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Sara Tipton - Anschuetz shotgun

Visiting Wyoming is always a pleasure. I get to see my husband, visit my future home town (as soon as our house sells) and meet some friendly folks. During my last visit, I discussed Wyoming hunting with my husband’s friend and co-worker Eric. At some point in the proceedings he brought out a dusty and well-loved Anschutz rifle that shoots 9mm ammunition. That’s it. That’s all the info he gave me. I had to know more. But first . . .

Sara Tipton - Anschuetz bolt

I asked Eric’s permission to take her apart and shine her up a bit. Wyoming women must know a thing or two about guns because he agreed quickly. The Anschutz’s bolt comes out like the Mosin-Nagant’s: safety check, slide it back, pull the trigger, done.

Sara Tipton - barrel of the Anschuetz shotgun

I removed the barrel from the stock as well as the trigger. The gun was really dirty, but the older design with fewer parts and simple screws holding it together made it appear ruggedly reliable. I stopped when the owner showed me the gun’s strange-looking 9mm round. Hang on; it’s a shotgun!

9mm

The round in question is a 9mm Glatt round, also known as the Flobert 9mm. (Fiocchi still sells them.) Internet research revealed that the shell doesn’t have a wad; the shot spreads very fast very quickly, but stays relatively tight (thanks to the small bore). Still, it’s not what you’d call an ideal hunting round, even compared to a .410 shot shell. (Slugs are available.)

On the positive side, the Flobert is a relatively quiet round, which may account for the nickname given these firearms: “garden guns.” They were (are?) used for small pest control (e.g., rats, rabbits) in built-up areas.

I’d never seen a single-shot, bolt-action rimfire shotgun before and I wanted to shoot it…bad. Maybe next time.

Eric’s gun isn’t worth a lot of money. Listings on ArmsList and Gun Auction peg an Anschutz like this in excellent condition at around three-and-a-half bills. Eric’s gun is rough and, more importantly, holds sentimental value for its owner. As a family heirloom passed down, it’s priceless. To someone else, not so much.

I get the feeling that this close encounter with a garden gun might be the start of a new fascination with older, interesting firearms. That’s how it starts, right? You come across something that piques your curiosity and the next thing you know you have a safe full of curios and relics. Anyway advice for a budding collector?

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38 Responses to A Garden Gun Cultivates a Newfound Fascination

  1. That surface rust on the barrel could be polished off easily. Then you can express blue it with a propane torch and a tank of boiling water. If you’re interested, just ask and I can provide more details.

        • I as well.

          I’ve got an old beater .22lr bolt-action barrel that looks exactly like the patina on that one.

          I was gonna buff out the rust with OOOO wool, glad I didn’t, I’d much rather do it right…

          And I’ve got the propane torch…

          Thanks in advance!

        • I’d also love to know! I’ve been meaning to try the hot metal into wet coffee grounds bluing for a while 🙂

          Is this process meaningfully better than cold bluing with OXPHO-BLUE? Well, better but enough to take whatever risks associated with taking a torch to one’s barrel and disassembling parts, etc?

          examples:

          http://www.brownells.com/gunsmith-tools-supplies/metal-prep-coloring/metal-bluing/liquid-cold-bluing-chemicals/oxpho-blue–prod1072.aspx

          http://www.brownells.com/gunsmith-tools-supplies/metal-prep-coloring/metal-bluing/paste-cold-bluing-chemicals/oxpho-blue-creme-prod1108.aspx

          I’ve used the creme stuff before and it worked really well for my purposes. But that was basically just repairing small areas — scratches, scuffs, etc — so they matched. I did actually weld an extension onto a pistol barrel for a dude in CA a while ago (during the single shot exemption madness) and used it to blue the ground-down weld and entire barrel and it looked pretty darn good actually. But I have noticed that if you do it on a barrel like the one in the photo above, you’re likely to get a spotty, patchy finish. You’d really have to do some surface prep so it’s nice and even and consistent before bluing. Differences in texture, polish level, and crud on the surface affect the bluing big time.

        • Better than cold blueing?

          Oh mas oui. Express blueing, slow rust blueing, hot salt blueing, nitre blueing, carbona blueing – all are better than cold blueing.

          Cold blueing is OK for touchups, at best. Cold blueing solutions usually just don’t wear well. You can improve your results by doing two things:

          1. Do all the prep you would for express or rust blueing, especially degreasing. It is always essential to remove all oils from metals you want to blue, even if the cold blueing solution claims you don’t need to do so.

          2. Heat the gun parts. Cold blues will react with steel at room temperature, but you get more aggressive reactions when you heat the gun to, oh, 150 to 200F.

          Still, you will find that cold blues don’t last.

          I have at least three cold blue solutions in my shop – including Oxpho-blue, 44-40 and others. I rarely use them. They have their place, but doing a whole gun with them isn’t that place.

        • Please, submit an article on this subject! This really piques my interest, and it seems I’m not alone.

    • Light surface rust can also be buffed off with a copper penny. Copper is softer than blueing and won’t damage any finish that might be left.
      If trying this, make sure you use a copper penny, one made before 1983. The later, copper washed ones will not do the job.
      As to collecting, pick something that intrigues you, for whatever reason. We usually shoot old fashioned or strange firearms for other reasons than because they are the best tool for the job. It can be anything, but its usually not because they are the greatest thing on the market.

      • I’ve used that tactic many times, when there’s just a light patina of red rust on top of intact blueing. I also use a light penetrating lube when I do this – something like PB Blaster or Kroil.

        I’ve also used a nickel coin to do this as well.

      • Slight nit here. Pennies 1983 and later are indeed copper coated zinc.

        Pennies 1981 and earlier are bronze (they have some zinc and tin in them, hence not “copper” but they are solid).

        But not all 1982 pennies are safe here. 1982 was the transition year, some, but not all, of those cents are copper plated zinc. It’s also a VERY common year, almost 17 billion (yes, with a B) were made, more than any other year, so you’ll see a lot of them in your change. Depending on your hearing a “ring test” can differentiate, also the weight difference can be detected on a powder scale (solid = 3.11 grams or 48 grains, copper plate, 2.5 grams or 38.5 grains).

        (I just realized an older penny weighs 1/10 of a troy ounce. Utterly useless piece of trivia, since copper is not weighed in troy.)

  2. Figure out what interests you. Start with the stuff that’s readily available. Personally, I like the old Milsurp guns. Started with a Mosin, of course. It was actually Jeremy S. Article on the Mosin that got me to buy one.

    • Oh yeah? Did you destroy a priceless piece of history like I did? 😛

      I’ve heard Floberts referred to as parlor guns, but apparently that referred to a different design of his that used a percussion cap to fire a little bullet. They were quiet, so you could shoot them inside. In your parlor (or “gallery” or “saloon”).

  3. Live with the understanding that nearly all the odd balls require reloading if you want to shoot regularly. Find something, read a bunch about it and it could grow into a collection. Like you can find realy old mosin nagants that were made by Westinghouse electric in Massachusetts, most were captured by the Finns and used against the Russians.

  4. A Garden Gun. Hmm, never knew the name of such a thing but always had one when I grew up. You know, for stray pests and neighborhood cats.

    The gun lived by the back door blending into the background of porch debris. It was no specific gun, just a concept gun whether bolt action 20 GA, or .22, or even a short stint as a model 94 30-30. Just whatever was not in vogue at the time.

  5. I second the suggestion of a Mosin-Nagant.

    I also recommend looking into a lever-action something-or-other.

    And of course you have to find an old 1911!

  6. Marlin used to make a smoothbore .22 WMR bolt-action that they called a “garden gun”. Can’t recall if it was single-shot or had a box magazine. EDIT Google-fu indicates a box magazine, and that the things are still being used in some quarters, such as rat-infested warehouses.

    • Someone made a .22lr pistol, the shopkeeper, perhaps? The one I recall was for folks who worked around grain-handling. Bird-head grip, maybe?

      It was mentioned here in TTAG a while back…

    • hmmm, believe my husband has that model of Marlin. He asked me to look for another magazine for his at a local gun show was going to with my sister in law. Found them available and brought two for him. He was thrilled!
      Always nice when you can make your husband happy, without having to remove any garments ; )

  7. My understanding of the 9mm flobert, a smoothbore and it’s stables mate, a 6mm rifle that essentially fired cb cap type loads is that in most of Europe they weren’t considered firearms for legal purposes until the 1960’s.

    No hoops to jump thru for what was essentially a pest control gun.

  8. I think there were some smooth bore .22 bolt and pump action rifles? designed for shot shells. I think we had something like this on the farm, but used a Stevens Favorite which may have ruined the rifling or the rifling was already ruined. It was a very old gun with the octagon barrel.

    • Remington, at least, made a smoothbore version of the 572 rimfire pump. Kind of a cool novelty, a .22 rimfire shotgun…

  9. If the rust is very fine and there is still substantial blueing left on the gun, you might want to strip the blueing. Brownells has a product that will strip blueing and rust (Fe3O4 and Fe3O2, respectively) and not corrode the underlying steel.

    http://www.brownells.com/gunsmith-tools-supplies/metal-prep-coloring/pre-finish-surface-prep/rust-and-blue-remover-prod1083.aspx

    Remove the barrel & action from the stock. Remove the bolt & trigger group – this might require a pin punch on some guns to pull the trigger group.

    From what little I can see in the picture here, it would appear these sights are drifted into dovetails. To remove them, you put the action/barrel into a sturdy vise (padded with soft jaws) and you use a piece of brass rod to drift the sights out. You’ll want to clamp on the barrel directly under the sight you’re about to drift out. They’ll usually go in from the right, and be drifted out from the left (ie, drifting them from left to the right as the muzzle is pointed away from you). So basically, you’ll want the rifle in the vise with the muzzle pointed to your left. You should put the brass drift (which you can make out of a piece of brass rod about 1/4″ in diameter) on the sight base, and then start tapping the end of the drift with a small hammer. Before you start, it might do you well to mark the sight base on each side of the dovetail with a Sharpie marker, so you can see when the sight begins to move.

    OK, now with the sights out and the trigger group off, you can put on the rust/blue remover on the barrel/action. Follow the instructions. You might need two applications to clean up more deeply rusted spots.

    Once you strip the blue & rust, then you can see what you’re dealing with. If you have very light, fine pitting, you can polish this out. You’ll need some shop rolls, ranging from 180 to 400 grit (typical 4-packs are 180, 240, 320 and 400 grit, in 1, 1.5 or 2″. I like 1.5″ wide shop cloth myself)

    When polishing something like the above rifle/shotgun, you’ve got a pretty light coat of rust, without severe pitting. You might be able to start at 320 grit. When I’m polishing on barrels, I polish lengthwise. Use a backing block of wood or even a Pink Pearl rubber eraser. Always back your paper when you’re polishing over edges and up against features.

    Polish to at least 400 grit. If you want it smoother/shinier, you can polish up to 600 grit, with wet-or-dry paper. I use kerosene to wet my paper from 500 on up.

    Here’s instructions from Mark Lee Supplies on using their Express Blue #1. I used Express Blue #1 on lots of guns, where I want something less labor intensive than slow rust blueing (which I won’t describe here):

    http://www.markleesupplies.com/instructions-express–1.html

    Some notes:

    – most steel wool isn’t oil-free. It’s oiled in production to keep it from rusting on store shelves. You want 0000 steel wool for carding between coats. To obtain oil-free steel wool, get some acetone in a container (say, an old, clean yogurt container you were going to throw away anyway). Pour in some acetone, and while wearing rubber gloves (dishwashing gloves are OK), put in a pad of 0000 steel wool, swish it around and pull it out. Do this outside, so you can do this next part: Just whip the steel wool at arm’s length to extract the excess acetone. It’ll evaporate rather rapidly, but still, don’t whip it at cars or house finishes. It can soften up some paints and plastics.

    Alternatively, you can press the pad of steel wool between your hands over the container of acetone, and then put it on some paper towels to dry. It’ll take perhaps 20 minutes to really dry down.

    – Acetone is also useful for de-greasing the barreled action. I like using acetone to strip the heavy oil on guns, because it lightens up the oils and makes them easier to strip with a water-based cleaner.

    – Old school ‘smiths use something called “washing soda” to strip oil off guns. It is slightly caustic, so be careful you don’t leave it on the gun for long.

    – When putting water in your boil-out tank, use distilled water if you have water with high mineral content. Most waters in the Rockies clear out to the west coast will have high(er) dissolved solids in them. These minerals (often calcium and magnesium compounds) tend to result in blotchy and uneven results. Just use distilled water.

    – Some people might not have a tank long enough to contain a barreled action to boil out. Brownells has steel tanks, and there are some steel/stainless long/thin tanks available from other sources.

    http://www.brownells.com/gunsmith-tools-supplies/metal-prep-coloring/metal-bluing/black-iron-tanks/black-iron-bluing-tank-prod1062.aspx

    To heat this, I use a Coleman camp stove and a 15# jug of LPG gas. you could also heat this size tank with anything from a hibatchi up to a Weber charcoal grill – or you could put it on top of a wood-burning stove or even a kitchen stove.

    When you’re done and have neutralized & washed off the Express Blue #1 solution, you then should spray down the barrel with water-displacing oil. Fortunately, this is easily had at any hardware store: WD-40 is a water displacing product, not a lubricant (contrary to widespread advertising). Spray down the whole barreled action with copious amounts of WD-40, inside and out. Stand on end over some paper towels to drain.

    If the sights need to be stripped & blued, follow the same procedure, but don’t polish on them. Just remove the blue/rust, degrease, dry, then blue/card/boil-out/oil/drain.

    Drift the sights back in from the right side of the barrel. Hang the trigger group again, re-stock and you should be done.

    Simple, right?

    If your barrel has heavier pitting, now we’re into filing to remove pitting, and that’s something I can’t teach people in mere text. To remove pitting and keep the barrel profile intact requires skill with a file, and that requires hands-on training.

    • This is a great tutorial. I’ve got a couple of older plinkers that aren’t worth much to practice this on. Fortunately, I’ve got access to a great shop for everything you mentioned except the tank. And hand shaping metal with sand paper is something I do almost every day.
      Thanks DG!

  10. Garden gun was single shot .22 rifle with “rat shot” number 12 or 14 size shot in a crimped .22 long cartridge for snakes in back yard or rats in barn ceiling. Kept in pantry near back door of house which was the main use door in a farm.

    Change to regular .22 for long range shots on crows. My parents and almost any Australian farm until the 90’s Still the same in a lot but not legal now

  11. Yeah, oddball/interesting guns are how collections start. It’s definitely how I wound up with some Savage Pistols in the safe.

  12. Rust… the cancer of firearms. I dont have much on collecting firearms, if your wanting to make $ then youd need a firearms blue book. I just buy them if I think theyre pretty. You must keep in mind ammunirion availability, if you want a shooter. Some old firearms blue book values are ruined by being reblued. I spray them down with wd-40, let them soak a day or two, then soak them down and lightly polish Repeat soak, then polish until you finally get the rust decent. Be careful you dont remove what blueing is there by polishing to much. Better to soak n let stand over n over, pitting is pretty much always going to be there unless u file n reblue. Fileing down the pits is really not that hard,I use a very fine sharpening stone used for knives. Go slow. Oh heck, new age world I forgot bout dremel tools n metal polish. Lol Have fun

  13. I have a run of the mill Czech Mauser. Nothing special to anyone but me. I love everything about it, even the way it smells. That may be tmi.

    • Is it a VZ-24? Those are actually excellent quality Mauser clones. I’ve customized two of them, and I really like their steel quality and workmanship.

  14. As I recall, Winchester long ago made a 9mm shotgun, model 36 I believe. It looked much like a .22 bolt gun except for the bore, of course. So they were not all imports. It does sound like the ultimate garden gun when .22 shot is just not enough. Today we have the .44 shot loads as well, great for dispatching snakes as needed. Our illustrious Wi DNR has reintroduced rattlesnakes to some areas, believe it or not!

    DG, many thanks for all your great info on the bluing processes. That information is so valuable to many of us

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