By Chase Moore

In today's world you can customize just about anything to personal preference and reap the benefits of increased functionality, reliability, precision, fit, and appearance. Every waterfowler knows this to be the case as waterfowl hunting has become no exception for the folks who desire to have the latest and greatest. It is safe to say that the majority of waterfowlers are simply looking for confidence with their gear; something that they can trust in any condition or situation and something that they know will help them achieve their maximum potential. One of the easiest and most effective ways to increase your waterfowling confidence and performance for this season is to seek out a little professional help by treating your gun to some customization, and I'm not talking about a new gun strap or barrel sticker. Not only will it be money well spent, but you will find that it will pay dividends in the field. Here are some different custom options to consider for your waterfowl gun.

Lengthening Your Factory Shotgun Forcing Cone

First things first, what exactly is a forcing cone? I guarantee there are many hunters who may not have a clue what it is, where it is, how it functions, or why they might want to modify it. Well every shotgun has one, and it's located in the area of a shotgun's barrel just in front of the chamber. The easiest way to find it is to take the barrel off your gun and look down it. You should find a ring shape close to the front. This ring is the outline of the cone that acts as the first constrictor or director of your shot's wad of pellets. This cone's purpose is simple. It forces or directs the shot load into the bore. To understand better how this cone can be modified to increase shotgun performance I sought out the knowledge of professional gunsmith, Rob Roberts of Rob Roberts Gunworks.
"Lengthening your shotgun's factory forcing cone is a must for every waterfowl gun. For your money, this is the cheapest and best thing a hunter can do to receive better results in their gun's pattern and recoil reduction."
In most production shotguns this forcing cone is very short and at a very steep angle. By lengthening the forcing cone to 3 inches and mirror polish it, Roberts has proven that velocity will be increased by reducing the sudden friction encountered with a short forcing cone, and felt recoil will be reduced through a drop in friction, allowing the shot load to smoothly enter the shotgun's bore.
"Pellet deformation is dramatically reduced through this process because the shock of suddenly constricting the shot load is eliminated. As pellet deformation is reduced a denser and more even pattern is produced."
An option like this will run you about $60, but too many waterfowlers' if that means the difference between a full limit then that would be money well spent.

Shotgun Barrel Porting:

Another custom procedure that can be preformed by a professional to increase your shotgun's performance is to port your barrel.
"This will not hurt or help your pattern, but it will reduce felt recoil and control muzzle jump, say's Roberts."
It a process performed by a precision EDM (electrical discharge machine) and it consists of drilling a number of ports near the end of the barrel, allowing a specific amount of the burning gases of the shot to be directed in a controlled manner. Roberts maintains from years of research that this procedure will counteract the action of recoil.
"As the projectile passes the porting the redirected force exerted against the firearm cancels most of the lifting acting. This can bode well for waterfowl hunters in any situation. When taking multiple shots, Porting allows quicker follow-up second and third shots. Likewise it can also help control shooter upsets with modern high energy loads."

Trigger Work:

While trigger work might be more appealing for a hunter who shoots a rifle or pistol, there are still benefits from having a customized trigger for you shotgun. By reworking the trigger group on most popular auto loading and pump action shotguns, the shooter will experience an increased sense of confidence and feel. Roberts stated that "by eliminating the creep, or travel, before the trigger releases the shooter gains better control over timing of a shot. Also the anticipation and resulting flinch can be removed from the shooter's technique," says Roberts. Accordingly, Roberts asserted that an ideal trigger pull should be from 3.5 pounds to about 5 pounds, but a lot of this is a shooter's preference. What many waterfowlers may not know is that their gun's trigger is set at a much stronger pull than what is conducive for maximum performance.
"I have seen shotguns that roll of the line with an eight to twelve pound pull weight," says Roberts. "I don't care if you're the World's Strongest Man that can't bode well for your accuracy or comfort in the field."
It's an easy fix for any gun. Why leave it up for chance.

Cryogenic Treatment:

With the amount of abuse that many waterfowl guns receive during a season it might be in a hunter's best interest to get their gun cryogenically treated. This feature allows for a computer controlled ultra cooling of the gun's metal parts to drastically improve both strength and durability.
"When this treatment is applied to a shotgun it will improve resistance to the elements and increase longevity," says Roberts. "If a hunter is willing to spend big bucks on a new waterfowl gun, would it make sense to insure that gun's resilience with a treatment like this that will last a lifetime."
The concept here remains simple, leave no stone unturned. A waterfowl hunter especially should never have to worry about their gun's ability to withstand even the harshest circumstances. This season consider doing your gun and yourself a favor by customizing it for optimum functionality.