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Over the weekend an antique German shotgun, made in 1892, was turned in as hazardous waste in Hoover, Alabama. At first, the Hoover authorities, who held Hoover Hazardous Waste Day to collect items like paint, motor oil and used tires, intended to have the shotgun destroyed along with the rest of the refuse. But after finding that the antique could be worth thousands of dollars, they decided return the gun to its owner.


One of the most unusual items dropped off today was an 1892 double-barrel German shotgun. David Buchanan, a painter for the city of Hoover who was helping unload items brought in by residents, said an older gentleman brought the weapon after finding it in his closet and figuring he had no use for it.

Hoover Councilman Gene Smith, a co-owner of Hoover Tactical Firearms, estimated the antique shotgun is probably worth at least several thousand dollars.

Smith and city workers initially said the gun would have to be melted down like other guns turned into police. However, Hoover City Administrator Allan Rice said city officials will try to locate the man who surrendered the gun and help him determine the value of it and what should be done with it. The city does not plan to destroy the antique and will work to preserve the history associated with the weapon, Rice said.

It’s good to see some common sense at play here. They should have known that a beautiful double barrel shotgun made in 1892 isn’t considered a firearm under federal law. It’s an antique, and not subject to the Gun Control Act of 1968.

While the authorities made the correct call about this shotgun, they will be destroying 75 pounds of ammunition.

I would not shoot reloaded ammunition from such a source. It could be disassembled for components.  Quite a bit of the ammunition in the picture is obviously from the factory. I wouldn’t be worried about shooting it. I should attend the next Hazardous Waste day here in Yuma to see what shows up. If most of the ammo were shotgun shells, 75 lbs would be about a thousand rounds of ammunition, worth about $200.

Sources have told me that they have obtained tens of thousands of rounds of ammunition, simply by promising to “dispose of it properly”.

Modern ammunition is remarkably durable. If kept dry and in reasonable temperatures, expect a shelf life of at least 75 years.
If you are willing to experience a few misfires, or perhaps even hangfires, even ammunition that has been stored in poor conditions is likely to provide good service. Proper care should be taken when shooting it.

Unless the cases are badly corroded or damaged, the danger of poorly stored modern ammunition is that it might not expel a bullet or shot charge from the barrel. If that condition is not discovered, a burst or bulged barrel is almost certain, and damage to the person is possible.

It would be far better that the unwanted ammunition be expended at a range, where the lead will be recycled, than burned in an incinerator.

©2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.

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  1. Service rifle shooters often use ammunition from WW2 and even WW1! As long as it goes bang consistently there are few issues. Iraqi and POF .303 has a repuation for click-bang but MF, KF, RG, HXP, and Dominion are still good.

    Reloaded ammunition can always be pulled apart for the components and the powder used as garden fertilizer (I am not joking here). Even old military or commercial ammunition can be salvaged for cases, primers, and projectiles.

    At least someone used some common sense to prevent the destruction of a valuable antique.

    • “Reloaded ammunition can always be pulled apart for the components and the powder used as garden fertilizer (I am not joking here)”

      Hmm…Was popcorn discovered about the time gunpowder gained wide use?

      • Propellant powder contains nitrogen compounds which are also used in fertilizer.

        At the end of WW2 farmers were buying leftover and surplus propellant powder to use as fertilizer.

  2. I would not trust that ammunition. Unless it’s over 100 years old, I would not use it with that shotgun. That’s a black powder weapon, and should NOT be fired with modern smokeless. It is general knowledge that you shouldn’t use modern shells in shotguns manufactured before ~1917.

  3. A number of months back, TTAG had an article about a gun turn-in where one of the weapons was the great-granddaddy of real assault weapons, the PPSH (I think) worth many (if not tens of) thousands.

    The article went on to describe how they saved it from destruction and had it sold so the widow could get some cash out of it.

    The question I have is how could they have legally had it sold, since it was an off-books actual NFA weapon?

    • “The question I have is how could they have legally had it sold, since it was an off-books actual NFA weapon?”

      Well, they should have done so much more quietly than they apparently did…

    • Geoff PR – As I recall, the firearm was a German Sturmgewehr StG-44, which was the first true “assault rifle” in that it fired an intermediate size 7.92 x 33 “Kurz” (“short”) round in either semi-automatic or full-auto modes. As it was introduced somewhat late in the war, only 425,977 of them were produced and they are exceedingly rare on this side of the Atlantic today.

    • Yeah, the PPSh-41 (pistolet-pulemyot Shpagina) is just regular straight blowback pistol ammo shooting sub-mashine gun. Not that I wouldn’t like to have one.

    • Good Lord, does it ever! I once was tasked by Dad to dispose of some surplus .30-06 ammo that was probably left over from the Korean War a couple of decades ago. Most went “bang” out of the ’03 Springfield we were shooting but occasionally a dud would go click instead – and a few went “bang” a second or two after the click. One happened just as I was about to twist the bolt open. After that, it took entirely too long and involved too much sweat to burn up the remainder. Not a pleasant shooting day at all.
      Wait a full five to ten seconds before opening the action on old “dud” ammo, y’all… it may surprise you in the worst way.

  4. Let’s not be too hard on folks who have firearms or ammo they don’t know what to do with (perhaps not being POTG) and turn them in on “Hazardous Waste Days.” To simple toss live ammo in the trash is not responsible. And, per this article, valuable antiques get recognized as such and offered for sale to collectors.

  5. Reminds me of the 1880s L.C. Smith double-barrel shotgun I picked up at a small gun shop from the consignment rack for $100. The particular model I bought goes for thousands at auctions.

  6. I lived in Hoover for a year back in the ’80’s. It was a much smaller suburb back then. Good to see they still have some sense in that town.

  7. Obviously, this shotgun was somebody’s prize. Sadly, dementia got him to take a sip of the koolaid and he believed to garbage abouts guns being hazardous waste. I think it was probabley his father’s gun and ammo, because they usually remember their treasures.

    It is really sad that anyone would do that to any antique.

  8. Ok.. so I need your help ladies and gentlemen… I have that exact shotgun (inherited from my grandfather)…. Who in CO can I trust to take a look at it?

  9. “…after finding it in his closet and figuring he had no use for it.”

    Finding it? Someone please leave nice guns in my closet for me to find.

    Easter Gunny? 😉

  10. People have no idea how valuable their grandfathers or grandmothers guns are because of the de-education going on regarding the second amendment. Very, very sad.

  11. DEAN! Had no idea you were in Yuma, just knew in AZ somewhere. I was out there all last week for some work at the proving grounds… but there schedule is a mess (as always) and i basically sat on my hands in the hotel for 10 days. Maybe we could have met up and put some rounds down range (there’s only so many times you can go see the Prison Museum, or stroll through the shops on main street).

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