During one of my routine (but always extremely enlightening) conversations with Starfish, we both came to a conclusion that a budget shotgun's performance and pleasure can be enhanced by a respectable level by adding some (functional only) after-market parts/accessories. Immediately light bulbs started flashing in our heads and we had ourselves a little project to kill a little time (and a few million brain cells in the process) over it.
As with any project, the price factor comes into play and we had to decide on the budget for the after-market parts/accessories. Starfish proposed that any Customization/ Add-ons should not cost any more than 30% percent of the value of a budget shotgun.
Having been given this target, I set out to customize a Baikal MP-27EM-1C over and under shotgun also known as IZH-27EM-1C (Same thing, just different product identification code).
Any how, all settled, this is what I had:
Baikal MP-27EM-1C O/U Shotgun (Price): 50K
Budget for Customizations/Add-ons: 15K (30% of 50K, Dah!)
This is what I wanted: (to improve the performance/pleasure of a budget shotgun)
Quality Recoil Pad: Limbsaver or Kickeez
My research led me to believe that both enjoy top of the line reputation and significantly reduce recoil. However one offering in Limbsaver's precision fit line gave me the near perfect fit that I was looking for. Grinding and fitting a grind-to-fit recoil requires a lot of patience and I am the sort of a man who is always a little short on patience.
Better Sighting System: Fiberoptic or White Front Bead
Personal preference really but I like a good white bead (or a fiberoptic) at the business end of my shotgun. Some might argue that a bead doesn't do much in improving a shotgun's performance, well…, for me, Ya it does! Something that looks and feels that good can't be wrong. Call me superstitious. Moving on!
Improved Patterns: Trulock Chokes or Carlsons After-market Chokes
I measured the factory chokes supplied with the shotgun and boy! You'll be surprised how way off the mark they were so had to do something about that.
There are quiet a few names in after-market chokes tubes but I've found that Trulock not only offers the most variety for Baikal shotguns but were also very welcoming in sending their precision engineered products to their International Customers in Pakistan. Therefore the choice was pretty clear. One thing I would like to mention here is that I've talked to almost every manufacturer of after-market chokes in the United States and nobody (I'll repeat, nobody) even comes close to the quality of customer service that Trulock provides. Period!
As to which chokes tubes I needed, after reading up and consulting a few friends, I figured Skeet, Improved Cylinder, Modified and Full should pretty much cover most of everything I do with a shotgun.
Now the Pictures:
I sincerely apologize for the poor quality of the pictures. Some are just not blessed with good camera skills. On top of that, creativity has never been one of my virtues.
All Add-ons added to the shotgun. The patch you seen on the comb of the shotgun is actually an improvised cheek pad. Why I needed one, we'll come to that later.
Same shotgun, different view. I'm basically trying out my luck with photography here.
We can clearly see that the limbsaver recoil pad is pretty close to a perfect fit (at least 95%). Let me say that it way better than any factory/OEM recoil pad I have come across so far. It houses dual chambers that compress when a shot is fired, significantly lowering the thump of the recoil (technical jargon: recoil pulse).
I could have gone for a Kickeez recoil pad which is also a big name in recoil reduction however Sorbothane (the stuff Kickeez recoil pads are made out of) weighs a lot and in my humble opinion, it feels like that it will catch on clothes a lot during mount. However Kickeez definitely looks better finished than a Limbsaver.
From engineering standpoint, Kickeez is a pad made of Sorbothane (noise/shock dampening material) whereas Limbsaver is an engineered product which utilizes compression chambers to spread the recoil pulse. Take your pick based on whatever tickles your fancy.
Now let's talk a little about the white patch. This particular shotgun had too much drop at comb for me to begin with and as a result I was hitting below the Point of Aim. In order to fix that I needed to raise my rear sight (essentially the operator's eye). While discussing some quality materials with Denovo87 bhai I came to know that the material he is using to make footballs is near perfect for my use. It's strong, does not absorb water and doesn't get stained. So, it was taped onto the comb using ordinary double tape available at auto part shops. Strong enough to last and leaves no residue once removal is required.
Here we can clearly see the white bead at the business end of this shotgun. I will not go into the details of advantages/disadvantages of this thing but I wanted one.
The same white bead is highly visible even under dim lighting.
This is what the bead looks like up close. In order to install it, the factory brass bead had to be unscrewed then this white bead of matching threads and diameter of the shank (This is where research comes into play) was screwed on. One can clearly see that the construction of the bead is quiet robust.
This picture shows Trulock chokes installed in both barrels. One can see that four slots machined into them for a firm grip using a four-slotted wrench. You can use conventional (factory supplied) wrench with them too or you can order one of their proprietary (e.g. speed wrench) wrenches.
We can see that these (flush fitting) chokes are supplied in stainless steel (mirror) finish and are laser marked with respective constriction and choke designation. I must say the finish is the smoothest I have seen so far on any machined object. The first thing that I noticed while screwing them in place was that how easily one can tighten them due to high quality threads machined into each choke tube. I practically screwed and tightened them using nothing more than finger pressure.
Specs and Cost:
Prices are rounded off to the next number and all subsequent charges (such as shipping & handling and custom duties) have been added for ease in calculation however they do represent accurately the total cost born in acquiring and installing them.
Limbsaver Precision Fit Recoil Pad
Model/Item No: 10601
Price: PKR 4,000
White Front Bead:
Price: PKR 900
Thread size: m3.0x.5 or 3x.5mm or (metric) 3mm
Trulock Choke Tubes:
Model/Item No: Pattern Plus (flush fitting)
Price: PKR 2,500 each (10K for 4 chokes)
Total Expense: PKR 14,900 (Pretty close)
The objective of this project was not to prove that a budget shotgun can be converted into a high end shotgun by simply adding after-market accessories. All I am trying to suggest is that certain performance enhancement is possible if you wish to get the most out of your budget shotgun.
In short: One cannot convert a Toyota into a Mercedes however one can increase the pleasure of driving a Toyota by adding some quality wheels and a decent sound system.