Length of Pull – What Does it Mean?

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In the world of firearms and guns there are plenty of words that are misused and used improperly.  The term “length of pull” is often one of them. 

I asked a buddy of mine who is a Marksman Observer Trainer, Lead Firearms Instructor and Tactical Team member to shed some light on this subject.

He said length of pull on a shotgun or rifle is simply the distance from the trigger to the back of the center of the butt plate or recoil pad. 

Remember, LOP is one of the most important measurements when determining if a gun fits the shooter.

LOP is very critical for hunters, tactical shooters and competition shooters alike.  If the weapon fits the shooter comfortably it will put your head and eyes into the correct position for a proper sight picture. 

LOP will also dictate how well a gun swings and how fast target acquisition is. 

If your weapon has a LOP that is too long, it will drag under your armpit and you will have to push the weapon out before shouldering it to fire.  This is a very unnatural movement and takes more time and thought than a weapon that fits the shooter with the correct LOP.

If you weapon has a LOP that is too short will allow your hand to contact your nose and face after recoil.  If this is a scoped rifle and the LOP is too short you may very well get you an extra eyebrow or black eye from the impact on your face!!

It is best to test out and shoulder any weapon before you buy it.  Just about every long gun will come with extra spacers so you can change the LOP to fit your needs. 
Keep in mind that you may have on a lot of insulated clothing that may drastically affect your LOP and make the weapon awkward and inaccurate.  Most weapons manufacturers have narrowed it down to a “one size fits most”.  This is no guarantee that all guns will fit you the same.  If you are not sure, bring a jacket or two with you and shoulder the weapon to see if you are having to push it out before you are able to shoulder it and obtain a sight picture.

If you are really into precise accuracy, I would suggest going to a custom gunsmith and have the stock fitted to your exact needs.  Most gunsmiths will have tools and measurements they can take to make sure it fits you and your body type. 

As I stated earlier “length of pull” is often misquoted and used incorrectly.  Make sure the weapon fits you and you will be a more accurate shooter, whether it is ducks, deer, targets or people you are aiming at. 

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Story by Shane Smith


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