Clay Shooting


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Riv­el­ling (a se­ries of rings on bar­rels) can be bad news. This can re­sult from sev­eral things. Once more com­mon than it is to­day, it was typ­i­cally caused by over-oil­ing bores and then not properly clean­ing out the gun’s bore with a patch be­fore fir­ing it. The wad would then scrape the oil from the bore as it ac­cel­er­ated down the bore, cre­at­ing a cir­cu­lar ‘wave’ of oil ahead of the wad. The oil could not ac­cel­er­ate at as fast as the wad and shot load, so the wad would over­take the oil ex­ert­ing pres­sure out­wards and cre­at­ing a se­ries of bulging rings along the barrel. This is more un­sightly than dan­ger­ous, but it is still some­thing to look for and avoid.

Do not con­fuse riv­el­ling with poor strik­ing off of the bar­rels. Some cheaper guns were less well fin­ished than the ma­jor­ity are to­day. Fast pro­duc­tion with lit­tle time spent on hand check­ing and fin­ish­ing bar­rels meant some ap­peared to be riv­elled from new! It is easy to di­ag­nose the cause of an un­du­lat­ing barrel by look­ing in­side the bores. If there are no cor­re­spond­ing ring bulges vis­i­ble in the bore, then the ex­pla­na­tion is just poor strik­ing off.

You will also no­tice some dark rings in the bore. These are not faults in the gun. They merely show a change in bore size. In fixed-choke guns the most ob­vi­ous of these will ap­pear close to the chokes, where big changes in di­am­e­ter pro­duce sev­eral rings close to­gether. There also may be some rings ahead of the chambers and along the bore.

Barrel straight­ness can be checked by paint­ing a crisp dark line on a sky­light or sim­i­lar. This check is done when­ever a gun is made. The black line puts a thin, dark shadow line along the en­tire bore. If line is straight, so are the bores; if it’s wavy, the bar­rels need to be be straight­ened… or scrapped if the prob­lem is too se­vere. You may like to check for this too, but it shouldn’t be re­quired. Prob­lems here should have shown up when the gun was man­u­fac­tured.

All this should have given you an in­sight into how to in­spect an older gun that you’re siz­ing up as a po­ten­tial pur­chase. Dis­cover how the qual­ity of some of the older big name guns stands out a mile com­pared with spend­ing a sim­i­lar amount on a new gun man­u­fac­tured to sell for around the same price. In my book, there is no real choice to be made; it is, as the young­sters might say, ‘a no-brainer’!

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