For a number of years I’ve wanted a short handy shotgun like my modified Tuffy, but with more ummph. .410 is an excellent squirrel chambering, and mostly adequate for grouse and rabbit. With these larger critters range is a practical limiter, not so much outright than with respect to pattern. With a .410 20 yard shots on a static grouse or snowshoe are reasonable most of the time. Moving shots are marginal without a high level of skill. Much beyond that and one runs out of power quickly. If a short shotgun is a practical tool because of portability, because you might bring it where and when you wouldn’t something bulkier and more refined, marginally expanding capability in a few targeted areas might be worth some extra weight.
I’d been on the lookout for a candidate for a while, and a few months ago we found a Stevens 9478 12 gauge at a pawn shop in Butte. The folks there were quite willing to let the rather ugly little thing go for less than asking, and I think we paid $70 for it. First step was to cut 10″ off the barrel. This made for a cylinder bore. I was able to unscrew the original bead sight and reinstall it, a welcome economy measure. Next step was cutting the stock down for a straight grip, and stripping the ugly, slick, and in the end incredibly thick finish. I left the texture a bit course and did a simple linseed oil finish, which feels nice in the hand. Testing revealed the length of pull was too long, so I cut nearly an inch off, making it 13.5 inches, and as a test replaced the plastic back plate with a 5mm bit of dense foam, glued on. Last mod was installing Grovtec flush cups, for the mandatory comfy carry with a sling.
Slimming the stock and reducing the LOP took off enough weight that the balance point was brought back a few inches in front of the trigger guard. Pointing ergonomics with a shorty shotgun aren’t really a priority in the same way they would be with a full sized over/under, but as it stands the Stevens shoulders fluidly enough that tight, close shots on flushing spruce grouse seem very reasonable. High, fast, straight away shots which seem to be the standard on ruffed grouse around here likely won’t be in the cards, but a gun like this is as a much about being present for ground sluicing blue grouse and hares 20 miles from the trailhead as anything else, and for that the just sub 5 pound weight will do very well.
I hope for an exhaustive field report in the fall.