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Old 06-19-2003, 05:58 AM   #1
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Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Central Virginia
Posts: 1
How to cut a shotgun bbl?

I am interested in learning how to cut down a shotgun barrel.

Disclaimer: I am not planning to manufacture any NFA weapons at this time. If I ever do I will pay the tax and file the paperwork as appropriate.

I am interested in knowing the "right" way to cut a shotgun barrel. I have been thinking about buying a used Stevens single-shot 12 ga. that my local gun shop has for sale. They are asking $85 and I suspect I can get it for a bit less than that.

I thought it might be a fun project to learn a new gunsmithing skill. I enjoy hacking and learning how to work on guns. This is really just a fun project. The gun in question has a fairly long (either 26" or 28"-- I didn't measure it) barrel.

I am thinking about buying it and cutting it down to 18.5". I also need to check the overall length to make sure it will be long enough. If not, I'll make the barrel longer to make sure I meet the OAL requirement.

My question is: What is the "right" way to cut down a shotgun barrel. I am willing to buy a few tools from Brownells within reason. I am not planning to buy a milling machine, but I fI need a jig or a special saw blade or something, I would do that. I also plan to tap it for either a bead or a fiberoptic front site.

Can anyone point me the right direction here? Thanks.
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Old 06-19-2003, 09:30 AM   #2
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Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 1,559
I use a hacksaw and then true the muzzle with a piloted cutter sold by Brownells. If the barrel has a vented rib, plan on cutting in the middle of one of the places where the rib is connected to the barrel so you don't end up with a section of unsupported rib at the muzzle. Also, if you're planning on cutting it to 18 inches (the minimum legal length, leave yourself about 1/4 inch extra just to be safe. It's better to end up with a barrel that is 18 1/4 instead of 17 7/8 inches after you clean up your cut.

You might try wrapping a strip of masking tape around the barrel and marking your cut-off line on the tape so you can see the line easily. Hold the barrel in a padded vise as close to your cut-off line as you can to avoid chatter with the saw and cut carefully just past your line. You might need to true and clean up your cut a little with a file before you use the piloted cutter. I break the sharp edge on the inside and outside edge of the muzzle with a fine stone or emery paper after using the piloted cutter.
Old 06-19-2003, 10:24 AM   #3
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Join Date: Jun 2001
Posts: 1,560
If you simply want to shorten one shotgun barrel and don't want to invest the money in the piloted muzzle cutter, there's the gun owner's "field expedient" method that works well:

Measure the old barrel by putting a rod or dowel down the barrel. Mark the rod even with the muzzle. Measure the rod from the end to the mark, and that's the actual length of the barrel.
Measure off the length you want, (be smart, leave 1/2" extra), and mark the dowel. Gunsmith's Rule of Thumb: measure several times, you can cut off more, you can't put it back.

Hold the rod against the barrel with the FIRST mark aligned with the muzzle and mark the barrel at the SECOND mark.

Measure some more!!!

Wrap tape around the barrel at the mark to be cut, keeping the tape as straight and square with the barrel as possible.

Measure some more!!!!

Using a fine-toothed hacksaw blade, make a shallow' Marking" cut at the tape line. Rotate the barrel slightly and make another shallow cut.
Continue rotating the barrel and making shallow cuts until the barrel has a shallow line all the way around.
Then making shallow cuts, rotate and cut more until the barrel is cut through.

This method allows keeping the cut square with the bore, with no chance of the cut drifting off and leaving an uneven cut.
This eliminates having to do much filing to square the muzzle up.

Using a fine cut file, even up the muzzle, and break the sharp outer edge of the cut Use some fine wet or dry sand cloth on the ball of your thumb to break the inner edge.

If desired, touch up with cold blue, and clean all metal filings out of the bore and outside.

This method isn't suitable for a high-grade sporting gun, or a slug gun, but it works well for a "shooter" or a home defense scattergun.
Old 06-19-2003, 04:02 PM   #4
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Posts: 251
What's wrong with doing it with a tube cutter and then cleaning up the inside edge with a scraper .
Old 06-19-2003, 04:12 PM   #5
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Join Date: Jun 2001
Posts: 1,560
Doesn't work.
First, tubing cutters aren't designed for the hard steels used in gun barrels.

Second, the finish will be marred too much.

Last, the amount of compression is so much, that in attempting to remove the compressed area, the barrel usually winds up too thin.

This is one of those "good ideas" that don't pan out.

Of the ones I've personally seen, that the owner's claimed were "OK", all of them had noticeable compression at the muzzle.

No, it won't "Blow up in your face, or blow the end of the barrel off" as some clown recently said on another forum, but it won't shoot too well either.
Old 06-20-2003, 07:29 AM   #6
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Posts: 1,559
Originally Posted by dfariswheel
...Measure the old barrel by putting a rod or dowel down the barrel...
A very good point that I failed to make. The barrel should be measured from the front of the breech.

Originally Posted by dfariswheel
...Gunsmith's Rule of Thumb: measure several times, you can cut off more, you can't put it back...
What? I've cut it twice and it's still too short!
Old 06-20-2003, 10:17 AM   #7
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Join Date: Jun 2001
Posts: 1,560
Or, in one of my favorite cases:
I had a customer ask how to shorten a shotgun barrel at home.
(Stupidly, I thought he was just interested in how it was done).

I gave him the above details, but (as here) I forgot to explain about putting the tape ABOVE the cut line.

He put the tape BELOW the cut line, then mistakenly cut the barrel off on the LOWER side of the tape.

The barrel was too short, and I had a time explaining WHY I couldn't "solder" on an extra piece to make it legal.
Old 06-20-2003, 03:34 PM   #8
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Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 251
Gee, not to cause a problem, but the three I've cut with a tube cutter, then chamfered the inside of the barrel seem to be OK. had one of them since 1980...
Old 07-28-2003, 01:47 PM   #9
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Texas
Posts: 35
I have also cut a few off with a tubing cutter and then used the Brownells reamer to clean them up. The cut is much straighter than I could manage with a hacksaw.

Heck, I have even done a Mossberg .22 rifle with a bulged barrel with a tubing cutter. Probably ruined the cutter but so what? I buy them at pawn shops for $2.

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