I've had a chance to get out in the field to do some testing and comparisons with our very own BadBoyBeeson's new S&J follower design.
As followers will commonly fit in a variety of shotguns of the same gauge, I brought out several shotguns to establish some differences between manufacturers' followers in their respective shotguns.
First off, Simon sent me a bunch of followers just before Christmas that got lost among the Christmas rush and didn't arrive 'till 30 JAN. By the time the first parcel arrived, Simon was kind enough to make it right by sending another package shipped ExpressPost which I received immediately the following day. One day following receipt of the very first parcel sent on the 20th of December. So, thank you Simon for all your efforts.
Three of the four shotguns I had out in the field were clean, but barely lubed and it was a -15 C day. However, my 14" Police Mag I haven't cleaned or lubed in maybe 500 rounds fired.
I mention this because if my guns functioned without a hitch at -15 C, these S&J followers will have no problem running right on warmer days.
At home, I installed the S&J followers into an Ithaca M37 four round magazine, a Beretta 1201FP holding four rounds, an 18" Police Mag with a 2 round REM factory extension and the 14" Police Mag with a one round Wilson extension installed.
I wasn't the only one firing these guns, my bitter half was out with me and another couple friends of ours. So I can say these followers were tested by some who've never handled these shotguns before and they didn't have any issues cycling, jams or otherwise on account of the new S&J follower. However, no 3" for any of them.
However I did run a variety of 3" shells through all the guns 'cept the M37 and a bunch of different makes of 2-3/4" including some very old Dominion Imperial paper shells, some Canuck trap loads, Alcan, Etonia, Eley, really old Remington Nitro Express and a small bunch of Peters slugs.
Other shells used were a few boxes of older Sellier & Bellot sporting shells, REM Heavy Dove, REM #7 and #8 birdshot, Winchester 00 Buck and of course, a few boxes of Challenger Magnum Slugs.
I brought out some of this old stuff because it was finally their time to be shot and the slightly different shotshell rim dimensions for this experiment, served me well. Wasn't really sure how much the different sized shotshell rims made, but I was thinking of the transition point between the end of the mag tube and the extension might demonstrate some form of jamming in tandem with the follower. None of the shotshells jammed at that point going in, nor coming out, not even in the semi-auto Beretta.
So, I have to say that these new S&J followers worked in my guns 100% and I have no reason to think they wouldn't in any other shotgun.
Over time I've used a variety of followers in different guns and to this day, I've kept most of them equipped with Wilson followers. I use these because I haven't found anything that compares, nor have I had any problems with them, so I stuck with what worked best for me.
I do have a VangComp teflon follower in one gun from days of yore and not sure if these are still made by them, I only have the one, but I've liked using that follower the best.
I've taken the time to compare three followers below. They are the Wilson follower, the VangComp and the No-Jam S&J.
The one on the left is the S&J follower, the middle is Wilson and on the right is VangComp.
You'll note right off the bat that the S&J is shorter. There's no need for it to be longer and it cuts down on the weight. This length is all that's needed to stabilize the spring on the follower.
I've heard mention of more shells fitting in the tube by the tail being shorter, but that's just not so. When the spring is compressed, it takes up more space than the whole length of the tail.
Next, you'll notice the lateral slits cut into the sides of the S&J follower. I believe this is where the S&J follower shines. Though the factory REM follower has these cut outs built into their followers to get past the limiting divots at the end of the mag tube it has never been implemented into any worthy aftermarket follower.
You'll note the VangComp follower on the right in the photo above has a hollow face. This is one reason why I've preferred it over any other. The Wilson has a dimple that you feel for in the dark telling you have an empty magazine. A Remington factory follower has nothing but a flat knob protruding a bit that's hard to distinguish from an actual shotshell.
I prefer the hollow face. To me, it is much more revealing under your thumb than a dimple. The protruding ring around the face of the follower also serves the senses quite well.
Further, the S&J follower is more solid where the stem connects to the main body of the follower. The stem is solid instead of drilled hollow as both, the Wilson and VangComp shown.
You'll notice that the hollow area on the face of the S&J follower is concave, rather than cut at a 90 degree angle. There's more meat holding the stem at the sides to the main body. Though I've never experienced it, or seen a separation of the stem from the main body of a Wilson follower, there has been mention of this among heavy users. The S&J followers eliminates that issue however true or false this may be.
I've measured the amount of meat holding the stem to the main body of all three followers. Though the concave hollow of the S&J follower is deceptive to measure in comparison to the other two, I measured it to the center of the hollow face. I measured the difference between the outside depth of the main body and subtracted the inside depth on the face hollow.
The differences are as follows and clearly demonstrate the S&J follower has no possibility of stem separation from the body.
S&J follower -- .160" of meat
Wilson -- .082"
VangComp -- .128"
I can tell the S&J follower was devised around the Wilson follower dimensions. The diameter of the main body of the S&J follower and the diameter of the stem is exactly as the Wilson. -- .900" Dia. on the main body and .540" Dia. on the stem.
Comparing these diameters to the other two factory shotgun's followers I've used in this review, the Beretta 1201FP and the Ithaca M37, they are much narrower.
I've noted that there's more side to side play with the S&J and the Wilson followers when positioned in the magazine tube than those of the 1201FP and the M37. So I measured the differences.
Though the follower diameters used are adequate for proper stability just as they are, I think it would be an improvement if the S&J follower's main body would be cut to a slightly larger diameter. ie: .910" Dia.
Here are the comparison measurements:
S&J follower -- .900" Dia.
Wilson -- .902" Dia.
VangComp -- .910" Dia.
Ithaca M37 factory follower -- .910" Dia.
Beretta 1201FP factory follower -- .910"
Another improvement I'd consider is the diameter of the stem. Most replacement springs used are the extra power Wilson brand. These springs are purposly twisted a bit tighter at each end to be more of a snug fit around the stem of their follower. However, they do not grip the stem and are free to be slipped off the follower as you remove the spring from the mag tube. You then have to tilt the receiver to slide the follower out of the mag tube.
The VangComp follower has a ring manufactured into the stem about a 1/4" above the rear of body of their follower. This retains the Wilson springs to the follower to simultaneously remove the spring and follower from the tube.
To get technical, it may be of some importance to have the spring spin freely around the follower's stem, but I don't think of it being as useful as the two components being more integral during disassembly for cleaning.
The S&J follower appears to be more resilient to wear than the Wilson or the VangComp I've been using. Because of this, I believe it will not only last longer, but it will slide smoother in the mag tube for a longer period of time. Its lubricity appears to be a few notches above any other on its own, but minimal wear, if at all, will make function much more reliable.
The high visibility green color of the S&J follower is way more noticeable at a glance than any other I remember. It was an overcast day while we were out shooting and the S&J follower was much easier to detect than what I remember with the Wilson one.
I'm not sure if this assessment is a psychological reflection of the my excitement toward all other qualities of this follower, but I think I've genuinely noticed a visual difference in the field.
I have weighed these followers for further comparison. I feel a lighter follower is a better performer. Probably doesn't make much of a difference to most, I'm sure, but generally lighter is better.
On the S&J follower, it was a good choice to make the stem shorter eliminating some weight. Their red ones are really heavy. It appears the material used is somewhat denser and because of this a bit heavier. I think it can be lightened up a bit more by drilling a hole through the stem without compromising its structure. The follower as it stands is a bit heavier than that of their competition.
S&J follower -- 153 grains
Wilson -- 126.4 grains
VangComp -- 106.1 grains
In closing, S&J has come though with a great innovation. An improvement over the competition's by far.
I find it worthy to keep the S&J follower running in my shotguns with confidence replacing the Wilson followers I've used for so many years.
I encourage those looking for a replacement follower to consider the S&J follower with confidence. You will find it a step above all others. "easy" approved.