I purchased a Stevens Model 58 - 20 gauge bolt action shotgun off Craigslist for $50. It isn't the best shotgun in the world for home defense but for $50 I couldn't pass it up. I would have rather had a Remington 870 pump but I figured this would do for now until I find a cheap one. I wanted to do a few modifications to it to change it over from a hunting gun to a defense weapon. I've only just started but will update this page as I complete the transformation.

********* UPDATE: I purchased another shotgun a month after buying the Stevens. It is a Remington 1100 12 gauge semi-auto. I paid $100 for it and it had a broken barrel. You can see how I fixed it and modified it after the writeup on the Stevens.

This is what the gun looked like before I started. The barrel was 25" and the overall length was 48". Federal and state regulations say that the gun can be legally cut down but it will fall into the "sawed off shotgun" classification if the gun barrel is less than 18" long and the overall length is less than 26". This means that you will go to the big house for 10 years if you get caught with one and do not have the proper permits. I'll keep mine at the legal length! :

After looking at the measurements of the barrel and stock I could see that I had plenty of room left on overall length once the barrel was cut down. This meant that I could cut as much of the stock off as I wanted. I put my hand on the gun and made some marks so I knew how much wood I wanted to leave:

I used my miter saw to cut the stock down. I later went back with a belt sander and smoothed the cuts out some (no sharp edges) but will eventually round everything out so it looks better:

I wasn't sure how to cut the barrel down so I did a test cut of 1/2" off the end with my cheap Harbor Freight chop saw. The results were really horrible:

Next I tried a pipe cutter. It took about 5 minutes of work to take another 1/2" off the end of the barrel. You can see how bad the chop saw cut here:

The pipe cutter gave much better results. I cleaned up the cut with a file and some sandpaper. There is still a little bit of a lip inside the barrel but I will deal with that later if needed:

This is what the shotgun looked like after the cuts were made. The barrel is now 18.25" and the overall length is 31":

Here you can see the 17" of material that was cut off:

After playing with the shotgun for a few weeks I decided that I really needed to put a laser on it for sighting. Since it is sawed off the easiest way to shoot it is by holding it down by your side (no more rubber butt to put against your shoulder). My wife was a little mad that I spent $165 on a laser for my P32 pistol so I bought one of these laser pointer / flashlight combos at WalMart for $2.99:

I marked the end of the stock with some tape so I could see where center was and started cutting:

Using a wood chisel wasn't working at all so I grabbed a forestner bit and made a series of cuts:

It looks pretty rough but I will work on it a bit to get it right:

After a few hours of cutting, smooting, and aligning I finally got everything right and put some heavy duty epoxy on it to hold it in place. The button of the flashlight has been pulled off so when you grab the forend on the shotgun you naturally depress the laser button and can see where you are going to shoot:

Now that the laser has been mounted I am going to start forming the rough cuts I have on the handled to make it more of a pistol grip. This is where I am after a few minutes on the belt sander:

Getting much closer to being a nice looking gun! I have shaped a nice pistol grip into the wood, sanded off all the black paint, and put a little linseed oil on it for protection/looks. I've also sanded the blue off the barrel (but not the bolt, handle, or trigger guard) and polished it to a semi-mirror finish. I'll probably do some more polishing on the barrel when I get a chance but I really like how the new look is coiming. I took it to the range and tested the laser zero. At 5 yards (where you are most apt to use it for self defense) it is pretty much dead on:

A year later... When I first modified the shotgun it looked and shot great. The looks havent really changed but I took it to the range last week and the gun would not fire after the first two rounds. It was like something was blocking the trigger. Ah, I never did get around to fully removing the safety. I took the safety lever off the side of the gun but I didn't remove the internal parts. The mechanical block must have moved during transit to the range. Here you can see (well, kind of) the safety. It is being held in by the smaller cotter pin and rod below the "F - S":

After removing it you can see how it operates. The safety lever would fit into the slot on the safety and rock it forward to keep the trigger from moving back. Now the gun is back to working fine:

So, how did all of this cutting affect the recoil and shot pattern? Well, I could not tell a large difference in the recoil. I took my wife and some friends to the range to shoot the shotgun the night after I cut the barrel and after all the giggling was over (there is a big difference between shooting a 20ga and shooting a .22LR pistol) they were all still standing up so at least it won't put you on the ground when you fire it. Here is the BEFORE pattern at 3 yards (ammo was Winchester 20 gauge 2.75" #8 shot):

Here is the AFTER pattern at 3 yards. The cuts increased the pattern from 1.5" to 4":

Here is the BEFORE pattern at 5 yards:

Here is the AFTER pattern at 5 yards. The cuts increased the pattern from 2.5" to 5":

Just for reference since I didn't get a "before" on this, here is the AFTER pattern at 7 yards (about a 10" pattern):

Yeah! I scored another nice gun. It is a Remington 1100 Semi-Auto 12 GA that I paid $100 for. It has a synthetic stock and forend:

The only thing wrong with it is that the gas cylinder collar is broken off:

Here is the before picture (of course, I am going to saw this one off as well):

The overall length is 48" from the factory:

The original barrel is about 28" long:

The original barrel extends 15.5" past the magazine cap:

The gas cylinder collars are silver soldered at the factory. This one came off (not sure why) and someone attempted a repair. You can see that there was no penetration on the welds and they all broke off:

I used some needle like spikes that I had laying around to make sure the gas ports lined up on the barrel and the collar:

I was a little nervous about welding on a shotgun barrel due to all the high pressure that it holds and I did not want to weaken the metal. I did my research and had a ton of people tell me that I was risking certain death. I also had a handful of people tell me that it was no big deal. Hopefully I won't lose any body parts when I shoot it for the first time. I do have another barrel on order just in case I destroy this one. FWIW, I used a heat gun to heat up the barrel before welding on it and I quenched the metal after I was finished. Here is what my new welds look like. I put two quick tack welds on both sides of the collar. Now that I am thinking of it I should have put a tack on the front and rear of the collar as well since that is where all the force goes on this piece. Maybe I will revisit this later:

Due to the ribbing on the top of the barrel and what looked to me like a much greater taper on the barrel I had a harder time cutting the end of the barrel off. I put quite a few scratches and gouges in the barrel while trying different cutting methods and equipement. In the end I just used a hacksaw and I cut about 10" off the end of the barrel. The new gun length is 38.25":

The barrel now only extends 5.25" past the magazine cap:

Here is an after picture showing the length of the gun (you can see the 10" of barrel I cut off laying on the box to the left):

Yes, now it is much easier to run down the hallway chasing Nazi Zombies:

Just bought my wife a Mother's Day present (no, we don't have any kids - I just felt like a gift from the heart was necessary ). It is a Mossberg 500A 12 Gauge 8-Shot pump shotgun. A Mossberg "Persuader":

The new shotgun lined up with a few others for size comparison::