Doing up your old gun can take time and leave a large dent in your pocket. Follow Michael Yardley's tips for shotgun restoration
Tips for shotgun restoration is useful knowledge if you have decided your old gun is worth it. Restoration can be a timely and costly venture. Michael Yardley’s tips for shotgun restoration are invaluable to making the most of the process and considering that difficult question: sentiment aside, is your cherished old gun really worth restoring?
To read more tips for shotgun restoration, read restoring your old shotgun to discover the work and costs involved. Or, if you are struggling to find a fantastic gunsmith, read top 10 gunsmiths. Where to take your gun.
TIPS FOR SHOTGUN RESTORATION
Read Michael Yardley’s tips for shotgun restoration before embarking on a project.
- Set a budget.
- Don’t over-restore. For, example, original but faded colour hardening on an action may look better than bright brush polishing (or new colour hardening).
- If re-blacking barrels, consider refreshing the engraving of the maker’s name.
- Replacing screws or re-cutting and re-engraving heads can make a huge difference to final look at only modest extra cost.
- If you need to re-proof the gun, consider extending chambers to 23⁄4in as pressures are no greater and value as well as versatility will be enhanced.
- Consider modern techniques such as laser micro-welding (as offered by Carr’s Welding Technologies) to repair pitting on lock plates and action furniture.
- Trigger guards and action furniture may, like screws, be re-engraved without much cost but to good cosmetic effect.
- Replace any springs, swivels or strikers that are worn.
- If a stock needs extending, consider doing this by means of a Silver’s pad, which may add as much as a 1in (more with a spacer) and which will be more in keeping with an older gun aesthetically.
- If you are re-sleeving or re-barrelling, one of the best tips for shotgun restoration is ensure barrels are regulated for point of impact as well as pattern, and try to match the weight distribution of the original barrels.
- If you are re-chequering the stock make sure the work is done by a master craftsman as a mediocre job can mar an otherwise competent restoration.
- Use the gun normally to develop patina on the new finish.
KEY QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE EMBARKING ON A RESTORATION PROJECT
One of the top tips for shotgun restoration is asking yourself this series of questions, no matter how difficult the answers may be.
- How old is the gun?
- Has the gun had much work done to it before? For example, is the grip thin from refinishing?
- Has it been subjected to extended storage or continual use or abuse?
- What are the bores like?
- Has the gun been re-proofed at some stage?
- Are the barrels and chambers the original length?
- How much choke is left in them?
- Are they tight on the action face?
- Was the gun nitro-proofed when made?
- What do the bores measure – both 9in from the standing breech (as is required by law to assess proof status) and, critically, for minimum wall thickness? Will refinishing leave them too thin?
- Are the ribs firmly attached to the barrels?
- Do they ring when tapped, or rattle?
- Are there any cracks in the action? Note especially the area where the standing breech meets the action table, and, if a Boss gun, around the hinging bushes.
- Do ejectors, triggers, strikers, top lever and safety function properly? (Some old guns have ejectorA systems that are easier to work on than others, and it is much the same with single triggers – some specimens of which can leave even a competent gunsmith bewildered.)
- Is there significant pitting? How deep is it? n Would repair be worthwhile?
- Is the engraving worn?
- Are screws/pins in good condition?
- Are there any cracks in stock or fore-end? (To be sure, it may be necessary to disassemble the gun and remove the locks in the case of sidelocks.)
- Is the case in need of replacement or restoration?