I am considering moving up to 32-inch barrels from 30-inch barrels. Most of the shooters at my club now shoot with 32-inch barrels.
What are the pros and cons of moving to a longer barrel?
With all other factors being equal (shell, load, etc.), there is no appreciable advantage in shooting a shotgun with a 34-inch or 32-inch barrel length over one with a 30-inch barrel. In recent years, the trend has been toward longer barrel lengths without regard to the size and height of the shooter or balance of the shotgun. This is a mistake, in my opinion. This trend is more fad than function.
For a sporting clays shooter, the proportionality and balance of your shotgun should be your primary criteria for determining barrel length. A shotgun that is properly balanced puts the center of gravity of the gun between your hands so you are able to move the shotgun naturally and efficiently to the target with less physical effort. If you are more of a skeet shooter, shorter in stature (under 5’10”) or have a length of pull (LOP) of 14¼ inches or less, you might want to consider sticking with the 30-inch barrels. With a shorter stock and a longer barrel (32-inch or 34-inch), your gun will be slightly out of proportion, with more weight toward the front. If, on the other hand, the LOP of your gun is 14½ inches or longer, you might be quite pleased with a 32-inch barrel.
If you decide to convert to a longer barrel length, shoot lots of targets with your new gun and allow yourself some conversion time. Your subconscious sight picture will change slightly, so you should increase your practice time for a couple of months in order to adapt to this new barrel length.
Don Currie is NSCA’s Chief Instructor, an Orvis Wingshooting School instructor, and Master Class competitor. To get free shooting tips and videos, sign up for his monthly newsletter. You can also see more tips from Currie at www.doncurrie.com.