Let me tell you the story of a couple of diamonds in the rough that I have recently acquired.
Gun 1: Remington 870 Wingmaster 12 ga..
I found this used shotty sitting in the rear of the rack at Vances' recently with a price tag of $179. It had obviously had a rough life and showed wear and rust on the receiver and barrel. The bore was filthy and the bolt looked dirty as well. Still it appeared to have been a police trade in at some point and wore a synthetic stock and "corn cob" fore end. I contacted Remington with the serial number and they confirmed it was manufactured in 1976, It was a stock 5 shot model with a plain front bead at the end of a ribless 18.5" barrel. Overall a pretty decent home defense shotgun in its own right. After a bit of haggling, I got the effective price to $149 because I was already buying another gun at the moment (more on that in another post)by getting a bit off of some other stuff I was buying. Not bad at all, less than 1/2 of what a new model goes for these days.
The 870 when I got it home, you can't tell from the pic, but spots of rust dot parts of the barrel and receiver and the bolt as well...not taken care of by its previous owner.
After getting it home I went to work. The surface rust was taken care of by the use of some CLP, a piece of fine steel wool and some elbow grease. A little more CLP afterwards to protect the metal produced a totally different looking gun. A full disassemble and cleaning of the gun found more rust on the bolt and copious amounts of carbon residue. More CLP and steel wool and MPro-7 cleaned up the inside nicely. I did find that the right shell arm was bent and needed some straightening to allow the gun to be reassembled but it does not affect its function as was proved by some testing at the range this past Saturday. For $13 Remington will sell me another if needed.
Using this wonderful article from Carteach0 (who also has some great articles on using a shotty as well!) as a base for this project, I started by asking myself what did I want this gun to perform the role of? Well, home defense was the first and foremost thing that came to mind. The shotgun as was was good for this purpose. As I would see it being used 5 shots of 00 buck would be sufficient and I had no use for a fancier stock than what was already on there (and with few exceptions I think the standard stock on a shotty is the best choice anyway). Despite this conclusion I decided to go ahead and buy a Tacstar +2 magazine tube extension for it due to the "better to have and not need..." mantra and the fact that it would not affect the overall length. Also, it negated, to a large degree, the "need" to have a external shell carrier mounted on the receiver or stock for additional ammo. I would like to think that 6 or 7 rounds should be enough in addition to the racking of the slide to send the universal "get the hell outta my house" message to any intruder.
I did want a way to mount some type of light on it though, not to search for targets but to verify them. White lights do have their place but being a beacon back to the shooter holding them is not one of them. Neither is bearing down on your family members with the light to see "how they are doing" with a loaded round of buckshot. Even at night many homes have enough ambient light for a person with adjusted eyes to make out the shape of a person in their home and a brief illumination will confirm it and also possible blind and disorient an armed intruder.
I bought a simple ATI mag clamp light holder that attaches to the Tacstar extension I talked of above. I have a Surefire flashlight mounted in it, and it itself is mounted in such a way that all I need to do is move my hand to the end of the fore end to activate it with some pressure. So I locate my target, activate the light, shoot, racking the slide will automatically turn the light off, get "off the "X"" and then repeat as necessary.
In the future I may add a XS Systems front bead sight to it that will make it easier to aim in the dark, but that is not a high priority. Overall, this is now a very capable home defense weapon and even with the addition of the mag extension and light clamp it is still $90 cheaper than a new shotgun with comparable capabilities.
Gun 2: Kel-Tec P3AT
Well, another mouse gun followed me home. I "gave away" my Ruger LCP due to sympathy to a friends plight and relized after the fact that I should not have been so ready to give it up. Sure, the LC9 is great (any thoughts of replacing it have been removed from my mind at this point!) But the size of the LCP and P3AT is just so perfect when it gets so hot and humid in Ohio that all I really want to wear are very light shorts and a t-shirt. Even with this ensemble these pistols just melt into your clothing. The Lc9 carries well, but not as well as those. The P3AT was actually the first mouse gun I owned. While I still think the LCP is a better finished product the P3AT is well known and fits the bill for what I wanted it for.
I found this used P3At sitting all sad and lonely on the shelf prices at $219. Its finish was well worn and the plastic had dirt in the grip . Still for $219 it looked like a good bargain, and then applying some store credit that I had with them made it even better.
Got it home, dirty and worn. Only words to describe it. Thorough cleaning of the slide followed by a full degreasing and application of some cold bluing compound made it look much, much better than before. I brushed off the frame to remove the dirt/grime embedded in the grip stippling and then wiped it down with an Armor-All wipe. Going back to the slide I painted a orange dot on the front blade and a white dot under the rear sight to enable quicker sight alignment on these almost non-existent bumps. Still, on a gun this size and for its intended purpose they should be more than adequate.
It looked fine after some TLC, Cleaning and blueing....
...Unfortunately, this little bugger seems to be giving me a problem...
...Unfortunately, this little bugger seems to be giving me a problem...
I took it to the range and ran into issues. The first couple of mags cycled through without issues. Upon inserting the 3rd and racking the slide to chamber a round (remember neither the P3At or LCP lock back on empty) an empty shell casing popped out. "Oh Oh" I thought "this isn't good". the next 4 mags I fired all produced FTE malfunctions with cases either not being grabbed by the ejector or cases only being partially extracted causing slide jams and double feeds. Sorry, no pics from the range...DOH! (too hot to remember to do it I guess). Not acceptable for a carry gun, or actually for a range gun either. Now I begin the tedious task of researching the issue (its actually fairly well documented) and attempting to fix and remedy. Most likely I will be getting hold of Kel-Tec to get a new extractor and to see if their customer service is as good as they say it is online.
Well, buyer beware. Sometimes you get a diamond in the rough, sometimes you get cubic zirconia. Yes, you can get a firearm for a great bargain used. But, if like the Kel-Tec, any warranty is limited to the original owner than you are left holding the bag. Honestly, I think the P3At will work itself out after I order some parts (cheap at that) from Kel-Tec and maybe do some minor tweaking. Still, the rush over the shotty puts the woes for the Kel-Tec in perspective and makes it a little easier to swallow.
Used guns, know what you are looking at, evaluate your purchase options and give an old dog a chance to learn some new tricks maybe. At the minimum, considering to purchase a used gun might force you do to do a little homework on your decision purchase and make you a bit more knowledgeable about that gun and firearms in general.