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Pre-Season Bird Hunting PSA: It's Time to Check Your Magazine Tube Plugs

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August 20, 2013

Pre-Season Bird Hunting PSA: It's Time to Check Your Magazine Tube Plugs

By Phil Bourjaily

Part of your preseason preparations should be to check the magazines of your pump or semiauto shotguns and be sure they are plugged—that is, if you plan to hunt migratory birds (or deer and turkeys in some states) with them. If you make your own plug out of a dowel or a pencil, test it with 2 ¾-inch, 3-inch and, if applicable, 3 ½-inch shells to be sure the tube holds no more and no less than two.

I never take the plugs out of my guns for the very reason that I don’t have to worry about being caught without one. However, an inspection of my new-used Browning Gold showed the previous owner was running it plug-free.

While putting in the new plug I bought, I was again reminded, dramatically, that magazine springs are about three times longer than magazine tubes and they are tightly compressed. Released, they come blasting out of the tube like those springy snakes in fake peanut cans. If you are not ready for them, they fly across the room at great speed, sending the retainer at the top of the tube to who-knows-where. In my case with the Gold, the spring flew into the depths of my hunting boot collection in the closet while the retainer wound up on a high shelf where it would have remained forever had I not happened glance up as I looked around the floor on my hands and knees.

My gun is now plugged and it’s still two weeks until opening day, which puts me far ahead of the man a friend of a friend of mine took hunting a few years ago. They got out of the truck to hunt, uncased their guns, and the man said “Wait, my plug is in. I need to take it out.”

“I wouldn’t do that,” said my friend’s friend.

“I need five shots,” said the man, proceeding to remove his plug.

If you think it’s hard to find a spring and retainer inside the house, try finding one in tall grass. Incredibly enough, after only an hour of searching, they found the parts, put the gun back together and went hunting.

Check your guns for plugs now, and if you have to take the magazine spring retainer out, keep your hand over the tube and the tube pointed toward a clean, well lighted place. This has been a preseason public service announcement.

 

 

Comments (8)

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 35 weeks 5 min ago

Thanks for the reminder! I discovered to my horror on the last day of pheasant hunting in Montana that my 3" mag 870 goose gun will take three 2¾" shells ... just barely! And I was hunting on federal refuge where you can count on getting checked every time you hunt there. Fortunately, I was compelled to use the goose gun rather than 2¾" Browning A-5 because the only steel ammo available locally was 3" mag. So I had only 3" shells on me when I was checked. I'll need to cut a new plug just a fraction of an inch longer. I cut mine from doweling so they can slip out through the hole in the spring cap. It's a bit noisy with the plug sliding up and down but I'm not stalking deer so doesn't really matter much.

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from vasportsman wrote 34 weeks 6 days ago

Good advice! I just bought a new gun, put factory the plug in, and went out to pattern. Basically it was plugged to where I could only hold one shell in the magazine. I opened it up in the field, and luckily controlled the spring so I didn't lose any parts, and discovered the plug was actually two parts screwed together. Removed the lower and got back to shooting, but man that would have been a pain in a pre-dawn duck blind!

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from jjas wrote 34 weeks 6 days ago

I've removed and misplaced plugs in the past so now I just leave 'em in.....

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from JRE716 wrote 34 weeks 6 days ago

While rabbit hunting last season, a friend of mine had his gun jam. We continued rabbit hunting while he fumbled with his gun. All of a sudden something went shooting past my head and I heard a long line of not so good language. Needless to say we spent the next hour searching for parts in the weeds and leaves. We did find every part, along with a very nice knife. Moral of the story, Follow the directions above or loose your sanity.

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from MattM37 wrote 34 weeks 6 days ago

You could shoot your eye out.

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from foggbird wrote 34 weeks 6 days ago

I love shotguns, probably too much so. If I stuck to one shotgun, I'd shoot better, but I don't. Lately it's been Ithaca 37's. I liked the 12 gauge so much I bought a 16 and a 20. Dove hunting, I shot the 12 for a while, then the 16 and then the 20. Then I went to a 20 SxS. The warden comes along, sees my SxS, waves and moves on. Later I checked the 16 and the 20. No plug in either one. Now I check whatever gun(s) I use before I use them.

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from springerman3 wrote 34 weeks 6 days ago

Will keep using the SxS or O/U for doves, this info also applies for those that veture into the woods for grouse and bag a woodcock ! Only 9 more days until dove season :)

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from Del in KS wrote 34 weeks 4 days ago

Ontario Honker, A few years ago I watched a game warden force 3-23/4 inch shells in another gent's pump gun then write the man a ticket. Never mind the guy didn't have any 23/4 in shells and it took all the strength the man had to force that 3rd shell in the gun.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 35 weeks 5 min ago

Thanks for the reminder! I discovered to my horror on the last day of pheasant hunting in Montana that my 3" mag 870 goose gun will take three 2¾" shells ... just barely! And I was hunting on federal refuge where you can count on getting checked every time you hunt there. Fortunately, I was compelled to use the goose gun rather than 2¾" Browning A-5 because the only steel ammo available locally was 3" mag. So I had only 3" shells on me when I was checked. I'll need to cut a new plug just a fraction of an inch longer. I cut mine from doweling so they can slip out through the hole in the spring cap. It's a bit noisy with the plug sliding up and down but I'm not stalking deer so doesn't really matter much.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from vasportsman wrote 34 weeks 6 days ago

Good advice! I just bought a new gun, put factory the plug in, and went out to pattern. Basically it was plugged to where I could only hold one shell in the magazine. I opened it up in the field, and luckily controlled the spring so I didn't lose any parts, and discovered the plug was actually two parts screwed together. Removed the lower and got back to shooting, but man that would have been a pain in a pre-dawn duck blind!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jjas wrote 34 weeks 6 days ago

I've removed and misplaced plugs in the past so now I just leave 'em in.....

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from JRE716 wrote 34 weeks 6 days ago

While rabbit hunting last season, a friend of mine had his gun jam. We continued rabbit hunting while he fumbled with his gun. All of a sudden something went shooting past my head and I heard a long line of not so good language. Needless to say we spent the next hour searching for parts in the weeds and leaves. We did find every part, along with a very nice knife. Moral of the story, Follow the directions above or loose your sanity.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from MattM37 wrote 34 weeks 6 days ago

You could shoot your eye out.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from foggbird wrote 34 weeks 6 days ago

I love shotguns, probably too much so. If I stuck to one shotgun, I'd shoot better, but I don't. Lately it's been Ithaca 37's. I liked the 12 gauge so much I bought a 16 and a 20. Dove hunting, I shot the 12 for a while, then the 16 and then the 20. Then I went to a 20 SxS. The warden comes along, sees my SxS, waves and moves on. Later I checked the 16 and the 20. No plug in either one. Now I check whatever gun(s) I use before I use them.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from springerman3 wrote 34 weeks 6 days ago

Will keep using the SxS or O/U for doves, this info also applies for those that veture into the woods for grouse and bag a woodcock ! Only 9 more days until dove season :)

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Del in KS wrote 34 weeks 4 days ago

Ontario Honker, A few years ago I watched a game warden force 3-23/4 inch shells in another gent's pump gun then write the man a ticket. Never mind the guy didn't have any 23/4 in shells and it took all the strength the man had to force that 3rd shell in the gun.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

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