Western Field 20 Gauge Shotgun Restoration

DunnBy Robert Dunn 
AGI and GunTech Video Producer, 
AGI Pro Course Graduate, GCA Charter Member

When I started working on the Western Field shotgun, I already had two other “projects” laying around the house. This particular firearm was entirely covered in fuzzy rust and the bolt was fused shut from corrosion. The stock was moldy and needed some care too. The plastic trigger guard on this old guy was warped straight from screw to screw! There was a good inch of space between the top of the trigger guard and the bottom of the stock and the screws were torqued tightly in the wood.

Trigger guard after melting and shaping

Trigger guard after melting and shaping

West20-2Okay back to the Western Field trigger guard! So, I guess in my impatient little brain I was figuring that if I just wind this surgical tubing as tight as I would when gluing, maybe the guard will bend back in place as fast as glue dries?! Can’t say, but when I was hogging on the tubing and pushing the trigger guard down into shape (mistake coming up), the trigger guard snapped in half and that plastic promptly bit a nice little chunk out of my thumb, right next to the previous thumb injury. That made me yelp a bit too!

Epoxy hardening in place on the stock

Epoxy hardening in place on the stock

Anyway, I worked on the shotgun until I felt anymore constituted overkill on what many would say is a cheap gun. That being said, I like economy stuff with simple designs, they are utilitarian and easy to fix. Now that the trigger guard was snapped in two, I got out a torch and heated/melted the plastic piece back into a shape that would fit into the stock. I then used marine putty epoxy to join the two pieces and reshape the trigger guard back into a smoother texture. I used non-stick foil and Brownells Acra-Release to make sure the epoxy didn’t stick to the stock. Then I screwed the trigger guard back into place while the epoxy hardened.

After sanding and shaping with a small file, I hand painted the part with Black acrylic paint, which gave it a plastic sheen again.

Trigger guard before painting

Trigger guard before painting

After bleeding all over the stock, I sanded it, then stained it a Golden Oak color and tried a spray urethane for the final finish. I used a Birchwood Casey Cold Blue kit on the barrel. The stock was refinished and the barrel was blued before the epoxy even hardened!

After test firing the gun, my friend Chris showed me a great spot up the Creek to snap a couple photos! So, that is my latest saga from the Dunn Armory and Clinic of Last Resort for Terminally Ill Guns!

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Ready for test firing!

Ready for test firing

5 Responses to Western Field 20 Gauge Shotgun Restoration

  1. Nice owwie (not sure how to spell that) on the thumb while “Dana’ing” the trigger guard. I too can be really adept at making making one piece into two.

    Question: What is your favorite/most effective method for de-greasing before cold bluing (ie. lacquer thinner, Simple Green, isopropyl)?

    Nicely done with the gun! I too love economical projects like the one performed here.

    Thanks for sharing the article Robert. Hope all is well in the south.

    • Hey Dana, thought I’d add my 2 cents to your de-greasing question. I’ve found only 2 products that I feel 100% confident using. The de-greaser that comes with Duracoat is great, if not pricey. But for my needs I feel automotive Brake Clean is the best solvent/de-greaser out there, hands down. Next would be lacquer thinner. I think Simple Green is an amazing product if used to just clean dirty parts. But, to much residue is left on metal surfaces to guarantee a perfect adhesion of bluing, Duracoat Cerakote or any of Brownells proprietary finishes like Alumahyde. As far as Isopropyl alcohol goes, it leaves far to much residue to be effective for any de-greasing whether it’s for scope mounts, locktite, bluing or any other type of finish.

      • Hi bob g. Thanks a bunch for your two cents worth – I really appreciate it and all the advice.

        This raises another question for you if you don’t mind: After de-greasing with lacquer thinner, Brake Clean or Tru Strip do you find it is necessary to rinse with water (and then dry) before applying cold blue (etc.) or can cold blue (etc.) be applied right after using the de-greasing products you mentioned?

        Thanks for everything. Cheers.

  2. My hat is off to you, most will not admit it but that little cheap shotgun is part of our gun heritage. And if the truth be known many of us cut our teeth on one just like that old gal.

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