HOW LITTLE SKEETERS™ CAME INTO BEING…
As coach of the Cadet Skeet & Trap Team at the United States Military Academy at West Point, I had the opportunity to develop a tube that performed like a mini-tube gauge reducer to help hone the skills of our competitive teams. Since 12 gauge guns are the only firearms available in our arsenal, we were unable to practice with smaller gauges to help sharpen the cadets shooting skills. As a result, I began to think of a way to accomplish my goal without taxing our team budget.
My initial attempt was to make these cartridge sized tubes in plastic. After patterning them, I was surprised to discover the patterns were at least equal to shooting a gun of the same gauge (20, 28 & .410). One problem that arose, however, was the tubes would expand and be stuck in the chambers or distort and split. Also, the ammunition would tend to be stuck in the tube after firing. Still, there was no question that ballistically they were performing at a level that made the concept viable.
Thus began the quest for a material that would resist distortion and provide a tube that would function at a level that would make it practical for everyday use. I then turned to a friend, Leonard Vallender, President of FenBar Precision Machinists, Inc., a superb precision machinist and engineer who as a shooter was very interested in the potential of the product – although having doubts about the concept. Soon after machining the tubes in aluminum and test firing them, he was as convinced as I was that the patterns were on the money but that the distortion of the tubes and bulging of the ammunition was a concern.
After months of trial and error, we came upon the right combination of materials, size tolerances and internal and external dimensions that would be universally acceptable to all guns – knowing that chamber size varied from gun to gun. We have theorized that as the shot column enters the larger diameter bore, the shot column shortens so that when the shot column exits the barrel very few pellets pass from the rear of the column causing less disturbance or turbulence. Our patterns displayed no flyers, which attest to our theory.
Since the bore diameter of the 12 gauge is much greater than that of a .410, the result is a very short shot string but because the petals of the wad do not achieve an adequate seal, the muzzle velocity is inconsistent. Still, oddly, the patterns are excellent. On the other hand, when using our .410 gauge tubes in a 20 gauge gun, the velocity is maintained and consistent as well as providing the same good patterns. Another observation was that the patterns were great when shooting 12 and 20 gauge “Skeeters” in a 10 gauge gun.
The maximum bore size for a 12 gauge shotgun is .740; but most modern guns are .710-.720. We have found that old Berettas, Brownings, and all vintages of Ruger shotguns have the larger bore size of .740 thereby giving a larger chamber size that allows the tubes to expand. The internal dimensions were also found to be critical and once we had determined set tolerances, they worked with great consistency and made Little Skeeters™ a pleasure to use.
We began to seriously field test the “Skeeters” ourselves as well as with friends on the skeet field, trap field, sporting courses, upland field hunting and believe it or not the pigeon ring. Reports coming back to us were absolutely overwhelming. The “Doubting Toms” became believers and subsequently supporters and spokesmen for these neat Little Skeeters™.
In our testing, we not only did patterning but also chronographing that provided us with indistinguishable results when compared with standard set-ups. Not only were they ballistically great, but offered other advantages such as significant recoil reduction (the ultimate in overboring), versatility and cost efficiency. Also they were convenient for women, young shooters and aging shooters and provided instructional settings and just plain fun and practicality for almost every shooting application.
We then sent sample tubes to shooting editors, firearms testers, major catalog distributors, retail stores and distribution organizations that were equally impressed. Words such as “unbelievable”, “great”, and my own personal favorite “magic” were used to describe the Little Skeeters™.
Between the cost factor, versatility and performance, it is evident that Little Skeeters™ are an unbelievable alternative to the costlier full-length tubes or anything else available for the casual or club shooter. The outward simplicity and lack of moving parts make “Little Skeeters” a forever necessary accessory for all your appropriate guns. At the same time Little Skeeters™ are easy to share with others, giving great pleasure to the shooter who enjoys not only competition but also the therapeutic value of shooting without breaking the bank.
Where it all began...
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These mini-tubes called Little Skeeters™ achieved what I thought was impossible.
The tubes enable the shooter to shoot several gauges in one gun or shoot all gauges (20, 28 & 410) in all his guns at a fraction of the cost of conventional mini-gauge tubes. They are not meant to compete with conventional tubes but certainly do offer an excellent alternative. They are easy to use, are especially suited for over and under and side-by-side shotguns and even pump guns. One can take one shot in an auto loader and hand-eject the empty.
These tubes are ideal for everyone, including beginners and young adults where 12 gauge recoil might be a problem. They can be used in your favorite old shotgun and are ideal for bird shooting over dogs using lesser gauge ammo for very close range shooting.
“Little Skeeters” are also useful in skeet shooting and have great application in sporting clays. Because of the relative unavailability of 16 gauge ammo, it will enable owners to use the lesser gauges in their favorite old 16’s.
Unlike presently available multi gauge full length tubes, for the most part, these can be used in all your shotguns with no alterations. “One set does it all.” As was said earlier, 92% patterns were achieved with a skeet choke at 20 yards, equal to guns of the same gauge.
There is virtually no added weight to “your favorite shooter”. Balance, swing and feel will be identical to the gun that you are accustomed to shooting. When learning to shoot, it is a great way to graduate from gauge to gauge. When trying to perfect your shooting skills and scores, you can interchange gauges on any given station to work out any problems. Obviously the lesser gauges are more difficult because there are fewer pellets in the pattern but it enables the shooter to hone his or her skills with lesser gauge shells and while shooting the same gun with the same weight, switch to the larger gauge.
As a shooting coach, having the opportunity to interchange different gauges with ease creates the opportunity to control flinching which causes all types of technique errors, not the least of which is stopping the gun swing and interrupting the “follow-through” which is so critical when shooing clays or game.
I believe the versatility and affordability of Little Skeeters™ will open many new doors for the Nim-rod shooter. The tubes are easy to use, simple to load, quick to reload and are available in all combinations for each gauge or sets of all gauges. For further information, please write, email or call us.