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To chop it or not?

Discussion in 'Shotguns' started by Macchina, Feb 11, 2013.

  1. Macchina

    Macchina Active Member

    Nov 14, 2006
    I inherited a non-sentimental 12ga NEF shotgun from my Dad. It's in good shape and I plan on keeping it where I hunt so I don't need to lug my 870 up there. I use it to go out in the swamp when the urge gets me to hunt rabbit or woodcock.

    The gun currently has a 27.5" modified choke barrel. I'd like to chop it to 18.5". I use a lathe at work and could reinstall the bead on a Bridgeport so the only question I have is the open choke. I know it would be good for protection of the cabin, but how about hunting in the situation I described? How much louder should I expect it to be?
  2. foghornl

    foghornl Mentor

    Dec 27, 2002
    Your rabbits & birds would need to be fairly close shots, {maybe no more than 25-30 yds} and that open bore should work quite well with standard plain lead slugs if your are hunting Bambi.
  3. Chevelle SS

    Chevelle SS Active Member

    May 30, 2012
    You will have a lot of kick if you cut down that barrel.
  4. Macchina

    Macchina Active Member

    Nov 14, 2006
    Why more kick? I'll be removing under a half pound from the total weight of the gun. Are you saying that a short barrel somehow generates more recoil?
  5. TurtlePhish

    TurtlePhish Senior Member

    Nov 25, 2011
    The (Un)Constitution(al) State
    The shorter barrel won't generate any more recoil on its own.

    I think the issue is that even removing under a half pound of weight from a gun that's already very light for a 12ga might make it just plain brutal.
  6. Hunterdad

    Hunterdad Participating Member

    Dec 23, 2009
    Syracuse, NY
    I used to have an NEF with a 19" barrel. I rarely shot slugs through it, but when I did I used low recoil slugs. It wasn't bad at all.
  7. jogar80

    jogar80 Active Member

    Aug 31, 2009
    Brownsville, Tx
    I have 2 winchester pumps that I cut down to 18". This has made them much handier in the woods. I have not noticed any increase in muzzle blast, nor any appreciable difference in max range. There is definitely NO increase in recoil. And I love the way it looks with the shorter barrel. Go for it.
  8. Deltaboy

    Deltaboy Mentor

    Nov 21, 2008
    Take it to a gun Smith and have it cut down and treaded for screw in chokes unless you can do it at your work shop.
  9. clang

    clang Active Member

    Nov 17, 2005
    Cutting down the barrel will definitely reduce the guns moment of inertia, or inclination to swing at a steady rate. This is fine in snap shooting circumstances where you do not need to follow a moving target, but it makes moving targets where you need a steady swing more difficult.

    Cylinder choke is also usually a little too open for most hunting circumstances, but if the woods are think and you do not take long shots, it might be OK for you.

    If you are just itching for a project, how about using a gauge to figure out where to cut the barrel to get an Improved Cylinder Choke (maybe 1-2" into the barrel) and cut the barrel down to make it so. You will probably wind up with about a 26" barrel, the swing should be a little more lively and you will have a decent choke for most hunting.
  10. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    Sep 17, 2007
    Eastern KS
    I would cut it in a heartbeat.

    It should be perfect for swamp rabbits and woodcock.

    I grew up quail hunting with a sawed off 20" 12 ga single-shot.

    That gun killed more quail in the thick brush then you could shake a stick at.

    And my 1 quail per shell ratio went to heck when I got a better gun with a long Mod choke barrel again.

  11. Deer_Freak

    Deer_Freak Member.

    Dec 20, 2012
    North Carolina
    The gun is an heirloom. Once you cut it down it's trashed. You can not put it back. Buy a $200 pump and play I wana be a gunsmith with it.
  12. Bud Tugly

    Bud Tugly Active Member

    Feb 8, 2007
    Ishpeming, MI
    If it had been my dad's gun I'd keep it exactly as is. Take it out to shoot it a couple of times a year but otherwise keep it in a place of honor to remember him by.

    Then go to nearly any gun shop and you can find an old beater single shot for less than $100 to cut down. I cut down an old H&R 12 gauge and used it as a swamp gun for grouse, rabbits, and woodcock. It patterned great out to about 30 yards and that's all you ever need if you're hunting thick cover.

    Unless you enjoy a bruised shoulder, I'd stick to lighter loads of 1 1/8 oz or less. Those single shots get brutal with heavier loads, especially in 12 gauge. No need for them for what you're planning anyway.
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2013
  13. Sav .250

    Sav .250 Senior Member

    Jun 5, 2007
    Central Fla
    I believe Remington makes a load/box for such a set up. Load stays together for a little longer. Could help your non-choke situation.. I believe.
  14. natman

    natman Senior Member

    Feb 11, 2007
    Cutting the barrel from 28 to 18" will definitely make it louder:

    12 Gauge
    28" barrel 151.50dB
    26" barrel 156.10dB
    18" barrel 161.50dB

    A 10 dB increase is a lot.

    It will also ruin the swing. I know that it's possible to adapt, but there is a huge difference in how a 18" and a 28" barrel swings. If you plan on doing wingshooting, I'd leave it as is.

    I'd keep the family heirloom original and get a $50 beater to cut down.
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2013
  15. ZVP

    ZVP Active Member

    May 20, 2010
    Don't cut it!

    Even though it's not a Parker, it was something more dear, it was youdr Dad's!
    Keep it as is, even without restoration. It's an heirloom.
    Go to a Hock shop and do as I did, buy a $200 used gun. Cut and play to your hearts content.
    Chopping will increase discharge noise and increase recoil.
    A Doouble with 20" bbls is ideal. You can flat out buy a Choked 20" Stoger Coach Gun. Maybe $250?
    I bought a Stoger Uplander and did some measuring and found thT MY 26" CHOKED barreks and 42" OAL matches the size of a chopped 870 cut to 20". I have full choke tubes and can change at will. The Uplander is a 20 Ga 3" chamber, so I can make power if I want. Besides it's a pretty, english style straight pistolgrip stock with a wide beavertail foreend. Triple"A" wood!
    I was gonna cut it in the beginning but tried it first and thought about the power and control of the shot string I would loose, and decided No Way!
    Please keep Dad's gun as-is!
  16. crazyjennyblack

    crazyjennyblack Member

    May 19, 2008
    Please don't cut your perfectly good barrel!!!!!!!!

    I'm also in the don't cut crowd, for four reasons:

    1. Sentimental value. It may seem OK now, but in future years you might regret it.
    2. You can get a new shotgun for about $100 at a walmart if you're determined to cut it down. I've also bought one of this exact style of gun at a garage sale for $40, in pretty good shape. Wait till summer and you might find a good buy.
    3. Cutting it yourself will never get the muzzle as square as a gunsmith or the factory can, and this can produce inconsistency in the pattern. Also be careful of how short you cut it.....
    4. For about $100, you can buy a spare barrel to go in your gun. Literally a drop-in fit. I've built a couple of this style of gun from bare receivers, and you can pretty much find barrels to make any combination you want. You can get a 20" or 22" barrel in 12 gauge, with a modified or full choke if you'd like. This way you can keep shooting your dad's shotgun, save the long barrel, and have a short barrel WITH the choke you desire.

    One source of parts:


    Anyway, think about it, and good luck. I hope you make a well-thought choice. ;)
  17. Black Knight

    Black Knight Participating Member

    Jun 19, 2006
    Charlottesville, VA
    Why not try to find another barrel for it? If you do have to chop it, think about a 20 inch barrel. It is short enough for defensive use and long enough for hunting. Both of my 870 Wingmasters have 20 inch barrels and are great all around guns.
  18. MattShlock

    MattShlock Active Member

    Jan 25, 2013
    Cut it and have it threaded for choke tubes -- what the heck.
  19. mcdonl

    mcdonl Senior Member

    Nov 24, 2008
    Southern Maine
    OP, did your dad pass away or did he just give you this gun because he no longer uses it?

    If it's the later, hack away.
  20. Macchina

    Macchina Active Member

    Nov 14, 2006
    My Dad is alive and well, I don't know where a couple guys got it from that he has passed away. I guess death is the only reason many people get guns from their Dads... I was thinking about picking up a cheap shotgun and asked him if he still had that H&R he never liked (shot it with some heavier loads and bruised up) and he gave it to me. The stock was chipped so I sanded it down (fit the stock to the action while I was at it) and re-stained it. It's definitely not factory original anymore.

    I guess the meat of my question is: will it drastically reduce the hunting abilities of the gun to have a short barrel and cylinder stroke? I am hoping to get advice from someone who hunts bunnies and woodcock with a similar gun to see if they wish they had a tighter choke.

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