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What was the real reason for my .410 barrel split?

A reader feels hard done by and asks for advice

man shooting .410

After firing my .410 shotgun a few times, with cartridges supplied by the dealer, the barrel split. (Read more on .410 shotguns here.)

I have witnesses to the incident and the barrel was checked during use. I took the gun back to the supplier and was told the gun had to go to the Proof House. A report has come back stating user error. You can imagine my frustration and disappointment. Any suggestions as to what I can do now? The Proof House has not even informed me if I will have the gun returned.

David Frost’s reply

Guns should last for very many years – centuries even – and their barrels should not split in ordinary use. That’s what the Proof system was set up to prevent.

Without knowing precisely what ‘user error’ is alleged or the exact nature of the damage it is difficult to comment in detail.

Common causes for a shotgun barrel split

The most common causes of user induced barrel splitting are an obstruction, such as mud or a twig in the barrel; a dent that has not been raised; or using a cartridge more powerful than that for which the gun is proofed. (Read more on repairing a barrel dent here.)

If none of these occurred the likelihood is that the gun was defective.

The gun remains your property, whether damaged or not, so you should ensure you get it back then have it looked at by another gunsmith and seek his written opinion.

Depending on the outcome of that you might be able to ask Trading Standards to follow the matter up, or sue the vendor in the small claims court.

This article was first published in 2011 and has been updated.