Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Why You Need an Adjustable Comb on Your Shotgun

You've seen them on the gunstocks of competitive shooters. You've wondered about them and just didn't know whom to ask....well, I'm the guy!  I've installed over two thousand adjustable combs on every type of gunstock, and I can tell you everything you need to know about them.

The first thing you need to know is that of all the modifications that can be made to a shotgun stock, an adjustable comb provides the greatest benefit for the cost. It's a relatively low-cost investment that will repay you in shooting performance, comfort and enjoyment. Properly installed, adjustable comb hardware increases the resale value of your shotgun.

An adjustable comb is done by first cutting the comb from the stock. That same slice of wood cut off the top of the gunstock is then re-attached with adjustable hardware, giving it the ability to move up and down and side-to-side. If necessary, a separate piece of wood can be carved to replace a damaged, poorly fit or inadequate adjustable comb. Some rudimentary comb hardware does not allow side-to-side movement at all.

An adjustable comb serves two purposes on the stock of a shotgun:
  • It provides proper gun fit for the shooter's line of sight. A properly adjusted comb positions the shooter's eye straight along the barrel and directly centered left to right.
  • It provides proper perception for point of impact, where the gun shoots relative to what the eye sees.
Unlike a rifle, there are no sights on a shotgun. Basically your eye IS the rear sight. If the shot pattern needs to impact higher, you adjust the comb up to raise your eye up, just as you would adjust the rear sight on a rifle to make it shoot higher.

The comb is always adjusted in the same direction as you want the shot pattern to move. For example, you move the comb to the right if the shot pattern is too far left and needs to move to the right.

The adjustable comb lets you vary the adjustments during an extended period of shooting until it works just right for you, and it can be set up so that it's top edge is parallel or nearly parallel to your rib, a so-called "parallel comb."

Adjusting the comb can also alter the drop dimensions at the comb and the drop dimensions at the heel of the stock. You want to adjust the rear of the comb higher to compensate for a stock with too much drop, thereby relieving one symptom of sore cheek syndrome from that type of stock. 

The adjustable comb wood can also be padded and covered with vinyl or leather to provide further comfort for people who suffer from sore cheeks or have facial skin issues.

There are various types of hardware available to allow for the movement of an adjustable comb. Unfortunately, factory-installed comb hardware is usually the worst. I always caution people not to buy a Browning or Beretta stock with a factory-installed adjustable comb. Both have sub-standard hardware and simply do not give satisfactory service.
With my hardware which you see on my blog, http://www.speedbumpstockworks.com/, you have the highest quality, simplest adjustment available on a custom-installed adjustable comb.

Here's how you set the adjustment when you get your gun back from my shop:
  • Shoot your gun off a gun rest at a pattern board 13-16 yards away.
  • Adjust your comb by adding or removing spacers for height and by loosening the comb posts and sliding them right or left as required to adjust the point of impact to the desired location.
Tools required for my comb hardware are provided with comb installation; they include one 3/32" hex key (Allen wrench) and multiple nylon spacers for height adjustment.

When you need to re-adjust for any reason, such as to compensate for weight gain or loss, heavy or light clothing, or change of shooter, you'll find the new comb adjustment can be accomplished in a matter of a few minutes.

Other gunsmiths use different comb hardware and different methods of tightening or loosening comb posts. Some use long set screws for height adjustment rather than the nylon spacers I use. I feel that nylon spacers are a much more positive means of adjustment overall.

The value of learning to shoot competitively with a shotgun equipped with a properly-fitted adjustable comb is inestimable. An adjustable comb provides superior gun fit, which relieves the shooter from developing bad habits that result from attempting to compensate phyically and visually. Since off-the-shelf shotguns only fit 30% of the people in the world, installation of an adjustable comb in conjunction with adjustable pad plates is the best way to make our shotguns fit the other 70% of us!

Need proof? See what my satisfied customers have to say about my work at www.speedbumpstockworks.com

Give me a call or email me if you need more information.

Ken Rucker 903-815-6535


Visit me at my shop in
The National Shooting Complex:
Speedbump Stockworks
5931 Roft Road, Vendor Bldg. #22
San Antonio, TX 78253

**Please note: We will no longer cut a comb 
on any Beretta Semi-Automatic or Beretta 686, 687.**