Hot Barrels, Loose Ribs?

Mighty Master of all things shotgun,

I am fortunate to have a couple hobby grade auto-traps, a place to shoot them, and a willing puller (aka, my wife). So this morning it gets a bit warm, say mid-90’s and a very warm sun at 6’800′ of altitude. Since I am the only shooter, I find my O/U getting hot, too hot to touch but not hot enough to burn tissue. It really doesn’t take much, roughly 25 rounds. However, if I set up a couple problems to work on, sweet talk the CFO to pull, I want to get in some serious practice. Am I in danger of damaging my shotguns? If it matters, my primary is a F3 and I have a bunch of Brownings, a Beretta or 2, and even a CZ.

As always, thanks in advance.

s/f Steve

Dear Steve,

My main concern with shooting the guns so hot is the solder which holds on the top and side ribs. Conventional soft solder will definitely come loose if the barrels are shot too hot for too long. I believe that your F3 has the top rib welded on, but the side ribs use a higher temperature soft solder. That should be better, but not impervious to excessive heat. Zolis use durable high heat silver solder, but Perazzis use lower heat soft solder so as not to warp the barrels when they are being soldered together. Perazzi ribs are notorious for coming loose after being shot a lot. Belgian Brownings usually were soft soldered (and thus eventually had loose ribs), but they also has come silver soldered barrels in some FN models. With the Berettas, it depends on the model. The problem with high temperature silver solder and welding is that the high heat used to attach the ribs can warp the barrels, especially if they are thin. Soft solder is much lower heat and won’t move carefully laid barrels, but it will come off sooner or later. Take your pick.

Bottom line: shooting the barrels too hot will loosen the soft soldered ribs. Silver soldered ribs last longer, but can also come loose eventually. Welded ribs don’t come loose due to heat. To be safe, my rule of thumb is that when my barrels become too hot to touch with a bare hand, I let things cool off a bit.

Best regards,
Bruce Buck
Shotgun Report’s Technoid

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1 Response to Hot Barrels, Loose Ribs?

  1. stanley m. wren says:

    Yep, MX8, summertime, real hot 98, shooting rapidly on a true pair that I was having trouble with, side ribs began to get loose. $650 later, good to go.


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