Cinderella Shotguns 101....


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Dave McCracken
February 18, 2005, 01:45 PM
The Cherokee was packed with two 870s and some empty hulls. I stepped into the clubhouse at PGC to utilize the facilities before leaving when I was hailed by an acquaintance. He held a much used A-5 and asked me if I thought it was worth restoring. It had been his Dad's, and he had inherited it shortly before. Looking it over, I noted the worn finish, a crack in the wood behind the receiver and another in the forearm. I told him the truth. "It's up to you"....

The world's full of used shotguns. Some are domestic models, others from foreign lands. Few have any record of where they've been or what they've done or had done to them. Some are treasures, and some are just plain trash when built or too far gone to restore for less than the weapon's worth.

And the most malicious are those that are just not quite right. Here's a tale....

Homeguy ran into a garage sale some years ago where an elderly couple were selling off the stuff they weren't taking to Florida to a retirement ghetto. He got a good price on a gun rack made of real wood,when he asked if there were any guns the pair were selling. The oldsters escorted him inside and showed him a SxS the man had dufflebagged back from Europe in 1945.

T'was a fine double of obvious quality but unknown maker. A 16 gauge, it had 30" barrels and a Germanic stocks with carving and raised cheekpiece. Nice engraving on the action and fences. The rib was swamped and the checkering ornate and well done.

Long story short, the double left with Homey. $200 of his money didn't. A nice double for $200? Read on....

The barrels passed a ring test. They were solid, straight and well made. What they weren't was chambered for modern ammo. The Demon of Short Chambers had cursed them. They were 2 9/16". The smith he took them to said he doubted there was enough metal to lengthen them. The chokes were too tight also.

Nowadays, there's a few sources of short 16 gauge shells, back then there was only one dealer in PA. His prices were a clear illustration of the Laws of Supply and Demand. Homey got a flat anyways, and learned a few shells into the first box that some trigger work was in order. If he fired the left barrel, connected to the rear trigger, first, the other barrel went off also.

Even good smiths do not keep parts for unknown doubles that need new sears. $150 later he had it fixed, and went back to the range for some patterning and test firing.

That raised cheekpiece gave COP about 6" high and left, as I recall. The thing weighed about 7 bs, a bit heavy for a 16 meant for the uplands. A bit nose heavy also with those long barrels.

All in all,getting things right would cost several times the bargain price. Last I looked, the shotgun was for sale.

However, I know of several doubles,all bringbacks, that serve well in the field and look good, but required little to make them fit new owners and missions.

One must proceed with caution when buying.

More used repeaters are out there, from A-5s to 37s to 12s to Police turnin 870s. Parts for all are available.

In fact, one could start with just an 870 receiver and add parts,mixing and matching to suit the owner/operator. I did.

Few of these old repeaters are worn out.100 old shotguns die from negligence for every one shot to uselessness. Some need small parts replaced for best working life, like O rings or friction pieces in some autos.

Some need new wood, easily gotten from outfits like Brownell's, Wenig's and Boyd's. Or, one can refinish the old, a good project for the off months.

New metal finishes are available, including the various phosphate finishes we call Parkerizing. Paints are out that one can use on a roached finish to make camo, solid color flat or gloss and so on.

Cold bluing can cover minor blemishes. More extensive damage may need to be done by a pro, but there's lots of those now and prices are reasonable.

How can someone decide if a particular shotguns is worth fixing up? Like I told the guy at the top of this page, it's up to you.

If possible, get a good smith to determine if the shotguns will do the mission you want after some adjustments. Those Spanish 10 gauge doubles will not make great grouse guns without major surgery, costing more than a decent 20 gauge purpose built for grouse.

In fact, having a smith look over any old purchase is a darn good idea.

A "serious" 870, OTOH,with bellsnwhistles can be built from an old cruiser gun without much trauma besides financial damage.

Or you can ask here.The usual suspects here have BTDT with darn near every shotgun known to Man.

Questions?....

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P95Carry
February 18, 2005, 02:22 PM
No questions Dave - just thx for a good read! :)

sm
February 18, 2005, 02:26 PM
The tall lanky fella really did not want to go, being married to a redhead at the time - being it was a co-workers of hers Barn Sale he HAD to go - or so he was informed. The tall lanky fella had a truck, offering to swap vehicles didn't work either -he had tried.

So while the womenfolk had their "hen party" the lanky fella made his way amongst the Barn, found him nice metal bucket for 50 cents, axe head for $2 , ball peen hammer head cost him a quarter...

The Uncle of the young lady holding the barn sale saundered up, with a cup of coffee in a styrofoam cup " you'd think these gals hadn't seen or spoken to each other in years...they just saw each other yesterday before start of the weekend"....

"Yeah I know" - replied the lanky fella. Then he spied it on the wall, over in the corner - looks like some shop work had been done over in the corner. Them holes look like a reloader once was mounted there, he reached up and sure enough it was a buttstock for a 870.

" Yeah Grandpa used to reload, his pet gun was a 20 ga Wingmaster" replied the Uncle. " Grandson got ahold of that gun when Pops went into the Hosptial once, and Pops was more sick about the 20 ga than what the Drs told him. Grandson was gonna "update it", put a syn stock on it , install chokes...he screwed the gun up big time...

...come on in the house, tell me what you think".

Lanky fella noticed the syn stock was not fitted very well. The Choke install was all wrong, threads didn't match up and there was a bulge near the choke. The reciever was stock, thank goodness it had not been messed with. The Forearm of beautiful wood was found in the desk ...


" I can't shoot shotguns anymore, injury in 'Nam messed up my neck, I can tell you are a shooter, skeet I believe I heard the Neice say...gimme $50 for what is left and I trust you will make it right...make it right for Pops".

Now I took that reciever and installed the original wood. I had the bbl shortened to 23" and had NuLine install external Knurled Chokes, Decelator recoil pad completed the gun. Wood Came back to life as it had before - the marble of walnut still showed through the satin finish instead the factory Gloss...

[I]A tear fell, "must be the ragweed" said the Uncle, Pops would have been real proud...I just found out I'm going to be a Grandpa again - hope that daughter of mine figured out how to make a boy this time around" ...

I told him what I had in the chokes , the pad and all, my labor, - well it was therapy for me - I had enjoyed putting back right what once was...

On a handshake a deal was struck, he needed to make payments to me - I left the shotgun - handshake was good enough for me....

There is 870 WM in 20 ga, with external knurled chokes being used by a Great Grandson , A Great Granddad is smiling, and the Uncle still gets tears - damn ragweed. ;)

Dave McCracken
February 18, 2005, 07:49 PM
Thanks, guys. You're very welcome, 95.

huntsman
February 18, 2005, 09:53 PM
Old woman down the road had some stuff out in the lawn for sale,not a real yard sale just stuff and a sign.

I stopped and she had assortment of paper shot shells in original boxes all 16gauge,I asked if she had any guns she wanted to sell.
She thought for awhile then said Frank her late husband had gotten shot in the early fifty's while out hunting,after he healed up he got rid of all his guns but the 16 gauge sxs he was carrying on that fateful day, he couldn't bare to part with it.
The gun had a rust spot on 1 tube from being left out in the field overnight and racked without being wiped down right away.

I told her I'd give her a fair price for it, so with $50. down I took it to a local gunsmith. He looked it over and said it was choked mod/full and he would bet there were less than 10 boxes of cartridges through it.This jived with what she told me so I gave her what the smith said it was worth.
I gave her $175. and ten bucks for the shells.

Another $30. went to open the chokes to imp/mod.
I hunted with it from 1983-99 every grouse/woodcock season without any problems at all,it turned out to be my best gun deal so far.

Dave McCracken
February 19, 2005, 09:26 AM
Good deal, Huntsman. A SxS 16 can be a sweet upland gun. Good on you for being honest.

Moondoggie
February 19, 2005, 10:42 PM
20 yrs ago my wife came home from some garage sales with an 870...she paid $65 for it.

Somebody had lopped several inches off of the bbl with a hacksaw, so next gunshow I picked up an 870 bbl w/poly choke for $35. (Not that I'm enough of a SG "expert" to care about what choke it has.)

The wood was in pretty bad shape, forearm had several large cracks (former owners must have been a total waste of space!) so I invested $49 for black synthetic replacements. Shot a lot of pheasant with it.

Recently added a Choate 9+1 mag tube for another $49, IIRC and a sidesaddle for $29.

Pretty OK HD/3 gun shotty for $227. Works flawlessly.

I know for sure it gets alot better care in my custody than it had in it's former life! I certainly think it qualifies as a Cinderella story.

Dave McCracken
February 20, 2005, 02:25 PM
It certainly does qualify, Moondoggie. I doubt I'd turn down the same, even if condition was less than perfect.

One can amass quite a collection buying very used 870s and restoring them to better condition. I did.

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