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Caldwell Claymore Review: The Best Mechanical Target Thrower?

Finally, a clay target thrower that offers the speed and simplicity of an electric thrower without the added weight and battery. Here's a full review of the Caldwell Claymore.

Caldwell Claymore Review: The Best Mechanical Target Thrower?

(Photo courtesy of Brad Fitzpatrick)

If you’re a shotgun shooter, then you know there are two primary options for clay target throwers: lightweight, inexpensive mechanical throwers that are slow or electrical throwers that are expensive and heavy. Caldwell is changing the marketplace with the introduction of the Claymore, which offers the speed and simplicity of an electric thrower without the added weight, expense or battery.

The Caldwell Claymore is, by definition, a mechanical thrower. There’s no electrical power source and shooters must manually cock the throwing arm and manually trigger the release that launches the clay. However, Caldwell took a hard look at traditional mechanical thrower designs and addressed some of the serious problems they presented.

Caldwell Claymore Target Thrower
(Photo courtesy of Brad Fitzpatrick)

Problems with Traditional Thrower Designs

The simplest mechanical throwers, which are injection-molded handheld models, are very inexpensive and light, but you need another person to throw the targets. And if that other person can’t get the knack of accurately and consistently throwing targets, the whole operation is a bust. More expensive spring-powered mechanical throwers throw targets more consistently, but they must be loaded manually by hand with one or two targets at a time. Both designs are very slow and require the assistance of another person.

Spring-powered mechanical throwers can be dangerous. Since operation requires manually cocking the throwing arm each time you load clays, the operator must place themselves close to the metal arm, which is under spring tension. One mistake can cause serious injury. While I was coaching a junior shooting team, one of the co-coaches lost control of the throwing arm while he was cocking the unit. The result was a trip to the hospital, a broken bone, and six weeks in a cast.

Electrical throwers speed up the process. Since a battery provides the power required to cock the throwing arm, it’s easier to stay safely away from the moving parts of the machine, plus they have the capability to throw several targets in rapid succession. But they too have their problems. The power required to run the thrower generally comes via deep cycle 12-volt batteries, which are heavy and expensive. Add the weight of the battery to the weight of the thrower itself and you’ve got quite a load to haul around every time you want to shoot a few clays. Electric throwers also cost considerably more than mechanical throwers. Prices start at a few hundred bucks for a very basic thrower, and more robust machines will cost four figures.

Best of Both Worlds

Enter the Caldwell Claymore. Because it’s a mechanical thrower, it’s light (just 35 pounds) and operates without a battery. The thrower can be folded down for easy transport, so if you’re heading out to a friend’s farm for a day of clay breaking or to coach a 4-H shooting team, you can easily transport the thrower in the back of an SUV or truck, or the trunk of a car. Setup is fast and simple.

Caldwell Claymore Target Thrower
(Photo courtesy of Brad Fitzpatrick)

Operation is equally easy. When the Claymore is fully assembled, up to 50 standard-size (108mm) clay targets can be loaded in the tower hopper. Two pedals are located on the back of the machine. Stepping down on the right one (charge pedal) cocks the throwing arm spring and drops a target into position on the arm. Stepping on the left (fire) pedal tosses a clay up to 70 yards.

Caldwell Claymore Target Thrower
(Photo courtesy of Brad Fitzpatrick)

That’s it. The basic operations are very simple to master and after unboxing the unit, you can be throwing targets within a few minutes. The instruction manual is easy to understand and straightforward, and you don’t have to be a mechanical wizard or own any special tools to assemble the Claymore. That means less work and more shooting.

Basic Function

I won’t rehash the contents of the instruction manual, but there are some key design elements of the Claymore, which are worth noting. First, despite being safer than traditional mechanical throwers, the Caldwell comes with safety devices in place to prevent accidents. There’s a control knob that toggles between Service and Operate settings, and it must be in the Operate position for the thrower to function. There’s also a safety pin that must be properly installed before the thrower will function. In addition to the safety pin, there’s also a tilt lock pin that allows you to adjust the angle of the targets being thrown. Target speed is controlled by a tension knob that adjusts spring tension. Claymore throwers also offer a flurry mode setting that will throw multiple targets each time the shooter steps on the charge pedal.




Caldwell Claymore Target Thrower
(Photo courtesy of Brad Fitzpatrick)

The Caldwell Claymore is easy to operate and lightweight, but it’s also affordable; the retail price is just $329.99, which is on par with an entry-level electric thrower without any of the added weight or complexity.

Caldwell Claymore Target Thrower
(Photo courtesy of Brad Fitzpatrick)

At the Range

When Caldwell Senior Brand Manager Jarrod Grove introduced the Claymore at a writer’s event in 2021, I told him that such a design was long overdue and let him know that I wanted to get a machine as soon as possible. I’ve been shooting shotguns since I was in elementary school and started shooting clay targets shortly thereafter. I competed in trap and skeet shooting as a member of my university’s club team. Since my first days with a shotgun, I’ve seen every clay target thrower imaginable, from DIY basement designs to expensive automatic throwers at premier sporting clays clubs. The Claymore made sense to me then, and it makes sense to me now.

Once the unit is assembled and the charge and fire pedal (which my shooting buddies and I promptly renamed the clutch and accelerator) operation is mastered, the Claymore provides hours of fun. So long as you follow the directions in the manual, the thrower proved to be safe and reliable, tossing clay targets just past the 50-yard marker at the range. With a Claymore, you can liven up the family reunion with clay target games in the backyard or hone your shotgun skills prior to hunting season.

Recommended


Caldwell Claymore Target Thrower
(Photo courtesy of Brad Fitzpatrick)

Based on my own experience and input from seasoned shooters, I’ve concluded that most upland birds and waterfowl are missed for two reasons: improper gun mount and failure to follow through. If you master those two elements, your shotgun proficiency will increase immediately, and more birds will fall while you’re in the field. At most trap and skeet ranges, you’ll get 25 shots per round, which might equate to 100 shots a day if you spend several hours shooting. However, with a Claymore target thrower, you can practice those fundamental skills of gun mount and follow through over and over, clearing out a box of 140 targets on your lunch break if you’d like. The Claymore’s convenience will quickly improve your shotgun skills.

Caldwell Claymore Target Thrower
(Photo courtesy of Brad Fitzpatrick)

The Claymore is hardly just a tool to help you shoot better. Caldwell’s new target thrower is great fun, and it will be a hit with anyone in your family who likes breaking clays. Kudos to the team of Caldwell for finally bridging the gap between electric and mechanical throwers. There’s no doubt that the Claymore will quickly become the portable thrower of choice for every shotgunner from the weekend warrior to the Olympic hopeful.

Caldwell Claymore Target Thrower Specs:

  • Operation: Mechanical (pedal)
  • Target Size: 108mm (standard)
  • Target Capacity: 50
  • Weight: 35 lbs
  • MSRP: $329.99

For more information on Caldwell’s Claymore Target Thrower, visit: Caldwellshooting.com

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