Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Saga Of The Western Field Shot Gun Part Three: The Repair

The Saga Of The Western Field Shotgun Part One
The Saga Of The Western Field Shot Gun Part Two: The Test

I highly recommend that anyone having problems any more complicated than cleaning issues with their firearms take them to an experienced gunsmith for repairs. Bad things can happen when overconfident people do things they are not qualified to do. Having said that, I am never one to follow my own advise and I took it upon myself to repair the broken firing pin in my Western Field 16 gauge shot gun. I have always been fairly good at "seeing" how things come apart and go back together. As a result of this I tend to be a bit over confident that if I take something apart I can put it back together again and it will work the way it is supposed to. In the past I have had very few instances where I took something apart and couldn't put it back together again, and this was no exception. Mossberg made a simple yet elegant design that worked then and, with the exception of adding a bar to the pump and changing the design of the firing pin, has changed very little over the years since.
My Fully Disassembled Western Field 16 Gauge Shot Gun

The first thing I did was go to a local gun shop to see if they had a firing pin. They were friendly and helpful, but a bit disorganized. They eventually did find a Mossberg firing pin, but it had the wrong shape and was far too short to fit my Western Field. The gentleman who helped me out then recommended I go to Numerich Gun Parts Corp. Their web site is comprehensive and easy to use, so it didn't take very long at all to find a part that looked correct in the picture. I placed my order and waited the two weeks or so for the mailman to bring it to me. When it finally arrived and I opened the package I new immediately that this was the wrong firing pin. It was the same one they had at the store. There was no possible way this was going to work in my  shotgun, so I went back to the internet again and started some major research on both Mossberg and Western Field shotguns and parts, and came up empty for the firing pin I needed. needless to say I was a bit stumped.

This Is What Fell Out Of The Gun
I knew that I could have a firing pin custom made by a gunsmith, but that would most likely cost more than I paid for the gun. rather than watch my small investment turn into a money pit I decided to send an email off to Mossberg asking them about the firing pin. Mossberg sent me to their "Official Mossberg historian" over at Havlin Sales And Service. I sent them an email describing my problem and what I had and within an hour I had a response from Cheryl asking for a picture and some measurements. After sending her the requested information she came back to me saying she had what I needed, but to make sure she wanted me to send them the old firing pin as a comparison. Relieved at this news and the professionalism that they were showing I sent them my broken firing pin and a check for a new one. All that was left was to sit back to wait for the mail man again.

Less than two weeks passed before the new firing pin arrived in the mail. I was very pleased with how quickly Havlin got the new pin back out to me. I was also pleased to find that they had returned the old pin along with the new one so I could be even more sure that I had the correct part. It was the correct pin, and it fit into the bolt perfectly. My Western Field was a complete working 16 gauge shotgun again. With that out of the way I now wanted to take my investment and see what I could get for it, but I still had five rounds that if I didn't shoot would sit in my ammo bag forever. A quick phone call later and Tim and I would be meeting my dad on Saturday to go shooting.

All Three Firing Pins
Tim brought his two rifles, two shotguns and a pistol, and my dad brought about a dozen different types of guns ranging from a .22 pistol on up to some fairly large caliber rifles. I felt a little odd only having my two shotguns, but we had a blast shooting just about ounce of ammunition we had. My Western Field worked perfectly. It chambered all five rounds, the poly choke adjusted easily, and it fired flawlessly. At that point I was so impressed with it that I almost talked myself into keeping it, but then my dad asked what I was going to do with it. I told him I was going to sell it and he asked how much I wanted.

My dad has made a life of buying and selling junk and just kind of knows what stuff is worth. With that in mind I gave him a price that I thought was at the very high end of what it would go for at retail, but well within the realm of fair, to see what he would come back with. He did exactly what I thought he would do and halved what I told him. I then replied that it was worth what I was asking and went on about what I was doing. I didn't think he would go for it, but he mulled it over for a bit while we were cleaning up the garbage and packing up the trucks. I was almost dumbfounded when he came back to me and said he would take the gun for what I was asking. With that my Western Field shot gun went into his truck and I pocketed a nice fat profit from my investment.

The best part about this whole endeavor the fun of researching the lineage and age of this shot gun, and learning a little bit more about Mossberg & Sons, a truly iconic American gun manufacturer. I recommend any one who has an older gun (or any antique for that matter) learn as much about it as you can. The knowledge you gain from such a journey is well worth the time and effort you will put into it. History will only live as long as there are people willing to take the time to discover it's hidden secrets by delving into the dusty catacombs of old libraries and internet chat rooms to retrieve it's subtle nuances and bring it back to life.


  1. I enjoyed reading this three part series, I just bought an old westernfield w/ pistol grip so I am doing a little investigation into what I have. Thanks for this.

  2. Thanks George. It is nice to know this is helping people find the information they need. I really had fun researching and repairing this old shotgun.