Winchester Model 42

Dear Technoid,

First, a gift to mother from father on his return from a MASH unit in Korea , “Just what I wanted”….then to each of the five brothers on their twelfth birthday , “Can we go to Simmons?” (which at that time ran a skeet range in addition to their gunworks). It had been the ‘family gun’, though the brothers always hoped for something bigger, mother for something else.

Well, it’s mine now. I sent it to John Kay in WI for restoration to ‘original’ blueing and wood finish; it’s due back in a month. Sometime this fall I’d like to shoot a round of skeet or hunt with the little gun.

Now for the questions: What Briley chokes did you get? What shells do you hunt with? Should I reload 3″ for informal sporting clays and skeet. How often do you remove the side plate for cleaning? (I’m pretty sure the side plate was never removed for the last fifty years).

Anything else I should know about?

Order of the Junior Technoid

ps standard grade, serial # 4XXXX, manufactured May/June 1941

Dear Drew,

Congratulations on getting a marvelous little gun. You are going to love it as I am sure you do already. The new Browning/Winchester Model 42 reproductions can’t hold a candle to the originals. I had a repro Model 12 in 28 gauge and the trigger interrupter they installed drove me crazy, as did the arched rib. I much prefer my original 1933 Model 42 with its flat Simmons rib.

As to chokes, you don’t mention what choke the barrel has now. I wouldn’t be in a rush to screw choke it. My gun started its life with me (when I got it 25 years ago) as a .004″ skeet choke. I probably should have left it alone, but I sent it to Briley and got it screw choked with .003″, .009″ and .019″ chokes. My gun is an original 2-1/2″ skeet barrel and it patterns quite nicely with 1/2 oz of hard #9s and the .003″ choke at skeet distances, but my scores with the .009″ choke are the same at skeet.

I used the .019″ a good bit with 1/2 oz of hard #8s for sporting clays, but never noticed that it did any better than the .009″. Of late, I have just left the .009″ in place for skeet and sporting. I don’t use #7-1/2s in the gun as my MEC reloader’s shot drop tube bridges with #7-1/2s and I am too lazy to polish it out. (Technoid talks big, but acts small- it’s a feet of clay thing).

For hunting, the only real field work I have done with the gun has been on preserve quail. There I used the .009″ choke and 1/2 oz of #8 shot. Although some have good luck with it, I personally don’t really like to use the .410 in the field. I get cleaner kills with more gun. I’m not really a big fan of using less gun to make it more “sporting”. The only thing that more sporting really means is more wounding. I am personally just plain not good enough with the gun to feel that I am doing everything possible to ensure a quick and humane kill. Others are and you may well be one of them. I do have some friends with good dogs who are very adept with the 410 in preserve hunting. One of them does all his preserve pheasant hunting over his Brit with a 410 and claims great success.

As to maintenance of the 410, I really only pull the side plate ever couple of years or when I get it wet. I only shoot the gun a few thousand rounds a year at skeet, so it doesn’t get that much build up inside. When you get the gun reblued, the inside will be cleaned and should be relubed. I use Birchwood Casey’s “Sheath” rust preventative on the inside of my guns as well as a touch of graphite grease in the right places. That’s about it. The Model 42 is immensely durable.

One recommendation: I used to always remove the barrel from my M42 when I took it places. When I had my gun rebuilt (new next size up locking ring because the original was out of notches, a new bolt plus some other stuff), the rebuilder (an ex Winchester employee) told me that things would be far better for the gun if the barrel was left assembled to the receiver as much as possible. This was to keep the wear on the locking collar to a minimum. I have followed his advice and the gun is as tight after fifteen years of shooting as it was the day he rebuilt it. I only disassemble it when it needs cleaning and yes, I do commit the sin of not cleaning the barrel every time I shoot. I do run an oil mop down the barrel each time, but I leave heavy duty cleaning (and disassembly of the barrel) to more occasional spurts of energy.

While you are waiting to get your refurbished M42 back, if you don’t already have it, you will certainly enjoy reading Ned Schwing’s book “The Winchester Model 42”. It is THE M42 book and is a tremendous work of scholarship. Lots of photos, dates, serial number and everything else that you could possibly want to know about your little gun.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
The Technoid writing for Shotgun Report, LLC
(Often in error, never in doubt.)

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