View Full Version : Know anythng about old shotguns?

Pete Lamberty
12-24-2006, 2:18 PM
Hi! I have an old shotgun that was my fathers. I was wondering if it is worth anything and who made it. It has just been lying around collecting dust for at least 30 years. Do you think that if I brought it into a gun shop someone there could appraise it? If not where could I get it appraised? All I know about it is that my dad bought it at Sears in the late 1920s or early 30s. It is a single barrel pump. There isn't any name on it that I can find. It is very clean and appears to be in great condition. There are some numbers behind the trigger where your fingers wrap around the grip. They are 128954U and there is a small number 7 at a 90 degree angle to the other numbers close to where the metal stops and the wood of the stock begins. The only other markings on the gun are on the barrel and they read "proof tested 12 gauge 2 3/4 inch chamber". I don't expect any of you can tell me the manufacters name of this shot gun without actually seeing it. If I had a digital camera I could have included a photo, I just added the specifics for anyone who has an interest in these things. Any thoughts on this are appreciated. Thanks, Pete

Bob Childress
12-24-2006, 3:50 PM
I'm no shotgun expert, but I did a lot of research on older shotguns when I inherited my father's Browning Double Automatic dating from 1957. The truth is, most gun shops won't have a clue unless the manufacturer and model number are known. I suspect the number you mentioned is the serial number, but of what? That's the question.

In the early 20th Century, many retailers such as Sears, Wards, and others carried "house" brands of shotguns which sound similar to yours. If that is what it is (and I don't know that it is, but IF . ..) then I fear it is not worth much because collectors seem to shun them. :(

Maybe someone more knowledgeable will chime in.

Ben Grunow
12-24-2006, 4:21 PM
NOt to question your intelligence but dont shoot it. Older shotguns have a damascus barrel (sp?) which is made like a slinkie that is welded and they are only rated for lead shot which is no longer sold (I think). Steel shot can damage tose old barrels and maybe you. AFAIK


Marty Mincey
12-24-2006, 5:21 PM
Let me work on this for you as this is a hobby of mine. You say it was purchased from Sears in the 20's or 30's and is a pump correct? I'll take the numbers that you have posted and see what I can find out. A couple of questions that may help in this quest. If you can, take off the buttplate on the stock and see if there may be any numbers or letters either stamped, or on firearms that old, possibly written on the stock underneath the buttplate. Also, it is possible that there may be a stamping of some kind on the right rail of the pump action. I think I know what you have, but it will take me some time to verify this. I'll look and see if I have any pictures in my library and if so I'll post what I think it may be.

Ron Jones near Indy
12-24-2006, 7:43 PM
The "house brand" for Sears at that time was J. C. Higgins IIRC. It very well may be spelled differently. Maybe that will help.

Pete Lamberty
12-24-2006, 10:19 PM
Hi guys, thanks for the quick replies. The last time that I fired the gun was about twenty years ago and that was only a few times. Thanks Ben, for the warning.
I don't see any stampings on the right side of the pump rail. I'm not even sure what the rail is, but I don't see anything stamped into the gun on it's right side anywhere around the pump action, Marty. It doesn't seem to have a butt plate. At least not a metal one. There is a rubber cushion on the end of the butt to absorb recoil. It must be glued onto the end of the stock. I could pry it off or cut it off. The wood of the stock looks like mahogany to me. In between the main stock wood and the rubber cushion is a 1/8 inch thick layer of a darker wood. I am assuming that I should remove the rubber cushion and that any stamps might be on this darker wooden layer. Any thoughts on this Marty? Thanks for the additional info Ron, maybe it will help Marty solve my shotgun mystery. Thanks guys. Pete Merry Christmas.

Mike Cutler
12-24-2006, 10:24 PM
Unfortunately I don't have access to all of my gun books right now. Being an avid shotgunner at one time, your "new" shotgun sounds interesting.

I would caution against a few things. First and foremost. Don't be in a hurry to sell it.
Don't just bring it to any gunshop. Find a reputable gunsmith and take it there. You don't want just any "hack" with a Chapman Screwdriver Set taking the shotgun apart.
It should be safe to shoot with lead. Stay away from the bismuth, and newer shots that are available. I'm not certain that the barrel is Damascus, but you never know. It sounds like some form of a Model 12 copy. I actually wouldn't shoot it personally.
I don't know where you could obtain an honest appraisal. Pictures would definitely help. It has value if only for it's age, and condition. Additionally many of the guns that Sears sold have not survived, so it may have some collector value.

Jim DeLaney
12-24-2006, 10:41 PM
If the gun was made in the 20's, and is a pump gun, then it does not have a damascus barrel. Also, since it's marked "proof tested" and "2ĺ"" it is definitely made well after the damascus era.

Of course, this still doesn't mean that it's safe to fire. A competent gunsmith should check it out before you attempt that.

Dan McGuire
12-24-2006, 10:43 PM
the advice not shoot the piece is very sound until you can have it looked at by a qualified gun smith. You can look at the the barrel of the gun to see if it is a damascuss (sp?) twist type barrel by looking for the "paisley" like pattern to the steel. This type of gun is very dangerous, they can explode when fired. Even if you find that it is not worth much, the sentimential value alone could make the gun worth keeping. My grandfather had an extensive collection of rifles, shotguns and pistols, nothing exotic but all used. They were tools. I remember hunting with an old Steven double barrel 12 gauge that put many squirrels and rabbits on the table when I was growing up. My uncle (his son) asked me if I wanted it after he passed away. I told him that the gun should be passed to him, he said that he did not want it, so I jumped at the chance. Many a great memories for me were had with that gun.

Sorry I could not help with your research, but that post brought back some good memories

Pete Lamberty
12-25-2006, 12:20 AM
Well I took off the butt plate. The dark band of wood turned out to be a black plastic. Probably that bakelite material that the old telephones were made out of. There are no markings under the butt plate, neither on the plastic or wood. Looking at the barrel, the metal does not have any paisley or wavy look to it Dan. It just has an even gray/black colored finish. I took the barrel assembly off of the stock/butt end and I found the same numbers (serial numbers?) with the letters sp inside of an oval. These were found on the side of the barrel joint where it joins the stock end. Thatís all that I can tell you shotgun detectives at this time. After Christmas I will buy some film and take some photos. Then I can post them, that is, if any of you are interested.
Living in the Chicago burbs I never go hunting. The reason that I started to give this some thought is because I was thinking about giving the gun to my nephew. He is a bit of a bird hunter. I think he has a 16 and 20 gauge and I thought that he might like to have his grandfathers shot gun. I could give it to him tomorrow and relay all of the warnings that you guys have told me, but I think I would feel better if I wait and see if I could find a reputable person to have a look at it. Any more guidance that you can give me is appreciated and I will try to get some photos posted. Thanks again. Pete

Jack Dickey
12-25-2006, 12:26 AM
Well made that late as it was said it is definetly not Damascus steel .. There were quite a few brand names made by companies for private labels such as Sears ..
I have an extensive library and will see what I can find on it for you ..
It would be safe to shoot with the lower powered loads available and lead only , no bismuth or duplex shot loads ..
I have several doubles that are well over 75 years old that I refurbished , and shoot ..
It's probably not worth much , I'm like the other post sounds like a spinoff of a Model 12 Winchester .. Winchester and other companies built shotguns and rifles for big stores like Sears , under a store brand , not built to the quality or finish of the model copied from ..
If the rubber butt pad is glued on and not with screws , I wouldn't take it off ..

Bob Smalser
12-25-2006, 6:25 PM
Sears and JC Higgins guns were made by others. Here's a store brand cross reference listing:


If your gun dates to the 1930's I suspect it's a Marlin, Stevens or a Savage. Gander at various oldies offered for sale and see if you can find a match:



Doesn't happen to look like one of these 1930's-vintage Marlin 42's I converted for the cowboy action crowd, does it? One of the best kept secrets in first-generation pump guns.


Pete Lamberty
12-25-2006, 9:48 PM
Hi Bob, The only part that looks the same to me is the wood handle of the pump. Mine has those same grooves as yours does.

Bob Smalser
12-25-2006, 10:00 PM
Hi Bob, The only part that looks the same to me is the wood handle of the pump. Mine has those same grooves as yours does.

It lacks an exposed hammer, then?

Still could be a Marlin, Savage or Stevens....you'll have to search the auction and sales sites unless you want to go to Amazon and buy a used collectors "gun value" guide for a few bucks.

Just don't spend any money on it you don't have to. Once you find the model I may have a takedown guide and can help you check it over. You can remove the buttstock and check how much motor oil is present in the bare inletting that'll need fixing, but don't try to remove the forearm without guidance as they crack easily.

Curt Fuller
12-25-2006, 10:56 PM
Most likely an old Stevens sold by Sears under the J C Higgins brand or maybe even the Stevens name. Probably full choke which was fine until they started banning lead shot. Will still shoot lead shot just fine as long as the rest of the gun is in good shape. But don't shoot steel or bismuth shot. As for the value, I would guess it holds more sentimental value as a family heirloom than as a collectable. Hang onto to it and the old hunting memories that go with it and pass both along to the next generation.

Pete Lamberty
12-26-2006, 11:26 AM
Hi Curt, That looks just like it! I couldn't enlarge the photo but it looks like it. The one in the photo doesn't seem to have the deep grooves on the wood pump handle like the photos that Bob posted. I am going to buy some film today and take some pictures. Thanks! We're really getting somewhere.

Ed Breen
12-27-2006, 2:42 PM
Hang on to it!!
I've got an old Fulton special 12 double that originally sold for $29.00 LOML's grandfather bought it new, its been in the family all that time and is worth 500 today.
Give it to your son but tell him to keep it for prosperity. Old things are goooood!

Pete Lamberty
01-07-2007, 11:29 PM
I hope you haven't lost interest in helping me find out something about my old shotgun. Since pictures are worth a thousand words I finally am able to post some photos of my Dad's old shotgun. Maybe these photos can help give you some clues as to who made it and anything else that might be noteworthy. Thanks for taking a second look. Pete

Bob Smalser
01-08-2007, 1:17 AM
Definitely a prewar gun of good quality. Looks like a Winchester Model 12, but isn't. This is a Model 12:


I don't have a good clear pic for you, but yours is an older Stevens 620, sometimes considered a copy of the M12, but a Browning patent as I recall. Curt on page one won the guess and has a pic. Made from 1927 to 1953 in many variations, including WWII-era military trench guns:



Yours has a good-quality, hand-checkered Black Walnut stock. Don't dismantle without guidance. Perfectly safe to shoot using low-brass field loads. No high-brass over 2 3/4 Drams, no magnums, and no steel or tungsten shot. Bismuth would be OK. 1920's steel wasn't made for hot loads. Not a common gun in the age, quality and condition of yours...I'd make sure the family hangs onto and cares for it properly. Get the kids plastic Benellis to drag around duck blinds.

Jack Dickey
01-08-2007, 1:24 AM
Just dug thru several of my ancient reference manuals .. See they way the metal work is in the front part of the reciever and the barrel and magazine tube .. And the grooves cut into the pump ..
Looks an awful lot like a Model 12 Winchester Featherweight Field Gun .. Would LOVE to see a close up of the bolt in the closed position ..
But why no Winchester markings , I dont think they would have cloned the fabulous Model 12 ( one of the most sought after shotguns around ) for some other private labels .....

Jack Dickey
01-08-2007, 1:30 AM
Right Bob , I think we must have been posting at the same time here .. Looked back at the Stevens 520/620 , definetly the 620 , with the three screws in the receiver ..

Pete Lamberty
01-08-2007, 9:48 PM
Thanks guys for figureing this out for me. I don't have any great reason to know this, just curious I guess. I plan on giving the gun to my nephew and I will tell him about its history. I think he will be happy to be able to use his grandfathers shotgun. I will also tell him about the safety precautions that many of you told me about and have him get it checked out before he uses it. Thanks again. Pete