H&R Topper M48 and H&R Bay State questions

Discussion in 'Technical Questions & Information' started by Old Wheelgun, Dec 5, 2011.

  1. Old Wheelgun

    Old Wheelgun New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2009
    Messages:
    45
    Hello. I have 2 older Harrington and Richardson single barrel shotguns. One is a Topper M48 and the other is a Bay State. The Bay State was given to me by my mother in law back in 1988 with some other guns that belonged to her father and grandfather. I haven't found too much information on the bay state and I'm trying to find out approximately when it was manufactured. The barrel is marked on top of the breach MADE IN U.S.A. 12 GAUGE CHOKE. The receiver on the left side is marked
    HARRINGTON AND RICHARDSON ARMS CO.
    BAY STATE
    WORCESTER, MASS. U.S.A
    I'm thinking it's probably full choke but not sure. It does have a little looseness when the barrel is closed but not bad. I did fire 4 times to pattern it when I first got it. I ended up using standard 8 shot target loads made by Winchester without any problems. The serial number under the tang is A810XXX. Not sure is that can give a year when it was made. Other than that, those are the only markings on the gun. The forearm is also stamped with the serial number underneath as well as the barrel where the lug is at on the side. I haven't fired it since then. The other shotgun which is the topper is one that I just put on layaway a few weeks ago from a collector gun dealer. This gun is new in the box. I don't think it was fired at all to be honest. Not a mark in the wood or scratch on the barrel. It locks up rock solid with not play at all from what the dealer told me. Here is the website with the pictures of the gun. There is an X with a circle around it before the serial number which I'm not sure what it means. Any ideas??? http://www.simpsonltd.com/product_info.php?products_id=15662&osCsid=69fbbd92c40d7ce9c167b36c6751d3fe. Not sure is this gun was made in Canada because the box is marked Ontario Canada. Look at the pictures. Any help is greatly appreciated. Thanks again, Bill
  2. Jim Hauff

    Jim Hauff New Member

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    Apr 20, 2008
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    2,976
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    Lehigh Valley, PA
    Old Wheelgun,
    Let's start with the "BAY STATE". I do not have much personal experience with shotguns marked with this "store brand name" so I'll quote from Bill Goforth's research notes:
    ".......It is a known fact that there was a Bay State Arms Co. located in Uxbridge, Mass. in the 1890's and at some point Bay State was pruchased by Hopkins and Allen. Also known is Hopkins & Allen used the name "COLUMBIA" on some of their shotguns. H&A was pruchased about 1917 by Marlin Rockwell who only needed H&A's physical buildings and machinery. The first H&R reference I have found confirming that they were manufacturing s.b. shotguns using the names BAY STATE and COLUMBIA is a revised price list dated June 21, 1932. This price list shows the COLUMBIA named shotguns as having the same wholesale price as the H&R STANDARD NO. 8 ($8.25)....The wholesale price listed for the Bay State NO. 7 is $6.50.....The price list dated April 15, 1933 is the first to give a physical description and specifications for the BAY STATE s.b. shotgun. The illustration used in the ..price list.. looks the same as the (H&R) No. 8 STANDARD, which leads me to believe that they are the same gun with the BAY STATE having lesser quality wood and finish. I found one reference that states that 7,000+ BAY STATE or COLUMBIA models were furnished to Sears Roebuck & Co. in 1940-41 marked with the name EASTERN ARMS."
    So, conclusion - the BAY STATE was a catalogue or hardware store "Brand Name" gun made by H&R, made at some time before 1932 up to the early days of WW2, circa 1942. The H&R guns marked as "CHOKE" were the full choke of the era in which it was made. With a serial number in the 800K range -IF the BAY STATE guns were serialed in the same series as the No.08 STANDARDS - I would guess that your gun was made in the mid 1930s. The single barrel shotguns made before 1943 (with the introduction of the much improved MODEL 48) have non-self adjusting latches or barrel locks and all will eventually shoot loose.
    As to the MODEL 48 - this model was introduced in 1943 and was the first improvement of the old Model 1908/'08/STANDARD that brought the single barrels into the modern arena. There were two recognized variations: 1st 1943 - 1953 with a "case color hardened" receiver/frame; 2nd 1954-57 with a blued receiver/frame. Also, #1 Var. will have a black hard rubber molded butt plate, #2 Var. will have a rubber butt pad. Your gun, from the pic. is a 1st Variation. Note that early MODEL 48 production will be stamped "STANDARD" and latter will be stamped "TOPPER".
    As to the Canadian connection, here is an e-mail I received from a close friend and H&R colleague:
    I just yesterday received a reply from my old friend and workmate on the Canadian situation. According to him, H&R started shotgun operations in Long Branch, Ontario as an assembly operation in a government facility. They then decided to manufacture the shotguns in Canada and moved the operation to Drummondville with approximately 100 employees I don't know what the circled X stamp means or signifies???? Some other manufacturers used markings similar to that when a gun was returned to factory for refurb or fix-up???? The 'H' prefix to the serial number should indicate manufacture in 1947 and the box is marked with the LONG BRANCH address - so it was put together from parts made at Worchester Mass. Perhaps the circled X was used to designate Canadian assembly???????? Very interesting items - hope I didn't bore you will the long winded dissertations.
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2011
  3. CincyRedsFan

    CincyRedsFan New Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2012
    Messages:
    1
    Hi,

    I am looking at a H&R M48 Topper 12 Gauge. The gun looks and feels very solid, good quality. It has a recoil pad on it, not sure if this is original, but looks as though it could be. My question is the safety of using modern ammunition in this gun, is it safe? The seller is asking $115, which looks like a solid deal considering what is available in the new market and how well built this gun is.

    Thanks
  4. BeachBum68

    BeachBum68 New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2013
    Messages:
    1
    Location:
    New Hampshire, USA
    Well, as a newbie here I can't post an email to Jim Hauff so I'll make a post.
    I wanted to thank Jim for the boatload of information he posted on the H&R Bay State. I also own an H&R Bay State shotgun Serial No A850XXX.
    It says MADE IN USA 12GA CHOKE on the top of the barrel.
    I believe you said this means it's a Full Choke barrel.
    Can you recommend what I should use for ammo with this shotgun and what I should stay away from?
    Is there a way to determine the specific model number from the serial no.?

    You also mentioned something about No.08 Standard having non-self adjusting latches/barrel locks vs MODEL 48's (improved models) which are self-adjusting and how they come loose. How can I determine which kind I have?
    My receiver definitely isn't blued and the barrel lug definitely looks "case-hardened." The rest of the shotgun looks like someone shellac'd it.
    Overall, it's mechanically in average condition, functional, nothing sticks. It needs a good cleaning and the wood could use a refinish for sure. My buttplate is broken but I fould links to get a modern replacement and some screws. These aren't very expensive rifles and I'd like to refinish it and get it into good working order. Don't know if I'd blue it or do something modern like cerakote/gunkote or a phosphate finish on the parts. It was my dad's so I want to make sure it's properly cared for. I might put new wood on it rather than deal with refinishing and put away the old furniture if it's not too expensive. It's quite an eye-opener to realize that these were being sold for less than $10 back in the 30's... amazing!
    Thank you again for all the information you provided, I truly appreciate it.
    --Bruno
  5. RJay

    RJay Well-Known Member

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    Feb 22, 2004
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    4,448
    Location:
    Goodyear, Arizona
    You should be able to use any standard commercial 2 3/4 inch shells with out difficulty. Stay away from anything that has magnum printed on it. PS, Jim Hauff would not be able to receive your E-Mail.
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2013
  6. knight0334

    knight0334 Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2012
    Messages:
    391
    Location:
    Brookville, PA
    I concur about ammo.

    And, not unless they have internet in Heaven. :(

    ---------

    To find out which choke you have - just measure the bore at the muzzle. There are charts everywhere online for constriction diameter equaling whatever choke.

    About the latch/block thing - I have no idea.. Those H&R's aren't really my forté.
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