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Shotgun Shooting: Dealing With the Short Stock, Part 1

Photo by Dale Tate

When a shotgun stock is too short the whole gun feels out of whack. Here’s what to do about it.

When a shotgun stock is too short, the barrels seem extraordinarily heavy and the entire gun seems clumsy. The recoil is accentuated and directed into your face and you risk slamming your thumb into your nose. Any attempt to mount the gun will be un-natural and awkward.

Yet you want to shoot this gun and actually hit what you are pointing it at. Where do you begin?

There are many questions you must answer to determine what the best solution is. Are you going to shoot the gun for a short time while it is in your temporary custody? Can you permanently alter the gun without effecting the value? Who else may shoot this gun?

The Options

The least expensive route is to use temporary add-ons to make the gun shoot-able. Accessories such as slip-on recoil pads and stick-on cheek risers will add length to the short stock and create the proper drop dimensions without breaking the bank.

One disadvantage to using these accessories is that the gun’s appearance will suffer. Another is that the accessories are often not stable enough to offer consistent and repeatable anchor points for proper gun mounting. Slip-on recoil pads are commonly available in a few sizes which can only add up to 1.5-inches to the length.

READ MORE: What are Your Shotgun Choke Tubes Really Doing?

The next step up in price versus function is a professionally-installed recoil pad. If the short stock problem can be cured with a recoil pad, you must consider the overall weight of the pad and the cosmetic appeal of having a particularly large recoil pad on the stock.

If you are going to need more than a couple of inches of stock length added, a spacer can be used. If cost is an issue, a plastic or ebonite spacer can be used. A traditional-style rubber recoil pad can be fixed to the spacer. You can add over three inches to a short stock with a spacer and recoil pad combination.

The Alternatives

A more attractive but more expensive option is a wood spacer. Using a wood spacer presents the possibility of matching the wood and creating a nearly seamless addition. The wood spacer can be checkered or finished with a skeleton plate or heel and toe caps if it will bring the overall stock length to the proper size. Otherwise, a recoil pad can be added to increase the overall stock length.

Let me emphasize that an experienced wood craftsman will be able to closely match the woodgrain and finish of the spacer and eliminate an obvious joint between the stock and the spacer, but it will be difficult for a novice. The longevity and cost efficiency of this option deserve serious consideration. The return on investment in a resale situation has much greater potential if a wood extension is professionally added.

There are other options available including a way to “make” your short shotgun fit properly. Found out how in Part 2 of this article.

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Shotgun Shooting: Dealing With the Short Stock, Part 1