Can you DIY it or should you leave it to the professionals?
A: Don’t try a DIY cure for this problem. Above all, don’t try to lever up the dent by pushing a screwdriver underneath it.
This could make things worse, and in an extreme case transfer the dent to the top barrel.
The problem is that when metal gets dented it also becomes stretched, and probably work-hardened as well. Removing a dent in a rib is a professional job for a gunsmith.
The same goes for barrel dents – leave them to the experts.
Muzzle flare damage
Q: I was on a shoot the other day and unknowingly plugged my barrel with soil. When I fired a cartridge the muzzle flared open, damaging the last two inches. Rather than run the expense of sending it to a gunsmith, can I just saw the barrel ends off at home or will I also need to have the barrels re-proofed?
A: For your own safety, I suggest an urgent visit to a good gunsmith. The cause of the damage would have been huge and dangerous pressure within the barrel, which could have weakened it throughout most, if not all, of its length.
Accepting that the undamaged part of the barrel remains sound, the damaged part can be cut off, but the removal of any metal from a barrel requires re-proof.
Cutting off the two inches at the muzzle will also remove most of the choke area, but multi-choke tubes can be fitted.
All this definitely isn’t a DIY job if the gun is to remain safe.
What length shotgun barrels should I buy? I wish I had a pound for every time a newcomer to shooting…
Phil Coley on the benefits of longer barrels
How often should I have my barrels checked?
Q: I have a Rizzini over-and-under shotgun which is about 16 years old. Do you think I would be wise to have the barrel checked, as I have fired thousands of cartridges with this gun.
A: It’s always a good idea to have any gun routinely checked and serviced by a gunsmith, particularly older guns that may develop faults, not just in their mechanisms but also in their material thinning barrel walls or small cracks in their actions, for example.
Modern guns, such as your Rizzini, are very robust because they are made with good-quality modern materials to very high standards of quality control and they are unlikely to develop material faults even after firing thousands of rounds.
Corrosion is also less likely to cause serious damage to a modern gun because of the use of rust-resistant steel alloys or plating.
Any gun that has fired a lot of cartridges may become loose in the action, particularly if heavy loads are used. This needs immediate correction. But, in my experience, barrel wear is more likely to be caused by over-enthusiastic cleaning rather than heavy use.