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"Old Westernizing" My Norinco '87 Lever Shotgun

MNDougMNDoug Member Posts: 10 ✭✭
I'm having a blast transforming a new-from-the-box Norinco '87 Lever Action Shotgun into a working shotgun from the 1880s. If anyone has any other tricks or tips to toss my way, I'm all ears.

I began by removing the forestock and buttstock from the gun.

BLUING REMOVAL - Then, with the help of a lead-removing cloth and judicious use of naval jelly, I thinned down the bluing - rubbing it almost to the metal on the edges and anywhere the steel would have rubbed against a leather scabbard, or met a handler's hand.

Two special areas: the top tang which attaches the receiver to the buttstock. It is a natural "carrying point" and the bluing would have suffered under a dirty hand most of the time. Also, the lever would have been gripped throughout its life and would be well-worn, down to the metal.

GOODBYE CHINA - Since this gun is made in China, it had two "Made in China" stamps: one on the top tang and the other on the bottom of the receiver. Using my trusty Dremel tool, I ground them both out (leaving the serial number, of course).

AGING THE WOOD - To age the wood, I took down the shiny new finish with a cheesecloth scrub after the application of an improvised finish remover (I can't remember what I used - maybe the lead remover cloth?) I then took the wood to an unfinished part of my basement and gave it a few gentle whacks and presses against the edge of the concrete block. Some nice wood bruising and straight-line scrapes were the result.

ADDING HAND-GRIME - Trying to get the look of darkened wood around the pistol grip and on the forestock, I gave both areas an overnight caking of Crisco to simulate hand grease. It darkened these areas only slightly, so I'm going to figure out something else.

PRISON TAG - Right now, I'm routing into the stock a brass badge that says "Guard, Territorial Prison, Yuma." I picked it up off eBay for $10, and it looks nice. Once I rout out an indentation for the badge to sit in, I'll attach it with a set of small brass screws.

I think it's going to turn out great, and I've already found out from a trip to the range this weekend that it is a blast to shoot. It has a short (but legal) barrel and the lever action makes it fun to pump out the lead. I'll try to post a pic when I'm done.


"I won't be wronged, I won't be insulted, and I won't be laid a hand on. I don't do these things to other people and I expect the same from them." - John Wayne as John Bernard Books (The Shootist)


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    44caliberkid44caliberkid Member Posts: 925 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    I hope you got rid of the cheesy lever wrap that comes on these.
    I'd have a hard time messing up a new weapon that way, but I understand your point of view. I've seen a number of original 1887's and most of them weren't in as bad a condition as you're describing.
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    MMOMEQ-55MMOMEQ-55 Member Posts: 13,134
    edited November -1
    If you do not mind me asking how much did you pay for this shotgun?
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    Wolf.Wolf. Member Posts: 2,223 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    I have one of these shotguns and they are are good reproduction of the Winchester '87.

    (**quick note**) there is at least one busybody on the GB forum who considers himself the be-all, end-all of Winchester who may pop in and announce mightily (after fortifying himself with maddog 20-20 or some such, I suspect) that I am WRONG, WRONG, WRONG. however, pay no attention to that man behind the curtain; he is the biggest evil of conducting communications here.

    Anyway, that wrap, and yes, it is cheesy, on the lever is there, I think to keep you from nicking your hand/fingers on the lever hinge. This is a two-piece lever and there's a sharp edge where the lever "breaks". Take it off and sew on a leather sleeve. It works much better.
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