Sshhh…The folding single barrel .410

The folding single barrel .410 shotgun, I know I have mentioned them before. Normal rules apply with these things if you are in the UK. Is it safe to shoot and equally as importantly, can you legally own it on your shotgun certificate? I say this because so many of these things hover around 24″ barrel length and to comply with our UK firearms law the barrel must be 24″ or greater, not 600,0mm or longer and not 60cm or longer. 24″

OK, so you own one, it is safe to shoot and lawful to own so what can you do with it? Well shoot it of course! Beware as they are usually 2.5″ chamber or less so do not go stuffing 3″ 17 gram loads in it, however as a fun gun for rabbits or barn pigeons and clays of course, they are great.

But what about if it has a barrel less than 24″ in length? Well now it is classed as a Section 1 firearm and needs to be held accordingly.

You can always do something useful with one though. This one came in on a Section 2 shotgun certificate and careful measuring from the breech face to the end of the barrel put it right on the raggedy edge of Section 2. We advertised it for a while however we had no takers so it was left in the Armoury, awaiting a decision. As much as I do like these things I cannot keep every gun that comes in. They are either sold or used, not left in the corner of a cabinet.

Now I have to deal with animals involved in RTA’s (Road Traffic Accidents) I prefer to use a .410 shotgun as they are quick and humane, however walking through a housing estate with a gun over one shoulder in a high visibility vest does draw attention so I decided to haul the .410 out and do something with it.

The plan was to fit a permanently attached sound moderator that would not leave any doubt as to the length of the ‘Barrel’ plus it could be used for humane despatch. First job was to create a suitable sound moderator body and I opted for a cylinder from an Air Arms Carbine air rifle. They fill to 200 Bar (2900PSI) so more than adequate for the job and did a quick mock up to see how it felt and looked.

Nice, time to put the concept into practice.  I machined a threaded adapter that fitted nicely at the correct distance from the muzzle, fitted a muzzle cap to the new body and assembled everything on the gun. Everything still looked good, so the new threaded adapter was silver soldered onto the barrel and everything was pulled apart. I had already scrubbed the section of the barrel that would be inside the sound moderator, so I now drilled a series of 4,2mm holes at 30,0mm centres in 4 rows, offset by 15,0mm. Think of it as opposing holes every 30,0mm at Zero and 180 degrees and two more opposing rows at 90 and 270 degrees with these holes being centred between the other pair. The burrs were removed and the barrel blacked again by hand.

Onto the baffles. I had been mulling over many different ideas and ended up with aluminium mesh from Amazon. A sheet of mesh 3000x500mm costs under £14.00 (October 2020) and is enough for several goes.

As the outer tube is 300,0mm long externally, the mesh is around 250,0mm long. I cut it to length with scissors, then wrapped it tight to the barrel until it just fitted in to the tube and cut it to the length. I then wrapped the mesh back around the barrel and tried to assemble everything and failed as it was unwrapping itself from the barrel. So I wound it into a tube like a rolled up newspaper, pushed into the outer tube where it opened up slightly and allowed me to assemble everything with ease as the hole in the middle of the mesh was plenty big enough to allow easy assembly.

OK, so now I have a folding .410 shotgun that has a 2.5″ chamber and needs testing. Off to our designated test location we went and confirmed it was quite happy with the 2.5″ test loads. I also noted that it was incredibly quiet with a solitary test subsonic cartridge, however only 3″ subsonic cartridges are available here in the UK, so I was obviously going to have to make my own.

Back at the workshop I stripped everything down to clean and carefully inspect and was delighted to not see any signs of damage or pressure as I had expected. So I did some research on 2.5″ subsonic loads, realised the data was not really available so I ‘phoned a friend and he did the load development.

The load arrived upon used 2.5” Plastic case, Winchester 209 primers, Maxam CS5 powder, full size cork wad left untrimmed at 16mm, 16.7 grains #6 shot, a car wad and finished with a tight roll crimp.

So how does it shoot? Our sound meter tells me a supersonic factory 2.5″ 14 gram cartridge measured at 45 degrees back and at one meter is around 140 dB give or take a couple of dB. With the newly built subsonic loads we saw around typically 97-98 dB. This is with a load of 16,7 grams #6 shot and around 990fps. The load listed above uses no plastic components other than the case itself which can be reloaded several times.

I gave the case heads a wash with blue dye so I can clearly identify the subsonic loads.

What I will say is I strongly believe the sound reduction is down to the cartridges as much as the silencer and oddly, the tension on the crimp is as important as anything. Nick of NB Guns, who did the development tells me he did get some loads down to 700fps with no signs of over pressure so dependant on ambient temperature we can always slow/quieten things down a bit more if needed.

In practice, I can definitely hear the hammer drop at 90 degrees to the gun at 2m with our loads and I doubt you would really know what was going on from 25m away, which is about the length of a tennis court. Have I used it yet? Well I did shoot a clay with it the other day!

Final job was find something to put it in. We get many guns come in with old slips so I grabbed one from the pile, shortened it to suit, glued the end together with rubber adhesive and stitched it up. So now I can keep it safe and sound and pop it over my shoulder when needed.

Will I be building any more? Probably not. It was a design and build test as much as anything, it was intended to be built to a tight budget and hard cash outlay has been negligible. Instead it was mostly a spare time build, even the testing was added to an existing run out to test customer guns.

Will I be testing the gun with slug? Given the results I doubt I will take things any further. I have a lovely little gun that will serve the purpose it was built for, nothing more and nothing less.

An update on Whitaker Special #023

I was recently contacted again by Mick Kelly who is the registry keeper for these fascinating rifles. Was I still looking for a stock because there was one in Fultons so a ‘phone call later the deal was done and the stock arrived today.

Sadly it has some chipping to the rear of the tang, however it is easily remedied. Oh, the trigger is flaky as well so I need to get my head around how it functions as it has a three areas of adjustment, other than that it looks rather nice and it puts my mind at rest to have No 023 back in the correct looking stock and here she is:

Next job is to find some sights the front and rear sights and a front sling attachment which has been removed.

For those of you who are interested, the wooden ammunition box is my bench for zeroing older rifles, I place a small canvas dog training dummy or similar on top and I have the perfect platform. So much nicer that one of those red plastic monstrosities or a machine rest people seem so keen to use.

EDIT – The trigger lets go at 750 grams and slides over the trigger sear unless a downwards pressure is applied so something to look at before it gets anywhere near a range.

Ruger Precision Rifle rear bag riders.

I forgot to post a picture of our latest Ruger Precision Rifle rear bag rider plates fresh back from anodising so here is one.

Machined from 6082 aluminium and satin anodised finish they are virtually a direct copy of the original butt plate however they are extended to accept a bag rider tube. You have a choice of either a self colour 1,5mm tube (Shown in picture) This adds around 65,0 grams to the all up weight of your rifle. Alternatively you can have the 20,0mm carbon fibre tube version with polished aluminium ends which is a lot lighter. (Guess who forgot to weigh the last ones he built)

Everyone tells me these make a huge difference to the tracking of the RPR at both short and long distances and coupled with the 6.5CM cartridge gets you into some very long distance shooting.

I also have a single bracket in a lovely shiny aluminium finish if anyone is interested.

I also forgot to add a link to the Ruger Precision Rifle rear bag rider on our site, so here it is:…

I am hearing good things from the people who have already received them, it makes me wish I had an RPR myself!

UK Firearms Regulations changes from December 2019.

I have been meaning to mention this for a while and this is my first quiet moment…

10/12/2019 our Firearms regulations were amended and as well as adding information on the recording of deactivated firearms they also include some changes to the information we as RFDs (Registered Firearms Dealers) need to hold. There are lots of interesting things, however from a dealers perspective the following are of interest to myself.

10. Rule 2(5) of the Firearms (Amendment) (No.2) Rules 2019 amends the particulars to be entered by firearms dealers into the register of transactions under Part 4 of Schedule 5 to the Firearms Rules 1998 (firearms dealer’s register of transactions) to reflect the changes to the requirements for marking firearms under the EU Directive.

11. The information to be recorded in dealers’ registers is set out below:

(a) in the case of firearms (other than air weapons) manufactured before 14 September 2018 and firearms of historical importance:
(i) the class of firearms (eg shotgun, rifle, revolver or pistol)
(ii) the calibre
(iii) the name of the manufacturer or brand
(iv) the country or place of manufacture, if known
(v) the identification number (which may be the serial number) or other distinguishing mark, if present; and,
(aa) in the case of firearms (other than air weapons and firearms of historical importance) manufactured in the United Kingdom or anywhere in the European Union or imported from outside the European Union on or after 14 September 2018:
(i) the class of firearms (eg shotgun, rifle, revolver or pistol);
(ii) the calibre;
(iii) the unique marking affixed to each relevant component part, to include:
(aa) the name of the manufacturer or brand
(bb) the country or place of manufacture
(cc) the serial number and the year of manufacture (if not part of the serial number)
(dd) the model (where feasible)
(iv) where a relevant component part, other than the frame and the receiver, is too small to have a unique marking including all of the information set out in paragraph (iii)(aa) to (dd) above, the serial number or alphanumeric or digital code instead of that information should be recorded

In the case of ammunition, dealers must now also record the batch number.

12. The effect of the changes being introduced by Rule 2(5) is the requirement for all essential component parts (as defined in section 57 of the Firearms Act 1968) to be marked either with the information at (aa) to (dd) or, where an essential component part is too small, it should be marked with a code. In determining whether a component is too small, regard should be had to Commission Implementing Directive (EU) 2019/68 which establishes a minimum font size of at least 1.6mm but a smaller font size may be used for the marking of essential components that are too small to be marked as specified in the EU Directive. This provision is due to be brought into force by 17 January 2020 and will be the subject of a separate Home Office Circular.

13. Any firearm manufactured before September 1939 will be regarded as being of historical importance.

I use a spreadsheet to record all of my firearm and ammunition transactions so adding additional columns is easy enough and for me is going to be:

Place of manufacture (Country)
Historical Interest? (Pre ’39) Y/N
Year of manufacture (This would be for my interest only)

Batch number

As an addition for any RFD reading this, you are going to have to record the individual serialisation of component parts of firearms manufactured in the United Kingdom or anywhere in the European Union or imported from outside the European Union on or after 14 September 2018. OK, so what is a component part?

The CPO (Crime Prosecution Service) notes the following:

“component parts”. R v Clarke (F), 82 Cr App R 308, CA states that the component part of a prohibited weapon is itself a prohibited weapon. Although there is no statutory definition, the Home Office Guidance to the Police at paragraph 13.70 states the following:

The term “component part” may be held to include (i) the barrel, chamber, cylinder, (ii) frame, body or receiver, (iii) breech, block, bolt or other mechanism for containing the charge at the rear of the chamber (iv), any other part of the firearm upon which the pressure caused by firing the weapon impinges directly. Magazines, sights and furniture are not considered component parts.

R v Ashton, CA, 1 February 2007 seems to suggest that any part that stops the weapon functioning as it was designed would be a component part:

“Whether in fact this particular gas plug is a component part of a prohibited weapon, is a matter of fact for the court to decide the words have their ordinary natural meaning. as a matter of reasonable interpretation it means a part that is manufactured to the purpose screw or washer, would not be a component part for present purposes. Similarly, a component part must be a part that if it were removed, the Gun could not function without it.”

My view of what is a component part? I was always under the impression it was anything that was pressure bearing within a firearm, so barrel, receiver, cylinder plus anything that a projectile passes through when attached to the barrel etc. I did ask the Home Office about this and the young lady I spoke to advised me they did not specifically use the term ‘Component part’.

So you could decide to mentally swap ‘Component part’ for ‘Pressure bearing’ items which would be a more sensible approach for us Brits.

This could be suggesting a trigger is a component part as are firing pins, strikers, springs and other parts of the ignition system as, if removed, they will prevent the operation of the firearm. Personally, I partly disagree and will not be logging triggers in my register, nor the fiddly little bits. However, as I use a spreadsheet I can easily add columns and have allowed for barrel serial numbers as I serialise those I fit, as do manufacturers such as Accuracy International. I am yet to see a revolver (From memory) with a serialised cylinder however bolts and receivers are fair game and may share only part of the same serial. As an example the receiver could be 1000.001 and the bolt 001

The XM177E2 build continues

The customer had asked if they could come and watch key stages of the build and who am I to argue even if it is an unusual request. Luckily I know them very well.

Today was profile the barrel as per the previous exercise, carry out some basic assembly to confirm fit and modify the FSB (Front Sight base)






The original XM177E2 had the casting mark ground off on the rear of the base and the bayonet lug removed, so that is what I did. Note the tear drop forward assist on the main rifle picture, I am trying to get a look as close as possible to the original rifle.

The profiling went well although I did opt for a fine finish contrary to the original, I just could not live with the thought of building something that looked like it has been roughed out with a rasp on a Pole lathe…

I need the butt stock to arrive and we can then complete the assembly and run a couple of test rounds through it, then Cerakote and off to Proof. Oh, I also need to complete the muzzle device/sound moderator. I have decided to build it in three options:

1. Standard and 100% correct to the original Colt drawings.

2. Standard looking but for a spigoted barrel to give an 11.5″ overall look (XM177E2)

3. Standard looking but for a spigoted barrel to give an 10.0″ overall look (XM177)

I wonder how many people machined a barrel to the correct M177E2 profile today.

The picture shows the M177E2 11.5″ barrel look and the roll of hockey tape is there to hold the FSB up as it was just starting to rotate under its own weight which I think is a reasonable fit considering it will need painting.