I don't agree with the argument against porting in all cases. It does reduce muzzle lift and is very beneficial in a skeet doubles gun. I made a note of the muzzle lift before I sent my Winchester Super X1 to Mike Orlen for porting and then after and the lift was virtually eliminated. It does make it far easier to keep on track of the second bird.
Muzzle lift is not an inherent property of any shotgun every time you pull the trigger. Muzzle lift or flip in fact is the result of gun fit. Recoil begins the moment the ejecta begins to move forward in the barrel and the impulse terminates very near to when the ejecta leaves the tube. Recoil follows the path of least resistance. Sometimes part of that path is up. By the time the ejecta reaches the ported section of the barrel most of the muzzle flip (if the gun is going to display any) has already occurred.
If your goal is to make your gun louder, get it ported. To stop muzzle flip, see you a gunfitter who knows his stuff.
Your synopsis is only partially true. Muzzle lift or cheek slap is the moment created by the recoil and moment arm created by the distance from the centerline of the barrel and the highest pivot point on the recoil pad. The longer the moment arm the higher the moment and also true of a higher recoil. The early Weatherby rifles with their drastic drop at the heel had a horrible cheek slap associtated with them. You will not eliminate muzzle lift by going to a stock fitter. A higher comb (less drop) will reduce the pivot point but it but will not eliminate it. Unless you can elminate the moment arm you need a force to hold the barrel down to reduce it.
Recoil of the firearm is partially from the shot and shot cup acclerating down the barrel and part and partially from the jetting effect from the gases escaping from the barrel. The ports on the top of the barrel redirect those gases to keep the muzzle down and it does so by utilizing a portion of the gases that would normally escape along the axis of the barrel. It does it in the same way that muzzle breaks help to reduce the recoil of the round.
It is not a myth that these work to help keep your barrel on your intended line. If you wish to believe otherwise, so be it.
I am sure it does something, it can't make muzzle rise worse, it could only help. To me any gains are off set my the noise factor. Chic is the authority here so I defer to him, he has forgotten more than I will ever know.
An interesting side note, the world record holder for hand thrown clay birds did not use a ported gun. Look up the guns Tom Knapp uses, no ports. Off the shelf shotguns, no mods. He sounds like a machine gun....almost. And he hits too. Yes he is a showman and salesman. He does hold the record though.
Scota, I am not "the authority" here or anywhere else. I do know a thing or two about gunstocks but from my experience with Jeff Mull, he does also. I think the Mike Orlen knows of some experiments with them. I have two SX-1 winchesters and I feel that there is a noticeable difference between the one that is ported and the one that is not. I do not know quantatively what the difference is. I shot the unported gun in South Dakota this year for pheasants and btw, I would not port a field gun, at least for my purposes.
Patrick Flannigan now holds the record for hand thrown targets. Tom set it at 9 in 2004 and Patrick broke it with 11 in 2005. He shoots a Winchester SX-3 but I do not know if it is ported or not. Both of these guys are incredible shots and amazing to watch.
I guess my point is that it is about putting out the effort to practice. My father was the best shot around. He was among the best trap shooters around. He was a great "trick shot". He used to have fun shooting pennies and spent cases, out of the air, with his M-12 22. He literally wore that gun out. He shot a brick a week for several years. He could shoot doves out of the car window with a M-42. He hit more than he missed. He was an awesome rifle shot. He shot at the state championship for small bore. Nearly all his bucks (hundreds) were shot in the neck. He was an awe inspiring shotgun shot. The only "serious" shotgun he used was a M-12 12 ga trap gun. None of his guns were tricked out. He just put in the time to master the skills. Beware of the man with one gun!
Today the average guy can not find the time to to develop such skills. Many look for short cuts to higher scores. They buys special chokes, fancy stocks, trigger jobs, brakes, and trick sights. This is all good stuff for the gunsmith. In the end if a guy sitcks with it he becomes the master of a favorite gun and skill become the important factor. I am not saying we can not improve our guns with porting or whatever. I am saying at a certin skill level the gun becomes less important. A really good shooter can pick up almost any thing with a barrel and hit with it.
As for porting I personally don't like it. My guns are used to hunt. I don't use muffs for hunitng. My hearing is already severly damaged. I prefer to save what I have left. If I had a dedicated sporting clays gun I might consiter porting though. It would be interested to try it. I did shoot about 80% may last sporting clays trip. I used a beater 870 (my duck gun). It is fun to beat the guys with the fancy O/U guns with my beater pump. Next trip I may try an old double and black powder.
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