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NTP
November 9, 2008, 01:50 AM
Hey,

I'm somewhat new to guns, and I will be acquiring some of my grandfather's shotguns soon. I will need to purchase some lockable carrying cases. So, I'd love some recommendations regarding where I might go to find them and/or what make/models would be good.

If possible, I'd really like to find some that I could just leave the guns in all the time and keep them in good condition. If that's not really feasible, I'd also love to have some recommendations for finding a good storage cabinet. I live in a small apartment, so I don't really want a big stand-up gun case. Also, I don't really need anything decorative, just something that would be good for keeping the guns in good condition.

Thanks in advance,

Neil

Dr. Strangelove
November 9, 2008, 05:46 PM
Gun cases are a good way to transport guns from your home to the location where you plan to shoot. They are, with some exceptions, typically not a good solution for long-term firearms storage. I stored my guns for years in them with no problems, but they tend to attract/retain moisture, and the cost plus storage space requirements of good hard cases will very quickly make a "gun security cabinet" seem cheap by comparison.

You didn't specify how many guns or if these are normal guns or expensive collector-type items, but I would go for a "gun security cabinet" unless you need to protect some really high value firearms. Here is an example of what I'm talking about:

http://www.dickssportinggoods.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2033187

It's not a safe by any description of the word, but it will keep your guns safe from casual handling by those not authorized, and most burglars won't attempt to steal something they can't just pick up and walk off with. When I lived in an apartment, I kept mine in the back of a closet. It measures only 10"X21"X55", so space isn't that much of an issue. It holds 8 rifles/shotguns in much less space than hard cases for them all would require. There is also a shelf for pistols, ammunition, whatever. You can put an electronic or crystal-type dehumidifier in if you feel the need. The cabinet should also have predrilled holes to allow screwing to the floor or wall studs, not a bad idea.

You didn't mention if you plan to shoot these guns or just store them. Either way, to preserve them I would give them a full detail cleaning when you get them. A local gun shop can provide this service if you don't feel up to the task. There some different ways to prepare guns for long-term storage if that's the route you are going, you can look that up online or ask a gunsmith what they recommend. (I shoot all mine, so I really don't want to give advice about preparing for long term storage).

NTP
November 9, 2008, 10:54 PM
Thanks. Hopeful as I was, I suspected maybe storing them in the cases might not be a great idea. Anyway, that "safe" you found sounds like just the thing. The guns do have some sentimental value, but none of them are worth all that much. I will be shooting some of them on a fairly regular basis, others probably will just sit. Hate to pester you more, but can you recommend a good resource (e.g. book) for a beginner to learn the basics of gun maintenance?

Thanks,

Neil

Dr. Strangelove
November 10, 2008, 03:07 AM
Well, the gun "safe", or in this case, metal cabinet is the best idea. By the way, mine is 55" tall - I edited my 1st post after I realized I had left that out. It's really a small footprint and is easily concealable if you don't want casual visitors to know it's there.

As far as cases, get at least one hard case, and one soft case. You are much more likely to damage firearms in transit than in the field. Don't carry a gun in your vehicle without a case if you don't want to see it damaged. I use a soft case for local hunting/range trips where the gun just sits by itself in the backseat and a hard case for longer travel where it might be riding with camping equipment, etc. Hard cases are usually lockable, nice when I visit my friend in south GA who has kids. You can pay what you want for either style, soft cases start about $9.99 and go up to $1000.00 plus for custom leather. Hard cases go from about $15.00 to whatever you wish to spend. I tend to stay on the cheap side, plastic cases are fine for me. If you plan to travel by air with your guns or go on safari, you'll need something different.

Be careful when buying cases, shotguns are typically several inches longer than rifles and won't fit in rifle cases or will fit poorly. Double gun cases are nice, but be sure that the two guns fit without touching each other or the sides of the case itself, otherwise you will see damage on the parts that are touching.

I wouldn't so much buy a book for maintenance instruction as I would just look up the individual firearm on the manufacturer's website, they will also send you a free manual if you ask. The advantage here is usually you will see a schematic diagram and get specific instruction for that firearm. You mentioned only shotguns, so you'll be most likely getting 12ga, 16ga, 20ga, 28ga or .410ga unless you are getting something really exciting. The easiest thing to do would be just to buy a generic "gun cleaning" kit. It will have everything you need and will do the job. However, I would encourage you wait until you know the gages you are getting and do this:

1.} Buy a one piece cleaning rod, made for shotguns. They are much thicker than rifle one piece rods, and don't flex, bend, break at joints, etc. (Use a cheap cleaning kit a few times and you'll see what I mean. There are times to save money, but don't do it here). You don't need one made of carbon fiber or compressed moon dust, but get a one piece cleaning rod.

2.} Buy bore mops (looks like a tiny mop), brass bristle brushes (you won't use these much), and a slotted tip. The mops and brushes are gage specific, but the slotted tip will work with them all. The slotted tip is, well, a piece of plastic or metal with a slot in it to hold patches. Some folks use a "jag" which is a pointy metal or plastic tip that holds the cleaning patch, I like the slotted tips. Either way, go with plastic tips, you are much less likely to damage a gun that way. Also pick up some cleaning patches, the girls don't like it when you start cutting up sheets for some reason. These are also available by gage. You can cut your own from old t-shirts and sheets, but just buy them. You'll be happier.

3.} Buy a cleaner/lube/protector. There are hundreds to choose from, do your research on the web, opinions differ, but I like Break-Free CLP™ and old fashioned Hoppes #9™. Your guns were most likely cared for with Hoppes #9™. CLP™ is a modern cleaner/lube/protectant, and Hoppes #9™ is a bore cleaner, but it has lubed and protected many generations of guns. The advantage of CLP™ is it doesn't harden like regular oils after time. Avoid or at least do your research on cleaners that claim to clean with no work on your part or dissolve everything in your barrel. These can be harmful if not used properly. Especially with older guns and Hoppes #9™, you will see a clean bore one day, followed by some fouling it has brought out of tiny stress cracks in the metal the next. If it's been a long time since these guns were well-cleaned, you will need to look at them every other day or so for about a week.

4.} Follow manufacturer's cleaning instructions. Clean only from the breech (where the shell goes in) to the muzzle (where the shot goes out) if possible. Less is more with gun oil, don't soak a gun in oil, you'll only attract dirt and cause jams.

5.} With older guns like these, I would strip them as far as possible and clean them up. Years of old gun oil and lube are waiting to cause slow actions, ammunition feed problems, or a whole host of things. Most guns can be cleaned without disassembly, but you are asking for problems with older guns if you don't throughly clean them. If you aren't real handy following directions and tools, leave this to someone else. If you do decide to take them down, be sure you use the right size screwdrivers (very important) and have a schematic on hand. Take all wood or plastic parts off and spray with non-chlorinated brake cleaner and scrub with an old toothbrush. Watch for spring loaded parts, they can fly off into nowhere fast.

Another thing with older guns, be sure they are safe to shoot with modern loads. Late 1800's to 1930's production guns can be unsafe with modern shotgun shells, if you have some older guns, be aware of this fact. Also, shotgun shells are made in 2¾", 3", and 3½", be sure you are buying the right size, guns chambered for the longer rounds will function with the shorter, but not vice versa. If these guns are of recent manufacture they probably will have screw in choke tubes to accommodate various hunting/shooting situations. You'll need a choke wrench to remove and install the chokes and somewhere to keep the choke tubes (hollow steel cylinder, usually 2"-4" long)

Feel free to ask any other questions, and be sure to validate my advice with your own research.

NTP
November 10, 2008, 11:39 PM
Thanks again, I'll print that out and keep it to help with the process of learning to clean the guns. The three that I will be using are 12, 16, and 20 gauge Winchester Model 12s. Do you think Winchester would provide documentation related to these? I recently bought Dave Riffle's book about the Model 12, and it's got a great history, but I was hoping for more in the way of technical information.

There's also a really old looking bolt-action shotgun that's missing the clip. I don't remember seeing any identifying marks on the thing. I doubt I'll ever fire that, probably just try to preserve it. Finally, there's a .22 rifle in the group, I haven't decided what I'll do with that.

Dr. Strangelove
November 11, 2008, 03:23 PM
Neil,

Winchester doesn't list a Model 12 manual as being available on their website, you may want to call them and see what is available. They mention not having and production records available for the model 12, I vaguely remember something about a fire at their factory some years back destroying many records.

You may want to look at this:
http://www.rediscovered-shooting-treasures.com/winchester12.htm

Here's a book you may be interested in as well:
http://www.ecampus.com/book/9780873494007

You may want to post a question in the shotgun section of this forum, I'm sure there are many people there with much more knowledge than me, I'm really more more of a rifle man. As far as actually shooting these guns, my only concern is that in some cases in older shotguns the chamber length can be shorter than is needed for modern ammunition. The barrel should be stamped with the chamber length. Also, I understand steel shot can be harmful to some older barrels. Those are two questions I would ask the shotgun guys.

The .22 will be a blast to shoot, and cheap to boot. Again, check the barrel stampings to see what it's chambered for, it might be a .22 short if it's really old. As far as the bolt action shotgun, they were mostly long range duck/goose guns, but some were made as inexpensive farm guns as well.

One more quick thought: If I remember right, the Model 12 will fire when you close the action if you hold the trigger down. Meaning, it fires every time you cycle the action (work the pump) if you hold the trigger down. This isn't a horrible thing, just the way the firearm is designed. Just keep it in mind if you're used to shooting modern shotguns, which typically don't allow that function.

NTP
November 11, 2008, 11:14 PM
Wow, thank you! Those two resources look like they could be very helpful. I probably will still call Winchester, though I too have read something about them losing many records in a fire. I will also post a question in the shotgun section to see if they know of any other technical information available. I do know that all but the heavy duck guns (which Grandpa's aren't) were chambered for 2 3/4 or less. I will make sure to check the barrel for a marking indicating the chamber length. If I don't find a mark, I'll take it them to a gunsmith to check. I do also recall that it's true you can hold the trigger down and they will fire every time you cycle the slide.

I'm probably going to have to consider having the .22 fixed, as it has a substantial crack in the stock, and I understand it's not worth much as is but would have some collector value if fixed. Between the two possibilities you mentioned with respect to the bolt-action shotgun, I'd say it was probably a cheap farm gun (all of my grandparents grew up on farms).

Well, anyway, I can't thank you enough for the help; you saved me dozens of hours of research!

Neil