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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ladies and Gentlemen: I am a new member and a novice with the shotgun, (although I have read up on all the theory of stock fit, barrel length and choke.) Although I cannot afford it, all my life I have dreamed of owning a Winchester Model 21. I have finally decided to gut it up and have found one I have decided to buy. The stock may not fit, perfectly, but it looks as though it will be close. My main worry is that the barrels are 30 inches (which seems to me a bit long for my purposes) and are choked Improved Modified and Modified (which, though better than Modified/Full, still seems a bit tight). The chambers are 3 inches.

The wood and finish are quite good, but the gun is definitely field grade (about the $6,000.00 range in value) and not a true collector's item, except in the sense that it is an original 21.

I intend to keep the gun for my lifetime, and none of my children or grandchildren are or are likely to be interested in shooting (my fault, no doubt!) I specifically wanted the 3 inch chambers for versatility because I intend to use the gun for everything from doves to Geese, with cottontails and turkey thrown in. I realize I will have to use Bismuth shot for waterfowl. All that having been said, 80 percent of my shooting will be for doves, either pass shooting or over stock tanks.

Because this will be my only gun (other than my Grandad's L.C. Smith) I want it to be as versatile as possible. Therefore I am considering doing what many of you will consider unthinkable: shortening the barrels slightly and having Briley's install flush screw-in chokes in the barrels. I realize that this will affect the gun's value, possibly quite a bit, and I am OK with that, however, I do sort of feel that I would be violating a sacred trust to modify such a gun. On the other hand, I have seen 21 s listed with Briley's chokes, and the asking price seems about the same as if they had not been modified--of course it is possible that they never get what they are asking. I don't know.

I would appreciate your frank opinions on what I am considering. I don't even mind your flaming me or telling me I am a complete idiot, :roll: in this case, because I really want input. Would you do it if it were your gun? Would you not?

How adversely do you think it would alter the gun's value? (Not that that is a big worry given my intent to keep it.)

Am I defiling a piece that should be kept as-is for posterity, even though my kids would never appreciate it? (And no, I will not leave it in my will to anyone on this board. :)

Would the present IM/Mod chokes and 30 inch barrels be acceptable for upland shooting in your opinion? I am especially interested in your answers to this question.

Keep in mind that my own financial situation is such that I cannot afford multiple guns as many might. Thanks in advance for your opinions.

Russ
 

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Russ: I don't even like 21s and it's unthinkable to me.. I seems to me the gun is already set up for all around shooting, at least as near as can be had.. I would either leave it as is or find another on more suitable..Don't kid yourself, choke tubes to hurt the value... Bushrod
 

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Russ:

Winchester 21s are great guns for collectors and for shooters when they fit. You seem to be underestimating the importance of fit. The gun may fit you well. It may also fit you poorly and if that is the case, you will never be able to shoot it as well if it did fit you.

Model 21s are investments. When buying one, the collector- value is a significant portion of the price of these guns. For that reason, I would strongly advise against altering anything on the gun.

I suggest you consider finding out just how well the gun fits you and how it handles with the longer barrels. If either is much less than ideal and you want to shoot it, consider buying another gun that does fit or can be made to fit without significantly reducing its value.
 

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You mention seeing 21s with screw-in chokes already installed. Why not buy one of those? You'll get the choke options you want, and someone else takes the hit in value. Also, it would be more acceptable to alter the wood to achieve a perfect fit if the gun is already "damaged" from a collector's perspective.

Another potential option: there are aftermarket barrel makers out there. I have no idea what these cost or even if they make barrels for 21s, but you could buy the gun you want and keep the original barrels intact for value and for when you need that particular set-up. Then get an extra pair of barrels that are shorter and have screw-in chokes for most of your shooting. It probably wouldn't be cheap, but my guess is it would cost the same or less than the cost of installing chokes on the original barrel and the significant hit in value you would take by doing that.
 

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Model 21s are vey nice shotguns indeed. If you really want one of them, buy the one you are looking at, shoot it for a while and if you don't like it then you can sell it or modify it. I suspect you won't do the latter.

The previous poster is correct - fit is extremely important and much under-emphasized.

Now, I'll go out on a limb here. I collect seriously in other areas, not guns, and have done so for forty years. Collecting and investment are two different issues. If you want to invest, buy equities, don't take them to the range and don't run through the woods with them. Guns can be an investment but they are not very liquid. If it's an investment you might think twice before you use it on a drizzly day and what's the fun in that? I also doubt that many folk can sell their guns for more than they paid. Even a Model 21.

Like all collectibles, CONDITION is most important. If you want to collect a 21 buy the best you can find - lesser grades will not be as easy to sell or hold their value. You already know that the 21 you are looking at is not the best available so it will never command top dollar. It will be hard to sell at a premium since a collector won't buy it and it is expensive for that kind of a gun to use as a working gun.

There is much mystique about the 21. However I don't think is sacrilage to modify it. I have a friend who has, over the years, accumulated 6 of these. (He really likes them) and has had new bespoke stocks put on 2 of them and has had both rust blued. Yes, they are beautiful; yes, they no longer are original but he shoots them well and often and he enjoys them. So what if the value is diminished? He's 71 yrs old, shoots them regularly and isn't going to sell them. The value issue is one you have to decide for youself.

The world is not knee-deep in 21s, but it is not a rare gun. that fact tends to keep average quality 21s from appreciating rapidly.

So, IMO, if you want to invest buy stocks, if you want to shoot by a shotgun and shoot it. I don't think it wrong to modify a mid-condition 21, but you may find that you don't want to modify it after using it. Certainly if you have a new stock made you can always save the old one!

Good luck!

Frank
 

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Nothing wrong with 30" bbls. In fact, the trend is to have longer barrels. I'd try to shoot the 30's a couple years before I came to that decision. The Mod/IMod chokes may be a little tight, but considering that type of gun about 20 years earlier would have been choked Full and Fuller (like grandaddy's Elsie), I think you've got a decent all-around gun. For my purposes (which are not yours, by any means) I'd open her up to at least LightMod/IMod or even IC/Mod. If I were looking to buy it, I'd discount for screw chokes as well as cut barrels. Of course, you're dead, so what do you care?

BTW, if you ever change your mind, I'd be happy to be in your will...
 

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If this is your dream gun, I would hold out and find exactly the gun I wanted and not settle something that you already have three doubts about (bbl length, chokes, fit).
 

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If it were me I would also try the 30" barrels for a season or two to see how I liked them. Over this time you can research different options mentioned here like-new barrel set with screw chokes and the Briley thinwalls. If you end up liking the 30" all the better, and if not you can always keep your eyes peeled for a 28".

I don't think it would be a tragedy to cut to 28" (field grade)but I would think long and hard before doing so.

I want a model 21.

Good Luck and when you make the purchase post some pictures for us all.

Cheers,

J.
 

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Before you cut,consider this:30 inch barrels on a SxS make the overall length of the gun about the same as 26 inch barrels on a pump or auto( due to the action length) barrel length on a SxS should be viewed differently,30 inch not being all that long.As for chokes,we would all like to believe it makes more difference than it really does,if the gun fits, you will do well with whatever chokes are in it.The hunting you describe,and most clay games will not be hurt by the i/m and mod chokes.Try it for a couple years then make your decision.

Bobcat
 

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If your heart is set on shooting a m21, so be it. Myself, I would also look, at a Merkel, or a spanish gun too.You may like those better.also, a RBLl comes to mind.my.02 good luck
 

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I see absolutely nothing wrong with your plan. You know the hit you'll take financially and you're ok with that. The Model 21 isn't so rare that you're defacing a priceless heirloom. Since you plan on keeping it for life and making this your "one gun," I say go for it. Remember, it's YOUR gun and if people at the range offer up unsolicited negative opinions, remind them that it's YOUR gun, not theirs.

However; as already mentioned, shoot it extensively first and perhaps even play with the fixed chokes some before whittling on the barrel. Stock fit will do more for your hit percentage than the choke tubes, so apply your money there first. For what you're planning, IM/Mod is pretty darned versatile and I simply love 30" barrels on a double gun.

Best of luck to you and let us know what you finally decide.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
My sincere thanks to all of you folks for your input. It is unbelievable to me (and a complement to this website) that someone can log a question in the morning and have 10 replies by the early afternoon. I am blown away (no shotgun pun intended :wink:

I talked to the folks at Briley, because they have an excellent reputation for honesty as far as I can tell. And I did not expect them to tell me I shouldn't use their product. The rep pointed out that they do a lot of Model 21 s and have even done some 100K shotguns for people who wanted to shoot them. So it's still in the cards with me for the future. I especially appreciate the comments that it is indeed my gun and my choice.

That having been said, my plan is as follows: I am going to take the advice, for now, of those who recommend sleeping on it for a year or two. I am going to hire someone for some lessons and have him or her evaluate the fit for me of the gun as-is. I have never really learned to shoot on the wing anyway and I can only get about 3 or 4 doves per box as it is and that on a good day. I also have the disadvantage of cross-dominance, with my left eye and right hand shooting. I have tried left-hand shooting and I can tell you it will never happen, and tape on the glasses only seems to make me a danger to anyone standing to my left. :D So closing the left eye before firing seems the only out for me.

Hopefully, I can resolve any issues with fit and use the gun for waterfowl and doves at the very least, and, if I go quail hunting, I can try using the gun as a club!

But for now, I will follow the advice to wait a couple of years and give the gun a chance as the Good Lord and Winchester built it.

Again, my thanks.

Russ
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I might add that one consideration that might put me over the edge to choking the gun would be if lead shot were outlawed and the only way I could shoot steel would be using the after-market chokes. That at least, is my belief. Am I on the right track about not being able to shoot steel in the barrels as-is?

Russ
 

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Hello Uncle Russ: Well THAT'S A RARE GUN!!! If it's a 12ga, 3in. cham. choked Imp/Mod & Mod. Since you don't say the gauge, if it's a 16 or 20ga it's even rarer!! (before anyone says anything YES there are a few "3in. 16ga. Md 21s)!1

If you mess with the barrels, you can lose 25-50% of the value.

I bought a Md 21 "DUCK" 5 or 6 years ago, choked F/F. I love it. It goes out to the goose blind a couple of times a year, when the weather is good. 1 or 2 trips to the duck blind. Of course I've hunted phesants and dove with it too. funny thing about bird hunting, it's always easier to let a bird get another 5-10 yards out before you pull the trigger, only a dumb duck comes back for you to shoot at it again. Meaning if the chokes are to open, you don't get a shot.

You can always vary your load (12ga) from 2 3/4in 7/8 to a 3in shell, spreader loads etc.

Side note, In aug. I bought a Md 21 20ga. SWEEEEEEEEEEEEET. Fits like a glove, patterns great, and it's choked F?M. Again I can vary the loads from 7/8oz to 1 1/8oz.

don't worry about the chokes, fit is the most important thing. after you get it. Save a few dollars more you can send it to tony Galazan, for a second set of barrels!!

Regards Dave
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks, Dave. That IS interesting. Yes, it is a 12 gauge and the gun is clearly marked "2 3/4 and 3 inch" on the barrel. (So far I have only seen pictures, and will have 3 days to inspect it when it arrives in Austin.) It did occur to me that I have been watching the net off and on for 21 s for a couple of years now, and I have not seen that combination of chokes. It almost seems like a "duck" 21 with a wierd combo of chokes.

I got to looking at it tonight and the length of pull, drop at comb, and drop at heel are all within 1/8 inch of my 1917 L.S. Smith Field Grade (re=stocked and re-blued by me, like the idiot I am--in those days there was noone on the internet to ask). I have not shot that gun much, and it is full/mod as you might expect, but if one fits, I guess they all will.

Good info on the barrels. I guess if push came to shove, I could also have a new butt stock built for it.

As I have said, I will be hunting mostly doves, but I got to thinking I will be moving to the Texas coast in two years and there are lots of duck hunting opportunities in the estuaries and islands down there. I have never been duck hunting except on farm ponds occasionally--sneaking up over the dam and trying not to be as startled by the ducks as they are by me! So that might be a good opportunity for the gun. On the other hand, I would worry about salt water and the difficulty of protecting it in that environment.

Russ
 

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It's worth mentioning that the chokes on a Model 21 are a little different then those found on production guns. The choke taper is longer and much deeper in the barrel. These barrels and chokes were made by men who were the BEST gunsmiths of their day. These Winchester employees could have worked at Purdey, Boss or any other highly respected gunmaker.

Enjoy that 21, she will serve you well.

Here's my 16 gauge 21.

 

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You are dealing with a rare M21. If you cut it down and install tubes in it the value will go down at least 50%, probably more.

My sugestion is to find a gun that fits you and already has the barrel legnth and chokes that you think you want.
 

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Nice picture, Squareload!

However, do I notice a 20 gauge (yellow) shell mixed up with the larger ones?

Accident waiting to happen

Franki
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Well, I do thank everyone very much. And again, while I appreciate the remarks of those who see nothing wrong with the modification due to the fact that I accept the consequences going in, on balance, I doubt very much that I will cut it down--not so much because I am afraid of it's losing value--that has not changed, but more because I am encouraged that the chokes and barrel length will serve me just about as well as if they were 28 inches and IC/Modified or Skeet1/Skeet2.

I have got to where I was on my first post by reading my childhood hero, Jack O'Connor on the subject and his position (along with others) is that less choke and shorter barrel length are both better for most applications. On the other hand, I will rarely, if ever, be hunting quail over dogs or grouse--maybe pheasant occasionally.

I do intend to check into the possibility of a second barrel set in about that configuration or maybe even 26 inches, but I doubt I will want to afford the expense of doing so. I have other expensive hobbies I cannot afford like offshore fishing and fly fishing :D

Also, I had not considered the possibility that the choke taper is longer and thus I would assume Briley's would have to cut off more barrel before cutting the threads??

Best regards to all for your advice.

Russ
 

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The yellow shells seen in the shooting bag are the older 16 gauge B&P F2 classic. I don't own a 20 :wink:

Uncle Russ,

you can have CSMC make a second set of barrels for your 21. I think they go for about 3500
 
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