Building A Lupara, by Dave McCracken
For those who don't read Mario Puzo, or have no Sicilian roots, a Lupara is the Sicilian weapon of choice for vendettas (Sicilian word), defense, and hunting.
It's a short barreled SXS,12 or 16 ga, and usually open choked. Most are hammer guns. Slings are standard.
I came into a family SXS, given me by a cousin. He had bought it in the early 1940s, a Ranger (Sears house brand) made by Stevens, and not fired much. He had lost interest in hunting sometime after D-Day, and his children didn't hunt. It was choked full and fuller.
So, I decided to see what could be done with it. Like most inexpensive SXS's, it was heavy, over 8 lbs with the 28 inch bbls,and swung like a railroad tie.After talking to a gunsmith friend, I started in on it.
First, said friend got the bbls, shortened them to 25", lengthened the forcing cones, and machined in "Jug" chokes. This, an enlargement of the bore just behind the muzzles, serves to tighten up the patterns about one increment. So, I had roughly IC chokes in both bbls. He also used liquid metal to fill in the open space in between the bbls and mounted a new bead.
While the bbl work was being done, I started in on the metal and wood modificationss. First, I disassembled the forearm. The forearm iron was a clunky, overbuilt piece than weighed in around 7 ounces; some filing, drilling and grinding reduced it over 2 ounces, and some other minor removals took another ounces out of the forearm. Meanwhile, I sanded down the ersatz checkering and stained/refinished the forearm wood. I also started in on the stock. Having a long and deep regard for the looks of the English "Best" guns, I decided to do the stock as a straight grip. Since the receiver had a short tang behind the trigger guard,I was able to do this without having to heat and bend the metal, just removing wood. Also, the stock had some wood hogged out beneath the butt plate, to keep the piece balanced. The plate was replaced with a Pachmyer solid pad, going well with the straight grip and incidentally lengthening the stock to better dimensions for big ol' me, about 14 1/2" length of pull.
Drop was a bit more than I like, but it was liveable.
By now, the bbls were done and I put it all together. It balanced 3 inches in front of the front trigger, and swung OK. So, it was time for some shooting.
Being springtime, nothing was in season. So, I hied myself down to the farm I did some shooting on,and patterned the thing. Luckily, it shot both bbls together, and placed the patterns about half a pattern high at 25 yards with AA trap loads and a few 00. Just where I wanted it.Some hand thrown clays on a subsequent occasion were nicely powdered in large part, shooting nigh the score I do with my pet 870.
And in keeping with the spirit of my Sicilian ancestors, I fired a few El Presidentes with it, and did well, considering the limits of the two shot capacity.
A set of QD sling swivels from Jaegers completed
First, I got lucky. Many cheap SXS's will not shoot both bbls into the same Zip Code after shortening, some don't do it at all.
Second, the 25" bbls were a little TOO light for a steady swing, but the piece was shorter than a riot 870 overall. Weight was around 7 3/4 lbs, a bit much for a field gun.
Third, if this was being done today, I'd put in tube chokes. It would cost about the same and be more versatile.
Fourth,this was cost effective since I had a free shotgun to work with. Starting from scratch, one might be better off buying one of the "Coach" guns on the market.
Fifth, please think long and hard before you alter Grandpappy's duck gun. Other family members may take umbrage, or it may have some historical value.
Sixth, since I've no control over you or the weapon, proceed at your own risk. ALL old shotguns should be checked out by a competent, QUALIFIED smith before firing...
Dave McCracken has been shotgunning longer than many shooters have been alive. He regularly posts on TheHighRoad.org and TheFiringLine.com. This article is reprinted here with his permission; reprinting or redistributing this article without his permission is expressly prohibited.