta disassembly and reassembly (see my signature below). I have studied a borrowed 303 and every source of info I can find, including the parts diagrams and owner's manual. VicW, a member of this board who has had a lot of experience with 303's, helped me quite a bit.

The 303 had an adjustment system to change the drop of the stock, but not the cast. The system consisted of what Beretta called "Spacers" that went on the end of the stock bolt tube (recoil spring tube) inside the stock: they are similar to what Beretta calls the "rear plate" on the 391 and "plate" on the 390. There were no shims between the stock and the receiver. When the spacers were changed, it was necessary to shave a little wood off the stock at the head, changing the way the stock was inletted into the receiver. This adjustment of the inletting at the head was not clearly explained in the owner's manual, but there was a vague discussion of it, along with an illustration and a table.

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What the manual means (for example) is that if you change the drop to 45mm, you must remove 1mm of wood at the top to the head to change the B dimension. It appears to me that the manual was written by an Italian whose English left something to be desired, and who lacked any talent for explaining things clearly!

The owner's manual is so vague in addressing the adjustment of dimensions B and C that many owners probably changed the spacers without removing wood from the stock at the head to make the stock fit the receiver properly. That would result in a poor wood-to-metal fit which would not look right and could set up stresses in the wood that could cause it to break. However, in many cases the wood could compress enough to avoid any bad consequences from the improper inletting. VicW had a friend who did just that - changed the drop spacer without taking any wood off the head of the stock to compensate - and it had no bad effect in his case. I'm sure there was a risk in doing that, and Beretta corrected that problem when they brought out the 304 and 390 with shims that fit between the stock and the receiver, eliminating the need to sand or file off any wood.

It is my understanding that Beretta no longer provides parts for the 303, so a 303 owner who wants to adjust the drop would have to make (or get a gunsmith to make) the necessary spacers, shave wood off the comb to increase the drop, or install an adjustable comb. Some sock modification would be needed anyway if one wished to change the cast.

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 Post subject: re: Adjusting the stock fit of a Beretta 303
PostPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2007 7:06 pm 
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Thanks Seamus, that does explain some things.


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 Post subject: re: Adjusting the stock fit of a Beretta 303
PostPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2007 9:19 pm 
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Quote:
When the spacers were changed, it was necessary to shave a little wood off the stock at the head, changing the way the stock was inletted into the receiver. This adjustment of the inletting at the head was not clearly explained in the owner's manual, but there was a vague discussion of it, along with an illustration and a table.


Changing the inletting is not required, and never has been.

Beretta 303 shims are commonly available; Browning B-80 shims are interchangeable and also easily found.

Browning perhaps has a better translation:



http://media.browning.com/pdf/om/b80_om_s.pdf


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 Post subject: re: Adjusting the stock fit of a Beretta 303
PostPosted: Sun Dec 16, 2007 6:21 am 
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Randy, the Browning B-80 owner's manual that you provided a link to confirms that it is necessary to change the inletting. I quote directly from page 49 of the manual:

Adjusting the Buttstock
Even though Browning shotguns are designed to fit the majority of shooters, the drop at the heel on your B-80 can be raised or lowered 0.20 of an inch. This is accomplished by installing an alternate stock retaining plate, available from the Browning Service department. It is highly recommended that a competent gunsmith make this adjustment, because a stock modification will be required. See your recommended Browning Service Center.


(For anyone who is wondering why we are talking about Brownings here, the Browning B-80 is a clone of the Beretta 303, assembled by FN for Browning, using parts provided by Beretta.)

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 Post subject: re: Adjusting the stock fit of a Beretta 303
PostPosted: Sun Dec 16, 2007 10:30 am 
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Of the many 10,000's of thousands of A300 series Berettas and B-80's in daily service; who has ever changed the inletting of a buttstock due to a shim change? Anyone? Anyone at all?

I can tell you that it is not necessary, nor even a good idea. It is as far from "required" as can be imagined.

The owner's manual is so vague in addressing the adjustment of dimensions B and C that many owners probably changed the spacers without removing wood from the stock at the head to make the stock fit the receiver properly. That would result in a poor wood-to-metal fit which would not look right and could set up stresses in the wood that could cause it to break. However, in many cases the wood could compress enough to avoid any bad consequences from the improper inletting. VicW had a friend who did just that - changed the drop spacer without taking any wood off the head of the stock to compensate - and it had no bad effect in his case.


Neither B-80's nor 303's are so precisely inletted (or hand fit) that an incremental shim change means anything of substance.

Further, NIB 303's and B-80's did not always come with the same buttstock shims-- I've had them with 50, 55, and 60 mm shims straight from the factory.

I don't want to dissuade anyone who feels that they should run all their 303's and B-80's to gunsmiths to have nineteen thousandths of wood removed from their buttstocks if they wish. I can tell you, though, based on changing shims on every one of the couple dozen of B-80's and 303's I've owned, and used extremely hard over the last 25 years-- it certainly is not mandatory, and is not required at all as far as I'm concerned.

It has never resulted in any visible fit change, butt to receiver, and has never caused any stress indications-- much less cracks or fissures.


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 Post subject: re: Adjusting the stock fit of a Beretta 303
PostPosted: Sun Dec 16, 2007 2:13 pm 
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Interesting. Are shims still available from Browning? When I contacted Beretta a couple of years ago they did not. They would not even provide me with the dimensions to have them made. Also I have not been able to find shims for a 303 anywhere.

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 Post subject: re: Adjusting the stock fit of a Beretta 303
PostPosted: Sun Dec 16, 2007 3:53 pm 
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e-gunparts.com And parts4guns.com Has Them For
Browning B-80's.


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 Post subject: re: Adjusting the stock fit of a Beretta 303
PostPosted: Sun Dec 16, 2007 5:52 pm 
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I have changed the drop spacers on both my 12 and 20 gauge 303's to get the correct amount of drop and have never experienced any cracks in the head of the stock, where it mates up against the receiver.

I even went as far as to fabricate a double thick shim out of an old red AA hull (cut to shape & superglued together) that I fit between the left side 12 gauge 303 stock head and the receiver to give me some 'cast off', where none had existed before.

When I tightened the stock bolt down, I noticed a small 'gap' existed between the right side of the 12 gauge stock and the receiver, but I could live with it as the 'cast off' gave me a near perfect sight picture.

I never knew anything about having a gunsmith shave the wood, but I have not experienced any bad effects...

Joe


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 Post subject: re: Adjusting the stock fit of a Beretta 303
PostPosted: Sun Dec 16, 2007 6:22 pm 
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Like I said in my first post on this thread, you may be able to change the drop without correcting the inletting at the head, but both Beretta and Browning say it should be done.

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 Post subject: re: Adjusting the stock fit of a Beretta 303
PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2007 10:04 pm 
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Well I've ordered the 60 & 65mm shims from Numrich. My Beretta manual doesn't say anything about stock inletting. We'll see how it goes. If I have to remove any wood I think I can handle it.

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 Post subject: re: Adjusting the stock fit of a Beretta 303
PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2007 3:24 am 
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This is one of those things that really isn't that difficult; we sometimes have a bit of trouble accepting that what was written in an obsolete owner's manual may not only incomplete; it might be just plain wrong. This little issue is, at best, misleading.

Swapping shims on a 303 or a B-80 is not high art, and does not require years of education-- and is hardly deserving of the mantra of "competent gunsmith" so often filling up manuals that might lead you to believe that it takes an Italian trained technician to change a bead, or grind a pad.

It does take an Italian genius (or complete idiot, depending on your point of view) to "engineer" the 391's forearm nut. I have yet to read a plausible explanation for that wonder of the shotgunning word. Apparently what Beretta says isn't always strictly true . . . how many parts are really supposed to be in that nut?

Most folks can effortlessly determine if a buttstock fits properly, or if there are any offensive gaps that need touching up. I've never had, or seen any 303 / B-80 that needed anything with a buttstock shim change.


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 Post subject: re: Adjusting the stock fit of a Beretta 303
PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2007 8:41 pm 
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RW

I am in the choir with you on the 'redesign' of the 391 forend nut...Beretta went waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay overboard on it...too complicated, too many parts, too many headaches.

After all there was nothing wrong with the self-compensating and oh-so-simple 390 gas valve spring!!!

This may have been one of those: 'weve got to give the engineers something to do' projects that went to hell in a handbasket real quick.

IMHO, the world would be much better off without the 391 forend nut redesign.

IMHO

Joe


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