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Shotgun "dolls head" question.


Currahee
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Looking at an old Stevens double, am wondering what would happen if it were to be cut off.  The thing gets in the way; but is it necessary to the safe shooting of the gun?

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From a Chuck Hawks article "Double gun Terminology"

 

Doll's head: Designed by Westley Richards, the doll's head is a compact top rib extension that fits into the top tang. It uses no bolt and does not serve to prevent the barrels from rotating open about the hinge pin. However, it does strengthen the action by resisting the force upon firing that attempts to break the action bar where it meets the standing breech. This is the point of greatest stress when a break-open action gun is fired and the Doll's head is an effective reinforcement. The famous American Parker action used a doll's head, as have some guns from such famous British makers as Westley Richards and Charles Boswell.

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Many folks do not believe it to add much additional strength to the lockup.  As you can tell from current design approaches that have NOT included a doll's head at the breech of the barrel set, at least modern guns can get away without them.

 

I have reduced the "ears" greatly on one Ithaca double I have, and it still works well.  All that is left is a nub to just fit the neck of the recess and nothing is left to contact the standing breech  where the ears of the head were.  Even that nub is streamlined to have little to catch a shell being loaded.

 

If you still have a good hinge fit and no side-to-side slop with the gun close to engaging the recess, I would not be afraid of cutting most or all of it out of the way.

 

good luck, GJ

Edited by Garrison Joe, SASS #60708
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9 minutes ago, Currahee said:

Looking at an old Stevens double, am wondering what would happen if it were to be cut off.  The thing gets in the way; but is it necessary to the safe shooting of the gun?

Gut reaction is to look further.  IMO, cutting things off guns is almost never a wonderful idea.

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I'm certainly not positive about this, but I'm thinking that if the top of the doll's head is cut completely off, it will leave a small area where the side of the shell is not supported, and the shell will expand into that void.  This could make for hard extraction and/or shells that can't be reloaded.  

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Guns that do not have the doll's head feature have other features to strengthen the action.  Guns that have the doll's head feature have it for a reason.  Alter the gun's receiver at your own risk.  Better choice if you don't like it would be to get a different gun, IMHO.

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3 hours ago, Abilene, SASS # 27489 said:

if the top of the doll's head is cut completely off, it will leave a small area where the side of the shell is not supported, and the shell will expand into that void. 

Nope.  Better take a look at a real doll's head extension.    It is an extension of the rib.   Not a part of either chamber.  To cut into the chamber, one would have to cut more metal than the rib.  You  would have to cut chamber walls.  This is not a possibility of happening if you can examine the design.

 

We remove chamber wall material when coning the breech of a double.  Never heard anyone complain that weakened the gun.  Coning can slightly, and it certainly can ruin the head spacing, since the rim of a shotshell is the head space location.

 

If really concerned, leave enough of the rib to match the height of the extractor.  Not even the rim of the shotshell would be unsupported if you do that.  (And that is less metal than I left on the Ithaca double described above.)

 

good luck, GJ

Edited by Garrison Joe, SASS #60708
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13 minutes ago, Garrison Joe, SASS #60708 said:

Nope.  Better take a look at a real doll's head extension.    It is an extension of the rib.   Not a part of either chamber.  To cut into the chamber, one would have to cut more metal than the rib.  You  would have to cut chamber walls.  This is not a possibility of happening if you can examine the design....

Okay, thanks.  I thought maybe I had the wrong idea of what a Dolls Head was, and I guess I did.  I was thinking that was the name given to the large extractors that are almost as wide on top as on bottom.

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Some places they are Dolls Chins.  I have had several fine shotguns with this feature, Ithaca, Fox, HuGlu, Stevens, etc.  They are fine for hunting, but I could not use them for SASS.

 

Another reason to buy more guns.

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Howdy alll,

 

One can clearly see from Nostrum's photo the "doll's head" shown is clearly part of the lock up of the gun. Some don't "key" into the receiver but have a horizontal cut that is engaged by the opening lever when the action is closed. I would never remove that part of the gun as every one that I have seen is an integral part of the lock up. I have some shotguns that have a "rib extension" or doll's head and some that don't. I have broken the edges of the doll's head to keep shells from catching on the edges. 

 

Rather than risking the integrity of the gun's lock up, I would suggest more practice or getting another shotgun (always a good idea).

 

Rev. Chase

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On my L.C. Smiths and my Husqvarna's it is very much a part of the lock-up/safety. I always felt it helped keep the shells separated when loading, so not a hindrance. Depends on your method, I suppose.

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No matter what I think, liability forces me to advise not cutting it off.  Cutting it off wouldn't improve that Stevens enough to be worth the trouble.  It is not a fast gun to start with and the little time you save in loading, without the dolls head, would be insignificant.

Johnny Meadows

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1 hour ago, Johnny Meadows,SASS#28485L said:

No matter what I think, liability forces me to advise not cutting it off.  Cutting it off wouldn't improve that Stevens enough to be worth the trouble.  It is not a fast gun to start with and the little time you save in loading, without the dolls head, would be insignificant.

Johnny Meadows

 

THIS ^^^^

 

You have also removed the likely hood of ever selling the firearm to anyone.

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And while I think the doll's head always serves an intended function, even if you assume that it doesn't do all that much under normal shooting conditions, what would happen when that one shell that you accidentally double-charged is fired and the chamber is enormously over-pressured?  Impossible, you say?  I won't bet my face or eyesight or life that I will never accidentally make that mistake, even though I've loaded thousands and thousands of 12 gauge shell and not made it yet.  I've had a few duds that were primed but I didn't charge at all, so I can't say it will never happen that I would double-charge a hull when reloading, and fail to notice when inserting the wad, or shot, or during crimping.  Sure, it isn't at all likely, and the error would require a number of failures on my part, but I never say never and act accordingly.

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4 hours ago, Johnny Meadows,SASS#28485L said:

No matter what I think, liability forces me to advise not cutting it off.  Cutting it off wouldn't improve that Stevens enough to be worth the trouble.  It is not a fast gun to start with and the little time you save in loading, without the dolls head, would be insignificant.

Johnny Meadows

 

Thanks, Johnny.

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PLUS ONE for Garrison Joe

 

PLUS TWO AND A BUNCH for Johnny Meadows YOU BETCHA

 

I have two High End Hammer Doubles that have an extension from the back of the barrels into the Standing Breach.  Other than alignment, the extensions do absolutely nothing.  They just mime a Greener, but without the upper cross bolt.

 

Just so happens, I shoot All Brass 12Ga hulls.  Plus I'm Old and Beat Up.  No longer described as "fast" for that little extension just serves to keep my hulls separated when I load.  I'm no faster with or without.

 

As a point, I might make mention, after the breach of a double gun has been "funneled" it will have ZERO resale value to anyone other than a cowboy shooter.   No other double gunner will touch it. 

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