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 Post subject: Old guns - steel shot...?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 22, 2017 7:21 pm 
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Joined: Sun Sep 10, 2006 3:12 pm
Posts: 3690
Guys recent post about a couple of shotguns he is parting with has me asking a question. Specifically is there a way to modify an old gun to safely shoot steel etc. I work with a gentleman who hunts more geese and shoots a shotgun more than anyone I know. He has a variety of old shotguns he hunts with shooting steel shot through all of them, For example; he has a post WW-II mauser bolt action shot gun he uses regularly. Like all his guns the forcing cone is lengthened and the choke is opened up until the gun patterns well with his chosen steel shot. He has a gunsmith do this work and claims it is perfectly safe, as does his smith. Does any one have a definitive source for an answer or is it just a matter of time?

I have seen several barrels spit w/ steel shot. I different gun smith I know of cuts off the damaged ends and they are used for teaching aids in firearms safety classes. Of the last three I saw, all were cut off and threaded for screw in chokes and handed back the owners pronounced "safe" for steel shot. What say you? CL

Pray hard and shoot straight...

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 Post subject: Re: Old guns - steel shot...?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 22, 2017 8:05 pm 
Probably the best answer is "it depends".

The part of the barrel that gets the most brunt is the choke. Lots of those old waterfowl guns (like my M12) had a fixed full choke and steel shot tends to be harder than that barrel steel. No one ever thought of steel shot back in the day it was made. When steel shot came out, people hated it and the only way to compensate for the lighter weight was to up the shot size and up the velocity...and stuffing a big wad of hard steel shot through a choke at high speed usually had disastrous results. Ringed barrels or just outright splits happened. A common fix was to lop off the choke and stick on one made for steel or open the choke up to make some room for the steel passing through.

Older guns with more open chokes tend to do a bit better with steel, especially upland guns shooting smaller shot with modern shot cups at less speed. The shot is still harder than the barrel, but buffered loads and lower speed reduces the amount of damage- you'll still tear something up, but it takes longer.

Guns with thinner barrels are more susceptible- doubles particularly since they tend toward thin barrels to save weight. A buddy of mine has a very old Marlin "Goose Gun" with a giant schedule 80 pipe of a barrel. He opened the choke to IC, shoots steel in it and never looked back. Splitting that barrel would be a feat. An older double with paper thin barrels would never be that forgiving.

Of course, the older the gun and softer the steel the worse the idea gets..really old stuff with Damascus or twist barrels most likely should be retired with anything and go to the wall.

A friend of mine in California in a lead free zone shoots steel in his Fox double...I thought he was crazy. The chokes are pretty open and he loads reduced dram...he hasn't broken it...yet.

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 Post subject: Re: Old guns - steel shot...?
PostPosted: Mon Apr 10, 2017 3:41 pm 

Joined: Sat Apr 18, 2009 10:15 pm
Posts: 955
Location: Parker,Tx
I just shoot something other than steel in my older guns.
Rio makes a Bismuth load that I shoot.

I did buy a replacement barrel for my Browning A5 Lt 20 too.

Your mind is your primary weapon,never let it get rusty.

NRA Endowment Member

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