Well, as I kind of expected, the 28" is leading the poll...the 26 vs. 28 and the CZ or Citori has been my source of what-to-do for some time. Being new to bird hunting, I didn't want to make too big an investment in an O/U. I've wanted one for what seems like forever, would search like hell, not find what I wanted and then loose steam. I've used my brothers Browning's; of which he has several mid-high end models he uses for trap and they sure are nice. I also had a chance to use a CZ Redhead and Ruger Red Label at a range last year and honestly of all of them, the CZ just felt good. Then, after looking at prices, it looked better still.
So today I pulled the trigger on a like new/used CZ Canvasback, 12 gauge, 26" that has that gorgeous burl wood some of these guns have...been searching for about 6 months now. I prefer the black color receiver and manual extractors are just fine. I went back and forth on barrel length during my search, but since most of my plans for its use is upland game (pheasant, grouse and maybe turkey), decided on the 26". I sometimes shoot trap with my brother and have used my Mossberg 500's 28" barrel -- kinda an ugly duck, but gets the job done -- so I'm hoping I can use this CZ, with the right chokes, for that as well.
The CZ only has the M and IC of the original set of 5 chokes. From what I've read, it sounds like these are the two most often used for both hunting and skeet. I can buy the others from CZ or Trulock, but being new to the O/U and bird hunting game, and using trap or skeet load vs. other hunting loads, not sure about what to buy so I can pretty much cover the gambit. Thanks in advance for any advice on this.
CZ definitely stands behind their products; I needed the sear adjusted on one I bought used . . . CZ went good for the repair sans shipping cost. I have 3 in 28, 20, & 12 (SxS). When I anticipate birds to be holding tight such as during late-season outings, I opt for the skeet tube in the first barrel, mod in the second. I tend to favor #6 shot year-'round (lead & non-tox, not steel . . . won't shoot steel thru my double guns.).
Barrel length is not a simple thing. It is influenced by your gun's weight, balance point, LOP and if you are shooting a beach loader of a pump / semi auto - which few people realize.
In my case my LOP is right about 15". With a 15" LOP I need longer barrels to balance the gun. Consequently I go for 29.5" to 30" barrels on virtually all of my breach loading guns - especially on something with Damascus barrels since those tend to be much lighter than steel.
With pumps / autoloaders you need to consider where the trigger is relative to the chamber. When you start to look at that relationship you will see that a pump / autoloader provides a longer effective barrel length than a breach loading gun - i.e., the pump / autoloader may be listed as a 28" barrel length, but the effective length will be more like a that of a 25" or 26" barrel on a beach loading gun.
Arguments about shorter barrels for faster swing times are just nonsense. You have all of the time in the world to acquire your target, mount, swings, fire and follow through. Unfortunately, shooting is to American culture like paddling or skiing. We all like to think that we came out of the womb with inherent abilities to do all of these things, but nothing could be further from the truth. Each is a highly technical skill filled with counter initiative movements that you would never learn on your own. Before someone invests in a gun of a particular barrel length it would be prudent to get some shooting instruction from a certified coach / instructor who can tune your fundamentals and provide some feedback to you on if your guns fits. Then look start to look at barrel length.
Picked up the gun yesterday -- looked every bit as good as the pictures and Cabela's (Mitchell, SD) gun salesman described. Break action is nice and tight, but smooth. With the exception of one small nick on the butt section, looks new to me. Buying used always leaves a little question, but buying through Cabela's allowed me to handle before committing to have it -- did not charge me to have it shipped to Lacey. With the rest of the week off, I'm going to spend some time somewhere making it go boom.
After reading all of Roper's posts, my interest in upland bird hunting is growing. I spent a couple hours today searching the internet on access areas both here in WA and SW MT near our property. Both states have put together some really nice websites with interactive maps, etc... but honestly, MT wins by a whisker.