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Old April 5, 2014, 09:50 AM   #1
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Bolt Action Shotguns?

Who has a bolt action shotgun? I'm talking about the old Sears Roebuck, Mossberg, J.C. Higgins, Glenfield, etc. bolt action shotguns that could be found for sale at various stores and were popular in the 50-70s era as a low-cost repeating shotgun.

I've handled a few of these old guns and they often sell for not much more than $100 dollars these days. I think they are very nifty, and the one I've handles in 20 gauge seem very light and offer 3 shots or more. I'm in the market for a squirrel/rabbit gun and I don't have a great deal of money to spend. I like these guns because they just sort of have an "end of the world" or "zombie apocalypse" type charm going on. I just like unusual, and inexpensive guns. IDK, I just think they are cool!

Would something like an old bolt-action 20 gauge shotgun by a good idea for me? Or are they pieces of junk that I should never seek out? Is there anything I should keep in mind, are they safe to shoot? I'm just looking for a little feedback on this before I go commit to buying one.

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Old April 5, 2014, 10:09 AM   #2
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If you're not worried about the speed of follow up shots they're a great gun and have been used for many years by many people.

I wouldn't hesitate on buying one.
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Old April 5, 2014, 11:11 AM   #3
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I got a Stevens 124C the other day
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Old April 5, 2014, 05:31 PM   #4
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My employer has an old Mossberg 185 20 g. bolt action. It belonged to his father. Looks cool and shoots fine still. If I found one for around $100 and it was in good shape, I would buy one no problems
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Old April 5, 2014, 06:19 PM   #5
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Sears recalled some of the J.C. Higgins 12 gauges years ago for developing cracks in the receiver that would allow the bolt to come back into the shooters face. I think they were made by High Standard.
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Old April 5, 2014, 06:57 PM   #6
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No, they're not junk ...but they're slow on follow up shots. Some models can be very hard to find parts ...but you're only investing $ 50 - $100 in a gun anyway...

I have a gun, that I got in the 50's ...its a Western Field ( sold by Gambles or Montgomery Wards I think ), 3 shot, bolt action..( holds 2 in the mag / 1 in chamber )....mine is 16ga with a Full choke.

As a kid, I killed a lot of grouse with it..../ got it for a birthday present when I was about 8 yrs old, it was used then, and I still have it. I don't shoot it much --- but I went out and shot some skeet with it, just for laughs last summer, and I did ok with it ...( about an 15 average ).../ but working the bolt action, takes some concentration on doubles.../ and a Full Choke is not your best option on Skeet....but it was a good day !
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Old April 5, 2014, 07:16 PM   #7
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Keeping my eyes open for a Stevens Model 59 410. My very first "all my own" shotgun over 50 years ago.
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Old April 6, 2014, 07:21 AM   #8
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You have a Model 195 Mossberg manufactured between 1954 and 1963. The specific model is probably 195K-A. I have seen some convert these into reasonable turkey-shoot guns, although I would not. It is not a junk gun.

I have a model 190 Mossberg which is the same gun in 16 ga. (with the C-Lect-Choke but w/o the rear sight). This was my fathers gun purchased in 1953 and last shot around 1960. I like the very smooth operation of its bolt. I used it for Phesant hunting as a youngster. I gotta pattern it sometime soon to see how the C-Lect-Choke works.

I believe NMCA (National Mossberg Collectors Association) is still around Try or 636-937-6401 for parts and information.

Last edited by BANG; April 6, 2014 at 07:32 AM.
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Old April 6, 2014, 05:00 PM   #9
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I have a Marlin 55 Goose Gun. The Goose Gun version gets you a 36 inch barrel with a full choke. It's 2+1 with a detachable magazine. Mine is a 12 gauge. My only complaint is its very big, which is why I also like it. I think I paid $180 or maybe $200. The gun is in great shape, just has some age. It's a pre government serial number gun is all I know about its age. I took it squirrel hunting last year. I'm a taller guy so it wasn't too bad carrying but it takes some getting used to. I've shot the gun several times at the shooting range, follow up shots aren't slow. It's pretty easy to rack the bolt quick, much easier than a rifle.
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Old April 6, 2014, 07:16 PM   #10
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Not junk, but not the high end of the shotgun totem pole either. They were utility guns, made to a price and intended to give the user a repeating shotgun at a lot less cost than the average pump gun.

Just don't buy one without a magazine, thinking you can always pick up a magazine. You can't. The magazines were cheaply made and often came apart or were lost, so the companies soon ran out of extras. For many years, they have been just about unobtainable at any price.

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Old April 6, 2014, 08:37 PM   #11
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Just don't buy one without a magazine, thinking you can always pick up a magazine. You can't. The magazines were cheaply made and often came apart or were lost,
That's the beauty of the little Stevens 59 with it's tubular magazine. I think there were some larger gauge bolt shotguns with tube magazines as well.
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Old April 6, 2014, 09:20 PM   #12
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I can't wait to get one in 20 gauge, they just have cool rustic/simplistic homeliness to them that I find absolutely... scintillating!
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Old April 7, 2014, 11:10 AM   #13
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Follow up shots aren't a problem, if you use the gun enough. Using a Mossberg 3 shot 20ga. bolt gun, poly-choke, I tripled on pheasants one time back in 1963 - I doubled on grouse with it several times. I just wish I had them 16 year old reflexes and eyes again.
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Old April 7, 2014, 12:02 PM   #14
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My grandfather has one in 16 ga. I'm not sure the exact model, but it looks a lot like the picture, including the adjustable choke.

On a whim I took it with us when we went out with the clay thrower, and it did a pretty good job.

Only reason I don't take it out more is the cost of 16 ga.
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Old April 7, 2014, 12:09 PM   #15
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I've got a Mossberg 385KB that my dad gave me when I was 15. That was 35 years ago. The magazine spring gave out after 25 years, but I found one from Gunparts Corp. The gun has worked great for most applications, but doesn't point well for me at birds.
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Old April 7, 2014, 10:44 PM   #16
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Back in time, when I was trying to come of age, a bolt action shotguns was a farm gun, used once in a while to keep the fox out of the hen house and off times the gun was kept in the barn while a better grade shotgun was kept in the house. Fairly presented or not a bolt gun was considered a " poor mans gun". To use one in the field carried a certain stigma, almost as bad as using an unaltered milsurp as a deer rifle. If you used a WWII Mauser in the woods for deer, folks figured you were just too poor to use a real gun ( and off times that was the truth ). That is just the way it was, Bolt actions shotguns were a farm tool and a poor mans shotgun, this prejudice has stayed with a lot of the older generation, including myself. Like they say, " you are what you were, when " that little saying may not make sense to a lot of younger folks, but the old timers know what it means
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Old April 8, 2014, 12:11 AM   #17
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I have one that was left to me by my grandfather a few years back, i forget the maker. I love the gun. Sure, it limits your ability for a quick follow up shot, but that's ok. It is just a wonderfully unique gun in a world full of pump actions and semi autos.
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Old April 8, 2014, 04:49 AM   #18
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I have a Mossberg 185K with the C-Lect choke, 20 gauge. It is a nice, light field gun.
About follow up shots being slow.....I disagree with the general trend in this thread. I load two shells only and with a little practice, the bolt can be flipped up, back and then forward about as fast as a pump gun can be cycled.... and without taking the gun from the shoulder.
The gun sold for $36.95 in 1957.
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Old April 8, 2014, 08:46 AM   #19
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I don't often shop at Gander Mtn, but one day, I walked through one killing time at work.
Looking at the used gun rack, I spotted a bolt action shotgun. Just for kicks, I checked the price.
I was shocked to see it was marked $75.
Looking it over, it was a Mossberg C-Leckt choke, 12ga in new condition.
I took it home. I've had it for two years and have yet to shoot it. Maybe this year.
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Old April 9, 2014, 12:00 PM   #20
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Have a bolt .410 that a friend gave me. Tube magazine. Barrel says its a Stevens Model 39A.

To me, its worth a lot, because my friend gave it to me. On the market, not much cash, but so what? I was telling my friend about the bolt .410 my Grandfather had, and how it was the first gun I hunted with. Sadly, that gun was lost in a house fire decades ago.

My friend went into a back room, came back a bit later, handed it to me, and said, "here! Take this home!"

I did.
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Old April 9, 2014, 06:12 PM   #21
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My buddy has one, I don't know what it is... I'm hoping he can get pictures. As I recall, it is a synthetic stock, stainless action/barrel. 2 round mag, 12ga, smoothbore.
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Old April 14, 2014, 11:56 AM   #22
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Here is my J C Higgins twenty gauge, purchased used last year for about $140. Quality and condition are very good. I believe it was made by Harrington and Richardson. Decent walnut in the stock, well, a little knot there. Action is smooth and positive. It handles better than you would think. I haven't hunted with it, but it does well on clays. A second shot would be too slow on quail or pheasants, maybe not on rabbits or squirrels. I think it would be OK for ducks over decoys. And, if you take the plug out and lay down five magnum loads of buckshot as fast as you can work the bolt, it would be quite discouraging to an attacker. I think these have a place in the shooting scene and I have always liked them, due to my upbringing in a frugal farm household.
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Old April 14, 2014, 07:41 PM   #23
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In terms of "handling" properties, the bolt-action is, imo, the very worst shotgun ever made. And you might get a second shot off if the bird is on crutches. I'd much rather hunt with the simplest single-shot existant. However, the bolt-action shotgun might serve as a very good deer hunting gun, especially if a scope is mounted on it.
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Last edited by dgludwig; April 17, 2014 at 01:31 PM.
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Old April 17, 2014, 08:44 AM   #24
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The very first shotgun I ever took dove hunting (at age 11) was an old 20ga Mossberg bolt action. Follow-up shots were non-existent.
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