Your technical questions answered by our technical experts, including help with gun maintenance, questions about how guns work and advice on buying guns

Air rifle muzzle energy switch

Air rifle muzzle energy – should it be adjustable?

Air rifle muzzle energy Q:I am planning to buy a new airgun and have noticed that quite a few models have adjustable power. Is it important to be able to turn air rifle muzzle energy up and down? A: Adjustable output is more beneficial on FAC-rated airguns, especially if you…

pigeon shooting guns

Explaining shotgun bore

Despite modern techniques, the archaic system for setting bore sizes is still in evidence today. Lewis Potter traces the evolution of shotgun measurement

explaining shotgun bore sizes

What’s the right shotgun bore for you?

What should you do if you want to buy a shotgun which will be used mainly for vermin control (pigeons, crows, magpies and rats), together with rough shooting and the occasional crack at clays. A reader asked me a question  about choosing shotgun bore a while back, recalling that a…


What’s the accuracy of lead-free bullets?

Lead-free ammunition is definitely making its presence felt and I am increasingly hearing from readers who have concerns about lead-free bullets and accuracy. Here’s an example of just one such question. Lead-free bullets and accuracy Q: Will my .243 Win rifle shoot lead-free bullets accurately if lead is banned? A:…

side by side shotgun

Can I find a steel-proofed English spec side-by-side?

Q: Much has been said about the steel shot debate and it looks inevitable that many old, and often hand-made, guns will be scrapped or become obsolete ornaments. While there are a huge number of steel-proofed over-and-unders, does anyone make a steel-proofed side-by-side to an English specification for less than,…

timing a shot

Am I rushing my second shot?

Q: I have started to struggle with hitting two birds on the trot with a slight gap between them. I often kill the first bird and miss the second, is there anything I can do that will help? A: You are clearly doing something right as you say you are…

Hawke laser rangefinders for shooting

Here’s what you need to know about laser rangefinders for shooting

People who hunt with air rifles often seem to talk about carrying laser rangefinders for shooting . Are they really an essential item of kit? Are laser rangefinders for shooting air rifles necessary? Matt Manning replies:  Laser rangefinders are not essential kitbag items for air rifle hunting, but they play…

rifle accuracy checks

How to measure your length of pull

Q: How important is length 
of pull of a stock on a rifle? 
It makes a difference on my shotguns in handling, so will 
it do the same with my rifle? A: That’s a good question. We 
all know that with a shotgun handling, fit and balance make 
an enormous…

clayshooting with a 20-bore

Do 20-bore guns recoil less than 12-bores?

Q: Over the last three seasons, more of our syndicate members have switched from 12-to 20-bore guns. They’re nice and light and I’m thinking of following suit. Or does the 12-bore still have advantages? Do 20-bore guns recoil less? A: My word, you’ve opened a can of worms here! Entire…

ribless game guns

Ribless game guns – the downside

Adam Calvert writes: The main purpose of removing ribs is to reduce barrel weight and, as a result, improve speed of handling or reduce the overall weight of the gun. Some would say removing the top rib also makes the gun more elegant. There are, however, several drawbacks that need to…

Hatsan Escort Magnum Xtreme

What makes a gun a magnum?

A: With regard to the proofing of shotguns, “magnum” is a legacy term that is no longer current. Under the 1954 Rules of Proof, 3in 12-bore shotguns were proofed at either 3½ton or 4ton per square inch, the abbreviation MAG being applied to the latter. However, the word magnum is now only used in relation to proofing rifles of…

Man with shot load in field

Pellet size and shot load – due an increase?

A: The debate on shot size is always an interesting one and many people, particularly of my father’s generation, grew up shooting nothing but Eley Impax 28gram No.7s at everything. Now I come across lots of people who shoot nothing but 36gram No.4s as their standard load, from September partridge to January pheasants! Cartridges must be fit for purpose The…

Antimony in cartridges

What’s antimony content?

Mike says: Antimony is a metallic element, which, in its pure state, is rather brittle. However, it has a low melting point and mixes readily with lead in small percentages. Lead-antimony alloys are harder than pure lead, and this extra hardness gives shot two desirable qualities. First, since pellets containing antimony tend not to get squashed out of round…

rifle and bullets

Why has my rifle suddenly become inaccurate?

A: Some problems can be complex to diagnose but others are simple and can be rectified at home. Barrel fouling or damage to the muzzle of the rifle can cause these problems, but sometimes a dried piece of dirt pressing against the barrel, changing the barrel harmonics on ring, or dirt in the bedding of the action will cause…


Fixed chokes or screw-in chokes? What’s best?

A: Personally, I don’t think that most of us shoot well enough to get any real benefit from choke. Consequently, I would always go for fixed chokes and ones that were very open. However, if you become a very good shot, then screw-in chokes may help. The first wave of screw-in chokes…

Remington Versa Max

Can you date a gun from its serial number?

A: In an ideal world, all manufacturers would agree to incorporate the date in the serial number, in a mutually-agreed formula using plain language. For instance, at the end of the number the figures 03.2016 could indicate manufacture in March of this year. The fact we have to live with,…