Hunting down a world-class over/under shotgun? It all comes down to fit.
It’s easy to dismiss all the makes and models of over/under shotgun as being the same – one as good as the next, right? If the world were only that simple. Like all firearms, there are certain facets you need to shop for when in the market for John M. Browning's elegantly efficient design. And it goes much deeper than the grade of walnut and the embellishments on the receiver.
When it comes to spotting a gem over/under shotgun, few shooters know more than Dave Miller. The pro shooter for Aguila Ammunition and Guinness World Record holder for most clays broken in one hour (a mindboggling 3,653) makes his living behind the business end of them. And recently, Gun Digest Editor-in-Chief Luke Hartle was lucky enough to pick his brain on the on how to find a world-class shotgun.
Making no bones about it, Miller boils down the task of picking the right O/U to one word – fit. A smoothbore should shoulder, come to the cheek and point as naturally as if were an extension of your arms. And that doesn't take a second mortgage to achieve, only the willingness to shop for the right length of pull and comb rise for your frame and shooting characteristics. Hunt this one aspect down like a birdy German Shorthair and more downed doves, ducks and clays will follow.
From there, it's a matter of figuring out what you'll focus on and how serious you are about it. For his own part, Miller swings a CZ All-American, tricked out to excel at the range – adjustable stock, able to accept drop-in replacement parts, bells, whistles, etc. The everyday dabbler looking to bang the brush during hunting season and break clays the rest of the time needn't get so specialized.
In fact, Miller urges this type of shooter to draw a bead on a field gun. A bit more a Jack-of-all-trades, they'll break blue rock from sun up to down, as well as keep you in fowl. The same cannot be said for a sport model. Certainly, if you're a masochist, you can hump on along on your next pheasant hunt, but when you're too tired to shoulder the 8-plus-pound beast at the end of the day you'll have no one to blame but yourself.
Even with the tools to track down the right over/under shotgun don't fool yourself. The tightest fit and most intuitive point won't do anything unless you've put in the practice to get the most out of the gun.