I Have This
Old Gun

by J. Scott Moore

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   Dear I Have This Old Gun,..

I have a Browning Auto-5 that may have been made by Remington. Serial # is B 19XXX . . . I’m not sure who made this gun . . .

 

 

 

 

 

Normally finding out information concerning a Browning Auto-5 is easy since much has been written about Browning firearms and the folks at Browning have a lot of historical info posted on their website. But this one stumped a few people for a while due to a missing “B”. When first researching the gun, the reader listed the serial number without the prefix B, which was the key to finding out about this gun. Without the prefix B, the serial number range was not correct for a gun of this vintage. The shotgun in question is known as the “American Browning” Auto-5. These Auto-5s were produced by Remington Arms, under license from Browning from 1940-47. Before I explain more about this gun, it’s best if we start with the history of the Auto 5.

The Browning Auto-5 was one of an estimated 80 different firearms designed by John M. Browning. We have covered some of his history in earlier columns (Browning B-27 and FN 1922) so please check out these out on our Website, www.trapandfield.com. This semi-automatic recoil-operated shotgun was the first successful gun of its type and is an icon in the shotgun world with its distinctive “Humpback” square-backed receiver.

Browning first offered the design to long time partner Winchester Repeating Arms Company but he could not come to terms with Winchester (it is said that T.G. Bennett didn’t believe the gun would sell). He then planned to offer the design to Remington Arms, but before the meeting could take place, the president of Remington, Marcellus Hartley, died of a heart attack in 1902. Browning turned to Fabrique Nationale d’Armes de Guerre (FN) who was already making Browning designed handguns (Model 1899 –FN, Model 1900 FN). FN was given world wide rights to the Auto-5, with the first one shipped to America September 17, 1903. FN would later face tariffs over this arrangement and Remington was granted rights to produce the gun in the U.S. under license from Browning. The first version was called the Remington Autoloading Shotgun (now known as the Pre-Model 11). This shotgun was made from 1905-1910. It was replaced by the Model 11 in 1911, and was made until 1948 and is the most common Remington version of the Browning design. The main difference in the Remington Model 11 and the Browning Auto-5 was the lack of a magazine cutoff on the Model 11. The first Auto-5s were made in 12-ga only; 16-ga was added in 1909 in Europe and 1923 in the U.S. It was not until the early 1940s during the “American Browning” period that 20-ga was added to the lineup. FN produced the Auto–5 until 1940 when Belgium was occupied by Germany and civilian firearm production ceased at the FN factory. FN began shipping Auto-5s again after the war in 1946; this lasted until 1976 when production was shifted to Miroku in Japan. The Auto-5 remained in the Browning line until 1998 when the final gun was shipped in February of that year. There was a last run of the Humpback in 1999 as a final tribute with a limited edition run of 1,000 being produced.

“American Browning” Auto-5

As I mentioned earlier, during World War II civilian firearms production ceased so Browning turned to Remington Arms to produce Auto-5s under the Browning name. These guns were true Auto-5s and included the Browning logo, but bore their own serial number range. The 12-ga models bore serial numbers beginning with a “B”, 16-ga guns started with “A” and “C” was used for the 20-ga. This is where the owner of this gun ran into trouble in his attempt to identify his shotgun. Without the “B” the gun’s serial range would have placed the gun being made in 1925 by FN which was incorrect and it was also out of the serial number range of Remington Model 11s. This Auto-5 looks like it has enjoyed many hours in the field and would be graded between 60 – 70% with a value of $275.

A New Auto-5 for 2012?

Well not really; it’s called the A-5 (not Auto-5 as its predecessor) and while it features the “Humpback” shaped receiver it’s a whole new breed of shotgun. This new shotgun features a totally new operating system that our good friend Scott Grange, Browning marketing guru, says is the softest shooting recoil-operating autoloader around and took six years to develop. While not a true Auto-5 it shows how much this design was loved and how it became the second best selling autoloading shotgun in the world. It’s a real tribute to one of America’s best firearms designers.

Gun Collecting Tip

As you can see this gun is not worth a lot of money but I decided to write about it as a good example of things to look for when researching the history of a firearm. Also examine all markings as they are clues to what you have. This includes the use of alpha characters in serial numbers. Early Auto-5 serial numbers were just numerical and the year of manufacture could be determined, i.e. Auto-5s made in 1926 had serial numbers between 33,001 and 48,000. This remained the standard for the non-American made Auto-5s (which as mentioned used A, B, C prefixes) until 1954 when a new serial number system was adopted using alpha prefixes. These letters where used to identify specific variations of the Auto-5 such as Lightweight variations were first marked with an L then later a G. So a shotgun bearing a serial number L42000 is a 12-ga Lightweight Auto-5 made in 1955. One having a serial number G85001 is a Lightweight 12-ga Auto-5 made in 1958. Over the years Browning added additional alpha / numerical combinations to identify their guns. For a complete list, visit their website. So the moral of this is when looking at a gun be sure to note all markings as they will help you unlock at least part of its history.

J. Scott Moore is a Firearms Industry professional with over 20 years experience in gun related retail, events and promotion. To have your handgun, rifle or shotgun considered for the column/blog, send an e-mail along with at least two digital photos  to Scott at ihavethisold@hotmail.com
or through Trap & Field Magazine at

1100 Waterway Blvd.
Indianapolis, IN 46202
fax: 317-633-2084

editorial@trapandfield.com

 

    

 

   Dear I Have This Old Gun,..
 

I have a Springfield Armory 1903 Mark I rifle, serial number 1,052,XXX, what can you tell me about it?

 

 

 

 

The Model 1903 is perhaps the finest U.S. made military rifle and is responsible for the development of one of the most popular calibers in American firearms history. Design work on the U.S. Rifle, Caliber .30, Model 1903, as it is officially known, began in the early 1900s to replace the Krag-Jorgensen U.S. Models 1892, 1896 & 1898 series of rifles. The Krag series of rifles was the first smokeless powder, bolt action repeating rifle adopted by the U.S. government. While the Krag’s design was a major step for the U.S. it was found to be lagging behind some of Europe’s rifle designs, especially the German Mauser. The success of the Mauser rifle led the U.S. Army Ordnance Department to develop a rifle that more closely matched that of the German gun. In 1901, 5,000 of these new rifles were ordered for experimental and testing purposes. It took nearly four years for these guns to reach the field for testing in 1905. These first 1903s were chambered in a new rimless .30 caliber cartridge loaded with a round-nosed 220 grain bullet known as the .30-03 Government. In 1906, the Ordnance Dept, once again followed the Germans who had introduced a spitzer bullet for their army, changed the cartridge for the 1903 to its own pointed bullet and reduced the weight to 150 grains. This new cartridge was renamed for the year of its development 1906 and was called .30 Model 1906 which commercially became known as the .30-06 Springfield and was considered by many the most popular American rifle cartridge of the 20th Century.

The ’03 remained in active duty from its introduction until the end of World War II, even though it was replaced as the primary service rifle in 1937 by the M-1 Garand. During that time it was updated with at least fifteen variants produced. These changes resulted in two major variations, the 1903 – A1 and the 1903 – A3 with lesser changes being made from them. The original 1903 was manufactured by two U.S. arsenals, the one at Springfield, MA and Rock Island, IL and with the majority being produced between 1903 and 1930. Springfield produced 1,028,634 while Rock Island made 346,779. The 1903 A-1 was produced from 1930 -1939 with the major difference being the use of a type C pistol grip stock. In 1941, as the U.S. entered WW II, Remington Arms became the first non-government manufacturer to make 1903s and produced nearly 350,000 A1s. In May 1942 the Army approved the 1903 A3. The version was modified for mass production and lower cost without compromising accuracy. There were 945,856 of these guns made by Remington and Smith Corona.

The gun in question here is a very unique version of the 1903 and represents an attempt by the Army to create a semi-automatic rifle out of a bolt action. The Mark I is a standard 1903 that has a small slot milled into the left side of the receiver and was designed to accept the Pedersen Device. This device was a special bolt assembly designed to replace the standard bolt and converted the rifle into a blowback weapon firing a small .30 caliber pistol round. The slot on the left side acted as an ejection port when used with the Pedersen Device. The Pedersen was not successful and the program was stopped. Approximately 102,000 Mark Is were made between 1918 and 1920. When used without the Pedersen Device inserted these guns functioned the same as any other 1903. The rifle mentioned here appears to be in very good condition at about 85-90% and has a value of $1,500 to $1,800. As a side note about the Pedersen Device itself; most were destroyed and command high premiums. Complete Pedersen Devices will bring $20,000 to $30,000 depending on condition.

As with most older firearms there are design or manufacturing issues that must be addressed. In the case of the early 1903s they were made with steel classified as Springfield Armory class C steel, which was considered brittle and should not be used with modern ammunition. Springfield Armory manufactured 1903s with serial numbers under 800,000 and Rock Island made guns with serial numbers below 285,507 should be considered being made from this brittle steel and not shot. Another interesting note about the design of the 1903; in 1905 the U.S. Government paid Mauser $200,000 for use of some of its patented designs.

J. Scott Moore is a Firearms Industry professional with over 20 years experience in gun related retail, events and promotion. To have your handgun, rifle or shotgun considered for the column/blog, send an e-mail along with at least two digital photos today to Scott at ihavethisold@hotmail.com
or through Trap & Field Magazine at

1000 Waterway Blvd.
Indianapolis, IN 46202
fax: 317-633-2084
editorial@trapandfield.com

 

    

 

   Dear I Have This Old Gun,..
As most stories go, my father passed a number of guns along; one is a Winchester Model 63, 22LR, serial number 662XXA. What can you tell me about it?

 

 

 

 

The Model 63 is Winchester’s first successful semi-auto 22LR rifle and was an improved version of the Model 1903. The 1903, or 03 as it is sometimes called, was Winchester’s first semi-auto rifle in any caliber. Designed by longtime Winchester designer/inventor Thomas Crossley Johnson, it is a simple blowback action gun using a balanced breech bolt. In layman’s terms, the weight of the breech bolt is proportional to the weight and velocity of the bullet. With this style of action, the recoil is absorbed by the breech bolt and does not began to cycle until the bullet leaves the barrel. In order to ensure the 1903 functioned correctly, it was chambered in a special cartridge known as 22 Winchester Automatic Rim Fire Smokeless, or simply 22 Winchester Automatic. This cartridge was specially developed for the 1903 and was loaded with smokeless powder as opposed to black powder or semi-smokeless powder, which was still being used in rimfire cartridges during this time. Black powder, due to its fouling nature, would have gummed up the action of the rifle. Production of this cartridge was dropped in the 1970s, and it has since become a collectors’ item.

Thomas Crossley Johnson began his long career at Winchester on Nov. 30, 1885. Johnson worked on many designs besides the two mentioned here, including the model 1905, 1907 and 1910 rifles. He also worked with legendary designer John M. Browning on the Model 11 shotgun. It was along with the Browning relationship that Winchester built much of its early success. After Browning left Winchester, the company had to ensure the public that they had inventors in-house who could continue their legacy of producing great firearms; the 1903 was used to drive home this point. In a letter sent out to customers and salesmen, Winchester pointed out that “. . . the Winchester Company, as a company, cannot invent anything. The people who are employed for that purpose are the real inventors. . . . The automatic . . . is an invention of Thomas C. Johnson, one of our employees.”

In 1932 Winchester ceased production of the 1903 and began redesigning the action to function with 22LR cartridges. This new and improved model was introduced in early 1933 as the Model 63. Model 63s generally came with 20˝ barrels (discontinued in 1936) or the more common 23˝ barrels, which first appeared in December 1934. Most featured a plain, non-checkered walnut stock. While the vast majority of these stocks were of the pistol grip variety, a few straight grip stocks were made and are rare. The stocks also held the 10-round tubular magazine and were fitted with a steel buttplate. These buttplates originally were smooth, and beginning around serial number 103,600, an uneven checkered pattern appeared. Both buttplates remained in production until around serial number 117,000, when the checkered style became standard.

Several different sights were used on the 63. Early guns used the Lyman number 3 gold bead front sight. At around number 50,000 the Winchester series 75 front sight became standard. All 63s used the series 32B as the standard rear sight. In addition, all rifles were tapped for receiver tang sights. Receiver sights and different front sights were available as options. Winchester began grooving some of the tops of the receivers for scopes at about number 156,000, and by 163,600 all receivers were grooved. Nearly 175,000 of these rifles were manufactured before production ceased in 1958, with guns remaining in stock until 1964.

This rifle was produced in 1947 and appears to be correct for a gun of that era. I would estimate this rifle, from the photo, to be at least NRA 80% and would place its value at $725.

Special note: Winchester U.S. Repeating Arms produced a modern version of the Model 63 from 1997 to ’98, which they and current owner of Winchester and Browning firearms, FN Herstal, have done with other famous Winchester models in recent years. These fine, newer-produced guns should not be confused with the original manufactured 63s.

J. Scott Moore is a firearms industry professional with more than 20 years’ experience in gun-related retail, events and promotion.

To have your handgun, rifle or shotgun considered for the column/online blog, send an e-mail to along with at least two digital photos to Moore at ihavethisold@hotmail.com or through Trap & Field Magazine at 1000 Waterway Blvd., Indianapolis, IN 46202, fax: 317-633-2084, editorial@trapandfield.com.

 

    

 

   Dear I Have This Old Gun,..
What can you tell me about my Winchester Model 52 with an old target scope, serial number 32,XXX?

 

 

 

 

The Your rifle is known as the Model 52 Target and is chambered in .22LR. The Model 52 was arguably America’s finest massed-produced .22 rifle (though the fans of the Remington 40X may beg to differ) and was produced for nearly 60 years. The first appeared in 1919, with 18 being produced, and were generally shown at target matches around the country. The following year Winchester began shipping them in quantity, and they quickly became a shooters’ favorite. As with any firearm produced for many years, there were changes and improvements made, and generally each change was marked by a letter designation being added to the model number and serial number. The first designation change occurred in 1932 (around serial number 38,000) with the Model 52-A, which featured only minor changes. In the early 1940s, the “B” models, with improved action and stock, appeared in the serial range of 52,300. In 1947 Winchester once again improved the 52, this time reworking the trigger and calling this edition the 52-C. The C run began around 75,000. It’s interesting to note that during this time B models were still produced. This dual-model production lasted until 81,000, when the C became the common designation. The early 1960s saw another change, which was mostly in the stock design and free-floated barrels. The “D” models began around serial number 105,800 and were produced until 1975 before being replaced with the final 52s, the “E” model. The E rifle, with an International Prone (a style of international rifle competition) stock, was the least-produced of the line. While most 52s featured target barrels and stocks, some were made with shorter and thinner barrels and sporter stocks and were known as “Sporter.” These guns bore that designation after the model number— for example, 52 Sporter, 52-B Sporter, etc. These rifles are generally the most sought after and command premium prices over the more common target versions. As you can see, many of the improvements over the years have been with the trigger and lock. When originally produced, the 52 featured one of the finest and fastest locks of its time. When you pull the trigger, the faster the lock time (the time it takes for the firing pin to strike the cartridge), the more accurate a gun tends to be. The first improvement was known as the “Speed Lock,” which was introduced at serial number 23,000 and improved again near number 33,000. Winchester also sold “Speed Lock” kits to retrofit older 52s.

The rifle here was made in 1935 and is the standard model 52 Target with a 28˝ barrel, an 82-A rear sight and a Lyman number 17A front sight. While both these sights were factory options, the scope is not. Produced during the same era as the rifle, the JW Fecker target scope was added by the owner or previous owner. The Fecker is an external adjustment scope and is among a group of older rifle scopes (such as the Unertl, Lyman Targetspot and Redfield 3200) that now have a collectors’ following. This rifle’s original blue factory finish has turned a nice brown patina, which is normal for firearms of this age. I would estimate the value of this rifle, minus the scope, at $500. The Fecker scope should bring about $300, making this rifle/scope combination worth $800 retail.

In 1991 Browning, which along with Winchester is now owned by FN Herstal, produced a 52-B Sporter. The following year, this gun was released under the Winchester name. While nice rifles, these guns do not have the same value from a collector’s standpoint.

J. Scott Moore is a Firearms Industry professional with over 20 years experience in gun related retail, events and promotion. To have your handgun, rifle or shotgun considered for the column/blog, send an e-mail along with at least two digital photos today to Scott at ihavethisold@hotmail.com
or through Trap & Field Magazine at

1000 Waterway Blvd.
Indianapolis, IN 46202
fax: 317-633-2084
editorial@trapandfield.com

 

    

 

    Dear I Have This Old Gun,..

II have this old gun, a Colt SAA U.S. 45 cal. serial number 5184. I have taken it to a couple of local shows and have been told it is an Artillery model. What can you tell me about this old gun?

 

 

 

 

The Colt Single Action Army (SAA) revolver may be one of the most sought after models of firearms in America and volumes have been written about this icon. It is also probably the most counterfeited collector firearm in history. In addition, many were altered or changed for various reasons such as to repair damage, wear, etc. I have also seen many “parts guns,” which are guns made up of non-original parts. That is why I’m handling this reader’s request a little different than my usual column. Most Colt authorities would not attempt to evaluate a SAA based on two photos; rather they would prefer to closely examine the gun in person. There are just too many factors to consider. So instead, I thought I would give a brief history of the SAA and cover a few things to think about when evaluating one of these revolvers.

The original design of this gun began in 1871 as a handgun for the US Army and was first reviewed by the Ordnance Department in 1872. By early 1873 the Colt had won out over several other manufacturers, including Smith & Wesson, in a competitive trial and an initial order was placed for 8,000 for use by the cavalry. The gun was originally called the New Model Army Metallic Cartridge Revolving Pistol. That long name was soon replaced by the more commonly known Single Action Army. The original SAA was chambered for a.45 caliber cartridge loaded with black powder which eventually became known as the .45 Colt. These original models had a 7 ½” barrel and featured a government blue and color casehardened finish. In a few years new calibers (30 at last count), different barrel lengths and finishes where added. This began a long laundry list of options offered that continue today. This alone makes the collecting opportunities virtually unlimited, which also makes it very challenging. The SAA was designed during the transition period from black powder to smokeless and by 1896 the gun was changed and strengthened to accommodate modern gunpowder.

Colt collectors generally separate these guns into three major categories with many sub-groups within each. The first category is generally called 1st Generation and were made between 1873 and 1940 with a serial number range from 1-357,000. This first category is subdivided into many different sections including Early, Intermediate and Late black powder, Early, Intermediate and Late smokeless powder, US Military (with many subsets as well) and Commercial (again with many different variants). The second major category is called 2nd Generation and  made between 1956 and 1975 and carried serial numbers 0001SA to 73,205SA. The 2nd generation guns are divided into Early, Mid-range and Late 2nd Generation. The 3rd Generation SAA began production in 1976, with a few minor manufacturing changes, and continues to date.  Due to the length of production and the number of firearms made, the serial number prefixes and suffixes have changed several times. The 3rd generation serial numbers began with 80,000SA and reached 99,999SA in 1978. The numbering system changed by adding the SA as a prefix with the next gun in line bearing the number SA01001 and continued to SA99,999 made in 1993. The numbering system again changed, this time by using the S as the prefix and the A as the suffix. This series began with S02001A and as of this writing, the number has just surpassed S48000A. After 135 years it is still one of the most desirable revolvers in the world.

As you can see there, are countless variations. Even the most experienced SAA collector must be careful when contemplating a purchase. One of the most important pieces of the puzzle when buying or selling a SAA, especially a 1st or 2nd Generation gun, is to obtain a factory letter from Colt. This letter from Colt Archive Properties, LLC will give you a description of the gun when it left the factory—the first step in determining if the gun has been altered. The next step is to have the gun analyzed by at least two Colt SAA professionals. You may ask why go to all this expense and time. As mentioned earlier many of these have been altered, some experts think that nearly half of the surviving 1st and 2nd Generation guns are not original. The values of these guns continue to soar, with a beat-up 1st Generation bringing $2,000 and near mint examples demanding $50,000 to $75,000. So collecting these guns demand that you do your homework or you could be very disappointed!

The reader states he has been told this is an Artillery Model. This term is used for US Army issued revolvers that have been reworked, refinished and fitted with 5 ½” barrels between 1895 and 1903. This was done by Colt at the request of the Army with about 15,000 of the 37,063 SAAs bought by the Army receiving this treatment. During this original rework, care was given to keep each gun with matching serial numbers on the individual parts. Many of these guns were refinished a second time during this period and it was not mandatory to keep all parts matching, thus most will be seen without matching numbers. The serial number on this gun places the date of manufacture in 1874; which means it was in the range of US marked guns that would have been reworked. Due to the factors I’ve mentioned, I cannot say just from these pictures if it is indeed an original “Artillery” model. I suggest the reader should take the above mentioned steps to authenticate this firearm. If authenticated as a true “Artillery” model, a gun in this condition could bring $2,500 to $3,500.

I would like to thank Jeff Radziwon, Marketing Supervisor at Colt’s Manufacturing Company, LLC for his assistance in researching 3rd Generation serial numbers.

J. Scott Moore is a Firearms Industry professional with over 20 years experience in gun related retail, events and promotion. To have your handgun, rifle or shotgun considered for the column/blog, send an e-mail along with at least two digital photos today to Scott at ihavethisold@hotmail.com
or through Trap & Field Magazine at

1000 Waterway Blvd.
Indianapolis, IN 46202
fax: 317-633-2084
editorial@trapandfield.com

 

    

 

   Dear I Have This Old Gun,..

I have two Browning shotguns. One is a 27 standard classe, 12-gauge, serial # L13PM0XXXX. the other one is a 27 LUX2, skeet, 12 gauge, serial # L13PM0XXXX. Can you tell me how much they may be worth?

 

 

 

 

These guns are the third generation of a series of over-and-under shotguns known in this country as the Browning Superposed. The Superposed was designed by John M. Browning who was working on the prototype at the time of his death in November of 1926. These fine shotguns were originally called the B 25 in Europe, as the manufacturer, Fabrique Nationale d’Armes de Guerre (FN) called all over-under shotgun designs “superposed” (to place one upon another). Browning historians surmise the B 25 meant “B” for Browning design and “25” was the year the working prototype was developed (1925). After Browning’s death, son Val finished the design, including the final details involving the triggers and barrels. Historians also believe FN’s Dieudonne Saive worked on the design as well as collaborating on John Browning’s final pistol, the High Power. The Superposed/B 25 first appeared in the U.S. market in 1931 with U.S. Olympian Gus Becker featured shooting one of these new shotguns on the 1931 Browning Arms brochure.

The original design had an attached forearm and its cocking lever design required square cornered cutouts on the underside of the receiver. The second generation Superposed, known as the B 26, used a pushrod design for cocking so the receiver underside is closed. Other design changes include the receiver and forearm attachment bracket being machined steel and the pivoting forearm latch was placed under the center of the forearm. This variant was also called the Liege model. The third generation of the shotgun, known as the B 27 featured a receiver and forearm attachment bracket made from machined steel castings. Also the forearm latch was moved from under the center of the forearm to a pushbutton located on the front of the forearm.

These two shotguns in question were manufactured in Belgium at the FN factory in 1980. The 27 “standard classe” was called a B 27 Standard Game and the “27 LUX2” is known as a B 27 Deluxe Skeet. This nice pair of shotguns appears to be new-in-the-box and contain all original paperwork, a real plus for a collector. I think the B 27 Standard Game to be worth about $1,300 while the Deluxe Skeet should bring about $1,400.

In an earlier article on the FN 1922, we covered a brief history of the relationship between John Moses Browning and FN, now known as F.N. Herstal (to view this article please visit www.trapandfield.com). Huge volumes can be, and have been, written about both John Browning and the international firearms giant, FN. Any collector should spend some quality time reading about both. An interesting tidbit concerning the period in which the Superposed was designed and launched: This, well-made, well-designed shotgun hit the market during the Depression. Between 1929 and 1934, FN had to let go almost three of every four employees (almost 7000 people), hardly the time to introduce a pricey shotgun. But, as a testament to the design and quality of the Superposed, it survived to become an icon in the stacked-barrel shotgun world.

            I would like to thank Joseph Rousseau, Paul Thompson and Scott Engen from Browning for sharing their behind-the-scene information and knowledge in writing this column.  
 
Collectors Tip

Both of these shotguns are still in their boxes, which from a collector’s standpoint is great. I might caution though, keeping guns long-term in their original boxes is not always the best method of storage. While the packing material usually does not react to gun oil, I have observed on rare occasions some deterioration of the material leaving a stain on the firearm. Also I have seen guns having some of the finish rubbed off by the box. I suggest storing a gun in a safe or gun rack without the box and store the box in a dry area. This will help preserve the box by cutting down on wear and tear from handling. If you have a gun that you plan on storing for a long time, use a lubricant/oil that is specifically for long term storage. Most gun care companies produce such products. Never use one of the popular “water displacing” spray oils from the hardware store. While many say they are safe for firearms, I have found they tend to dry out and form something I liken to varnish and will gum up the gun.

 

J. Scott Moore is a Firearms Industry professional with over 20 years experience in gun related retail, events and promotion. To have your handgun, rifle or shotgun considered for the column/blog, send an e-mail along with at least two digital photos today to Scott at ihavethisold@hotmail.com
or through Trap & Field Magazine at

1000 Waterway Blvd.
Indianapolis, IN 46202
fax: 317-633-2084
editorial@trapandfield.com

 

    

 

    Dear I Have This Old Gun,..

I have an old 1887 Colt 12-gauge side by side, serial 33XX.  I love shooting it.  But friends tell me to lock it in the closet.  Can you tell me anything about this model gun?

 

 

    

 

    Your shotgun is a Colt Model 1878 Hammer shotgun and was made in 1880. While Colt is mainly known for handguns and its line of AR-15 rifles, this shotgun was manufactured during a period that saw nearly half of the factory devoted to long guns. From the Civil War until 1903 Colt manufactured many different types of shotguns and rifles that included single-shot, double-barreled and repeating models. Among the different models were the Berdan Russian Rifle, of which 40,000 were delivered to the Russian government, the Burgess Rifle, Colt’s first repeating metallic cartridge rifle and the Lightning Rifle, a slide-action rifle.

   During this time Colt introduced two shotguns, the Model 1878 and a hammerless model called the 1883. The 1878 was discontinued in 1890 while production of the 1883 ceased in 1900. These shotguns were available in three different barrel lengths, 28”, 30” and 32” with the barrel construction offered in several different composite styles: twist, laminated and Damascus. These styles of barrels were generally made by a handful of manufacturers and sold to gun makers who would fit them to their actions. The various twist barrels share some common manufacturing techniques, which are basically strips of steel and iron wound around a steel rod called a mandrel and welded together to form a barrel tube. This tube is then finished inside and out to form a completed barrel. There are some slight differences in the manufacturing process between the barrel types. Twist and Damascus barrel generally start out by layering the different metals (usually iron and steel) and welding them together, these pieces are then twisted. Three of these twisted pieces are then wound around the mandrel and welded and hammered. In laminated barrels the metals are hammered together instead of welded, after this process they are finished in the same way as twist and Damascus barrels. The quality and strength of these barrels vary depending on the quality of the metal used and the skill of the craftsmen in assembling the barrels. This form of barrel construction in America lasted until the 1930s when barrel makers began using solid steel bar stock made from improved metals for their base material for barrels.
   This shotgun appears to be on the lower end of NRA good condition, I would value this 1878 at $1,100. An interesting note, I ran across a photo of a Colt catalogue from 1888 and this model, with its twist barrels, no engraving and straight stock retailed for $50.

   There is a huge debate in the Shooting World concerning the safety of shooting twist barrel shotguns. Some will tell you that you should not shoot these guns under any circumstance, while others state that most are safe with black powder shotshells and still others are shooting their prized out guns with modern shotshells. Let’s first examine the design of these barrels. The lamination process in theory is a strong way to produce a barrel but its downfall can be the quality of materials and construction. Poor quality metals especially iron tended to rust, thus breaking down a layer of the lamination. One strong point about these old barrel designs is the breech is much thicker than modern barrels but they taper down thinner towards the muzzle. This was done because when black powder shotshells are fired the pressure peaks quickly. Modern smokeless powder starts off at a lower pressure but steadily builds pressure as it travels down the barrel, thus the pressure at the muzzle is much higher than some older barrels were designed for. So the question is do you shoot these guns? The answer is well maybe, but each gun should be evaluated case by case, by a gunsmith who is well versed in these types of firearms. There are many of these high quality guns that are still being used around the world with all the confidence of modern guns. Again I state the fact that the guns should be checked by a qualified expert and if yours passes muster go out and have fun with it!

If you want to enjoy the sport of shooting older firearms, there are several groups dedicated to this, one of these groups is called The Vintagers whose mission is the use, appreciation and collection of side-by-side shotguns and rifles, their Website is www.vintagers.org. I would like to thank Chris Gilgun with The Vintagers for his insight on shooting these older guns.

 

J. Scott Moore is a Firearms Industry professional with over 20 years experience in gun related retail, events and promotion. To have your handgun, rifle or shotgun considered for the column/blog, send an e-mail along with at least two digital photos today to Scott at ihavethisold@hotmail.com
or through Trap & Field Magazine at

1000 Waterway Blvd.
Indianapolis, IN 46202
fax: 317-633-2084
editorial@trapandfield.com

 

 

    

 

   Dear I Have This Old Gun,..

I have a pistol my father carried in his travels just after WWII. It is a 32 auto made in Belgium. What can you tell me about it?

 

 

 

 

   The pistol mentioned here is an FN, Model 1922 also known as the 10/22 and was designed by famed firearms designer John M. Browning. The manufacturer Fabrique Nationale d’Armes de Guerre (FN) has an historic connection with not only Browning the man, but Browning the company. FN was formed in 1889 after the Belgium government decided to build 150,000 Mauser Model 1888 rifles for their military. At the time, none of the gun makers in Liege, Belgium were able to fulfill the order by themselves. This resulted in the major players of Belgium’s firearms industry joining forces to form what was to be a one-time company to complete the military order. After completion of the contract, changes in management/ownership and two major World Wars, FN survived and eventually became known as F.N. Herstal.  F.N. Herstal is the current parent company of the Browning and Winchester Repeating Arms brands.

The Model 1922 was developed from the Browning 1910, one of John Browning’s and FN’s earliest collaborative commercial successes. In 1922 the Yugoslav military wanted a pistol that was slightly larger than the Model 10. The FN engineers redesigned the Model 10 by slightly increasing the barrel length, frame size and magazine capacity. Primarily marketed for military and police, the 1922 was also sold in many neighboring countries including France, Greece, Holland and Turkey. This gun bears the acceptance stamps of the German Army Weapons Department (WaA). During World War II, the Nazis, in many cases, would take over the weapons factories of the countries they defeated. It was the duty of the WaA to inspect and accept or reject firearms made in these factories. Many firearms bearing these marks have been seen in this country including various models of FN/Browning, Polish Radom P-35, French Model 1935A, MAB Model C.

This gun is stamped with WaA 140, confirming it was accepted by the German inspector based at the FN factory. The Model 1922 was chambered in both 7.65 mm (.32 ACP) and 9 mm Kurz (.380 ACP) with most, like this one, was chambered in 7.65 mm. During World War II several hundred thousand were made. This particular example is in great shape, I would grade it NRA Very Good to Excellent. The fit and finish are typical of mid-wartime production, while not highly polished like prewar; it does not have the extreme roughness of end-of-war production guns. This gun maintains its wartime bluing and the points of the checkering on the grips are still sharp. I would place a retail value on this nice FN/Browning Model 1922 at $300.

Collectors Tip –

When considering firing or trading for any gun that bears Nazi era proof marks, care must be taken for several reasons. The early guns manufactured during occupation were generally made with the same skill and precision as the pre-war models. As the war dragged on, the fit and finish deteriorated and in some cases deliberate sabotage was performed. Also as with any older gun, the history of care, or lack of, is unknown. So have the firearm checked out by a gunsmith familiar with wartime firearms.

J. Scott Moore is a Firearms Industry professional with over 20 years experience in gun related retail, events and promotion. To have your handgun, rifle or shotgun considered for the column/blog, send an e-mail along with at least two digital photos today to Scott at ihavethisold@hotmail.com
or through Trap & Field Magazine at
1000 Waterway Blvd.
Indianapolis, IN 46202
fax: 317-633-2084
editorial@trapandfield.com

 

    

 

   Dear I Have This Old Gun,..

I have an old Colt New Army revolver in .32-20, serial number 590XXX. What can you tell me about it?

 

 

 

 

 

   The Colt Army Special is part of a series of Colt handguns that are included in the group known as the “Modern Colt Revolvers.” These double-action revolvers featured solid frames and swing-out cylinders that allowed loading and unloading in one operation. This type of cylinder operation was a marked improvement over the single-action Army-style of fixed cylinders in which the hammer must be cocked to fire and loading and unloading is done one chamber at a time. This system is used by all current major double-action revolver manufacturers. These Colts first made their appearance in 1889 as the New Navy, with three additional frame sizes: the New Pocket (later called Pocket Positive) in 1895, the New Police (renamed the Police Positive) in 1896, and the New Service in 1897.
     The New Navy was the end result of the U.S. Navy Ordnance Bureau’s search for a new handgun began in 1887 and adopted in 1888. The initial order of 5,000 was delivered in summer 1889 and ushered in a new era of handguns for military and law enforcement. Shortly after the Navy adopted the new gun, the Army followed suit, calling it the New Army. Later the Marines jumped on board with its version, aptly known as the Marine Corps Model. The cylinders on these early models were locked in place during firing by only the hand and the latch, which proved not too secure. Beginning in 1882 and continuing for several years, improvements were made, and in 1908 the cylinder lock issue was settled and the gun renamed the Army Special. This name lasted until 1926, when the name was changed to Official Police, sometimes just “OP” for this class of Colt revolvers. The OP stayed in the Colt catalog until 1969, when it was replaced with the Official Police MK III. The MK III should not be confused with earlier models as it is based on the Colt J frame, while the original OP is based on what Colt called a .41 frame. The New Army featured here is chambered in .32-20 WCF, a popular caliber during the first half of the 20th century which fell out of favor after the .38 Special became the preferred law enforcement cartridge of the day. Other calibers offered in the Army Special/Official Police were .41 Colt, .38-200, .38 Spl. and .22 LR.
     This handgun was made in 1935, which makes it somewhat interesting since the model name on these guns had been changed to Official Police nine years earlier. While unusual, this is not unheard of. Generally, when there is a model change, there will be leftover parts, and manufacturers will produce a clean-up run to take care of any excess. Usually this is done in the first year or so after a change, not nine years later. While some may think this gun was re-barreled, I think not, as the wear on the bluing is even across the gun. If it had been re-barreled the wear would be different. So this is just one of the unique finds that make gun collecting fun. Most probably someone in the factory ran across a batch of barrels and, not wanting to waste the money (especially during the Depression), made this late-edition Army Special. I would rate this gun on the lower end of NRA Very Good. The finish is still good, with just the normal signs of holster wear, and the markings are still clear and crisp. The grips appear to be unbroken, and the Colt medallion is still sharp. I would estimate the value of this handgun at $375.
     J. Scott Moore is a firearms industry professional with more than 20 years’ experience in gun-related retail, events and promotion. To have your handgun, rifle or shotgun considered for the column/blog, send an e-mail along with at least two digital photos to Scott at
ihavethisold@hotmail.com or through TRAP & FIELD Magazine at 1000 Waterway Blvd., Indianapolis, IN 46202, fax: 317-633-2084, editorial@trapandfield.com.

 

    

 

   Dear I Have This Old Gun . . .
I just bought a K-32. Is this an old gun? The serial number is 80XX. How does the K-32 compare with the current K-80?

 

 

 

 

 

   The Krieghoff K-32, while not rare and not that old in firearm years, is unique and belongs to a small group of firearms. Like some single-name celebrities, it is recognized by just its model name without having to mention the manufacturer. In the firearms world, when you mention Model 12, most people know you’re referring to a Winchester; say “Superposed,” and shotgunners recognize you’re talking about a Browning over-and-under shotgun; and when you hear “1911,” the workhorse 45 ACP pistol is instantly brought to mind. In the world of shotguns, most people refer to the Krieghoff Model K-32 simply as the K-32. This shotgun is also responsible for introducing the German firearms manufacturer to the American shooting public. Until its introduction to the American market in 1959, few shooters in this country had heard of Krieghoff. The K-32 changed all that, and today you’ll find it and its successor, the K-80, at clay target ranges nationwide.

 The K-32 was designed by Heinz Krieghoff, a second-generation German firearms manufacturer, based on the Remington Model 32, which had ceased production just after WWII. While based on the basic Remington design, the Krieghoff version had some improvements, most notably a better trigger and tighter manufacturing tolerances. These changes made for an extremely crisp trigger and much faster lock time. The K-32 remained Krieghoff’s standard bearer until it was replaced by the K-80 in 1980. During this time, a few K-32s that were in production were completed, but essentially production of the gun ceased with the introduction of the K-80. The K-80 is an updated K-32, with improvements such as a hardened receiver, outward appearance changes (finish and engraving) and reshaping the trigger. Other external changes included stock and barrel options. Internal design improvements were made to the hammers, sear springs and ejectors. The designers at Krieghoff have made these improvements available for all but the earliest of K-32s. To find out if your gun can be upgraded with any of these K-80 improvements, contact Krieghoff International in Ottsville, Pa. Your gun was manufactured in 1972 as a Standard Grade and was originally fitted with a Monte Carlo stock and 30-inch barrels. In many cases in this column, I will assign a current retail price to the gun, but firearms such as these are generally best evaluated in person for a variety of reasons. One of the most important is the amount of wear on internal parts. While designed to shoot many thousands of rounds, competition guns still have wear and tear, and it is advisable to have a gun examined by a gunsmith familiar with the make and model you’re looking at purchasing. Depending on condition, you can expect to find Standard K-32s in the $2,000-to-$3,000 range, while the higher grades and four-barrel sets can demand $10,000 to $15,000 or more.
 

 From time to time I’ll be offering gun collecting tips. This gun brings up some good examples of what to look for in buying or selling a gun. The K-32 is a competition gun and thus built to withstand a lot of shooting, more than, say, many (but not all) field guns. So when your gunsmith tells you that the gun needs a new trigger group or some other mechanical piece, don’t give up on it. Many of these guns are designed to have these pieces easily replaced or updated, and once replaced, the value of the gun is not affected. Just factor in this repair when pricing the gun. Of course, this does not apply to major repairs such as a rifle that has been re-barreled due to being shot out or a handgun that has been re-blued due to holster wear. These types of repairs have a detrimental effect on a gun’s value from a collector’s standpoint. Also, look at any additions or subtractions to the gun. This gun features an adjustable comb and pad that were added after it left the factory. When evaluating a gun, determine if an addition was original or added later. Generally, non-factory added accessories detract from the collector’s value. While this is the case from a collector’s standpoint, from a competition shooter’s perspective, the addition may be desirable and therefore reflected in the price. If you are the one selling a gun, remember, you will not usually recoup all the money you spend on these changes. No matter if you’re looking to add a gun to your collection or just a good shooter, do your homework and spend some time researching the firearm you intend to buy or sell. For me, research is part of the fun of gun collecting!

 
I would like to thank Alex Diehl, general manager at Krieghoff International, Inc., for his invaluable assistance with my research in writing this article. Alex has dug through his archives and shared some rare pages from the 1977 Krieghoff catalog plus the spec sheets.

 

Be sure to come back and visit I Have This Old Gun for additional articles on old or interesting firearms!

 

J. Scott Moore is a Firearms Industry professional with over 20 years experience in gun related retail, events and promotion.

 

To have your handgun, rifle or shotgun considered for the column/blog, send an e-mail today to Scott at ihavethisold@hotmail.com.
or through Trap & Field Magazine at

1000 Waterway Blvd.
Indianapolis, IN 46202
fax: 317-633-2084
editorial@trapandfield.com

 

    

 

   

   Dear I Have This Old Gun . . .

I have a Smith & Wesson Model 46, 22 LR. I’ve been told it’s similar to the Mod 41 Target Pistol. Also I have what appears to be the original blue S&W box.

 

 

 

 

 

   The reason it appears similar to a Model 41 is that it is a somewhat rare variant of the pistol. The 41 was designed to be a world class .22 target pistol to compete in the National Match Course in 1957 and versions are still being produced. S&W originally created Mod 46 for the US Air Force in 1959 as a lower cost target gun and decided to release it to the public that same year. To reduce costs S&W left off a few bells and whistles such as a detachable muzzle break and replaced the checkered walnut grips with molded nylon. These changes resulted in a pistol retailing for about 15% less than the original model while maintaining the accuracy. Even though this less expensive pistol was a great value it never really caught on and was discontinued in 1968. According to S&W factory historians a total of 4,000 Model 46s were produced in three barrel lengths, 5”, 5.5” and the most common 7’’.

   From the photo, I would judge this pistol to be in NRA Excellent Condition (at about 97 percent). This gun features the 7” barrel. The only thing missing is the barrel weight, which is not unusual. I rarely see them with either the 41 or 46 because they are easily misplaced. But the box is great to have; boxes are usually the first thing to get tossed and add value to the gun. As far as value, I generally like to give a full replacement insurance price (worst case scenario) as well as a day-to-day retail price. I would insure this nice piece for $750 and would expect to see one priced at about $695 at retail.

   A final note concerning the practice of manufacturing a less expensive model of a deluxe one: though not a common practice, S&W did offer these types of variants from time to time. Probably the most successful was the Model 28 in .357 Magnum known as the Highway Patrolman. This revolver was a Spartan version of the highly polished Model 27, one of the original S&W Magnums and was produced for over 30 years.

   J. Scott Moore is a Firearms Industry professional with over 20 years experience in gun related retail, events and promotion.

   To have your handgun, rifle or shotgun considered for the column/blog, send an e-mail today to J. Scott Moore at ihavethisold@hotmail.com.
or through Trap & Field Magazine at

1000 Waterway Blvd.
Indianapolis, IN 46202
fax: 317-633-2084
editorial@trapandfield.com

 

    

 

     Dear I Have This Old Gun . . .
I inherited a JC Higgins Model 20, 12-gauge. Can you tell me who made this gun?

 

 

 

 

 

   JC Higgins was the brand name chosen by Sears for their firearms, hunting, fishing and other outdoor equipment. According to the Sears archives, Mr. Higgins was a corporate executive and allowed his name to be used on the Sears line of sporting goods. This brand was used for over 50 years until the name was changed to Ted Williams, in 1961, as part of a marketing program with the baseball great and outdoorsman as the spokesman. Sears used many firearm manufacturers to produce their guns, including giants such as Winchester High Standard, Marlin, Browning FN and Savage.

   Sears was not the only national department chain to sell firearms under a house brand name. J.C. Penney, Western Auto, Belknap and many regional department and hardware chains sold their own branded firearms. Sadly by the 1980s this practice had all but disappeared.

   Your shotgun was produced by High Standard (Model 200) and was made in the late 1950s. The exact year is hard to determine on these models as long guns were not required to have serial numbers until the Gun Control Act of 1968, and many of these types of firearms do not have them. Do not confuse a five- or six-digit number on the firearm for a serial number; most Sears firearms carried both a model number and a company product number. I consider the JC Higgins High Standard one of the most underrated pump guns of the era. It is ironclad tough, yet nearly as smooth as a Winchester Model 12. The choke system pictured on your shotgun is a Pachmayr PowerPac and originally came with three screw-in choke tubes. I would judge this gun to be in NRA Fair Condition (at about 50 percent); it looks like it has enjoyed a long glorious life in the field. I would place a retail value on this fine ole’ hunting piece around $125, which, even in its used condition, is more than it sold for new over a half century ago.

   Collectors Tip—Measuring barrel lengths

   One of the most important elements in determining the value or collectability of a firearm is barrel length. Barrels are one of the more altered components of a gun and the ability to correctly determine that length is the key to successfully identifying the gun. Mismeasuring the barrel can cost you to pay too much or to miss out on a rare find.

   Many people measure a barrel externally which is incorrect. To properly measure long guns, start by ensuring the gun is unloaded and close the action. Insert a cleaning rod down the muzzle until in bottoms out on the closed bolt face. Mark the rod and measure the length. For pistols the method is the same as for long guns. Revolvers are measured slightly different, barrel length is not determined from the frame to the muzzle but also includes the area known as the forcing cone that extends through the frame. Start by opening the cylinder. Insert the cleaning rod down the muzzle and stop at the opening of the forcing cone, then mark and measure.

   Long guns usually have even numbered length barrels such as 28”, 30”, 32”, etc., but not always. Some target rifles have longer barrels so they can have the barrel cut back as the throats are worn down from shooting. Handgun barrels come in all lengths, odd, even and fractional lengths such as 2 ½”, 4 ¾”, 6 ½”, 7”, etc. So measure twice and trust your conclusion.

J. Scott Moore is a Firearms Industry professional with over 20 years experience in gun related retail, events and promotion.

To have your handgun, rifle or shotgun considered for the column/blog, send an e-mail today to J. Scott Moore at ihavethisold@hotmail.com.
or through Trap & Field Magazine at

1000 Waterway Blvd.
Indianapolis, IN 46202
fax: 317-633-2084
editorial@trapandfield.com

 

 

 

 

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