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Bequeathed Firearm Expectations?


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I had a family member pass away recently. He had a collection of firearms which will be dispersed throughout several family members. Immediate surviving family would like to have a big "shooting party" event where we get together, remember the lost loved one, and shoot some guns.
Some of these firearms were owned by prior generations, and as such are likely questionable to shoot safely.

What would the "best practices" be on how to decide what guns are shooters and which should not be fired?

If there are older guns, what should I expect on pricing to have a gunsmith give them a safety check?

Would anything specific be advisable to do before handling/operating the firearms?

Are there particular rules/advice that would help with cleaning/maintaining older firearms?

Any particular products that are best suited for oiling/cleaning older firearms?

I understand that details on all of the firearms would be handy, but I don't have access to the guns or photos at this time. I would like to know how some other members more experienced in this sort of thing would handle a similar situation.

Thanks in advance for the help! Eager to hear from you folks.

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Some of the multi-generational firearms I’d pass on shooting, some are more keepsakes than for shooting.  I inherited a mass arms 12 gauge from my grand father, had a big crack in the stock, took it to a gunsmith and told him I wanted the stock restored, wasn’t getting shot, just wanted it to look good, he fixed the stock, reworked the gun, replaced the nail they were using as a firing pin and took it to the range. 
 

I thought I had inherited a keepsake, as it turns out the shotgun was a throw away, (my grandfather actually picked it up from a garbage dump where it had been discarded because it didn’t work), cut a nail as a firing pin and used it for years like that. 😂 

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You don't say how old they are, but make sure they're all designed for use with modern smokeless powder. 

You might get  few cartridges for each, pull the bullets, dump the powder, and see if they ignite the primer. 

My Dad has his Granddad's 12ga, which chambers modern 2-3/4" shells but is intended for old black powder shells. It's got Damascus barrels and a modern shell could kaboom it. 

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14 hours ago, dralarms said:

Some of the multi-generational firearms I’d pass on shooting, some are more keepsakes than for shooting.  I inherited a mass arms 12 gauge from my grand father, had a big crack in the stock, took it to a gunsmith and told him I wanted the stock restored, wasn’t getting shot, just wanted it to look good, he fixed the stock, reworked the gun, replaced the nail they were using as a firing pin and took it to the range. 
 

I thought I had inherited a keepsake, as it turns out the shotgun was a throw away, (my grandfather actually picked it up from a garbage dump where it had been discarded because it didn’t work), cut a nail as a firing pin and used it for years like that. 😂 

Wow, what a fun story to tell! Love it.

1 hour ago, peejman said:

You don't say how old they are, but make sure they're all designed for use with modern smokeless powder. 

You might get  few cartridges for each, pull the bullets, dump the powder, and see if they ignite the primer. 

My Dad has his Granddad's 12ga, which chambers modern 2-3/4" shells but is intended for old black powder shells. It's got Damascus barrels and a modern shell could kaboom it. 

Yeah, I wish I knew more, but the firearms are out of state (another free state, thankfully). At some point, I'll likely be able to investigate hands-on and will be able to research much more thoroughly at that time.

Thank you both for the insights!

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Some old shotguns have barrels that aren’t proofed for smokeless powder loads. They usually have Damascus or wire twist barrels. Some are also chambered for shorter than 2 3/4” shells.

Of course really old handguns and rifles were also designed for blackpowder loads, and some early 22s weren’t designed for high velocity ammo.

Unless grandpa also inherited these from his grandpa, you probably won’t run into this.

The main thing to assess is mechanical condition and deep pitted rust. Weak springs can sometimes be a problem as well.

I collect and shoot old guns. They aren’t like milk. They don’t really deteriorate unless they haven’t been properly maintained, and most 100 year old guns work as well today as when new. 

We really need to see what you have to give more specific instruction.

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