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Old June 9, 2013, 06:41 PM   #1
Baylor Bear
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What to do with old shotguns?

My dad turned 70 last month, and although he's in fine health I guess he's coming to grips with mortality or something. He dumped 5 shotguns on me that i didn't even know he had. They are:

A Colt's Mfg. 12 ga. side-by-side with external hammers
A Winchester Model 1897 12 ga.
A Winchester Model 1912 20 ga.
A Winchester Model 12 12 ga.
A Marlin lever action .410

Except for the Colt, they all appear to be in functioning shootable condition, but dad said NOT to shoot them because it might hurt their value. Not that he had any idea what there values are. None hold any sentimental value except for the Model 12 which was dad's when he was a kid.

Honestly, I'd just like to take them (except the Colt) out to the skeet range to see if I can hit anything with them. What's a gun for if not to shoot?
I can't sell them as long as dad is around, but if they really are worth something, maybe I want to preserve their value.
Or I can hang them on the wall.
Or I can just leave them sitting in a gun safe for the next generation like dad did. But that seems like a waste.

Opinions please?
TIA.
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Old June 9, 2013, 07:21 PM   #2
CurlyQ.Howard
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I'd respect my father's wishes, but I won't tell you what to do with the guns; however, as he's only seventy, your father may well be around a couple more decades or longer, so I'd keep that in mind too.
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Old June 9, 2013, 09:10 PM   #3
Andy Griffith
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I'd love to see a picture of the Marlin, or a pic at the range with it. Those are a bit more scarce than the others, as originally, you had to be a Marlin stockholder to get one.

Try some #9's in the .410, as they'll have a more dense pattern.
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Old June 9, 2013, 09:14 PM   #4
James K
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Collector value on guns depends almost totally on condition with the closer to factory original being the most valuable. In truth, shotguns are not as much in demand as rifles or handguns, partly because most shotguns were bought for use and were used, usually hard. A handgun made in 1900 might have spent over a century in a bureau drawer; a shotgun made at the same time might have spent its time in rain and snow, or in a duck blind, or in a chicken coop getting chicken**** all over it.

In brief, the only way to get even a WAG on value would be to post good, clear closeup pictures of both sides of the receivers, and good pictures of the stocks and barrels.

Jim
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Old June 9, 2013, 09:49 PM   #5
Gaucho Gringo
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Your father has given you a trove of shotguns that most other people would covert. Take care of your inheritance and pass it down to future generations of your family. I would have loved to have these passed down to me.
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Old June 9, 2013, 09:57 PM   #6
Baylor Bear
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thank you for the responses so far. That is interesting to hear about the Marlin. That is the one gun I have a vague recollection of shooting when I was a kid.

But all of the guns show wear from heavy use. I appreciate hearing what I already suspected: that at least the Winchesters aren't particularly collectible.

I just can't imagine having a classic car sit in the garage an not drive it from time to time. Likewise, I think it's waste just to let these guns sit in my safe.

I guess I was looking for someone to say "heck no. you can't hurt on old, well used gun by putting a few light dove loads through it."

I suppose what I will do is take it to a well-respected gunsmith and get his opinion on whether the guns are safe to shoot. If they can be shot, maybe I will invite dad out to the range to try them out. He may be 70, but he still shoots 3-gun IDPA.

Thanks again. If anyone has anything else to add, I'd love to hear opinions.
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Old June 9, 2013, 11:10 PM   #7
Winchester_73
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Well one of those Winchesters could easily still be the best of the bunch. Do any of the model 12s have a rib? Deluxe wood? What are their chokes? Riot gun? Is the 1897 a Pigeon grade? Riot gun? Trench gun? All of that will figure into the value.

I myself was also attracted to the Marlin initially. Then the other one is a Colt. All good guns. I would have a gunsmith look at them, as you said, and unless any are 99%, shoot them.
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Old June 9, 2013, 11:35 PM   #8
James K
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Well, I will say it: "heck no. you can't hurt on old, well used gun by putting a few light dove loads through it." But some old guns can be damaged or even blown by use of modern smokeless powder loads, even light loads.

I do suggest having the guns checked out by a knowledgeable gunsmith, not only for safety but also for the right length shells. Also make sure none have Damascus ("twist") barrels. The Model 12's should be OK but the Colt is black powder era and may be unsafe to shoot, even with black powder.

Jim
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Old June 9, 2013, 11:55 PM   #9
Mike Irwin
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"A Colt's Mfg. 12 ga. side-by-side with external hammers"

I'm not 100% sure about this, but I believe that ALL Colt hammer double shotguns were made ONLY for blackpowder and all had Damascus twist barrels.

A hammer gun is the Model 1878, a hammerless gun would be an 1883.

Another reason to NEVER fire modern ammunition in any of these guns without a good going over is that the chambers on the 1878s were almost all 2 1/2", which was the standard length for 12 gauge shells until well into the smokeless powder era.

Putting a 2 3/4" or worse, a 3" shell in one would almost undoubtedly bulge the barrels and could very well blow them at the chamber.
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Old June 9, 2013, 11:58 PM   #10
Mike Irwin
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The Winchester 1897 was developed from the Model 1893 specifically to allow for use of modern smokeless powders.

Depending on when it was made, however, it could also also have 2 1/2" chambers.
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Old June 10, 2013, 01:27 PM   #11
PetahW
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.

Today, all 5 shotguns are "money" guns - worthwhile to preserve as much as possible.

The 20ga M12, the 1878 Colt & the Marlin are the most valuable to both collectors & shooters; both the 1887 & 1878 to CAS types.

I came to grips with my mortality awhile ago (I'm in my 70's now), but after a bit of wrestlin', am still shooting & hunting (Thank God).


.

.
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Old June 10, 2013, 01:52 PM   #12
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Everytime I visit a Nursing home or go to a Funeral I am reminded of My own Mortality. If It were Me I would enjoy them and not worry about Collector Value.
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Old June 12, 2013, 11:55 PM   #13
kilimanjaro
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Not being a collector, I look at these things as like Grandpa's axe: it's gone through three handles and two new heads, but it's still Grandpa's axe.

If you want to have some of them re-blued, do it. You want to shoot them often, with the right ammo, go right ahead.
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Old June 13, 2013, 07:53 AM   #14
Enfielder
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My dad only owned 3 firearms, and I inherited one of them. It's condition is like his tractors or disk harrows, rusty but functional. Collector value is zero, but money won't buy this one from me. A firearm tells a lot about a person, and those arms you mentioned show a knowledge and enthusiasm for hunting. If you want to shoot skeet, go buy a Mod. 870 Remington or Mod. 500 Mossberg w/your choice of barrel length, ribs or no ribs, chokes or no chokes, and enjoy yourself. Aside from that, gain and use your knowledge and resources to add to your dad's legacy, and leave one of your own. Pardon me for preaching, please.
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Old June 14, 2013, 11:50 AM   #15
Bigdog57
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It's interesting to read this. My father passed away in April, and I have inherited his shotguns and a .22LR handgun. Two of the shotguns were mine, which I had left at his place. A Noble 20 gauge pump and a Remington 870 Wingmaster 16 gauge pump. Both were my 'squirrel guns' growing up.
Dad's are a Remington 870 Wingmaster Magnum 12 gauge and a Winchester 1400 semiauto 12 gauge, which years ago I had a Polychoke installed on.
All in pretty good shape, as I occasionally cleaned and oiled them through the years, "protecting my inheritance" so to speak. Turned out to be the truth!
I no longer hunt with shotguns, and don't shoot skeet or trap. But these guns do hold sentimental value for me. Added to my 870 Home Defense shotgun and the three old bolt-action shotguns I collected on a whim a few years back (because they look so cool and funky!) I find myself 'shotgun heavy'.
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Old June 14, 2013, 02:56 PM   #16
Billybob123
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My dad owned 5 shotguns when he suddenly and unexpectedly passed away a number of years ago. The day after the funeral our mom called us all into one of the bedrooms where she had lain out all 5 shotguns. She told us that it had been dad's wishes when he passed that each of his 5 children would take one of his shotguns. We all went in order of age and somehow, miraculously each of us ended up with the exact gun that we wanted to remember dad by. I kept mine in it's case for about 15 years before taking it out to shoot. It was an awesome shooter and I have since given it to my son and he uses it every duck season, as my dad did, in honor of his grandpa. I must say, I have seen him make shots I wouldn't even try and I am a much better shot than he is. There is no doubt in my mind that whenever he is holding his grandpa's duck shotgun that his grandpa is guiding him and helping him make the kind of shots his grandpa made regularly.
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