Proper way to cut shotgun barrel?


August 25, 2008, 12:21 AM
What would be the proper way to cut a shotgun barrel in order to get a nice square cut in which a choke might later be installed? I can think of abrasive blades on a chop saw; pipe cutter; etc. What would a pro use and what might an amature use most effectively (not a hack saw). Thanks

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August 25, 2008, 12:34 AM
The absolute best way is to cut it off as square as possible, then place a tool Brownells/Midway sells to make it square to the boer (basically a metal bar that fits snugly in your barrel with a round disc that slowly sands down high spots until it is even).

If you don't know what you are doing, best to ask for help from someone who does, or take it to a competent gunsmith...

If there is a front sight bead, and you cut a little too much off square, it could have to be re-drilled and tapped for a new bead.

August 25, 2008, 12:50 AM
I can say a pipe cutter would be a very poor choice as it would make the bore smaller. Which would have to be ground off or expanded.

I would think a hack saw and a pipe clamb to keep the cut strait, would be the best bet for the average DIYer, using tools they most likly already have.

August 25, 2008, 02:35 AM
If possible I would go the route of just buying a new barrel. It may cost you a few dollars more, assuming that you have the tools for barrel cutting/refinishing....if not...then just buying a new barrel is WAY cheaper !!

August 25, 2008, 09:45 AM
Cut it with a hacksaw and square it with a belt sander or a lathe. I follow this sequence:



I made a lathe center to hold in a tailstock chuck. The center, well-oiled, runs inside the barrel for cutting the crown absolutely square.

The barrel is held in a 5C collet, but different brands have different breech geometries. Get creative!

Lathe cutting the crown:

Finished crown, cold blued with Oxpho blue:


August 25, 2008, 04:40 PM
+1 on a hacksaw, machinist square, and a fine-cut file.
(If you don't have a lathe & belt sander)

If the barrel doesn't have a rib on it, you can put a wrap of tape around the barrel and it will be square enough for Goobermint work on a riot gun barrel.

You mentioned later installation of choke tubes, but the choke installer folks will square the muzzle anyway.
So, if your hand job is off a frog-hair or two it will not matter.


Howard Roark
August 25, 2008, 05:07 PM
Looks like a South Bend lathe Clemson?

August 25, 2008, 06:31 PM
Looks like a South Bend lathe Clemson?


Looks very similar to the 1952 SB Heavy 10 out in my shop. His even appears to have the 1 for 1 large dials instead of the smaller 2 for 1 dials.

Howard Roark
August 25, 2008, 06:42 PM
machinsttx, It looks bigger than the heavy 10, more like a 14x48 or 60. Oh heck, what do I know? :)

August 25, 2008, 07:47 PM
Here's my do-it-yourself with minimal tools method.
This gives a surprisingly square cut with minimal filing.

Cutting down a shotgun barrel
Measure the existing barrel by closing the action (make sure it's empty) and putting a dowel rod or cleaning rod down the barrel.
Mark the rod even with the muzzle, remove it and measure from the end of the rod to the mark.
This is the actual barrel length.

Measure the rod to the length you want the barrel to be and mark it.
The barrel MUST be at least 18" long, and if you're smart, you won't go under 18 1/2".

After marking the rod at 18 1/2" or how ever long you want it, lay it along side the barrel with the FIRST mark even with the muzzle, then mark the barrel at the second mark.
This will be where the barrel will be cut.

STOP...... Start all over and measure everything AGAIN to be SURE.
Make sure the action is closed when you put the rod down the bore, and make SURE you measure everything RIGHT so the cut line isn't less than 18 1/2".
A smart man measures everything SEVERAL times. Cut too short and you just committed a FELONY.

Once you're SURE about where you want to cut, carefully wrap a piece of tape around the barrel, keeping it as square with the barrel as possible.
Buy a GOOD fine-tooth hacksaw blade and use it in a good high-tension saw frame.

When you're ready to make the cut...STOP... check everything out again one last time.

When you're SURE, make a one or two stroke gentle cut on the tape cut line. Then rotate the barrel and make another one or two stroke light cut.
Continue this until you have a shallow line cut all the way around the barrel.

Continue making one or two stoke cuts and rotating the barrel until the barrel is cut through.
Doing it this way insures you make a SQUARE cut that doesn't drift off and make the muzzle uneven.
This prevents having to do a lot of filing to try to square the muzzle up again.

Once the barrel is cut, use a fine-cut file to carefully remove the saw marks from the end of the muzzle, then use the file to break the sharp outer edge.
Wrap fine metal-type wet or dry sand cloth around the ball of your thumb, and use that to break the sharp inner edge of the muzzle.

Use cold blue to touch up the cut edge.

For a new front sight, either have a gunsmith install a new bead, or buy a Colonial Arms Remington type bead and base unit from Brownell's, and soft solder it on by "sweating" it in place.
Brownell's sell this as a "Colonial Arms" front sight base, item number 198-104-101.
You can also attach the base with the new Loctite "Black Max" adhesive.
This is a "glue" with a rubbery base made for attaching bases and ribs to shotguns.

August 25, 2008, 08:24 PM
The problem that has prompted my question is the fact that nobody makes a 18.5 inch barrel with a choke or choke system. By the time I buy an 18.5 inch barrel and have it choked I will have spent almost as much as a nice used shotgun. So, if I just buy the whole shotgun, cut the barrel myself, and then at my convenience have it rechoked, I will come out ahead.

What do ya'll think about a chop saw or metal cutting band saw?

Thanks guys.

Howard Roark
August 25, 2008, 08:42 PM
It will be hard to impossible cut a square muzzle with a band saw. The chop saw would be the better of the two options.

The reality is to not make a mess, Clemsons way is the best way to do it. If you want it choked at some point it would be best to let the gun plumber cut the barrel and choke it all at one whack. I bet a decent gunsmith would cut the barrel for almost free and just charge to thread it.

August 25, 2008, 10:25 PM
Looks like a South Bend lathe Clemson?

You guys are good!

South Bend 13x40. A pretty darned good gunsmithing lathe (in my opinion, anyway)!


August 25, 2008, 11:12 PM
I use a hacksaw and a machinist's square, OR a mill (simply hacksaw it and then zip an endmill across it), or a lathe to cut and face off the barrel.

I've had good luck with all three options, but a pipe cutter would be a joke.

Honestly, even other gunsmiths I know use a hacksaw and square it off with files if a lathe isn't handy or practical. :)

August 26, 2008, 04:08 PM
A pipe-cutter is a joke, for two reasons.

First, a shotgun barrel is tapered.
So a pipe cutter will want to walk down the taper and cut threads instead of staying in one place like it does on a pipe.

Second, it will leave a rather large burr compressed on the inside of the new muzzle.
(Look at the inside of a pipe that has been cut sometime!)


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