View Full Version : Whether to cut barrel down on old H&R Topper 88 Full 12Ga.

January 4, 2001, 12:43 AM
This was the first weapon I bought..inexpensive for a newlywed. I am considering cutting down for home defense and also was wondering if I cut it down would I be able to shoot sabots through it..Or just keep it as is... lots of questions... any and all comments/opinions welcome... thanks in advance!

Al Thompson
January 4, 2001, 05:40 AM
Hi Slow,

How long is the barrel now?

You can cut the barrel to no less than 18 inches (Federal Law) and I would opt for 20 inches. I would also have a GS reinstall the front sight (bead).

If the barrel is fully rifled, you can get the performance out of a sabot round. If it's not fully rifled, your better off with a standard slug. Not sure why you would opt for a slug in a HD gun - way too much penetration. Try a search for relevant threads.


Dave McC
January 4, 2001, 08:17 AM
I'd leave it alone...

A 28" bbled Single shot is about the same overall length as a riot bbled pump gun,and easily handled in CQ. Shortening the bbl will cut the weight, always a problem in these very light weight singles,and up the blast/flash considerably.

At typical HD ranges, choke is meaningless.

Forget sabots for HD, and other slugs as well.Way too much penetration,and you want a load that will expend ALL its energy in the target. Any 12 ga load is effective at HD ranges, I'd use skeet loads and masking tape a couple to the butt stock for a Po' Boy ready reload.

Hope this helps...

Clayton Hufford
January 4, 2001, 11:04 PM
I've cut down at least 10 of these things for myself and friends over the years. I would use a pipe cutter, and make sure it's at least 18.5" long from the cutoff mark to the chamber end of the barrel. Buy an elastic butcuff to carry extra ammo, but don't forget that 2 rounds can be carried nicely between the fingers of the hand on the forearm. Practice quick reloads in the dark. I'd use low recoil buckshot, regardless of where I live. Provided you hit the target you'll have no problems, and if you do miss it won't matter what you have in the gun as birdshot will blow a nice hole through several walls. I know-I've done it. These guns will serve you just as well as a $2000 custom Guccified pump or auto. It's the nut behind the butt that makes the difference.

January 5, 2001, 12:14 AM
I did the same thing to mine. Cut it to 20", put a rifle front sight on it (which I had in my spare parts) & added a Choate/H&R survivor synthetic stock set which I got on one of the auctions for $20.00. Nice little hand cannon!

Dave McC
January 5, 2001, 08:11 AM
I've seen,handled and fired several of these cutoffs, up to a 10 ga Testosterone Special H&R and the older Winchester 37s. Some were truck guns, others survivalist backups, or woods roaming guns. Some were actually delightful projects, featuring hollowed out stocks storing survival gear, jug chokes, camo paint, flares, and so on.

Some drawbacks to an otherwise excellent idea....

Light weight. The singles run way less than the Rule of 96 to begin with. Extra kick is not the only facet of the downside, the balance becomes very muzzle light,and keeping the swing going on a moving target gets really difficult. Training can overcome that, but shooting lots of shells through a 5 1/2 lb shotgun builds a killer flinch. Been there...

Also, most of us NEVER train for HD scenarios in low light. ANY shotgun with a minimum length tube has beaucoup blastnflash. Don't believe me? Try a drill or two at night.

Also, while a straight cylinder bore works for HD, keeping the choke makes sense for a GP shotgun. Sawn bbls usually have ragged patterns, even a factory Cyl bore has a couple of points of constriction to round out the pattern.I wouldn't cut a bbl unless I had the time,techniques and tools to do a good recrown...

January 5, 2001, 07:25 PM
Again thanks for your input....One more question? If I use slugs and make no changes to this gun could I effectively use it to hunt deer BTW it is 28"

January 5, 2001, 11:11 PM
Where is a good gunsmith to cut down a barrel, put back on the sight, and crown the barrel? What is the cost? Please post urls or phone numbers.

Dave McC
January 6, 2001, 09:46 AM
Probably,slow, tho you might have to find the right slug that groups well AND shoots to POA. I'd try the Forster types first, the hollow slug swages down in the choke and one brand should give you decent accuracy. No 12 ga slug is ineffective.

Magnum, there almost certainly is someone near your home that could do this, it's not advanced gunsmithing nor rocket science. Mostly it's a matter of having the right tools and a little know how.

If you do cut the bbl, and plan on using slugs at some point,I suggest mounting the bead on a base instead of right on the bbl. Slugs will hit very high from a bead on bbl shotgun. A short base brings them closer to POA, and shot patterns should still be flat on, tho not impacting well above POA.

January 6, 2001, 04:36 PM
Thanks for all the comments...still undecided but leaning towards no changes at this time