Monday, October 1, 2012

The Saga of the WesternField Shotgun Part Two: The Test

In "The Saga of the Westernfield Shotgun Part One" you heard all about coming across an old Mossberg made store brand shotgun. Well, here is part two of that story.

Saturday morning found me, my brother, a half dozen different guns, and a varied collection of targets bouncing along a one lane dirt road heading for some mountains off in the distance. We decided to take my truck over Tim's Jeep because it has AC. The trade off was the 4x4 capability of the Jeep, but the high was supposed to be around 108* F, and at 7:30 in the morning it was already in the high 80's or low 90's so the air conditioning won. with the warning from Tim that the road we were heading down had an extremely long stretch that was made primarily of sand. I figured as long as I was careful it wouldn't be a big deal.

I am not sure at what point that road changed from hard packed dirt to patches of shallow sand here and there, but Tim commented that it wasn't near as bad as he remembered. Almost immediately after he said that we went around a slight bend and the road morphed into a sandy stream bed with hard packed steep dirt banks covered in thick brush  on either side. It didn't matter if I wanted to drive that road or not we were  going at least as far as the next side road where I could get out of the sand and turn around. Then I hear Tim say in one of the most stern voices I have ever heard come out of him "Don't stop, and don't push on the brake."

A crossing wash had cut about a six foot wide by about a 2 to 2 1/2 foot deep uneven rut diagonally across the treacherously sandy road. Thankfully there was a slightly shallower cut where other vehicles had recently passed through, but the sides were still extremely steep and the road was narrow making me worry about damaging my truck. At that point I had no choice but to bounce over it at what seemed like 100 mph. It was bone rattling, teeth jarring, and loud but we made it across in tact. Taking a deep breath and hoping there wasn't any damage, I put the return trip out of my mind, and concentrated on finding a place to pull off the road and turn around without getting stuck in the sand. A couple of minutes later found me relaxing a bit in my search for a side road. I was driving at about 15mph which is just fast enough to keep me on top of the sand and just slow enough to have pretty good control of the truck. The road was almost dead straight and we hadn't seen anybody else out there since it had turned to sand a little over two miles back. The waist high banks and thick brush served to obscure the scenery on either side, and I had missed a couple of opportunities to turn around because I simply didn't see them until it was too late to make the turn. Not daring to slow down too much, I was resigned to barrel down this endless sand trap at breakneck speeds until it turned back into dirt. Then, without warning, a truck pulls out of an unseen side road not more then a hundred feet in front of us.

I let out an expletive and Tim says "don't stop" almost at the same time. The truck pulled out into the road, sees me coming and heads for the far bank. He tried to go up the bank at an angle to the road so I could pass by, but doesn't make it and ends up stopped lengthwise across the entire road. Thankfully I had already hit the breaks, against Tim's advise. My truck stops less than a foot from the other one. The stop was soft, and felt like any other hard stop, so I put the truck in reverse hoping to back down the road a bit to let the other truck by me, but my wheels just spun in the soft sand. Tim and I both realized at about the same time that I wasn't going anywhere. We opened our doors to see sand all the way up to within a few inches of the bottom of the cab verifying what I already knew. We were buried up to both axles.

Before either Tim or I could get out of our truck the other guy jumps out of his truck and heads our way ashen faced, wide eyed, and obviously shaken about the near collision we just had. When he got to my truck he was babbling at a hundred miles an hour "Oh my god! I'm sorry! I'm sorry! I'll pull you out no problem! I'm so sorry! I couldn't see around the bush and didn't see you coming! I'm sorry! I'll pull you out!"

After some creative maneuvering, our new friend was able to get behind the truck and pull it backwards up onto a small dirt clearing. Once unhooked and pleasantries were exchanged we invited him to join us in some target shooting to which he agreed, but first we needed to get back on a road that wouldn't swallow my poor truck whole. I pulled back out onto the sand and slowly accelerated until I was able to move along the top without sinking or sliding. The return trip over that sand trap of a road was a lot more intense. With the recent memory of being pulled out of the sand I didn't even slow down for the stream that crossed the road causing the truck to bounce ferociously throwing everything in it around. We made it back to solid dirt without further incident, and found a nice big open field and set up our bottles and boxes.

Where We Were Shooting
While waiting for our new friend to show up we decided to play around a little bit. Tim had brought a half-full plastic gallon size bottle of margarita mix with him and wanted to see what would happen if he shot it at close range (3 or 4 feet away at max) with his 12-gauge loaded with Wal-Marts finest #8 bird shot. The explosion was exquisite and hysterical giggling ensued as Tim wiped margarita mix off of his face, arms, and shotgun. Then I decided to get down to business for a minute and loaded up the Westernfield for the first time.

With five rounds in the shoot and a round in the chamber I flicked off the safety with my thumb and took aim at the arrangement of plastic, glass, and cardboard in front of me. The first trigger pull was met with a sturdy, but not too hard kick to the shoulder followed immediately by the smooth action of the pump being cycled. and in less time than it takes to read this sentence the westernfield was empty and a thousand holes dotted the various targets in front of me. The action was smooth, the kick was polite, and everything worked as well as anything I have shot in the past. I loaded it up again took aim at a square orange reactive target and chased it around for six quick consecutive shots. My conclusion was that this was a smooth working easy to use gun. It shot straight, aimed easily, and patterned well. I liked it, but I decided to get Tim's opinion and asked him to shoot it.

I sat back and watched as he ripped through six shells with a quick action that only comes from dedicated practice in shooting this type of weapon. He smiled and grabbed the box of shells to re-load and thats when he said "That doesn't sound right." and started fiddling with the action and shaking the gun close to his ear. He turned it over and looked into the receiver and saw a small pin rolling around in there. He pulled it out and looked at it real closely, looked into the reciever real closely, looked up at me with a comical look on his face and said "Thats the firing pin."

Well that ended shooting that gun for the day, but we each had a 12-gauge and enough shells to produce some noise and give the local wildlife population lead poisoning. so we commenced to using that up and when our new friend arrived he pulled out a .22 and a 100 round drum magazine that jammed up after about 15 rounds. We had fun shooting but the real tragedy was where to find a replacement firing pin for my 40+ year old WesternField shotgun....

To be continued...The Saga Of The Western Field Shot Gun Part Three: The Repair


  1. I am looking forward for more shooting stories like this. Great work.

    1. Thanks. I really enjoy going shooting and hunting so there will be a lot more shooting posts. I am currently working on part three. I should have it up pretty soon.

  2. Ricky, I have the WesternField M550ABD which was passed down to me from my uncle, not sure how he got it. It has a serial number on it so I'm guessing it was probably manufactured in the 70's based on your research about the serial number stamping? I've shot birds and clays with it about 10 years ago and am getting it ready for deer season next week. It came with two barrels: a full choke beaded sight barrel and a rifle sighted smooth bore slug barrel.

    1. They are nice guns and shoot really well. If you want to learn a little more about it you can send the serial number in to Mossberg, or Havlin Sales, and they can trace the manufacturing dates and ownership of that gun for you.
      Thanks for your comment and good luck on your up comming dear hunt.