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RST loads tend to be some of the best loads for a Smith. Gun clubs not so much. If you can reload you can cut your box price in half and loads shells which your gun will handle for the next hundred years.

As to the Smith reputation it is what it is. They often crack behind the side plates. Is it a weak point in the design? Yes. Is it a design defect? No. The defect is people putting too heavy a load into a gun approaching 75-100 years. Wood get dry with age and tends to crack due to stress. Keep the stress down and cracks will be minimal.

500-700 moderate pressure shells a year should be nothing to worry about. 5-7000 might be another issue. Shoot your gun as a tribute to who owned it before you. Trust me I would like to think others will be shooting and enjoying my guns after I am gone. I might even leave them a few flats of proper loads behind for them to start.

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There is quite a bit of information regarding Smith stock cracking here, and the prevention thereof
https://lcsca.clubexpress.com/content.aspx?page_id=274&club_id=43784

After the sale of Hunter Arms to Marlin in 1945, the risk of cracks likely produced changes in design for the "L.C. Smith Improved Field Grade" - "L.C. Smith stocks have been re-designed for still greater strength, shaped to hold the frame solidly, with special attention to tight, sure mechanical action. All stocks of selected, seasoned walnut..."
There are pics comparing the wood thickness at the head of the stock (which is where cracks begin) on the FAQ

Please ask the specialist who repaired your stock if he glasbedded the head of the stock. If so, you should feel confident using loads for which the gun was designed. On introduction in 1907 the 20g hangtags specified 2 1/4 Dr.Eq. with 7/8 oz. shot (1155 fps); later 7/8 oz. 2 1/2 Dr.Eq. (1210 fps).
Though pressure and recoil MAY be correlated, it is recoil that cracks stocks.

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bls Offline OP
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Drew H, thanks for taking the time to post this detailed info for me. Seeing it quantified helps:
On introduction in 1907 the 20g hangtags specified 2 1/4 Dr.Eq. with 7/8 oz. shot (1155 fps); later 7/8 oz. 2 1/2 Dr.Eq. (1210 fps).
Though pressure and recoil MAY be correlated, it is recoil that cracks stocks.

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The shape of a sidelock's plate, in the rear, is a wedge. The better it is inletted the more the wedge effect can try to spread the wood apart in the rear. When there isn't a lot of wood contacting the action at the head it compresses easier. As it compresses, the wedge effect of the lock plates begins to force the wood in two opposite directions, eventually resulting in a crack. One thing that contributes to this rearward movement of the action "into" the buttstock is a loosening of the tang screw, or hand pin as the English call them. It is very important to check these and keep them snugged up, regularly.

I have a LCS 16 ga. FW that had been restocked, very expertly, IMO. I traded for it some 12 years ago, and it was crack free. I used it often for doves and crows, and some clays, and eventually cracks began to appear on each side immediately behind the lock plates. I caught it as they were just beginning. Jim Kelly stabilized them and did some "glassing" in the rear of the lock inlets, on each lock inlet. Nothing shows, and I believe it will outlast me now with no more cracking. OTOH, I have a 12 ga. LCS 3E that has original wood, has been shot a lot but taken good care of, and it remains crack free after well over 100 years. And, it was originally owned by a pigeon shooter who likely used stout loads in it.

Originally Posted by bls
Though pressure and recoil MAY be correlated, it is recoil that cracks stocks.
That is exactly right.

SRH


"With one foot in the grave ..........and one foot on the pedal, I was born a Rebel" T.P.
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It probably was English walnut, Topgun. No real difference in iit and French, afaik...
JR

Last edited by John Roberts; 03/01/21 08:36 PM.

Be strong, be of good courage.
God bless America, long live the Republic.
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John, certainly no intention to contradict your post; I was simply quoting from the catalog. As far as I'm concerned English, French, Italian, etc. walnut is all the same stuff. As regards stock cracking on Smith guns, it seems to me that Smith guns with black walnut stocks are more prone to cracking than those with English walnut? I've no hard evidence one way or the other, my conclusion based solely on personal observation.

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I agree with John and Tom, American walnut is not as good a stock as the European walnut on a side plated gun. I have examined many Syracuse L.C. Smiths and have never seen a crack behind the locks.


David


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While Smiths can and do crack, so do boxlock guns such as Parker and Fox. You just can't see them until you take the action off. The top tang pin and hand pin in a Smith are more of a recoil lug than most people realize. How many low grade Parkers have you seen with the flats behind the action checkered to hide the cross pins used in the repair. Or wood putty over the ends of the "stove bolt" used to hold the stock together. Fox used a piece of metal driven into the head of the stock to help prevent splitting. As for the OP shoot light loads in your gun as much as you want. If it develops issues with the stock fix them and carry on. When components become available again star reloading 3/4 oz loads. That load will break trap targets out to the 22=23 yard line with no problem. A 20 ga Smith gun is a joy to carry and will go on shooting for your lifetime with a bit of care and judicious thought to you loads. ENJOY it

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The reason for Smith's tendency to crack behind the side plates is not news. McIntosh, Vicknair and others have described the issue well. The Pre-13 guns or later graded guns are not immune. The 1983 edition of Brophy's book shows an A2 with what looks like a poor attempt at repairing/hiding the crack (pgs. 55 and 164). The A1 on pgs. 63/64 is cracked. The No. 3 Grade gun on page 67 - cracked. The Post-13 Monogram Grade (p.95) is suspect. The Specialty Grade on p.105 is cracked. The Trap Grade on p.107 may be on its way. Small sample size, I know, but at least they didn't use them for the book jacket photos.

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Originally Posted by Mark II
Fox used a piece of metal driven into the head of the stock to help prevent splitting.

They did indeed, on some guns. It is called a corrugated fastener, and they are still around today. I've never personally seen one in a Fox, but have in pictures.

https://www.walmart.com/ip/2PK-25-C...msclkid=43799c27679110e0e154fc19be30fbd9

SRH


"With one foot in the grave ..........and one foot on the pedal, I was born a Rebel" T.P.
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