View Full Version : Question regarding cocked action on side-by-side hammerless shotgun

March 10, 2008, 11:57 AM
On a modern but inexpensive side-by-side like a Stoeger or Remington Spartan/Baikal, coil springs are used. Many people store the guns with the action released either using snapcaps or simply dry-firing on an empty chamber in order to release spring tension on the firing mechanism. Other people either don’t drop the hammers or simply keep the shotgun loaded for home defense and don’t worry about spring tension. The Russian version of the owner’s manual for the Baikal says that while one should not dry-fire the weapon unless using spent shells or snapcaps, that it is a good idea to drop the (internal) hammers when storing the gun to prevent “slackening of the springs”.

Once, I had a Stoeger Silverado coach gun for a while and decided to trade it off on something. I had stored it with hammer down on a couple of snapcaps. I bagged it and took it to the shop. At the shop, I disassembled the gun, knowing it was unloaded therefore not opening the action first. When we tried to re-assemble the gun, to my surprise and shock, it was nearly impossible because the released cocking levers would not allow the forearm to be replaced onto the barrels until the action was cocked which was nearly impossible to do with the forearm not attached to the barrels. Fortunately I was in a gun shop and we corrected the problem but it was a lesson for me and I got to thinking and have tried to research the subject on gun forums with little success. I do remember reading a post somewhere (that I can no longer find) from a gunsmith discussing this issue where he recommended people take a disassembled, uncocked double to a gunsmith for fear they would bugger up the gun trying to re-assemble it. (I can believe it after my experience.)

Recently I purchased a Remington Spartan hammerless coach gun. It strikes me that when the gun is received new, in three pieces, the action is already cocked. If one follows the directions of disassembly, the first directive is to make sure the gun is unloaded by opening it, thereby cocking it. Secondly, one is told to remove the forearm, etc. Nothing is said about dropping the hammers anywhere in the process. Following these directions, every time the gun is stored disassembled, would it not be stored with the action cocked? If that is so, why should there be any concern about storing an assembled shotgun with the action cocked, loaded or no? Using coil springs, this should be no problem in spite of the fact the owner’s manual suggests dropping the hammer to prevent “slackening of the springs”.

Am I missing something? Is there a way of safely dropping the hammers on a disassembled gun. If so, is there a proper method of reassembling a gun with dropped hammers when the cocking levers prevent easy re-attachment of the forearm?

Sorry for the long post and I hope I have phrased the question understandably. I would appreciate any information someone could give me on this.

March 10, 2008, 12:39 PM
Springs don't go bad staying compressed or relaxed. It's the actually motion of the coil spring working that ends up making the spring weaker. In other words, repeated use will wear out your springs, more so than non-use whether or not it is cocked or not. YMMV

March 10, 2008, 12:46 PM
dang laz,,, i store all my doubles with the hammers down and i don't remember ever having a problem putting them together

put in snap caps,, drop the hammers and take the forearm off,,then open and take the barrels off,,,,take out the caps and put the barrels and forearm back on

i have a 20ga. and a 12ga. stoeger,,,,a 12ga. aya matador,,,a 10ga. a.a.,, couple a brownings,,,,,,they all get the same thing for long storage(long around here is a month or two),,,never had a problem

got to go check this out


March 10, 2008, 01:02 PM
ocharry - the situation only happened to me once. I don't remember it ever happening any other time, though I may not have disassembled them with the hammers down before. Now I'm a bit skittish to do it again until I understand what I did or didn't do. Hammer down on an assembled gun, no problem. Hammer down on a disassembled gun, I'm trying to learn more before doing it again.

Tbag - I agree about what stresses the springs. Just trying to solve a little mystery in my head.

Thanks for the replies.

March 11, 2008, 03:47 PM
i looked at my stoegers when i got off yesterday and i did notice that the forearm did come off harder that normal.. those little levers that stick out of the end of the receiver are what cock the hammers,,,,those levers fit inside the slots in the end of the forearm and when you open the action it forces the levers down and re cocks the hammers

i took one of my other doubles apart and it went back together really easily,,while the stoeger did present more of a hassle....so i turned the receiver upside down and hung the little levers on the edge of my loading bench and re cocked the receiver and it went right together,,, it has been awhile since we have used this gun(it was my wife's cowboy shotgun,,and it is the upland special 26" with choke tubes) and since she got into a fight with a circular saw and damn near cut her fingers off(the doc was able to save them)she hasn't done a lot of shooting with it,,, i must have learned this trick and forgot about it,,,,sorry if i mislead you,,,,but it is for the doubles i have the only ones that seem to be that way

i think that i could have put it back together without recocking it but it was definitely easier with it recocked,,, and so i must have just dropped the hammers before,,,just like i did this time and set it back in the safe

dropping the hammers on guns is just a habit with me i do it on all of them rifles and shot guns,,,if i am using them all the time i don't but when i change shooting disciplines and guns,, the ones i am putting away get checked,,cleaned and oiled,,,rechecked and the hammer dropped and put away

i guess you could put snap caps in and leave them,,and i do with guns that i can't open with out recocking the action,,,,,huummmm i should have done that with this shot gun,,,,oh well it's put away now


March 11, 2008, 04:40 PM
ocharry - That's interesting and I thank you for checking it out and letting me know. That is pretty much my experience with a stoeger. My current Spartan/Baikal also has cocking levers but I don't know if the same problem would occur with it and haven't tried. Somewhere, on some forum, in a place that recent searches have failed to find, I thought I remember some guy who said he was a gunsmith who warned that people can "bugger up" their shotguns when they do this and try to fix it. He said he had a tool in his shop that fixed it right quick and safely. Now I'm not sure what damage one could do in the way you and someone on Shotgun Forum said, upside down on a bench unless he was saying that one could bend the cocking levers by working them outside of the channels in the forearm. I too would and do drop the hammers (with snap caps) on any gun I am storing assembled. It would appear, however, that the factories intend, maybe by default, a gun to be stored disassembled to be stored with the hammers cocked since they don't address the issue of recocking on a bench at all but do suggest checking to make sure the gun is empty before removing the forearm (thus cocking the hammers). It also seems pretty clear to me that a new gun out of the box is shipped with hammers cocked, otherwise they probably would tell us to turn the receiver upside down on a bench to cock the hammers before assembly. Many owner's manuals say that their guns are "preserved" enough to last for two years in the pipeline before sale, i.e. a new gun could have sat for a year or two with hammers cocked, disassembled in the box. If that is so, perhaps dropping the hammers is of little merit. Interesting stuff (to me at least :)) and I really appreciate you taking the time to check it out on your Stoeger.

March 12, 2008, 05:34 PM
Mystery solved...sorta. Was reading the online owner's manual for the Beretta Silver Hawk (obviously a much finer and more expensive side-by-side). They have a page devoted to suggested method of dropping the hammers for storage. They say, open the gun, insert snap caps, close, fire the gun, remove forearm, open gun, remove snap caps, close gun, re-install forearm. When I tried this on my Baikal, it worked fine. Thinking about it I thought, why not just take the barrel completely off after removing the snap caps. Did that, and found that reassembly of the gun went off without a hitch. So, I no longer have any concerns about the Baikal. No problem storing with hammers down, nor with reassembly after storage of disassembled hammer down shotgun. I still do not know what I did to make the Stoeger act the way it did. Did I do something goofy or is that the way Stoegers are? I just don't know. If I ever buy another Stoeger, I 'll find out.

June 27, 2009, 02:25 PM
For all intents and purposes, my Stoeger side-by-side has been cocked for 20 years, except for the firing at CAS matches a couple times a month. I have detected no weakening of the hammer strike, it shoots every time. I don't think the coil springs are under a stress load even when cocked, the degree of compression, cocked from uncocked, is short, and the free length of the springs is not greatly longer than the pre-load length.

June 28, 2009, 12:29 AM
On my Baikal SXS (pre-Remington), I am able to break open the action, and while it is open, I switch the safety to fire position, then, while holding in both triggers, I close the action. This keeps the action released when it's closed. Of course, I would only recommend doing this on an unloaded gun, as I wouldn't want to chance testing that the action was truly released on a loaded gun.