What is shotgun fit? Why does it matter?

Some key measurements for shotgun fitting
Some key measurements for shotgun fitting. Image from A Guide to Starting Shooting in the UK

While there are lots of aspects of doubles guys love to argue about–from the perfect overall chokes and shot size to whether OUs or SxSs are better–just about everyone agrees shotgun has fit you if you’re going to shoot it well.

But what does “fit you” mean? In What is Shotgun Fit – Sporting Clays Tip, the National Shooting Sports Foundation does a great job of explaining the basics.

A great video about James Purdey & Sons….

James Purdey & Sons is one of the world’s most famous gunmakers – and for good reason. They’ve been making some of the world’s finest rifles and shotguns for almost 200 years. This video is an interesting look inside the company. It’s good, but long (1 hour and 30 minutes). To make it easier to watch, here’s a cheat sheet of times & topics. The things I do for you!

00:00 – 10:00 – General History, with Richard Purdey
10:00 – 27:48 – Evolution of the Purdey Shotgun
27:49 – 32:40 – Inside the Purdey Factor – Barrel Making
32:41 – 39:20 – The Action
39:21 – 50:00 – The Locks
50:00 – 55:30 – The Triggers
55:30 – 1:11:12 – Stocking, unique jobs of Purdey Stockers
1:11:12 – 1:17:28 – Engraving
1:17:28 – 1:30:15 – Regulating & Finishing

A quick trip to London in 1956….

So it’s 1956 and you’re in London’s West End, looking to purchase a top-end sidelock double barrel shotgun. Here’s a quick look at how it would go. Check out the try gun used for the fitting, as well as the tools behind the stocker’s vise. I love the stern looks on everyone’s face. Very serious work.

BTW: I think this is Wilkes’s old shop, or maybe Watson’s. Does anyone know for sure?


Why fit matters…

I never used to worry about how my shotguns fit.  I shot basic, American shotguns most my life — mostly Remington pumps, plus a double-barrel Savage/Fox Model B. These were off-the-rack guns with standard dimensions – a 14″ length-of-pull with 2 1/2″ – 2 3/4″ of drop.

It was until I became serious about side-by-sides and bought some classic America doubles that I started to pay attention to stock length and drop. Now fit is one of the first things I look at when considering a gun. Afterall, no matter how nice a side-by-side is, it’s not worth much to me if I can’t shoot it well (or at least OK).

Check out this little video for an quick explanation of why fit matters: