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Wanting to do some work to an old pump

John A.

Unconstitutional laws are not laws.
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Good evening guys. I hope all is well with y'all.

I was writing to get some opinions. Good, bad or indifferent are all good and there are no wrong answers. But I have this old 16 gauge pump shotgun that I have a love/hate relationship with.

I don't have much in it. Just shy of $100. Which is probably about what it's worth if I were to sell it to be honest. It's a good gun as for being reliable and stuff. It's made by Noble back sometime probably in the 50's, though it's marked western field (montgomery wards house brand). That's not really good or bad, it just is what it is. So, it's not a winchester or a remington or a mossberg or ithaca or whatever. So, there isn't any real collectible value to it despite being well made and good thick heavy steel parts on everything.

The main few things going against it. It's a 16 gauge and most people shy away from them. But, I'm gonna be honest, that was the main reason why I wanted it. I love shooting my 16's. I have plenty of 12's to choose from, but when I was growing up, I would've given my eye teeth for a pump 16 and I bought it when I saw it just because I always wanted one.

The other thing that I really hate about it is the choke. It has one of those old gawky external adjustable chokes that looks like a pineapple on the end of the barrel.

The choke, while it does adjust and turn, I don't believe anyone could really claim the choke changes the pattern much from the loosest to the tightest. And the choke pretty much shreds wads. You can shoot a handful of shells and there will be a healthy coating of plastic fouling all inside of the adjustable choke. So, that being my biggest fault with the gun is that it just doesn't hold the pattern like I would really want with it.

Now, for my dilemma.

I found a fixed full choke barrel that should work on it. And I think that would probably get the old gun shooting as good as it's going to. But, the barrel would run around $95. Which would likely put more in it than the gun is worth altogether, but I don't mind that. Long as it shot better and I'd use it more.

I could probably turn around and maybe resale the vari-choke barrel that is on it (maybe if someone were to be looking for one), or perhaps I could cut it down to 18 inches and leave it as a cylinder choke for shooting slugs and buckshot. I mean, that isn't really out of the question either.

I even thought about having the existing barrel shortened and threaded for chokes, but that too would cost way more than the gun is worth and at the end of the day, I don't really want to spend $250 or $275 to fool with the old barrel. That's really not going to happen. I can find another brand 16 gauge pump in decent condition for that kind of money.

So, I'm just wanting to get some of your opinions. Either get the full fixed choke barrel or not? That's mainly what's on my mind this evening. Just seeing a barrel available for a 60 year old gun in the right gauge is enough for me to want to get the barrel alone just because it still exists.
John, as we all grow older there are many things that are more important than money. Reading your first couple of paragraphs I can tell you're really attached to the gun despite it's age, it's gauge, it's off brand pedigree and/or it's current condition. That attachment alone says you should keep it in the family.

If it were me I'd buy the fixed choke barrel while I could find one and sit the original barrel aside for a while. If down the road you decide to sell it you can offer the gun with two original barrels which might be more attractive to a new buyer. However, if down the road you decide to never part with it then I'd consider cutting the original barrel to 18 inches and using it as a slug barrel.

Hope this old guy opinion helps! Nothing wrong with a 60 year old (young) gun!

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I'm partial to 16 gauge. That was my first gun chambering that I owned. Though, I borrowed Charlies 410 for a couple of squirrel seasons before I got my own gun.

I like 16 bore a lot. And have used them a lot. My first shotgun was a single shot, and while I enjoyed hunting with it, I couldn't help but to think how much easier it would be to be able to hunt with a pump.

And, it is. Especially if you need that follow up shot.

At the time to me, I thought a pump was a step up from what I had.

That was my main attraction to the old shotgun I'm talking about. That and the price of it was too hard to pass by. It's not everyday you can find a pump shotgun for under $100. The shotgun itself works well. But, the adjustable choke is largely a joke and the weak link in the gun. Even shooting 5 shells, and it has a thick coating of plastic on the inside of it from where the choke grabs the wad. Which also messes with the pattern and shortens the usable range you can hit with it. You can forget shooting a squirrel in the top of those old growth oaks with it.

So, that's the main reason why I'd like to get the fixed choke barrel. It shouldn't have that problem and I think should shoot better as a result.

And while I did mention that I hate the way the old adjustable chokes look on the end of the barrel. That would be gone as well.


John, are you sitting on (or able to get your hands on) enough 16-ga hunting ammo to make having that gun worth having? How expensive is the factory ammo? I think I recall you saying that about once a year a case or so sneaks it's way into a store in your area and you buy a few boxes.

Are you a really active shotgun hunter for game other than those squirrels that you can't reach?

If it's just a hunting gun and you don't hunt as much as you once did, I would not let the barrel dilemma base your decision. Unless you will hunt more because of this one gun.

If it's going to just be a gun to tinker with and not much more, I would just stand it in a corner and look at it once in a while. Especially since you have other 16-ga shotguns.

And cutting off the vari-choke making it a slug/buckshot gun is a problem if it's really difficult to get slugs/buck in 16-ga.
All valid comments my friend.

At the end of the day, it probably wouldn't make me hunt more. But I'd probably hunt more with it, if that makes any sense.

Slug ammo. While I do have a few rounds of 16 gauge remington slugs, I've had them for years. And probably only 6 or 7 of them. When I say a few, I really mean a few. I could get a 16 ga slug mold, but doubt that I ever would. I'd likely use a 12 gauge mostly for slugs since I already have a mold for it and I think 12 ga slug would be a touch better. So I see your point about maybe not cutting down the original barrel.

Buckshot. I can load all the buckshot that I want. That's no issue. I have about 15 pounds of #000 size steel ball bearings that I got from amazon. Which are a lot cheaper than buying lead buckshot. The steel balls may not have the penetration of lead, but I still doubt that getting hit with one would buff right out either. I keep some loaded up that I keep in the mossberg mag tube right now for bear in my truck gun.

Altogether, I have about 2 cases of factory loads for the 16. And enough wads to reload at least 5 or 6 more cases. (full cases).

Over the years, I've seen the writing on the wall that 16 ga components are getting harder to get by the year. So, I have picked stuff up when I got a good deal on it. Matter of fact, I bought the remington wads when they declared bankruptcy and went out of business. So, when I saw them go on clearance for $7.99 for a bag of 250 wads at midway, I bought the 5 or 6 bags they had remaining in stock while I could and have them squirreled away under my reloading bench. If I don't use them all by the time I'm too old to walk up and down these hills or dead, whichever of my sons that want to have the guns gets the components with them. Until then, I'm gonna use up some of what I have because I can't take it with me and I ain't getting any younger.

The shells I have are from where I did buy a few boxes at a time when I could find them consisting mostly of remington, but I have some federal, and winchester shells too.

I did buy one whole full case of centurion brand (I think they're italian made) #6 shot shells from some online place several years ago. When I got them, I paid $79 shipped for the case. Which was a good price at the time. That's less than $8 box/25 They're probably more than double that price now and that was about what I was paying for federals back in the mid 90's. But I haven't priced any in a while. With the way things are, they're probably even more than that now?

I don't have a reload recipe for those imported shells, but I'm sure I could work something up that would be safe and usable.

I know I have load data for the US made shells for sure.

While I know that may sound like a lot of components and shells, I know that there's a bottom to my barrel somewhere down the road. But for now, I have enough to use that I'm not stressed out over shooting a few squirrels and rabbits and turkey with it every now and then.
John, your "what should I do" puzzle brought back flashbacks to me.
The first hunting I did was on the farm I worked on as a hi school kid [first real manual labor I encountered].
We had stripped corn fields that yielded bun rabs and peasants that showed up on the dinner table later in the week.
For these missions I was issued an old Rem or Savage .22/.410 over/under that belonged to the farmer's son.
I had a single shot while the rest had 12-ga pumps. When they flushed any game the other 3 guys [farmer, son and my dad] wouldn't shoot till I did.
Of course, I missed most of the time and some of the birds took advantage of that to escape. We still ate well.
There was a bird I'm sure I missed, but they gave me credit for the kill so I could get on the board.

Anyhoo... when I read your post I thought how much I would love to have that OU shottie sitting in the corner right now.
It wasn't mine, but I sure had great memories. My suggestion is to keep yours regardless of if you repair or modify it.

By the way, for all you proofreaders out there: I didn't misspell "pheasant."
We had code words and slang for everything.
Pheasants were peasants; cows were bears; Silky, the Weimaraner was the tiger; dung was soup...

Thanx for the memories.
Thanks for sharing that story scoop.

Growing up, we didn't have any pheasants, but we did have a lot of grouse. I spent many mornings and late evenings looking for them too. I didn't have any dogs to help find them, so most of the time when I'd walk through the field, they'd fly up when I was only a step or two away from them.

When they'd jump up, I wouldn't have a half a second to figure out what was happening and know whether to point the gun and pull the trigger or shit and go blind.

They'd almost always wait until you almost stepped on them to fly up and you could literally feel the wind off of their wings and thus scare the ever loving crap out of me. I missed more than I got to be honest. LOL

I remember once when me and my uncle were hiking. We weren't even hunting, but he always carried a walking stick. We were walking up the hill and a grouse flew up kind of from the blind side of a tree and flew right straight at him and almost hit him in the head and he pulled that stick up to his arm instinctively like it was a shotgun. Just out of reflex.

I start to die laughing and he sheepishly realized what he did and without hesitation, he was looking down at his stick in both hands and said I would've got the damned thing had I not forgot to load it and started to shake his head no in disbelief.

I start laughing again and told him all he had to do was sharpen the end of it and would be able to poke it to death.

Which truly didn't help matters any because at that point my sides were hurting from laughing so hard and I was about smothered out gasping for air. He has still not lived that down and it's probably been 35 years ago. But I still bring it up every now and then when I know he doesn't want to hear it. LOL
I would take the adjustable choke apart and see if I couldn't make it work a little better. Perhaps there is debris in it causing it to tear up the wad? Maybe chamfer sharp edges so they no longer shave? And quit staring at it! :D

OR, research the availability of screw-in chokes and go that route? Do you know if the barrel is back-bored?

OR, cut it down to cyl. bore? That would depend on availability of suitable ammo, I suppose...
I have taken the choke apart. It's generally a poor design. I suppose revolutionary for it's time, but that was well before sputnik.

The choke is like a compression fitting with spring steel guts and edges that will touch when screwed all the way down or have slight gaps between them if it's not. I don't think there is anything I could do to it to make it work well.

closeup exterior assembled

Exterior disassembled

And the poor machining and design doesn't just stop on the outside. There is no saving grace for this. It's not even straight around. It's more oval/egg shaped internally. And rough ridges all the way around and in the wrong directions. That's largely what's snagging the wads and fouling up. If I ream it out with something to make it smoother, it's likely still not going to be right.


I have looked at screw in chokes. I can get screw in chokes for about $35 each.

BUT (notice the big but and in all capital letters) it's about $275 to get the barrel threaded to accept those screw in chokes. There's only one or two places in the country that have the reamers and tools to do it for 16 gauge. And they're not cheap. I'm not spending that kind of money on it.

Swapping to the fixed full choke would be the only path forward to maybe get it shooting better than it does now. Right now, the pattern looks more like an irregular and very inconsistent skeet choke pattern that you would have to chase around a poster board trying to guess where to aim the next shot to get decent coverage, regardless of how you try to adjust the choke. And that's why I don't like to use this gun very much. If I'm gonna keep it, I'm at least going to have it to where I can hunt with it and shoot it. Otherwise, I have little use for it. I don't do wall hangers.
I admitted earlier, there are no wrong answers or opinions here. I have enjoyed the discussion and conversation.
I admitted earlier, there are no wrong answers or opinions here. I have enjoyed the discussion and conversation.
I know, just guessing some may disagree. There is something to be said for revamping and older fire arm. But if the function is good run it. I have a 1924 Czechoslovakian 8mm Mauser. The barrel looks like new (believe it or not) but the furniture is a little beat up but I wouldn't dream of changing it
But that's just me :idk:
I certainly understand. There's a lot of guns that I haven't changed a thing on.

This gun, really doesn't shoot near as well as I think it should. It's a shotgun. It scatters pellets. So, it is working.

But, it scatters them randomly and much wider and faster/closer than I believe it should. And hence my dilemma.
I'm sitting here holding my fingers apart about "yay" amount, first 12ga, then 20ga, figgerin' 16 is about in the middle--yup, it'll fit... Here is what you must ;) do! Get you a brake wheel cylinder hone and polish the inside of that choke. Then take a thin strip of metal like a steel rule or feeler gauge and clean the slots of debris when done. I probably would NOT use either of those things because they could be damaged and scratched but something similar like a utility knife blade might do. Then reassemble and stick your pinkie in there to see how it feels... Let me know if you can't find a hone--mine are leftover from my auto mech days but I would look in an auto parts store. The dingleberry style are a little more robust, IMO. The flat style I've had brake fluid affect the glue holding the stones to the backings and the stones would fall off. My bad for not cleaning the hone before I put it away.

PS: what does the inside of the adjusting cap look like?
I like that the end of the barrel is ported--maybe make a breacher out of it... :D

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Do you really think a hone would polish it out mirror smooth? Because that's for sure what it would need to be.

If you look at the picture above, towards the end up near the exit, those gouges and rings are DEEP.

I'd need about a 5/8" hone if I were guessing.

16 Gauge Choke TypeDiameter
Improved Cylinder0.661
This has been one of the most interesting threads in a long time. Lots of ideas, lots of good memories shared.

My opinion, fwiw, coincides with what Ernst suggested. Get the extra barrel and keep the original, just in case.
Thanks buddy.

I've slept on it a few nights and I think that I will eventually get the barrel. But, it may be a bit before I do. My family has a lot of Bdays the next couple of months, plus with Christmas coming up, and property taxes will be coming out soon, I'm always pretty strapped this time of year with all the extra that we have to put out.

But, just knowing that they made a fixed choke barrel, at least now I know such a thing exists, I'll try to pick it up when I can.

Just so you guys know, my youngest son and I went shooting some yesterday evening. He's wanting to go squirrel hunting this weekend. We patterned the shells he wanted to use and adjusted the red dot on the semiauto 12 he's going to be using, and I pulled out my old single shot 16 to put a few shots through to remember where to hold the bead. It was like riding a bike. I hit the pop can the first shot.

I'm looking forward to going with him and spending some time in my old stomping grounds :) With any luck, may get some squirrel gravy as a bonus.