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Thursday, July 7, 2011

My Shotgun, Reborn

One spring day, not long after I had bought my first gun, I was at work, talking with a truck driver, while he was waiting for his trailer to be loaded. The conversation turned to guns. After all, it was spring, we were men, we were in Alabama, and I was a Gun Newbie. After a while, the truck driver mentioned that he happened to have a used shotgun for sale. Would I like to see it?


It was a very nice pump shotgun, a 12 gauge. The wood was in good shape, and while some of the bluing on the barrel was worn, there was no corrosion. And the pump action was as smooth as glass. It had only one minor defect - a former owner had written his name on the barrel with a power inscribing tool.

I say it was a defect, but in fact, it was a blessing, because the person whose name was on the shotgun barrel happened to be the plant chief operator, and he was on shift that day. So I went and asked Lee about the shotgun. He told me of the large number of whitetail deer who were prancing in the fields of heaven because of that gun.

Was it worth $100?

Lee said he thought so, because that's what he had sold it to the truck driver for, 3 years before.

So, at lunch, I went and cashed a check (these were the days before the ATM, friends) and the shotgun was mine. And I named it Lee.

Now, I had no idea what brand of shotgun it really was, and neither did Lee. The brand name on the gun is Revelation, sold by Western Auto. I tried taking it apart, but knowing nothing about shotguns, I didn't get far.

The next day, my copy of American Rifleman arrived, and the monthly section on gun schematics and disassembly instructions featured the Mossberg 500 12 gauge shotgun. Everything looked the same as mine, and it came apart and went back together just like in the magazine. So, Lee was really a Mossberg 500. Thank you, Lord.


A couple of years later, after I had moved away, I went back to my old plant for a visit, and Lee (the operator) asked about the shotgun. He then told me that he had been approached by the truck driver, to try to sell him the gun back, and he had steered him to me.

Again, thank you, Lord.


Fast forward a number of years, and a lot of trap shooting, later. Now, the bluing on Lee had gotten a little more worn, so I decided I would like to re-blue it. I bought a re-bluing kit at the gun store, read the instructions, and completely de-blued the whole gun. I sanded all the pits and corrosion out, and - no offense - I used my Dremel to erase Lee's name. Sorry, man.

Then I decided to search the Internet for info on how to re-blue guns, and I was confronted by tales of woe. It turns out that the Mossberg 500 has an aluminum receiver, which doesn't take bluing well. So I decided I needed a little more experience in gun finishing before I gave it a try.

Fast forward a little more. Okay, probably 5 years more. The shotgun sat unfinished, all that time, while I periodically thought about refinishing, and stopped, because it made my head hurt. To assuage your fears, the barrel and steel parts were well oiled, and stored in a firearms sock in my safe. The small parts were stored in a plastic shoe box.

At last, thanks in part to the false sense of optimism this blog has given me, I decided to finally refinish Lee.

After a bunch of Internet research I decided to use Duracoat firearm finish, and a Hogue rubber overmolded polymer stock, to make Lee look like his Glock brethren.


The refinishing process began with the fitting of all the parts onto the new polymer stock, to be sure I didn't need to do any gunsmithing to make it fit.

Everything fit perfectly.

I then laid all the parts out to get ready. In addition to the Duracoat with sprayer that I bought, I also bought painters tape. I also remembered back when I was researching bluing, and they told me to fill in all the holes in the receiver with Silly Putty, so the finish wouldn't get in the holes, and make them smaller.

I also got some 600 grit sandpaper for the final sanding, and some nitrile gloves to protect my hands.

I then went over all the metal parts with the 600 grit sandpaper, per the Duracoat instructions.

Here's the trigger group taped off below the parts that will show in the final gun assembly:

I filled in all the holes with Silly Putty, and taped all the threads and other parts that I didn't want to spray. I then sprayed the whole gun with the degreaser spray provided in the kit.

Here's the receiver, hanging and ready to spray.

I then mixed the paint and the hardener in the glass sprayer bottle, and shook it all for the time they told me to. Spraying with a smooth even motion, I laid down the first coat:

I also sprayed the barrel:

Three even coats, and all was done.

Sounds easy, right?


First - the sprayer that Duracoat sold with the paint tended to sputter periodically. At random. Leaving some parts sprayed smoothly and evenly, and some running and dripping.

Actually, I'm surprised the paint stayed on, with the amount of cursing that I applied to the sprayer. I guess I'm glad the cliche isn't really true.

So, instead of letting it dry five minutes between coats like the instructions said, I let it dry fifteen minutes, and tried to sand out all the drips.

Stupid idea. All I got was rolled up drips.

Eventually, my curse vocabulary exhausted, I managed to get it sanded well enough to get three coats on, and it not look like I had welded all the parts together.

Lessons learned:

First, I won't use the sprayer that Duracoat sells again. Instead, I will invest a little more money in an airbrush sprayer and compressor.

Second - while it may work for bluing, I found that Silly Putty makes water bead up. This means it also repels paint, so that all the pin holes had halos around them, free of paint. I need to find something else to use, maybe just balled up paper.

So, while trying to sand out the drips, I also had to take out all the Silly Putty, and use the degreasing spray again. Then I could spray.

Third - in retrospect, I would not have Dremeled Lee's name off the barrel. I now think it would have lent a sense of history, which I am trying, in a small way, to preserve here.

After drying overnight, I put the whole thing together. Of course, I had to watch a Youtube video, because I hadn't done anything with this gun for 5 years. But the action is still smooth as glass, and it looks mean.

Behold, Lee, the Mossberg 500: