Grandfather's Model 17

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beach004
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Joined: Mon Oct 19, 2020 10:05 am

Grandfather's Model 17

Post by beach004 »

I'm new here; didn't know this Forum existed till now. I'm asking what I bet 90% of new folks ask: "I've got this old gun..." But--I do. In this case, it's a Marlin Model 17, S/N 129,730; latest patent date is November 29, 1904. Here's what I know about the gun. It belonged originally to my maternal grandfather, Wesley Thorne, of Fauquier County, Virginia. I didn't get to know Poppy Thorne long; he died of stomach cancer in 1952, when I was nine years old. What my father, who hunted quite a bit with the old man, told me, is that all he ever hunted with it was rabbits; he considered quail just another song bird, and doves too little meat to waste a shell; he also probably shot his only two deer with this gun, as he owned no other.

At his death, Dad inherited the gun; when I turned 12, I "graduated" from a single shot .410 that Dad had as a boy (I still have it; terrible gun for a beginner), to this Marlin. I hunted doves and quail with it for several years. It's full choke--I had to wait till everyone else shot before I tried for a quail. Doves, it was a fine gun; fit me well, worked just fine. When I was 15 I got a JC Higgins double barrel 20 gauge, and this gun was retired. I in turn inherited it from my father, and it's been in my gun safe the entire time.

That's about all I know about this gun; the little button I gather is a hang-fire preventer (I forget the actual name) I don't think works: I never had a hang fire, but if I simulate one by dry firing, the gun will pump normally, without my pressing that button--though the button does click, and does reset, when I pump. The gun is in pretty good shape, blueing intact, wood dark but unscarred; unlike some inquirers, I am not interested in its value; it's not for sale. The question I DO have is, is the gun safe to fire? I've seen varying opinions on this point, some warning that the bolt could coming flying back in the shooter's face, others that there's no record of this ever happening. Could a gunsmith tell me? And if so, how?

Thanks for reading; I don't really have anything I can contribute I'm afraid: all my other guns are old A-5s and Ithaca Model 37s, with which I insist on seeking doves and pheasants, at an age when I should know better. So, just thanks, anyway!
Regnier (gunrunner)
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Re: Grandfather's Model 17

Post by Regnier (gunrunner) »

Beach004;

Since your "Hang Fire Safety Release" is not working properly, I would not shoot your Grandfather's Marlin Model 17 shotgun. The action is a very strong action, but unless EVERYTHING is working properly, the exposed hammer pump action shotguns are not really safe to shoot.
The secondary safety sear appears not to be working, that is usually due to the spring on the sear is broken. It also may be the spring on the recoil block could be broken, too.
The "little push button" set off the recoil block if the gun is not fired so that the action can be opened. The secondary safety sear should set off when the breech block locks into place and the gun cannot fire if the secondary safety sear is not set off as it blocks the hammer from falling when the trigger is pulled.
Those are the two main items that I would look into by your gunsmith.
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beach004
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Joined: Mon Oct 19, 2020 10:05 am

Re: Grandfather's Model 17

Post by beach004 »

Thanks, Gunrunner. As far as my memory can be trusted from 60-plus years ago, that "little button" never did do anything; that was before I began shotgun shell reloading, so I never had a misfire from a shell, and so had no occasion to test it. But I will certainly take your advice and not shoot this gun again without a gunsmith's OK.
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