Quantcast

LC Smith Double

Discussion in 'Shotguns' started by Michael Tinker Pearce, Dec 8, 2019.

  1. Michael Tinker Pearce

    Michael Tinker Pearce Member

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2016
    Messages:
    1,115
    I was perusing the shelves at Pinto's Guns and happened across an LC Smith 12-gauge double. It had been liberally slathered with a thick layer of shellac over the entire exterior, the fore-stock was broken, the barrels had some pitting- it was, in a word, ugly.
    nJRbha9.jpg

    On the other hand it locked up like a bank vault, the triggers are superb, there's easily enough metal to hone the barrels and the English Walnut stock is a pretty nice hunk of wood. Did I mention that it was cheap? After a brief negotiation I handed them a card and walked out with it.

    oembXFe.jpg
    Thick, icky, gloopy shellac. Yuck.

    I was considering getting a pair of 20" .45 ACP barrel-blanks and using them to line the bores to shoot .44-55 Walker, but after cleaning the barrels I consulted a buddy in Norway that makes double rifles and shotguns. I think I am going to hone the bores and keep it as a shotgun. If that doesn't work out, well, there's always Plan A.

    A couple hours with acetone, 0000 steel wool, rags and a toothbrush and the shellac is gone. Underneath there was... a pretty nice old shotgun, actually. I put a thin coat of lacquer on the stock to seal/preserve it, but I'll need to make a new fore-stock and will probably refinish the stock to match.
    z8P1xSZ.jpg

    Now that it's clean the damascus really pops-
    18huOwV.jpg
    Right now I'm in conservation mode, but a full restoration is not off the table; I haven't decided yet. From the wear on the checkering this gun had a long, long working life, and I fully intend to put it back to work!

    Full details- this is a Hunter Arms Company L.C. Smith shotgun, Grade No.0 (their second lowest grade) made in 1908. 30" barrels with modified chokes, English Walnut stocks and damascus barrels. This gun listed at $48 in 1908, when the average wage was $39 a month; these were not the weapons of the casual sportsman!

    Very happy with this; I've been wanting a nice damascus gun for a few years now, and I think this is going to work out very well.
     
  2. 1KPerDay

    1KPerDay Member

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2006
    Messages:
    16,132
    Location:
    Happy Valley, UT
    Fascinating. Looking forward to future reports.
     
  3. 94045

    94045 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2018
    Messages:
    1,140
    Got a friend that shoots a LW 16 ga from the same era. Nice to see another one getting back in service.

    The lugs at the rear of the lock plates tend to cause the stock to split from a combination of poor fitting, loose screws, to heavy loads and/or gun oil that settles from being stored butt down. The pre-1913 guns seem to be better in this regard. If yours is unsplit you might consider bedding in this area if it's to be a shooter and collectibility isn't a primary concern.
     
  4. Michael Tinker Pearce

    Michael Tinker Pearce Member

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2016
    Messages:
    1,115
    Good to know- I'll look into that! Thanks.
     
    LoonWulf likes this.
  5. Armored farmer

    Armored farmer Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2010
    Messages:
    6,767
    Location:
    South Eastern Illinois
    I have a LC in 20ga, not Damascus.
    I'd like to have a matching 12ga.
     
  6. eastbank

    eastbank Member

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2009
    Messages:
    4,156
    the main problem with older shotguns (pre-30,s) is that if any parts break your up the cheek with out a paddle, or very costly. don,t ask me how I know. I shoot a few older shotguns with twist barrels with 2 dram blackpowder-1 oz shot. have your shotgun checked out by a gunsmith before fireing.
     
  7. 1KPerDay

    1KPerDay Member

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2006
    Messages:
    16,132
    Location:
    Happy Valley, UT
    That’s part of the fun. Making or sourcing parts for old planes, boats, cars, motorcycles, and guns builds the relationship with the machine and makes the experience when everything is working right that much more enjoyable. :cool:


    until you miss a nice pheasant because your mainspring broke and you have to have your 1946 Ford towed home :D
     
  8. Michael Tinker Pearce

    Michael Tinker Pearce Member

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2016
    Messages:
    1,115
    Worst come to their aren't many parts on these older guns that I can't fabricate in-shop. :)
     
    LoonWulf likes this.
  9. kudu
    • Contributing Member

    kudu Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2003
    Messages:
    4,046
    Location:
    north central indiana
    Do the barrels ring? If you hang the barrels by the forearm hanger with a string or shoelace and tap them with a small brass hammer or screwdriver to see if they ring to check if the solder used on the barrels have split or broken loose anywhere. If it goes 'clunk', there is some separation someplace.
     
  10. Michael Tinker Pearce

    Michael Tinker Pearce Member

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2016
    Messages:
    1,115
    Before I even handed them my card. :) Rang like a church bell.
     
    1976B.L.Johns., kudu and LoonWulf like this.
  11. DocRock

    DocRock Member

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2019
    Messages:
    606
    Location:
    Colorado Springs
    Looking forward to more on this. Nice find!
     
    Michael Tinker Pearce likes this.
  12. entropy

    entropy Member

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2004
    Messages:
    8,657
    Location:
    G_d's Country, WI
    I am glad you picked this one up. Like Armored farmer, I'm also looking for a 12 ga LC Smith for pheasant hunting. My hunting buddy has a Stevens 311 20, which he calls "Blondie" for the very light wood, and a Parker 20 he got this summer. I see the shooter-grade LC Smiths at Cabela's with enough regularity that I should be able to pick one up sometime next year. This year all my shotgun money goes towards a Ljutic trap gun.
    I can't wait to see how this turns out; the buttstock is a nice piece of wood.

    Once it's all done, these guys are your new friends when it's time to shoot it:
    http://www.rstshells.com/
    They load specifically for older shotguns, they have some real light loads, and the shorter shells down to 2", for the older chambers.
     
    Michael Tinker Pearce likes this.
  13. Michael Tinker Pearce

    Michael Tinker Pearce Member

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2016
    Messages:
    1,115
    I have a few boxes of their shells on the shelves already for some of my other shotguns. Not just light- they are really, really good!
     
    entropy likes this.
  14. Larry Ashcraft

    Larry Ashcraft Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2002
    Messages:
    12,287
    Location:
    Home of Heroes, Pueblo, CO, USA
    I had an Elsie years ago, field grade, no finish and not damascus. After the lead ban, I retired it and eventually traded it off. It's the only gun I wish I had back. I had several doubles on ducks with it. Fine pheasant gun too.
     
    Michael Tinker Pearce likes this.
  15. Michael Tinker Pearce

    Michael Tinker Pearce Member

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2016
    Messages:
    1,115
    I've found a decent source for bismuth shot, so I'll be firing up the reloading press...
     
  16. SwampWolf

    SwampWolf Member

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2005
    Messages:
    5,106
    Location:
    North Central Ohio
    Nice job getting an old classic back in the game.
     
    Michael Tinker Pearce likes this.
  17. kozak6

    kozak6 Member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2011
    Messages:
    1,268
    Location:
    Arizona
    Are you sure you feel safe shooting damascus barrels?
     
  18. Michael Tinker Pearce

    Michael Tinker Pearce Member

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2016
    Messages:
    1,115
    If everything checks out after honing? Absolutely. I've got friends in Europe, and according to them people there shoot them all the time. In fact they think we're nuts not to. I know a surprising number of people in the US do also, both for hunting and sporting clays. Even though we don't have official proof houses in the United States, a maker in 1908 (when this gun was made) would have had to have been insane to sell guns that couldn't shoot smokeless, and L.C.Smith was a luxury brand. My particular gun (from the wear on the checkering and surface weathering on the metal) was likely in use for decades before being 'retired' to it's ignominious shellacked state.

    More importantly a few years back a writer for the Double Gun journal tested a bunch- if memory serves 23- of the nastiest damascus guns he could find with modern Remington proof loads (18,000 PSI.) Not a single gun exhibited any issues with the chambers or barrels, though some of them loosened up a bit. He had to create special over-proof loads to get one to blow- and it took 32,000 PSI if I recall correctly. The conclusion he reached was that damascus barrels blow for the same reason that normal steel barrels do- either they are fired with a plugged bore or have been seriously over-honed.

    Mind you, this doesn't mean you shouldn't feed an antique gently, whether it's damascus or regular steel. The rules for damascus are the same as for any other antique shotgun. They're old, and a steady diet of high-powered or extra-high powered modern loads will likely accelerate wear, causing the gun to loosen up. Also any antique gun should be checked over carefully, preferably by a knowledgeable gunsmith, before being fired.

    At some point we can discuss the early 20thC. gun-makers systematic campaign to discredit damascus; it's a tale told in the advertising of the time. By claiming these guns were unsafe they could charge a premium for the 'superior' (and much cheaper to manufacture) 'fluid steel' guns.

    To be perfectly clear, I am not saying that every damascus gun is absolutely safe for any modern load. I'm saying if you get a good one, have it thoroughly checked out and treat it with respect for it's age, it's as likely to be safe as any shotgun of comparable age and quality.
     
    whughett and entropy like this.
  19. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2002
    Messages:
    25,947
    Now there's the hangup. I have seen it said of every old gun and many rather modern guns. Finding somebody knowledgeable and willing to take on the liability of telling you a hundred year old gun is sound seems difficult.
    Other places have the mechanism in place. I read of one gun sent back to England to the corporate successor of its maker. It was rechambered for available ammo and proof tested.
     
    Michael Tinker Pearce likes this.
  20. Michael Tinker Pearce

    Michael Tinker Pearce Member

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2016
    Messages:
    1,115
    This can be a problem. I've had help from some friends in the industry (primarily in Europe) so I'm actually confident I can do my own inspections... but I'd hesitate to do one for someones else.
     
  21. SwampWolf

    SwampWolf Member

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2005
    Messages:
    5,106
    Location:
    North Central Ohio
    Well, if nothing else, at least you're wearing the right gear for proof-testing a gun. :)
     
  22. entropy

    entropy Member

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2004
    Messages:
    8,657
    Location:
    G_d's Country, WI
    IIRC, Swampwolf, guns are why steel armor became obsolete. (To be fair, the English longbow and the crossbow are why chain mail became obsolete.)
     
  23. Michael Tinker Pearce

    Michael Tinker Pearce Member

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2016
    Messages:
    1,115
    :D
    One thing I am NOT going to do is proof test it! If I judge it's usable after honing the bores I'm going to treat it to a limited diet of nice, gentle RST loads... and maybe some carefully loaded bismuth shot for waterfowl.
     
  24. whughett

    whughett Member

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2008
    Messages:
    2,158
    Location:
    Rhode Island/Florida
    One of the nice things about the net is one can readily find suppliers. Everything one needs to load for old shotguns is available. I’ve an old Remington 1894 double, mfg. 1910. While I have the luxury of both steel and Damascus barrels, and the book says Remington proof tested both to what is to day SAMI data, So far I’ve only loaded black powder loads.
     
    Michael Tinker Pearce likes this.
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice