Last week I competed in my first trap shoot of the season. It was as always challenging, frustrating, but most of all fun. I am constantly amazed and intrigued at the cornucopia of shotguns one sees at trap competitions. With that thought in mind, let’s take a look at some shotguns of trapshooting.
For singles and handicap any good shotgun capable of reliably firing one round will work. For doubles, one needs a repeater, preferably an over-under or a semi-auto. Pump guns will work in doubles, but the shooter must be quite accomplished at manipulating the slide.
There is a subset of shotguns known as “trap guns.” These are discipline specific, in other words their sole purpose is the breaking of clay targets in trap shooting events. This subset can be broken down even further into “singles” guns for the singles and handicap events, and “doubles” guns. There are “combo” sets that have both a single barrel (singles and handicap) and an over-under barrel for doubles.
Most competitive shooters use some form of hinged or break action shotgun. The single barrel guns usually have very long barrels (30 to 34, even 35 inches); are chambered for 2 ¾ inch 12 gauge shells only; are quite heavy, up to 12 pounds; and most have some stock adjustments to fit the gun to individual shooters. A great example of a single barrel trap gun is the Browning BT 99. At some time in their careers, a lot of trap shooters have owned a BT 99 and over the years, I’ve owned two. The guns are nearly indestructible and as trap guns go, quite inexpensive. One will find many BT 99s at trap shoots all across Montana and the US and Canada. It is probably the most popular single barrel trap gun.
While one doesn’t see many pump guns in the tournaments nowadays, there are still a few Winchester Model 10, Remington Model 870, and Browning BPS trap guns in use. My experience has been that the owners of these guns have been shooting them for a long time and are really good trap shooters. One of my friends, former Montana State Champion and Hall of Famer Lewis Hill, has used the same Model 10 for over 40 years.
Over the years, quite probably the most popular semi-auto trap gun is the venerable Remington 1100 Trap. Long ago the 1100 set the standard for gas operated trap guns. The guns have 30 inch barrels, a Monte Carlo raised comb, twin sighting beads, and are heavier that the standard 1100. One can buy the latest edition of the 1100 Trap for about $1000.00. These guns set the standard for trap semi-auto shotguns and today the guns from other manufacturers follow the 1100 template.
The great Italian firm, Beretta, manufactures many of the semi-autos that one will find at trapshoots around the world. One will find the more popular model 391 and the A 400 Xcel at about $1800.00 and the very sophisticated A 400 Xcel Multitarget with a base MSRP of $ 2900.00
One fairly new entrant in the semi-auto trap gun field is the Fabarm XLR5 Velocity. This gun has several unique features including the Caesar Guerini barrel system, an adjustable comb, and most importantly, an adjustable rib. The gun also is available in a left-handed version for southpaws. Suggested retail price is $2150.00-$3150.00.
Of course one doesn’t have to spend a fortune on a semi-auto to enjoy the trap shooting game. Browning, Benelli, Winchester, Franchi, and other semi-autos, both field and competition guns, are used every weekend in trapshoots in Montana and elsewhere. Get out your gun, go to the range and have some trap shootin’ fun.
Be safe and good shooting.