What Makes a Shotgun “You?”

This is the Fabarm Axis Sporting QRR (Quick Replaceable Rib), which the author says fits him perfectly.

Recently I’ve been shooting trap with a Fabarm Axis Sporting QRR (Quick Replaceable Rib) and there’s no other way to say it: the gun is me. I hit trap targets with it harder, better, and more easily than I do with any other gun. With the Axis and enough Adderall to correct my attention-span problems, I could be unbeatable.

Many other shooters have had the experience of picking up a gun we shoot better than others. What makes a gun “you?”

It’s mostly a combination of fit and balance. A gun that fits you well shoots exactly where you look. It’s easy to handle and often it seems to kick less than other guns. The Axis comes with two ribs that can be switched easily in seconds. One gives you a 50-50 point of impact (in which the center of the shotgun pattern correlates to the correct point of aim of the gun); the other, a slightly higher 65-35. With the adjustable comb left exactly as it came out of the box and the 65-35 rib in place, the gun gives me the perfect, slightly high point of impact I prefer for ATA trap.

A gun has to fit to shoot where you look, and a gun that fits and is balanced right for you seems to do your bidding all by itself. As a sporting clays gun, this Axis has 30-inch barrels and a much more muzzle-light feel than most trap guns. It’s lively in my hands and goes to targets with no effort at all on my part. I look at the bird and it disintegrates.

What else makes a gun you? The late Michael McIntosh liked clean, light trigger pulls on his guns. I remember he wrote that when people borrowed his guns, they often remarked that they seemed to fit better than their own. He attributed that to his gun’s triggers. I wish my trigger finger was as sensitive as Michael’s, but when I’m shooting at a flying target, I can’t tell the difference between a two-pound and a ten-pound trigger. You may feel otherwise.

A gun doesn’t have to cost a lot to be you. The Axis QRR isn’t cheap at $4,195, but the first gun I ever ran 25 straight with on the skeet field was a totally affordable 28-gauge slide-action Browning BPS. (Okay, not affordable to me at that point in my life when I was starting out as a writer, but easily affordable for people with, you know, regular jobs.) After that 25 straight I remember thinking I should sell my other guns, buy the BPS and shoot it all the time. It was clearly me.

When you find a gun that’s you, you should buy it. I say that, of course, having long since let that BPS slip through my fingers and having no funds available to buy the Axis. But then, you’re not supposed to do what I do, you’re supposed to do what I tell you to do.