Locktime and the Shotgun

By Randy Wakeman

One of the attributes advertised as an advantage in certain shotguns is the notion of �locktime.� Not a new consideration in rifles or pistols, the touting of its importance is somewhat of a new thing in shotgun marketing. "Lock-time" is defined as the "time interval between sear release and the firing-pin striking the primer." Those familiar with the writings of Ross Seyfried will recognize the statement that, to the shooter, a firearm has only two active parts: the sights and the trigger.

For background, the Springfield 1903A3 Army rifle has a locktime of somewhere around 6.5 milliseconds, contingent on mainspring condition. The Remington M-700 long action has a locktime of 3.0 milliseconds, the Remington short action 2.6 milliseconds. One of the fastest production rifles in the locktime arena today is the Accu-trigger Savage short action, with a locktime under 1.6 milliseconds.

Pistols generally don�t compete well with rifles in this regard; anything approaching 5.0 milliseconds is considered exceedingly good in a handgun. With locktime, faster is always better, though. The basis is that you get better accuracy when there is less potential movement from the original point of aim. On that front, fair enough. Nothing tends to get better for the shooter after the trigger is pulled.

Trudging onward to shotguns: the old Remington 32 / 3200 O/U's were touted as a fast locktime shotguns at 3.2 ms. More topical is the new Browning Maxus semi-auto, with a locktime claimed to be �24 % faster� than competitors at 5.2 milliseconds. Compared to a Savage short-action rifle, the Browning's locktime is over 300% longer.

�Fast locktime� shotguns have been claimed by many, including Kreighoff, Perazzi, Blaser, and Lujtic. Perhaps a bit ironically, after market titanium firing pins and replacement spring sets to decrease locktime are generally more available for the �fast locktime� shotguns than any other class of scattergun.

It is all a matter of degree; certainly most shooters would appreciate the difference between a flintlock and a Blaser. It is one thing to pop an essentially stationary prairie dog at 300 yards with a single projectile and quite another to throw a pattern of several hundred pellets at a moving target at comparatively short range.

For production autoloading shotguns, this feature is either moot or trivial, as most factory guns could use substantial improvement in all the stuff that has to happen before we can get to locktime. I�m referring to stiff, poorly placed, or awkward safety buttons or slides, triggers with excessive take-up, creep, erratic pulls and also triggers that break at nearly the weight of the gun.

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Copyright 2009 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.