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Ask The Instructor: Rib Height

Question: I’m going to buy a new gun and can’t make up my mind between a high rib or flat rib. What do you recommend?

Answer: High-rib guns originated and are more prevalent in the trap-shooting world because, in this discipline, all targets emanate from under the sight plane of the shotgun. Increasing the height of the rib over the top barrel allows the shooter to acquire trap-like targets and low quartering-away targets earlier in the flight path as compared to shooting with a flat-rib shotgun. High-rib shotguns may also be more comfortable for a shooter with an upright stance or physical features such as sloping shoulders and a longer neck because the butt tends to sit a bit lower in the shoulder.

In sporting clays, higher-rib guns started to appear in increasing numbers in 2009 in response to the rise of pre-mounted shooting. A sporting clays shooter with a more “gun up” or premounted technique is the shooter most likely to benefit from a high-rib shotgun. High-rib guns are not for everyone, however. While a premounted shooter doesn’t have to worry about mount issues, he or she has, by definition, diminished visibility of targets emanating from below the sight plane. The downside of high-rib guns is that they normally don’t move to the target as nimbly as a low-rib shotgun. Shooters with a low-gun or dismounted style or those with a sorter neck and square shoulders are less likely to see an advantage in a high-rib gun in sporting clays. The high-rib fad seems to have run its course once again. A number of manufacturers are now offering “mid-rib” guns, with rib heights somewhere between flat-rib and high-rib gun. The best advice I can offer is this: Before making the investment in a high-rib or even a mid-rib shotgun, make an effort to demo one. Be sure to try one out on crossing targets to get an idea of how well the gun will move in your hands.

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

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