Measuring pitch in a shotgun stock

Q: I’ve been told that if I change the 30” barrel on my shotgun for a 26” barrel, the gun will have less pitch. If pitch is determined by the angle of the buttplate to the line of sight, both would remain constant, so why would the pitch change?

Bradley Donaldson

A: The pitch will change for a particular shotgun if barrel length is changed. This is because pitch figures are usually given in inches, not in degrees of angle. By common practice, the measurement will vary with barrel length.

To measure the pitch in inches, the gun’s butt is placed flat on the floor with the upper surface of the gun touching the wall. Then the distance in inches from the wall to the top of the gun’s rib or muzzle is the ‘down pitch’.

If the receiver and the muzzle touch the wall simultaneously, there is no pitch, or what’s known as ‘neutral pitch’.

If the muzzle touches the wall and the receiver is still some way from it, ‘up pitch’ is present and the measurement might be taken from the wall to the heel of the stock or to some other specified point on stock, action or even barrel.

You can measure pitch in degrees of angle if you wish. Barrel lengths are not a factor.

To do this, the gun is laid on the floor, trigger up. A straight edge is held against the butt-plate and the angle of the straight edge to the floor is taken with a common protractor.




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Nick Harvey

The late Nick Harvey (1931-2024) was one of the world's most experienced and knowledgeable gun writers, a true legend of the business. He wrote about firearms and hunting for about 70 years, published many books and uncounted articles, and travelled the world to hunt and shoot. His reloading manuals are highly sought after, and his knowledge of the subject was unmatched. He was Sporting Shooter's Technical Editor for almost 50 years. His work lives on here as part of his legacy to us all.