Lets make a Sawed-Off Shotgun!

Article Posted: August 4, 2013

Sawed-Off Shotgun
Sawed-Off Shotgun

We've all seen sawed off shotguns in movies and on TV. They're fairly easy to conceal, provide devastating firepower at close range and, let's face it, they just look cool. If you go to flea markets and gun shows, you know you can find shotguns for as little as $75-$100, so why not make your own? While it is certainly possible to make your own with only a few tools and a little patience, there are some things you have to keep in mind.

First, let's see what it takes to turn a standard single shot shotgun into a shorter (sawed off) shotgun.

The primary thing that has to be considered is cutting the barrel. There are a couple of ways to do this, but the most consistent way is with a high quality, fine toothed hacksaw. Here are the steps to cutting your barrel.

1. Measure your barrel length. 18" is the legal limitation instituted by the ATF for a shotgun barrel, and anything under that is considered illegal unless you are willing to pay the $200 Tax Stamp/Permit :)

2. Tape off around the barrel to help keep your sight-line.

3. Clamp barrel level and cut a couple of strokes with the hacksaw to start your cut.

4. Smoothly and steadily work the hacksaw until you've cut though the barrel. Remember, when you come close to finishing your cut, you'll need to support the end of the barrel to prevent bending or warping

5. Once the cut is complete, remove tape and take a fine file to clean up saw marks on the end of the barrel. Also, use a round file to break the sharp edges on the outside of the barrel and use sandpaper to break the sharp edge on the inside of the barrel.

Liquid Gun Blue
Liquid Gun Blue

6. Use some cold bluing to blue the end of the barrel to protect the cut.

This technique works for either single barrel or double-barrel shotguns and will produce a serviceable gun. Some state that using a plumber's pipe-cutter will work, but it also rounds in the end of the barrel, requiring more file work to clean up the end. Using a plumber's pipe cutter to start your cut is a good alternative as well.

Once the barrel is cut, the next stage is cutting down the stock. This is essentially woodwork and is fairly easy, but time consuming, to get right.

1. Mark how you want the stock to be cut. Make note of how the stock is attached to the frame and make sure you'll be able to reattach the modified stock to the shotgun properly. This may require some metalwork, shortening bolts, etc.

2. Detach the stock from the shotgun. Using whichever woodworking tools you prefer (the hacksaw from the first stage will work), make your cut. Again, when you come close to completing your cut, support the part of the stock being cut away to prevent splintering and chunking.

3. Once the cut is complete, shape the remaining stock to fit your hand comfortably then refinish the stock with either lacquer or varnish to match the original finish.

4. Reattach the stock, and you're finished.

Now, here are some things to keep in mind about making your sawed off shotgun and what you can expect when firing it.

- ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) states that barrel length cannot be shorter than 18" unless you apply and pay for a special permit.

- Overall shotgun length cannot be shorter than 26" without a special permit

- Concealing a sawed off shotgun requires a conceal/carry permit

- When firing a sawed off, keep in mind it will kick significantly harder than it would before shortening. That's because the mass of the gun is lower and the pressure of the shot is expended in a smaller area

- Also keep in mind the shot spread will occur much faster. A long barrel keeps the shot spread together, so a sawed off shotgun will only be effective up to about 15-20 feet at most

There are manufacturers who make short shotguns such as Mossberg with their 500 and 600 series of pump shotguns. The barrel length is legal and overall gun length is legal and saves you the hassle of trying to cut one down. However, to create your own personal sawed off project, and saving money, it isn't nearly as much fun!

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