Two ongoing shooting iron projects returned from the Colorado School of Trades today (photo, left.)
The iron to the left in the first photo still has more work ahead. This is a Winchester Model 12, 12 gauge, solid rib, made in the late 1940s. The gunsmith school applied a polish and gloss blue and tuned up the action. Next will come a new stock and fore-end, and then choke tubes – a tricky proposition, that, as Model 12s have notoriously thin barrel walls. Still, several choke tube installers/manufacturers have thin-wall tubes especially for these wonderful old guns, so while it’s limited to traditional, 2-3/4″ lead shot loads, it’s doable.
And doable is good in this case; the Model 12 is the gold standard of American pump shotguns. The gun started in (obviously) 1912 as a redesign of John Browning’s Winchester Model 1897, and had an eighty-year history. Model 12s saw service in game fields, duck blinds and trap/skeet ranges all over the U.S. and Canada (many other places as well, no doubt.) They even saw service in the U.S. military from the First World War through Vietnam.
It’s nice to have a nicely restored example of this fine shotgun in the rack.
The second arm, the one on the right in the first photo, is the Sears-marked version of the venerable Stevens 520a, again a 12 gauge, manufactured in 1945 or 1946. This one is done as is, having been polished, blued and tuned. Why put the effort into a gun with little or no collector’s value, even if it were untouched and original?
Simple: This was the Old Man’s gun, purchased with some of his demobilization pay when he came home to Iowa at the end of World War 2. Again a Browning design, the old Stevens has a lot going for it; like the Model 12 it’s a solid steel action, a breakdown gun that fits handily in a short carry case. It’s a good solid pheasant-killer, in no way fancy but effective – and durable.
You can pick these old Stevens shotguns up for a couple of C-notes when you can find them, but this one isn’t for sale at any price.