My first rifle was a hand-me-down Mossberg Model 42M. I wanted to do some target shooting at the local Boys' Club, and it was just laying in the cellar, after all....
From Havlin Sales & Service:
It was rusty, dusty, molded and mildewed, but it was available, and I just wanted to SHOOT. Pappa said I could use if if I cleaned it up and as long as he could go with me to the club and make sure I didn't get jackassular with it.
The rear sites (yes - plural - sightS) were a mess.
The swing-away adjustable apeture peep sight was rusted into immobility, but a bit of Pappa's penetrating oil, a dissassembly and a while on a very soft wire wheel and a bath in hot blue brought it back to life.
The iron sight was caked with crud, but a bit more oil and an old toothbrush showed it to be in good condition under the accumulation of disuse. I had to repaint the sight outline with white fingernail polish, too, and I kind of globbed it, but the slot was clean, even and visible.
The front sight was a nightmare.
It had about a HALF DOZEN different blade forms (short fat post, short narrow post, tall dot, small ring, medium ring, large ring... like that) held in place by a heavyish spring inside a removable hood. The spring was broken, so the blades just flopped around, and the hood was UNremovable!
Pappa helped me cut, form and fit a piece of a big old watch mainspring to replace the spring, and introduced me to the wonders of driftpins and rawhide mallets.
Again, the soft wire wheel, hot blue bath and white fingernail polish brought it back from the edge of extinction.
The outside of the barrel was smooth and unpitted by the rust that had moved in and taken up housekeeping, so some work with a striking file (which Pappa thought that he, and not I, should do), a bit of crocus cloth, and a scrub with fine steel wool and some cold blue fixed it up pretty nicely.
The original beautifully varnished (you could tell by the still-visible places) Manlicher-style stock was moldey and mildewed. I had read about boiled linseed oil, so, with Pappa's help, I took the whole thing apart, wire-wheeled and reblued the buttplate and front limb ring, then set to work on the wood.
Pappa showed me how to sand wood properly, and how to, "feather," the wood to get it as smooth as an eggshell. I then hand-rubbed home-boiled linseed oil into the wood.
Okokok - lemme tell you - HOME MADE boiled linseed varnish, made by a 14 YO boy with no varnish-making experience, is NOT the thing you want to use to refinish a rifle! It was still quite oiley, smelled like RAW linseed oil, and soaked into the wood like MAD!
It did, however, leave the wood waterproof, unmolded, and feeling as smooth as satin.
It took me three days, working after school, to get the hardened, black grease out of the barrel and action, but when I was finished, I was pleased to find everything IMPORTANT to be glossy smooth and shiney.
I had to work on the detachable magazine for a bit to get the rounds to feed through it smoothly and to actually DETACH! I was interested to find that the spring-loaded cover slot in the buttplate was to hold a spare magazine. There WAS no spare magazine, but if one were ever to be found, I was in BUSINESS!
It tended to make people very upset, though.
It pretty consistantly made single holes in the targets, in the very center of the paper, so people kept calling, "MISS," after I made my first shot. I solved the problem by moving the point of impact around the bullseye, making people try to help me with my shot consistency. When I took to shooting targets at the centers all up and down the range, they got so mad they just pretty much left me alone.
Typical in my life, though, as soon as they found out that there was something I
was good at (shooting, wrestling and swimming, mostly), the lessons in that field stopped and further instruction in rope-climbing and basketball (I lived in Indiana, after all) took its place.
The lessons Pappa taught me and the things I learned on my own (polyurethane varnish ROCKS, folks!!) have stood me in good stead for my entire life. I still can't play backetball, though, and I have NEVER had opportunity to climb a rope under real-life conditions.
It's a fair trade off.