Finally, a question about a gun that I can answer. My son shoots trap for the SCTP (or at least did last year and if we can get our act together he will shoot for AIM and/or SCTP this year as well). My promise to him was that if remained in the sport longer than a year then I would buy him his own 12 gauge. All last year he shot the team's donated 20 gauge and started putting together better and better scores.
With his birthday and 1 year anniversary approaching it was time for Dad to pay the piper. So, I began the hunt. You know the hunt. The hunt for his "ideal" gun. I hit all the forums. I hit all the shops. We borrowed and had him shoot lots of different kinds and models of 12 gauge. We tried semi-autos. We tried Over and Unders. We tried uni-barrels designed specifically for Trap. We tried Brownings, Winchesters, Barrettas...even a Kolar (glad Addison did not break the gun). Yep, we did the BT-99 and the BT-100. Meanwhile, Dad (read as me) was off looking for best value and not wanting to spend an arm and a led on an 11 year old. Go figure.
Finally, George Brown (for the shooters that know him), always supportive of the youth, let Addison try his own SKB 85-TSS. That was what he liked. No, that was what he loved. George, of course, has his jazzed up a bit with a Gracoil-LP and a Kick Eze just to make like difficult for Dad (read as moi). We continued to try other guns (Energy Select, Citori XT, several excellent guns that everyone on these forums will recommend), but Addison kept coming back to the SKB.
I bugged Addison's coach. I would on some days call the Mckinney's three times a day at the height of the search. Finally, on confirmation we drove out to where I knew he could shoot another SKB 85-TSS and had him try the 5-stand with one. Yes, I know it is not trap, but I wanted him to try a stock 85-TSS again before I shelled out the cash.
Yep, this is still the gun. So, I got him an 18 month old used SKB 85-TSS that was in good condition but not excellent condition. It had been originally used in one of the NFL promotional player shoot offs and then purchased at auction by a sporting clays shooting school (Deep River). It had had several hundred shells through it. I paid $1300 and was happy with the purchase.
Addison shot a few five-stands with the gun and then went to an ATA registered shoot at Rocky Mount. It was a horrible day for shooting (heavy rain) and a real mess. As expected, his scored dropped to almost half of what he had been shooting with the Beretta 20 gauge 391. Halfway through the handicap event he walked off with a flaring migraine.
George was at the shoot and looked at his length of pull and the cheapo 3 dram loads that I had bought him and prescribed cutting the stock back and getting him some proper shells. He was not getting into the gun and the gun was kicking like a mule. After we left Addison was very clear on what he wanted. He wanted a gun like George's. He needed and wanted a recoil reducer and George has agreed.
So, over the world over we searched for someone that could cut back the stock a full 2 inches and install a Gracoil-LP recoil reducer and adjustable butt plate and a Kick Eze pad. Finally, I got that done and Addison immediately took the the gun and loves it.
It took some tweeks, but the gun now fits him properly. I got a LP version and had 3 different widths of butt pads made so that he could continue to grow into a full man with that gun and its add ons if he chooses.
The SKB 85-TSS is a nice gun. It shoots well and has light recoil. It comes stock with an adjustable comb, which is really very helpful for correcting the POI. It does not have a complex mechanical innard, but is likely best worked on by SKB. SKB has a very no nonsense warranty. They will fix it. They will fix it right. They will fix it fast.
You will need to shop around locally for a gunsmith that can do your annual. Not all will work on the SKB.
Your resale value will not be as high as some of the other more expensive guns or popular guns. You will likely not find as good a gun for the value...but I would look at Weatherby while you are at it, just in case.
For the record, I found and purchased my own SKB Model 605 Trap Combo a few months after I bought Addisons. My next post will describe my personal experiences with a different SKB model.
The bottom line is try someone's gun as close as possible to those you are considering. Experience builds confidence in owning your decision. After your purchase be willing to step up to making whatever adjustments that are required to make the gun fit you. Get help from people that know how to do this. Stock guns do not fit. They feel like they do and you will be able to hit targets, but you will always be a little off. Every AA shooter will tell you to make the gun fit.
The next bit of advice is to own the gun. That is treat it and learn it as if you are going to own it for 20 or 50 years.
I own an 85TSS combination - monte carlo adjustable comb, upgraded wood, 34" unsingle, 30" O/U. Love it. High quality, has all the bells and whistles I wanted for trap. The Greener-type crossbolt is secure, and the gun locks up very tight. One thing it does on the lower barrel, is to finely scratch the head of the shell. This happens as the barrel opens and the firing pin moves across the shell head, before fully opening. This has been discussed in other fora, and is not a problem.
Downside - Gun is undervalued. Do not buy just to resell. Resale value on SKB is low, compared to "P", "K", and "B" guns. That's the long and short of resale.
That stated, I'm in no hurry to get rid of this gun. It fits perfectly, and points where I shoot it.
The only thing I had done was to add a Kick-Eez recoil pad, and a 100 Straight adjustable recoil plate. That work was outstandingly done by Tron.
It's difficult to find more gun for the money. There are several of us at our club who use SKB's, and everyone is completely happy.
There were some guns which had problems with firing pins and springs. SKB recalled those, and the parts were exchanged and the guns work perfectly now.
Will the SKB handle 100k rounds? Maybe not. Did it cost $20K? Definitely not.
I've also used the same gun for skeet. Since I like a floated target, the SKB works fine for both disciplines.
You'll get lots of opinions from folks not liking them. But that's the way things are.
I owned an 85TSS and was very happy with it, It's a great gun for the money and they work well, very few problems and great service, Gun Unlimited has a big sale on them in Omaha, great deals on new guns!!!!!!!!!!!
Hoosier Daddy: "Weatherbys are made by SKB Mr. Callan so I could see why you recommend a Weatherby."
Clever name Hoosier. The double pun is wonderful.
When I was researching our guns I discovered that the Weatherby used to be made by SKB but they are no longer made by SKB. As I understand it, the Weatherby is now made primarily in Italy. Nevertheless, the Weatherby is a comparable value for dollar based on my research.
The second part of the promise that I had made to my son (and his coaches) was that after we got him squared away, then I would find a gun for myself and try and learn to shoot with him. This is in keeping up the father-son tradition of the sport (no offense to the women shooters intended). I wanted good value for dollar but did not feel the need for a new gin myself either (I did not know whether I would like the sport). I bought an SKB as well. Now, like any of the interests, I find the Trap Shooting strangely relaxing and fun.
After a few hundred rounds, I discovered when shooting sporting clays that both barrels were firing at the same time. (Was not too hard, as the kick and noise will really wake you up). I contacted SKB and they were happy to fix the much older model under warranty. SKBs are serviceable, but they are not as widely available as the other more popular guns. Resale, although important for most folks, was not that big of an issue for me. If we leave the sport, I will likely donate the guns to the youth programs.
When buying our's I was rather interested in getting what felt right to the shooter and then getting it modified so as to be adjusted for growth and fit as needed.
Having been a gun dealer and sold SKB's, and also still having my original trap combo an 85TSS, I highly recommend them to be the best bang for the buck. Especially for the novice shooter. I still shoot mine ocassionally and always take it as a back up gun. Best price today is to contact Nick at Guns Unlimited. Make sure though that you always have a spare set of springs on hand. Good luck!
My friend could not shot reloads in the gun. EVER. Not his Not Mine or anyone elses. He could only shoot factory ammo. He sent it back 3 times to fix the problem and they could not do a with it. It also took some time to get it back.
I own and shoot a 85tss. I have owned the gun just over 1 year I have shoot over 8,000 rounds so far and not 1 problem. I have yet to see anyone on the line breakdown with one of these guns either. I have on the other hand been on the line waiting while a guy has broke down with most every other brand. Let's be real all guns will have a problem at some point.
Good Friend of mine has the small frame multi-barell set -- he shoots a lot of skeet. He loves the gun, shoots it well, -- the problem has been the firing pins and the springs (failed him several times now) -- he is thinking about going back to beretta or browning. It is a "mental" thing -- Now has this feeling while he is shooting, --"is this the shot that I miss with the firing pin problem" -- just nags at his mind.
I have two friends that own SKB's. My first friend bought a brand new SKB over-under and shot twice a week for about 9 months and then the firing pin broke. He sent it in to get repaired and the firing pin broke again about 3 months later. He then bought replacement firing pins so he could do it himself, and the pin broke again. He's had springs break, pins break and got so frustrated he put the gun in the safe and hasn't taken it out in about two years.
My other friend bought the 85TSS and shot it very well for about a year and then it broke. He sent it in to the dealer to get it fixed and it took about 6 weeks to get it back. Funny, I don't see him shooting it anymore either...
I own Brownings and a Ljutic, and they are both practically indestructable. I shot a BT-100 for 3 years with no problems (sold it to the friend that bought the over-under SKB) ajnd I shot a BT-99 for a long time with no problems. You can't go wrong with a Browning. I prefer the Ljutic for trap shooting, but they are about double (used) for what you are looking to spend on the SKB.