Replacing A Fore-end Iron
Occasionally you may run across a gun that has to have a part or series of parts made because replacements just aren’t available. In this case a customer has what is know as a “drilling”, its a double barreled shotgun with a rifle barrel attached as well. These are more popular in Europe, with the basic idea being that while you are out fowling if a deer or something should pop up you can take it without having to carry another rifle.
The metal pieces were cut from a solid chunk of steel and then shaped using a Mill and various files. The wood also started out as a solid chunk and was filed and sanded to fit the rifle. The latch was taken from a scrap for-end and it fit nicely with the three barrel system I needed to hook too. Fitting a piece like this is very slow and painstaking work. When fine firearms like this are originally manufactured the pieces are either cast or forged into rough sections that more or less fit together. However when making a one off, the fit is achieved by careful measuring to get a rough fit and then testing and filing and testing and filing to get the pieces to match as close as possible.
As you can see we got it pretty close. I didn’t want to make it too perfect as that would require trying to fit the piece while it is attached to the original and that is just too risky to the original. A slip with a file can be disastrous. The main thing is that the piece functions as it is designed to and looks presentable.
All in all this turned out better than I thought and the customer was happy. It could’ve been done perfectly if I’d hired the metalwork out to a toolmaker machinist. However that likely would’ve added $1000 on the cost of the job. Making a one-off part like this isn’t cheap. The customer however didn’t want a perfect job he just wanted a shotgun to work again and so we got it done for around $600.