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Inspecting a Model 21 for a Loose Rib and for Rust Between the Barrels
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.
Andy took these photos during the restoration process.
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.
©2003, M.C. Manges