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28" or 30" barrel..?

1714 Views 9 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Rollin Oswald
Hello, All -

Greetings from the Buckeye State (ohio); brand new to the board, and please accept my apologies if this question has already been asked (I didn't find anything in the searches, but maybe I was on the wrong board).

Anyway, I'm in the market for my first o/u, but what length? I plan on shooting mainly skeet and trap, with some very light hunting. I see 28s and 30s, but still too inexperienced to tell the difference.

Any guidance, advice would be appreciated.
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Find one that fits you well (stock fit) and concentrate on the basics (Head on the stock, Eye on the rock and follow through) and the barrell length isn't going to make that much difference between 28-30. Some Trap shooters lean towards longer barrels for sure and some SC guys are leaning towards longer ..but there are alot of really good shots who prefer a 28".

Check Rollin Oswald's posts on fit..or better yet his book.
LDR - Welcome. Current fashion, especially for competition, runs to the longer barrel, but 28" would also serve you well. Recommend focusing more effort on getting a gun that fits rather than worrying too much about barrel length.

You can get a copy of Rollin Oswald's book "Stock Fitting Secrets" from him directly
Thank you, gents. Great advice, and I will definitely check out Oswald's book. Just curious, any advice on a good entry-level o/u? I've been reading alot on this board and magazines about Lanbers. From what I've seen they look great, and I'd like to shoulder one to see how it fits. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thx.
That topic is pandora's box. Best advice in th elong run might be save your money $1000 a used B gun $1400-$1500 a NIB B gun ...especially with the Xmas sales. If you just have to have one a Savage Milano or Franchi may be avail around $1000 Best bet is to keep saving.
28 or 30 inch barrel length is a difficult question for a new shooter. A longer barrel gives you a longer sighting plane (which is good, for trap shooting, especially) and skeet as well, but it is a bit heavier (which can smooth swings). However, it may be too much to mount 100 times in an afternoon. A longer barrel also has slightly more area to catch wind when shooting during a windy day.

As was said, the trend is toward longer barrels these days. Some are even using 32" barrels for trap shooting but in skeet, 30 inches is the normal maximum length.

Are you sure you want an over/under? Due to their construction, good over/unders are much more expensive than are equally good repeaters, semi-autos, for example.
Thanks, Rollin....I was having the exact same conversation with shooting buddy of mine just the other day; semi auto vs. o/u.

He prefers auto since that is what he used growing up, but all my experience to date has been with o/u (renting beretta, browning cynergy & citori). As they say, "go with who brought you to the dance" and I guess that's why I'm leaning towards o/u. Guess I should do myself the favor of trying an auto for comparison?

My shooting will really be confined to trap and skeet, with maybe one or two pheasant hunts a year. I've rented primarily 30" with decent success for a beginner. But today, I tried a 28" for comparison and shot horribly (most likely my fault, not the gun's..haha). Based on my shooting profile, some have told me a 28" is just fine. But it seems like I have more luck with a 30" due to the longer site plain.

Are there particular semi autos that I should consider as a beginner? Thx.
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The difference in scores using the two guns was probably not due to the reduced barrel length. More likely, it was due to the way the guns fit you. The one with the longer barrel had stock dimensions that more closely matched your size and shape.

I suggested a semi-auto because the quality of guns available for $1000 is greater with semi-autos.

The gun you buy should have choke tubes. Trap and skeet require very different choke constrictions. You will need "skeet" and modified or full for trap.

I would also suggest a gun with a Monte Carlo styled stock unless you have a short neck. If you do, you would probably be better off with a gun with a straight, field stock.

Guns worth considering are the Remington 1100 and 1187 and the Beretta 391. Others will have other suggestions. I recommend looking for a gun with a 30" barrel although 28-inches would serve nearly as well.

I also usually recommend buying a gun that "fits", meaning that the gun's stock has dimensions that fit the shooter's size and shape. Unfortunately, that recommendation is meaningless to most new shooters because they have not learned about the best shooting forms for trap and skeet.

Shooting form includes the gun mount, body posture and stance that offers the greatest possibility for high scores and most rapid improvement with practice.
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Thank you, Rollin.

I'm definitely going to take a look at the semi-auto, particularly those that you suggested. Based on your experience then, can an ill-fitting gun be "fixed" to fit? Or do I keep searching until I find one that fits me more approximately? I appreciate your comments. Thx.

It is impossible for a newer shooter )and a lot of experienced ones as well) to know when a gun fits him or her. The reason involves an unawareness (sounds better than "ignorance") of the correct gun mount, stance and body postures (shooting forms) used in the various shooting disciplines, e.g., trap, skeet, etc. The form has a lot to do with well fitting stock dimensions and must be corrupted when the stock does not fit.

Here's something I wrote a while back that may help. To answer your question regarding the possibility of making a gun fit when it does not, the answer is yes for all but small shooters using guns with grips that are too large for their hands. Little can be done to correct that problem.

With the exception of the grip dimensions, all other stock dimensions can be changed and made to fit.


A well fitting gun assumes the stock dimensions that allow the shooter to use what is generally understood as the "correct" shooting form (stance, gun mount, body posture) for the shooting discipline for which the gun will be used. Shooting forms vary somewhat depending on the shooting discipline, e.g., trap, skeet, sporting clays/hunting so there will be a slight variation for the criteria listed below - very slight, however.

A "gun that fits" allows the shooter to:

Stand with the body rotated approximately 23 degrees toward the side of the gun mount

Have the entire recoil pad, top to bottom, make simultaneous contact with the shoulder as the gun is being mounted in the shoulder pocket with the heel even with the top of the shoulder. The shoulder pocket is the slight indentation at the end of the collar bone just inside of the shoulder joint.

With the cheek on the comb, have the head turned very little toward the stock and tilted or leaned forward, even less

Position the eye, following the mount, to align horizontally with the rib and at a height along or slightly above the rib that results in the point of impact (POI) chosen by the shooter.

Have a nose (or glasses) to trigger-hand-thumb separation of between 1 and 1.5 inches

Have his or her weight evenly distributed on the balls of both feet or with slightly more weight on the forward foot using a slight forward lean at the waist (not easy to do in a duck blind or when stepping over a log in the woods.)

When a shooter can mount the gun as described above, it "fits" the shooter. When the stock dimensions do not fit the size and shape of the shooter, a correct form is impossible.

The shooting form partially described above is the one that is commonly taught in the U.S. by virtually all instructors.
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