Bay State shotgun question

Discussion in 'The Ask the Pros & What's It Worth? Forum' started by Old Wheelgun, Dec 27, 2011.

  1. Old Wheelgun

    Old Wheelgun New Member

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    Hello. The other day I ended up purchasing an older single barrel 12 gauge shotgun. I have an interest in the older break open shotguns made by H&R, IVER JOHNSON AND FOREHAND ARMS. This one happened to be in good shape and was only $55.00. There is only one problem...I'm not sure who it's really made by. I know H&R used this name on the shotguns but I'm not sure if this one is an H&R. The receiver is marked

    Bay State
    WORCESTER, MASS. U.S.A.

    Top of the barrel it's marked 12 GA CHOKE.

    I have another bay state shotgun that was given to me by my mother in law in 1988 but that gun is marked on the receiver HARRINGTON AND RICHARDSON ARMS CO and also says Bay State WORCESTER, MASS. U.S.A. On top of the barrel it also has the same markings as the one I just bought but also says MADE IN U.S.A. 12 GA CHOKE Both shotguns look exactly alike except the one I was given has additional markings on it. Is the one I just purchased made by H&R? The serial number is A702690 and is marked under the tang, on the forend and barrel. I'm not sure what year this gun was made. Any help is greatly appreciated. Thank You, Bill
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2011
  2. Jim Hauff

    Jim Hauff New Member

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    Bill,
    Your new gun is an H&R manufactured shotgun derived from the Model 1908 with fixed hinge pin. Year of manufacture with that serial number, best guess, between 1915 and 1920. Research shows that H&R literature did not include the "Bay State" marked model 1908/08 Standard until around 1932. So, your piece (along with a couple others I've seen) allows inference that H&R was using this name earlier than previously suspected.
    The Bay State name was used on pieces meant to be sold to wholesalers for distribution to stores, catalogue sales, etc. H&R did not sell that name through their authorized dealers nor by direct mail sales. The ones marked "MADE IN U.S.A." were marked such, in anticipation of export sales by the wholesalers.
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2011
  3. Old Wheelgun

    Old Wheelgun New Member

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    Thank You again Jim. Your help is always appreciated. You and Bill Goforth both know your H&R history. Bill is greatly missed here. I miss reading his posts and how he shared his knowledge. I'm glad you took over after he passed away to help all of us with our H&R and Iver Johnson questions. Anyway, this Bay State I just bought locks up very very tight but I was reading that these guns have a non adjusting latch? Not sure what that really means. I have a Topper M48 from 1946 new in the box and that I was told has a self adjusting latch? If you can fill me in on these latch designs that would help me out when looking to buy other H&R shotguns. Would you recommend firing this Bay State? My other bay State that is marked Harrington and Richardson Arms Co that was given to me is slightly loose but I have shot it a few times with light trap loads and it worked fine. I'm not sure is this new one will shoot loose or not. I know that the Topper was an improvement to the older models that were made and has a better latch from what others have told me. I don't think the topper will shoot loose. Last question...I was reading today that the Bay States that were marked without the Harrington and Richardson Arms Co name on the receivers were the older ones (or the first bay states made) What's your opinion? Thanks again, Bill
  4. Jim Hauff

    Jim Hauff New Member

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    Old Wheelgun,
    You're welcome again, amigo.
    The first reference to "self-adjusting" latch that I can find is for the Model 48, which was introduced in 1943 - with that feature. All H&R s.b. shotguns made after that date and with a multitude of Model #s will have that feature.
    I'm embarassed to admit - I don't know how the "self-adjusting latch" differs from the non self-adjusting - but it was a design change and probably involved a spring or two in the back of the receiver integrated with the latch top lever. ????? I've just never taken the time to research the subject. Let's hope one of the mechanical dudes on site can help us out here. As to firing your Bay State - if it locks tight, shoot it light. The other one - not sure what you mean loose - but if the barrel moves up and down when latched - eventually it will break open under recoil and that's not fun. I've seen it happen one time when a shooter wanted to try grandpappies old single barrel shooting trap. He got a few rounds out of it before it opened up on him.
    Apparently, the oldest Bay States are not marked with the H&R label - as fits a gun that was meant primarily to be sold to wholesalers and direct marketers.
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