The modification below will allow the barrels on a Stevens Model 311
Double Barrel Shotgun
to drop open farther making it possible to reload without having to hold the barrels
down so the shells clear the receiver.
For a step by step description of what I did, see below the sketch.
This is what I did to my shotgun and it worked very well. Questions?? email me
If you're wondering what to do about having to beat the shotgun over
to open it up after it is fired, I wish I knew. The problem is that the firing pins
don't retract. Therefore, after firing the shotgun they stick out into the primers until the gun
is being cocked. I just crack it over my knee to open it, that's the only 'fix' I know of.
To get it apart:
Mark the cocking lever that comes out of the receiver where the front cocking lever is when the firing become fully cocked.
Take the triggers out. Watch out for the spacer between the triggers. It's not obvious that it's there and can fall out pretty easily. Take out the firing pin catches at the top of the receiver.
The trickiest piece is the vertical pin that is right in front of the triggers. It has a horizontal pin that locks it in place that needs to come out, then it needs to be pressed straight down through the bottom of the receiver. To make things more interesting, it has pressure on it because the framework that guides the firing pins is supported by this vertical pin. As it goes down through the receiver, pressure is relieved from the firing pin springs and the firing pin guide, springs and firing pins will drop loose. The guide is held in by one big pin that comes out the side of the receiver. once this is out you have to finagle the parts out. After that there's one more big pin that holds in the cocking lever, take the pin out and take out the cocking lever. grind a little off.
To get it back together:
Put the cocking lever back in. Put the firing pins in making sure the flat sides are toward the middle. Put the firing pin guide back in (it's a really tight fit, but can be done). With that assembly loose and being held in with one hand, stick the vertical pin back in (the flat sides are tapered to match the angle of the firing pins). When it comes up against the firing pin guide you'll have to tap the pin in with a small hammer. As you tap it the guide will want to rise up rather than compress the firing pin springs like it needs to do. You'll have to 'help it along' so it does. Working against the firing pin springs, put the pin back through the receiver that holds the guide in place. Put the firing pin catches and the triggers back in.
Put the barrels back on and the front handguard. Test it to see if it falls open enough while still cocking the firing pins.
Here's the part that sucks. You have to put it all back together to test it, then take apart again to grind a little bit more off, put it back together, take it apart, etc. etc. until it works the way you want it to work. I took mine apart countless times, probably 15 or 20, partially because I took too much off that front cocking lever.
Since my shotgun had a lot of over-travel in the firing pins after they were cocked, I took metal off the cocking lever in such a manner as to make a nice radiused curve that cocked the firing pins + 1/32" or so of over-travel. This should occur at the same point that you marked before you took it apart. After I ground it down to this point it still didn't open far enough, so I ground a little divot in the cocking lever just after it cocked. That provided enough drop in the barrels that I am now able to reload without holding the barrels down for clearance. Unfortunately, I didn't make a template of the before and after versions, so I can't really say how much I took off. It wasn't a lot and the divot I put in might be 1/64" deep. Taking a little bit off here makes a big impact on the barrel drop. Take your time.