Shotgun Trigger Trouble

By Randy Wakeman

It is very, very difficult to get a reasonable shotgun trigger out the box these days. In far too many cases, the weight of the trigger exceeds the weight of the gun. I've had 10, 12, 14 lb. triggers on new shotguns, triggers that for me are unusable.

For a field gun, I personally don't need anything exotic. A 4 to 5 pound break without a pile of take-up or any grit is just about right. Part of the trigger trouble issue is a sign of the times. In this litigious world of "dangerous hot coffee" and fast food that (amazingly) can make you fat if gobbled to excess, blaming an inanimate object like a firearm that can do nothing without human intervention is still standard fodder for those void of common sense. You've all heard the wacky stories of those who "shoot themselves while cleaning a gun." Doesn't anyone bother to ask where the muzzle was pointed, and who controlled the pointing of that muzzle?

One all too true story is that of a shotgunner shot by his own dog while afield. Well, our nimrod wing shooter was compelled by Mother Nature to tinkle. Unfortunately, the approach he used to relieve himself was unwise. His semi-auto remained loaded, and was placed on the ground safety-side up. Rather than obtaining the requisite bladder relief behind the gun, he sadly elected to put his initials in the snow in front of the muzzle.

His canine hunting companion was playful, and apparently unschooled in proper firearms handling. The dog managed to step on the trigger guard, deftly moving the safety to off position. Shortly thereafter, the dog's nails pulled the trigger, blowing off a goodly portion of the man's foot. Whether a lawsuit was attempted I don't recall, but literally, the hunter had no leg to stand on.

Frivolous lawsuits are something that all manufacturers have to deal with. Rightly or wrongly, we are now stuck with industry-standard six-pound or heavier shotgun triggers out of the box. As for the 10 pound triggers, that is just manufacturing sloppiness.

Even major sporting good stores that have on-site gunsmiths rarely can give us a decent trigger, mandated by company policy. One local shop will not go less than five pounds: "company policy." Forget that shotguns can, and are used like rifles (rifled slug guns), if it is a shotgun, that's all you get for your six week wait and $70. Fortunately, there are alternatives.

Bob at Precision Sports in Oshkosh, Wisconsin has been doing trigger work for nearly 30 years. A scattergun that I recently tested, the Browning Gold Superlight Hunter, was and is a superb field gun. Though better than some, the Browning's trigger broke at 6-1/2 lbs., which happens to be nearly what the gun weighs. That's heavy enough to be a conscious distraction on the dove field.

Two pins are all it takes to pop out the trigger assembly, and off to Bob it went. Bob gets them right out; turn around time is only a few days. When I got it back, I was delighted. The factory 6-1/2 pound trigger now breaks at a very satisfying 4 lbs. 3 oz. with no creep. Bob's effort took a good gun, and changed it into a great gun. That, and some Trulock Precision Hunter extended choke tubes, makes this Gold an outstanding piece.

Not all trigger groups are conducive to proper lightening. Benelli's, in particular, are normally better off left as is. However, for Browning, Beretta, and Remington semi-autos, one of the best things you can do is send off your creepy, heavy old trigger to Bob, and let him work his magic. It will run you $60 (that even includes return shipping), and the days of fighting a lousy shotgun trigger will be over for good. If you have something unusual, you might want to give Bob a call first. Not only will you love his work, you'll appreciate his speedy turnaround time.

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Copyright 2006 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.