Today we will be talking about trap shooting. It has a long history behind it. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, allow me to explain
The term “trap shooting” started from live pigeon shooting. The “traps” are the traps that are used to hold the live birds before release. You may also hear the term “clay target shooting”, and that is largely the same thing. Except, you don’t shoot live pigeons. You shoot clay ones instead for logistics reasons. You “pull” to release the clay pigeons, just like how people do it back then with live ones.
Trap shooting presents a unique set of challenges. For one, your target is not stationary and is always moving away from you. Since it’s pigeons, they are flying away, so your target is rising. That means you also need to adjust your aim on the horizontal and vertical axes to lead your shot.
So, you want to have a gun with specific features to handle that challenge. This is where trap guns come in. They are basically shotguns with long barrels, tight choke, large fore-end, etc., all of which help with smooth and consistent shooting. One important detail though is that the gun always shoots a little higher than where you aim. This is intentional as you otherwise would not see your target unless the gun has a high rib.
The gun got its name from its looks. It looks more like a 12-gauge pogo stick than a chunky shotgun, but it has a solid performance. One notable feature is that you won’t feel much in the way of recoil because of its massive firing pin and spring that absorb all the recoil like a sponge. What is left of the recoil would be sent into your shoulder as the barrel is in line with the stock.
It is a single-shot bolt-action shotgun that weighs 8.5 pounds despite its slim form factor. It comes with a 12-gauge 30-inch barrel. It is built using very few necessary parts. In fact, half the gun’s length is just the barrel. You also get an interchangeable choke for this thing.
Just like any other gun on this list, the Space Gun is solid, reliable, and also pretty rare. There are about 200 of these out there, so you should try your hands at the lottery if you are lucky enough to find one of these. If not, I recommend the Mono Trap model instead, which is still in production today.
This is one of the guns that led to the downfall of the Winchester Model 12. Consider it an act of revenge on the Model for overshadowing Remington Model 870. It is a 12-gauge shotgun with a bottom-loading, side ejecting receiver. You get a tubular mag under the barrel. It is sleek and smooth-cycling. It can handle just about anything you throw at it, including trap shooting. The original 870 models came with fixed chokes and later models allow you to use screw-in chokes. Unlike many other guns on this list, millions of these were produced so it shouldn’t be hard to find one. The only downside to the 870 is the recoil, which Remington addressed with the 870 Competition. There are many variants out there and most of them work just fine.
The Model 12 is a spiritual successor to the Model 97 pump. So, this one is also a sleek pump without the exposed hammer. It became instantly famous after its debut among skeet and trap shooters alike. Everyone loved how it swung and pointed and the action was super sleek. It is also reliable and durable, as expected for Winchester. This one was also discontinued in 1964, although the Y series were introduced from 1972 until 1980. These were built using whatever parts were left. While some people say that the Y series could not replicate the original Model 12, it’s still a solid option.
Next up, we have the BT-99, a single-barrel trap gun from Browning. It is foolproof, affordable, reliable, and durable. It is a 12-gauge shotgun with a 34-inch barrel, high-post ventilated rib, and ivory bead. It has a nice and solid feel to it, just like the other guns on this list. Owners of the BT-99 say that the swings are fluid and that the follow-through is consistent as well.
The BT-99 utilizes Browning’s Invector-Plus system, which allows for an interchangeable choke tube. You also get a chrome-plated chamber, lengthened forcing cone, ventilated recoil pad, and an excellent wood stock to complete the look.
Anyone can tell it’s a K-80 when they see the sliding-latch action and separated barrel. It is an absolute powerhouse of a trap gun and it will outlive you and your children with proper care. For this reason, it is a very value-packed option. That doesn’t mean it’s cheap though. You’re looking to pay over ten grand for this thing. It’s expensive, I know, but you only have to pay for this once. In the gun world, it’s better to cry only once.
Unfortunately, I don’t have the stats for you here, not because it’s a rare and obscure gun, but because it’s essentially a custom gun. In other words, you can have the gun tailored to suit you, which explains its price point. You can get it as plain and simple as you like, or deck it out like your Roll Royce.
No matter what model or modification you choose to make to your guns, you are guaranteed a pleasant shooting experience. The gun feels well-balanced in your hands and its shot placements are accurate and consistent. The trigger pulls are crisp as ever.
The Perazzi MX8 is a customizable gun just like the K-80. You can change out the stocks, rib, trigger, etc. It is a custom gun and you can get yours the way you like it. For this reason, it’s also one of those guns that are on the high-end spectrum when it comes to price, though not as expensive as the K-80.
So, what do you get for this gun? First off, the barrel set is built on the monobloc system and it is the best that Perazzi has ever built. The steel quality and the finish are just exceptional. There are many barrel options such as fixed and multichoke, and you get to pick the length. The woodwork may look simple, but it’s nicely shaped to suit you. Again, there are many forms to choose from.
Since the gun is highly customizable, we’ll have to work with their illustrated model. The stock is about 14.5 inches long at the center with a drop of 1.25-1.75 inches at the comb and heel. It has a lovely non-stick recoil pad and a slightly rounded hell. It weighs just over eight pounds, and the model features a 32-inch barrel. It’s definitely heavy but it’s well-balanced.
Overall, this is a superb trap gun that combines modern machinery with a lovely finish. It is built like a tank and will definitely outlive you.
The Super X1 was Winchester’s 180-degree turn after a decade of producing cheap, pressed, and stamped firearms in an attempt to increase their profit margins. That did not end well for them and so in 1973, the Super X1 made its debut. This was only sold for about 8 years after it was introduced, so getting your hands on this one will be difficult. There is also the Y series, which comes in 12 gauge only.
The Super X1 was an expensive gun and it did not bring Winchester any profit at all, but they were fully aware of this. They released the X1 in 12 gauge with a 26-inch barrel and vent rib style in an attempt to win public trust again so they can turn a profit for their subsequent products. Getting an X1 nowadays would be difficult and expensive. Still, if you can get your hand on one of these, original or Y series, you will love this beast.
The Browning Broadway made its debut at the most opportune time, during the Great Depression. To make it even more troubling still, the Second World War brought the end to many American’s break actions as the demand for inexpensive mass-produced repeaters. Somehow, the Superposed survived.
One may argue that this gun would not make for a good trap gun due to its Superposed frame that is too tall for normal pointing, or the sliding fore end is unnecessarily complex and unwieldy. They are not wrong, but practical experience proves that these won’t get in the way of shooting either. In fact, many skeet shooters, hunters, and trap shooters love it. They can disintegrate targets with the 32-inch barrels and the gun was at the time the best trap gun.
Ithaca was among the first to create a single-barreled trap (SBT) gun and this one is still a popular option today. They have various models including the first Flues to the Knickerbocker, all of which are solid, reliable, and beautiful. In terms of performance, these guns handle smoothly and consistently. The SBT is offered in various numbered grades up to 7e, and there are more expensive variants out there. Though you can find the 4e 12-gauge variant easier than any other, so consider grabbing that one. Really, any one of the SBT from Ithaca will serve you well.
The Remington 1100 was the gun that convinced people to try out semi autos back in the day. Unlike the other gas guns that were notorious for failures and malfunctions, the 1100 works like a charm provided you clean it properly. Cleaning the gun is pretty easy.
It is available in all the popular gauges and there are the rare variants that were offered in 28 gauge and .410. It is pretty light compared to other trap guns and the same goes for the felt recoil. The gun feels balanced in your hands and it swings smoothly. The trigger pull is crisp and buttery smooth. The wooden furniture on the gun is just excellent and worth writing home about.
And there you have it, my top 10 recommendations. I just want to point out that most of these guns are pretty old and discontinued, so getting your hands on one of these will not be easy or cheap. However, if you can save up and get one of these, it will be an invaluable piece.