Monday, October 4, 2010

Home defense conversion on Remington Model 48 Sportsman 20-gauge

A relative asked if I would be willing to refinish/rebuild his shotgun for home defense use. Of course I jumped at the opportunity because he's family but also because it was a semi-auto and I hadn't done one of those yet. I (incorrectly!) assumed it would be a 12-gauge 1100 or 11-87. Imagine my surprise when I opened the case and saw this!

This is a 20-gauge Remington Model 48 Sportsman.  The Model 48, from what I learned, was the recoil-operated (rather than gas) precursor to the 1100. The Model 48 Sportsman is identical to the 48 EXCEPT that, for some reason, Remington placed three dimples in the magazine tube to only allow 2 rounds. Supposedly this was for regions that required this for bird hunting...seriously? Why not use a plug?

Before anyone gets all worked up over cutting on a gun that is 50+ years old, take a gander at that barrel! It was some sort of a choke/muzzle brake that was fixed and--according to the owner--incredibly loud. A replacement barrel was cost-prohibitive, so converting it into a useful HD gun made a lot more sense than having an shotgun in the closet that would never see the light of day.

The first order of business was a complete strip of the gun and clean it. Thankfully the factory wood furniture was structurally sound. Since synthetic stocks are not available I chose to refinish the factory wood stocks using Matte Black Aluma-Hyde II. This was a new experience and it turned out GREAT. The factory recoil pad was a brown, OLD, faded number. I lucked out and had a factory Remington recoil pad from a wood-stocked 870 Express and wouldn't you know- it fit PERFECTLY! :)

I also lucked out that the receiver shares pin and trigger group dimensions with the 1100/11-87/870! So my preferred upgrades of an oversize safety (Scattergun Tech) and 4-round sidesaddle carrier (TacStar) fit perfectly, even though they aren't listed to work on a Model 48, they do.

The barrel received the normal treatment of being cut down to 18.5", polished/crowned, and got a M300 fiber optic sight from HIVIZ.

The dimples in the magazine tube were simply drilled out and de-burred with a round file. Worked great.

Choate Machine and Tool made the only 20-gauge, 2-round magazine extension that I could find. Unfortunately it was too small to thread on the magazine tube. Problem was that I had a 12-gauge version on hand, and it was too big! Aughh! What to do, what to do. For a HD gun, not having an extension was not an option. The solution? I ended up cutting the threads off the magazine extension, and cut the top off the factory magazine tube end cap...can you see where this is going? These two pieces were temporarily held in place via JB Weld and then MIG welded in place. Some grinding and polishing resulted in the last custom magazine tube extension I ever want to make!! But it worked nicely. Essentially used the threads from the cap and the tube from the Choate extension.

The finish is "Coyote" Aluma-Hyde II, which looks great against the black stocks. I also added a Combat Bolt Handle from Choate. Here is the end result:

This thing was light! Handled like a dream and I was very, VERY temped to buy it from him! But, a closet full of 870's doesn't lend credibility to needing to buy another gun.   If you are in the market for an inexpensive, great handling HD gun and you can pick up a 48 or 48-Sportsman in the $150 range, I would say go for it. I really can't say enough good things about how this gun turned out or how well it handled with the 18.5" barrel.

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