Do you really need a different type of gun for different types of shooting?

The main difference between a game gun and a sporting gun is the weight.

Game guns are lighter

  • Sporters are set up for clay shooting, and they often have multi-chokes and a more visible rib on the barrels.
  • Game guns are lighter and have smaller ribs for less weight and better, faster handling.

A pigeon gun is like a trap gun, and is set up for shooting targets flying away from you. A live pigeon gun is a very special set-up and not something I would advise unless that is your sport.

The differences and similarities between Sporter and Game Guns


  • When you mount both types of gun comfortably to your cheek and eye, your line of sight along the top rib of the shotgun should just graze the rib.
  • You are not looking at the opening lever at the back of gun’s action, with your eye too low, and neither can you see much of the top rib stretching away like a straight footpath. You should just be able to see all of the front sight.
  • In other words, with the gun correctly mounted in this position, the gun is pointing where you are looking. You only need to look where you want to shoot and you will hit the target.
  • The point of balance of the gun should be close to the hinge-pin at which the gun barrel opens from the action. Why here? Because with your trigger hand on the stock grip, your index finger on the trigger and your other hand in the middle of the fore-end the centre of gravity of the gun will be half way between both hands. This is the ideal grip to comfortably manoeuvre a gun to cope with the large variety of Sporting clay or game birds you are going to come up against.

Over 150 years, shotgun shooters have decided that this is the formula for successful and flexible performance.

The principle differences between game guns and sporters involve safety catches and weight

The principle differences between game guns and sporters involve safety catches and weight

HR_Yildiz Sporter 12 Bore _MG_9489160415


  • In general, game guns are made somewhat lighter than clay guns, as they are designed to be carried all day, sometimes over longish distances. However, clay guns are often heavier to accommodate more concentrated activity, on a shooting ground over shorter periods of time, to minimise the effects of recoil.
  • The lighter game gun may have implications for the choice of shot load in the cartridge for individuals, who are more aware of recoil.
  • The safety catch on a game gun is normally set to move automatically to safe when the shotgun is opened for reloading; the catch thus needs to be reset to fire the next cartridge.
  • On a clay gun, the safety catch remains in the fire position until put safe manually; the reason for this is that, in competition, failure to fire due to an incorrectly set catch is deemed to be “operator error”, which results in the target being declared a miss.
  • On many brands of gun, it is possible to adjust the mechanism internally to give either type of safety catch operation; a gunsmith can do this for you quite easily.
  • The only safe gun is an open and empty gun. On most guns, safety catch is a misnomer, as all the catch does is prevent the trigger from being pulled; it does not prevent the internal firing hammers from falling on the firing pins if the gun is dropped or jarred.

Female Gun

Will changing guns improve your hit rate?

Some people – who have the cash – change their gun every time they hear about a new one.

They tend to do this in the hope that it will transform their shooting and make them a better shot. Sadly it’s not that simple.

Buying a new gun will not make you a better shot. Heard that saying, “a bad workman blames his tools”? It’s generally relevant in this case.

However, a new gun can be good for your shooting. Sometimes you can use a new gun and find that you shoot really well with it.

Which will probably leave you believing that you have upgraded to a better gun and that all your old problems are now solved.

The real reasons you are shooting better

If this happens, don’t just assume it’s the gun. Stop and think carefully because there could be many reasons – new gun aside – that you have improved.

1. The new gun may fit you better than your old gun.
2. You focus more with a new gun.
3. It may have more weight than your gun and handle better.
4. The barrels may be longer and suit you more.
5. You might not be over-thinking because it’s not your gun.

The important thing is to get the right gun for you and the type of shooting you do most. You may need to shoot many different guns to find the one that suits you perfectly.

Getting your gun fitted to you personally is crucial – that will really make a difference and make it ‘your gun’ indeed.

preparing for the new season

All about accurate gun fit

If your gun fit is good then your shooting is more likely to be fluid and accurate. If it’s wrong,…

If you find a gun you shoot well with, and it fits properly, stick with it and enjoy getting better. But the gun alone does not make you a better shot.