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I Drove My Truck Over My L.C. Smith. What Should I Do?

In the last year we have seen an increase in second-hand firearms being purchased at VERY convenient rates. The only problem is, one can never know what the firearm had been through - or even if the history of the firearm history is shared, some people don't know the implications of the information received.

This is one of our 2022 projects. Our client came in with a firearm that he purchased at a preferential price, with the clear understanding that the truck was driven - accidentally - over the shotgun. The only obvious "symptom" of the firearm: the hinge pin was loose.

The most correct way to fix a wobbly hinge pin in a shotgun is to fit an oversized hinge pin. That is usually what we do. We usually try to keep the oversized pin as slim as possible, probably around .010 - .015 larger than the original pin.

HOWEVER, hinge pins usually become wobbly due to misuse, like shooting the wrong loads or double discharging. In that case, we know the forces that acted upon the firearm and we know that what caused the wobbliness is an overcharge of the "correct" type of force that should go through a shotgun. The side-effects can be managed.

But in this case, this was not a wobble caused by normal functioning. Running the firearm over with a truck is an entirely different type of force, so the way the materials have been altered to result in the looseness of the hinge are entirely different. The parts can be twisted in relation to each other - like, the forend iron can be twisted in relation to the receiver. One cannot assess these aspects of the condition of the firearm without spending a few good hours carefully inspecting the firearm.

At the same time, upon a very careful inspection, our gunsmiths have noticed that there have been some alterations made to the front edge of the barrel. Those modifications were questionable to us - we couldn't know when or why they have been made.

Another remark was that the forend was actually moving in relationship with the barrels at the end of the opening - and it shouldn't. Last but not least, we have been originally informed that in this particular case, the stock had suffered a crack when the truck was driven over the firearm, and the repair had been done by the client.

Without opening up the stock and checking the stock repairs on the inside (which have been made previously by the customer), a gunsmiths with experience would not fire a firearm after fixing the pin hinge, due to liability reasons. Splinters in shoulders are fun in cartoons only! (As a general note, we usually discourage stock repairs without pins, based on our experience regarding the durability of the repair. This stock had not been repaired with pins, but merely glued together.) These secondary aspects were way less noticeable than the loose hinge pin, but a careful 30 minutes inspection revealed these issues. In a case like this, without spending some time looking into the firearm carefully, a gun maker cannot tell if these issues are all related to each other or if they have independent causes, nor can the impact of them on the actual functioning of the firearm be assessed.

The answer to the question in the title would be a very sensible: "If you drove your truck over your firearm, maybe don't sell it. Take it to a gunsmith, have it inspected properly, and spare an unknowing buyer from splinters in its shoulders." Some defective firearms can easily be repaired, and it might not be a tragedy to have them sold at a preferential cost. However, that is not the case with all defective firearms. As a good rule of thumb, if a firearm goes through a damaging event that is not likely to occur with typical use, before parting with the firearm, have it inspected. Damaging events likely to occur with regular use: case separation; barrel bulging; double firing; using wrong loads. If you recently purchased a second hand firearm and it has any kind of issue, take it to your trusted local gusnmith for a thorough inspection.

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