How to reproof your gun for steel shot
Now that steel shot looks to become increasingly enforced in the upcoming season, people will be looking whether their guns are up to the task. While many guns will be fine shooting standard steel, there’s the added security of proofing for HP steel. Once proofed for HP steel you’ll have the choice to pick any cartridge that fits your chambers. Using HP steel in a gun not proofed for it can have dangerous consequences after only a few shots. The damage can range from barrel swells to detonation of the barrel and chokes. However, by choosing to reproof your gun you can eliminate this risk entirely.
Why Reproof you shotgun
If you’re shooting a modern gun made in the last 10 years you already likely have a gun capable of shooting HP steel out of the box. However, many of us have something a little older or sentimental. By reproofing these older guns we are preparing them for the next chapter of shotgun cartridges. Not all shotguns can or will be reproofed, there are stringent tolerances that allow the process to take place. The gun will need to be in good condition ie, with no barrel pitting, no gap between barrel and action during lockup and no thin spots in the barrel walls. While this sounds like a lot, many well made guns should be up to this standard.
The benefit of going through someone like Teague is that they can address some of these issues before the test takes place. Teague offer a Chamber sleave and barrel polishing service which can address any minor issues before the gun goes to test. Equally, once they’ve seen the gun in question they are in the right place to give advice on chances of a successful test. For an older gun with sentimental value, this process makes complete sense but less so with a gun of lesser value. To have the chambers sleaved, polishes and forcing cones lengthened will come with a bill of 595£. For a gun with sentimental value, this seems reasonable while for older guns without personal value this may be a little steep.
What happens next
Once you’ve made these checks you will have to either work directly with a proof house or through someone like Teague. Once there, they’ll be able to tell you whether your barrels are up to scratch and proceed with the process. It’s worth noting that 2 1/2″ chambers can only be proofed for standard steel shot. Once at the proofing house the barrel set will be tested beyond standard tolerances to ensure safety The test is rigorous and in-depth ensuring there is no question about the safety of the gun. Any component failure in this test will equate to a failed test. These will be noted down as and when they come up so you can repair and retest them.
Naturally, some failures are worse than others ranging from a quick fix to something reasonably remedied. Should a firing pin or a safety tang malfunction these are easy fixes. However, should something happen to the larger pieces like the barrel or forend you may have a trickier task. However, hopefully this doesn’t happen and once your gun is returned you’re good to go. The reproof lasts for life but naturally it’s worth staying vigilant in checking the condition of your barrels and actions.
Things to consider
While the gun is going through this process there are some other things to consider. With all the work being done to the barrels there are other changes to consider. For those with fixed chokes over a half they’ll need to be opened up to accommodate steel anyway. With that said, by going through Teague you can also choose to have other work done. Probably the biggest improvement you could make you be choosing their Thin Wall multichokes. Not only does this broaden up your choke choice but the added weight is marginal due to the use of Titanium. With Steel shot bringing about a new learning curb it seems wise to go to a multichoke system.
As we hinted earlier this while process may not be economically viable. I myself own a SxS Sabel shotgun that I bought at an auction. It was around 50£ and has been there to scratch my double trigger itch. However, as lead begins to dwindle I don’t think ill be chasing up Teague for the full steel proof set up. For now, I’ll enjoy the Sabel in its current state for as long as I can. Equally, I can use this gun to shoot clays once lead is no longer viable for game shooting. That’s okay for me as I don’t see sense in spending 12x the gun’s value to reproof it.
Choosing to reproof your shotgun will prove to be prudent work. Time is ticking on the wide use of lead shot and we need to be ready. Putting this to the back of your mind may prove futile when lead runs dry or your shoot moves to steel. As long as the shotgun in question is in good condition then there isn’t much to worry about. Even a gun with a bit of wear and tear on it can be reproofed it may just take a little more work. While undertaking this process we highly recommend going through with as many options as you viably can. Adding multichokes and a sleeved chamber is one of the best chances to modernise an older gun. It’s worth noting that these services will only get busier so it’s worth doing this sooner rather than later.
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