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Inspecting a Model 21 for a Loose Rib and for Rust Between the Barrels

G2100B Custom Built 12 Gauge

Built in 1935 the gun was ordered with a straight grip stock of select French walnut with a checkered butt and no engraving.  The order included three sets of barrels, yes three sets, all bored with 3-inch chambers.   Set one was 30" F/F, set number 2 was 28" M/F and set number 3 is 28" WS1 & WS2.

   I found the gun in Colorado and I suspect it spent a good bit of it's life on the marsh.  It had seen considerable use, most of the finish was worn off of the fore-end and butt stock.  About half of the blueing remained from a below average after market reblueing.  Therein lies the rub.  Whom ever reblued the gun used a hot blue process and allowed corrosive salts to penetrate under the rib and between the barrels.  Over time the salts corroded the barrels to the point that the F/F and M/F barrels were unsafe and had to be decommissioned.  There was so much loose rust between the barrels that it sounded like sand flowing as they were tipped up and down. 
    I arranged for Andy
Wojtowycz at 'The Custom Shop' to break down all three sets of barrels to determine if any could be saved.  Unfortunately, only the WS1 & WS2 were salvageable.  Andy rust blued them and Du-Lite blued the receiver, trigger guard, the small parts and refinished the stock.  The gun now is in good hands and back in service with the WS1 & WS2 barrels.

Andy took these photos during the restoration process.

a.) Barrels with matted rib removed.   Note the rust inside the rib.  Note the badly rusted barrel spacer.

b.) Full and Full barrels with the ribs removed.  Note the salt residue bridging the gap between the barrels.

c.) Muzzle end with the rib removed

d.) Muzzle end after sand blasting.   Note the depth of the pits at the thinest part of the barrels.

e.) Breach end after sand blasting.  Note the pits in the rib support.

f.) Mid-way along the Full/Modified barrels after sand blasting.

Since I've owned #3579 I've found another gun, a 20 gauge field, with the same problem.  The 20 gauge too, had been refinished and at first glance was a real eye catcher.  I was going to buy the gun until I removed the barrels and heard the sickening sound of flowing sand.

Quick Barrel Inspection Procedure

     The two most important things to watch for in a used Model 21, are a loose rib and rust between the barrels.  The former is easy to detect and repair.  Just hang the barrels from a finger and strike them with a knuckle of the other hand.  If they sound dull or klunk, check for a loose rib.

     Rust between the barrels can be a little harder to detect. Remove the barrels from the gun, strike them sharply with the base of your hand a few times to jar any rust loose.   Then tip them up and down while listening for the sound of sand flowing inside the space under the rib.

2003, M.C. Manges