Craft Gunmaking, No compromises, No corners cut, EVER

Friday, September 25, 2020

A Cautionary Tale

I know it's been a while since the last post but as the great Mark Twain once said: The rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated.  Now on to the business at hand.   The victim is one comprehensively cocked-up Henry Atkin SLE in 12 gauge, and the title is an allusion to the pitfalls of buying a gun from a "reputable dealer" without a pre-purchase inspection/evaluation.  This turned out to be one of those repair projects that ends up feeling as if it's become a career.   Not one single area of this gun was spared the handiwork of at least one "gunsmiff".   If one individual was responsible for all of this, then I've got to tip my hat to him for elevating incompetence to a level that I didn't think possible outside of Washington D.C.  To be fair, not all of the problems were attributable to bodgery, a couple were the result of actual, honest wear and tear.  We'll start there. 

 The first thing found upon disassembly was that both lockplate anvils were failed.  The anvil is what the tumbler stops against when released by the sear and, as you might imagine, it takes a beating (literally). 


After annealing the lockplates, the broken areas were prepped and TIG welded up in preparation for reshaping. 


 The anvils were filed to shape and the interior surfaces were polished in preparation for case-hardening. Since the gun exhibited no case hardening color externally, the colors were removed from the exterior surfaces in order to render the repair externally undetectable.

  Apparently, some trigger-pull work was done to the left lock.  The primary sear's nose was shortened and reshaped (presumably to lighten the trigger pull).  When our hero discovered that the primary sear now released the tumbler before the interceptor sear cleared, he took the "expedient" method of correcting the situation: grinding off the nose of the interceptor.  Astute readers will readily surmise that this rendered the interceptor incapable of performing its function of actually intercepting the tumbler in the event that the primary sear fails to hold.  Since welding these parts is a non-option because of the material from which they're made (see here for more detail:, new parts had to be made.

Completed left lock

The locator tab on the interceptor sear spring of the right lock had also failed.  The attempted solution was to file the back side of the spring, in an attempt to recreate the tab.  I'm sure it seemed like a good idea at the time.
The last frame-related item was a broken toplever spring.  We've all seen this before, but here are a few photos anyway.

Now, on to the ejectors, where the perpetrator didn't let a complete lack of comprehension as to their function get in the way of "fixin' em".  After filing the legs of each sear so thin that they actually slipped past the trip lever noses, our man then proceeded to peen the legs, presumably in an attempt to lengthen them.  Why?  I don't know, and neither did he.
The ejector sears are pretty complex in their shaping because the forend wood occupies the space in between them, allowing purchase for the rear forend iron screw.

A kludge-fest of this magnitude wouldn't be complete without mangled screw slots.  Somehow or other, our man actually missed one screw slot with his talents.  In order to relieve this single screw of its "survivor's guilt", I made new screws to replace the damaged ones, a few of which are shown here.  Again, we've all seen this before.

There were also stock repairs that had to be made, as well as refinishing of the stock and forend, recutting the checkering and an ebony extension (1").  The barrel engraving was recut and the barrels reblacked as well.  I didn't take any photos of those operations, mainly because blogging about it was not foremost in my mind at the time.
At last, the finished job...