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Gunsmith prices for chopping a barrel?

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing and Repairs' started by BigBlock, Jul 5, 2008.

  1. BigBlock

    BigBlock member

    Thinking about getting my Super Blackhawk cut down to about 4". Just a simple chop, smooth, and crown, and then re-attach a sight. Can anyone tell me what a reasonable price would be to expect from a gunsmith to do this?

    Thinking about doing it myself but I'm afraid I'll scratch my gun or something. :uhoh:
  2. kcshooter

    kcshooter Well-Known Member

    Chop and crown shouldn't be much, $50 range, but the sight reattachment might run a bit more. I don't know how they are attached on the Blackhawks so I couldn't guess.
  3. Geno

    Geno Well-Known Member

    Why not call the company and ask the cost of a new barrel?

    Each time that I read a "chop-the-barrel" thread, I get that fingernails-down-the-chalkboard sensation. Why destroy a perfectly good firearm? Every modification that I have ever made to a firearm, I have made only after confirming that I could reverse the modification to put the weapon back to original manufacture.


  4. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Well-Known Member

    Well you can chop a barrel in several ways, but the right way is not inexpensive.

    First the barrel should be removed from the frame, and doing that right involves some special tooling. Then the barrel should be cut off in a lathe and the muzzle crowned.

    The original front sight has to be removed from the stub and then silver soldered back on the shortened barrel, or a new sight put on in the same manner. Then after the finish on the barrel is cleaned up (I presume it's stainless) it can be screwed back on the frame.

    Doc has a point. It might be better to look into having the factory make a barrel change, and then sell the old one to partly recover the cost. Under some circumstances it cheaper to sell the revolver you have, and apply the money you receive plus the cost of cutting down the old barrel toward buying another gun with the barrel length you want.

    Of course you can always get a hacksaw.... :what:
  5. BigBlock

    BigBlock member

    What the heck is wrong with shortening a barrel? How does that "destroy" a perfectly good firearm? :rolleyes: People do it all the time, with very good results. Ruger wants $80 to fit a barrel plus an unknown cost for the new barrel itself. It CAN be reversed at any time, but there's no reason anyone would want to. People LOVE the extra short barreled Blackhawks. It will likely go up in value.

    Why does it have to be cut on a lathe? A cut is a cut isn't it...as long as it's straight? I may have a gunsmith do the whole thing, or I might just cut it off myself and let him deal with the crown and sight. I've seen plenty of "hacksaw" jobs that came out looking better than my stock barrel. I may not be a gunsmith, but I've cut plenty of metal pipe in my life.

    Mainly I'm just interested in what I should expect to pay for the services of a local gunsmith so I don't get ripped off...

    I'm keeping it rather than selling and buying a different one mainly for sentimental reasons.
  6. mnrivrat

    mnrivrat Well-Known Member

    I am headed over there now to look for it, but you might try the Brownell's web site for that information. They take a survey of standard gunsmithing costs and have it in their catalog - not sure about the web site.

    There are of course different metods of getting the same job done - some lower tech that others, and with a bit of patience and reason that low tech approach can work out just fine. I have cut a few barrels in my day using different techniques.

    Old Fuff and others have valid points for you to consider - not everyone can just hacksaw off a barrel and get it squared up, and the crowning true to the bore without having some equipment or special skills/knowledge. Sometimes the cost can exceed a flat out barrel replacement or gun trade.

    Amoung gunsmiths the cost will vary widely . Sometimes because of how they do their work, and sometimes just because. To cut a barrel shorter is not rocket science for sure, but to do it right takes more than a pipe cutter or a hacksaw. You at least should have a file ! LOL :D

    Depends on finish work as well, and the hardest part can be re-mounting a front sight. Good luck, and like I said , I am headed over to Brownells web page to see if they post that gunsmithing average charges thingy there. WIll give us a better idea perhaps.

    EDIT: Didn't find it at the web site but according to the catalog I have here a survey of gunsmithing prices would be : $35 to $95 to cut and crown the barrel, $50 to $75 to sweat on a new front sight. This does not include any refinishing. You can see the cost has a good wide variance .
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2008
  7. BigBlock

    BigBlock member


    I'm thinking about having a dovetail cut for the front sight instead of soldering...anyone have any thoughts on that?
  8. Jim K

    Jim K Well-Known Member

    When I read "chop the barrel", I too get the willies, not about destroying a firearm but because a writer who uses that term usually doesn't really understand what is involved. Thinking of a quick hacksaw job, he underestimates the cost and then raises cain when he gets the bill for a job done right.

  9. Geno

    Geno Well-Known Member

    The single-best barrel cuts I have ever seen (when I had my FFL) was by Mag-Na-Port. Their process is awesome, and worth the funds. For what it is worth, I have seen people who had a pistol with a set of barrels: a 2" or 3" or 4" and a 7.5". One guy had a custom case made and carried the whole kitten kaboodle. It looked sharp. That is increasing the resale in thhe future. But, that is just my opinion. It isn't my firearm.

  10. BigBlock

    BigBlock member

    I agree completely the finishing (crowning, etc) and sight should be done by a gunsmith, but I think any competent metal worker can cut a straight barrel. I have a nice electric miter saw that I'm sure could do the job just fine, I just can't bear to hit my beautiful gun with a saw. :what:

    And if I don't shorten it somehow I'll always curse the day I bought the wrong one (5.5") because nobody had the shorter barrel in stock. :cuss:

    I'd love to have interchangeable barrels but I don't think you can change barrels on a Blackhawk without a ton of work can you?
  11. machinisttx

    machinisttx Well-Known Member

    Let me guess, you're a welder or a pipe fitter? I don't intend that as an insult--simply that most I've encountered have a "it's good enough" mindset that doesn't work out well when paired up with close tolerances or delicate work. I watched the local community college's welding program ruin a brand new lathe(not a cheap lathe either) in about a year.

    In either case, unless you have access to proper equipment, as well as the knowledge necessary to use it, take it to a gunsmith or send it off. It will be cheaper than paying the gunsmith to fix it later. Seriously, it will be cheaper to have it done right the first go round than it will be for the gunsmith to fix problems created in addition to the work you want done.

    The short answer is no, an "electric miter saw" won't get the job done right. I haven't seen one yet that can actually make a true, square cut. If it's the type that uses abrasive discs, the heat generated will ruin both the finish and the heat treating of the gun. The end result of that will be either a dead soft barrel, or one that's so hard it can't be crowned. If it ends up being the latter, the barrel would probably shatter the first time it was fired. If it's the type of saw that uses circular saw type blades, it's going to roll a huge burr into the bore, making it that much harder to crown. The above issues don't even address the fact that the cut will not be perpendicular to the axis of the bore.
  12. mnrivrat

    mnrivrat Well-Known Member

    The same Brownell's survey lists dovetails as a $50 to $95 service charge.

    I can't say how accurate those prices are as I have always just done my own work. And yes, I have shortened barrels and re-set sights, and dovetailed for sights, as well as many other services of that nature. The fact of the matter is in this business you don't need credentials to hang a Gunsmithing sign in your window. The type of work and the skill of the person along with the tooling make the difference between a poor job and a very good one.

    I've seen some crap work done by schooled gunsmiths and some excellant work done by persons who have skill and the patience to use that skill to produce good results.

    The prices in the Brownells guide always seem rather high to me, but they are likely generated by dedicated and skilled shops. There are somethings you can indeed do for yourself and have it come out very well - depends on your skill level, and your ability to know your limits. I tend to agree with those who want to make a gun into what pleases them - if that means shortening a barrel, so be it. Recognizing the alternatives and the costs are just part of the process and project.

    Good luck with your project.

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