Slicking up the Stoeger and similar SxS shotguns

Stoeger Parts Diagram

Below are Two sets of instructions with links to Additional Instructions.

The first is by Black Hills Blacky on a general action job.

The second set, by Black Diamond, is also to more easily opening the double.

At the bottom is a LINK to a Summary with Pictures provided by Dakota Doc Martin.

Another LINK is to Discussions from the SASS wire including input from Coyote Cap.

The final is the A possible $7 Fix (Fix for STEVENS 311 Shotguns is shown on another page.) =============================================================

A word of caution from Nate Kiowa Jones, a noted gunsmith on cowboy guns.
Changing or modifying the cockers or reducing the hammer springs so the gun will open wider/easier without retiming the hinge area can lead to the forarm hanger on the bottom of the barrels to be damaged on these SXS's. This is happening with the Stoegers and the Baikals. Some have had this hanger/lug crack and break off. I was shown a Baikal here recently that had the under-rib were the lug attaches, come un-soldered and was buckled, as well.
What happens when the cockers and/or reducing the hammer springs alone are done is, the hook tries to roll off the hinge pin forcing the fore-iron hard into the hanger/lug when the gun is slammed open. The heavy hammersprings dampen this effect.

To avoid these problems, the hinge area needs to be retimed so it will open wider but the hammers go to full cock later in the opening so that when they are at full cocked the gun will still be open enough to easily load. This gun can be made to open wide, stay open without having this problem but it is more involved than just reducing springs. This page does not include instructions for retiming the hinge.

General Instructions - Black Hills Blacky
When we, Canyon Lake and I, first got involved in cowboy action shooting we bought a Stoeger SxS. We shared the gun and the aggravation of trying to open the darned thing till I bought my 97. Then it was her problem. I thought. You married men will understand. I finally got off my duff, opened and fixed the darned thing and was surprised at how easy it really was. She now opens it with one hand, ejects and reloads as fast as most anyone I have seen shoot a double.

The listed tools are available in my garage. You may have them or know of others that will let you borrow them or you may think of other ways around them if you don't. The fix is pretty simple and has gone out to at least 300 pards on the SASS Wire. You are welcome to it with this caution. I am not a gunsmith. I do have a fair amount of mechanical aptitude and have worked on my own guns, period. The removal of the automatic safety is your call and can be avoided by not removing as much material on the rod that actuates the safety but still removing enough to allow full movement of the release lever.

Any information from this article that you use is exclusively at your own risk. Any reprinting of this article must be done in its entirety so as to include this precautionary note etc. As author of this article I declare it public domain so pass it along as you will. I seek nothing from it and it is made available for everyone's use.

Here is a brief description of the problems I have had with my gun and a few others of friends that have different problems that we have fixed.

Will not open due to protruding firing pins bound up in primers.
Warning: If this is the case, do not use the gun. A protruding firing pin may strike the primer and fire the round when the breach is slammed closed.

Will not open even when empty.
Very stiff opening the breach even though it releases easily.
Will not eject shells easily, they have to be pulled out. (Yes you can eject even though you only have extractors. Use a sharp movement to the rear and they will fall out when the gun is tuned properly.)

Not all of these tools are necessary as you may not have all these problems...yet. I will list them anyway.


  1. Long screw driver or socket with long extension for buttstock
  2. Screw driver for buttplate
  3. Needle-nosed pliers
  4. Small punch
  5. Small prick punch
  6. Small hammer
  7. Drill and drill set
  8. Pencil and paper
  9. Fine sandpaper or emory
  10. If you have one a grinding wheel with one stone and a polishing wheel with rouge.
  11. Optional - Lee Stoeger Spring or stock Ruger hammer Spring - [Marauder]

My first problem was protruding firing pins and a firing pin bolt that defied tapping with a punch, snap ring pliers etc. Stoeger informed me that there was no tool to remove it so I made one. For this little problem you'll need a couple of additional 5/64th inch drill bits and a piece of flat stock about one inch wide by a foot or so long. I used aluminum which was readily available at Home Depot. With a piece of paper and a pencil I traced the bolts three holes, taped the paper over the end of the flat stock and used a prick punch to transfer the layout. I then drilled the three holes out and reamed it a bit with the 5/64ths bits to give me a little play due to the primitive layout.. Then I placed the three 5/64th drill bits in the flat stock so the points protruded about 1/2" through the stock. The end of the bits that usually go into the drill were then placed into the firing pin bolts three holes and the stock was tapped down over the bits till it was close to the bolt face and all was snug. Using the flat stock as a wrench I then turned counter-clockwise to remove the bolt. (You may have to drill out the three holes a bit deeper to get a better fit).
[Note: a tool is now available to do this job -Brownells Part # 590-017-003 - Or
call Don Trader

714 827-7360

When you remove the bolt make sure you note how the springs etc come out. If you reverse the springs on assembly the firing pins will be sticking out again and you will think I had wasted your time.

The reason for the firing pins sticking, I believe, is inferior metal used for the pin itself. I tried sanding the pins a bit thinking they had mushroomed but what really solved the problem was finding a drill bit that fit the firing pin bolt holes snugly and then, using the drill, reaming them out. This was done two years ago to the wife's gun and I have had no problems since.
For Replacement firing pins - See Long Hunter's Website

Next the gun was having trouble unlocking. I found two problems so far in this area. They are both simple fixes so here goes. You will need to disassemble the gun which will be discussed later but you can refer back to here when you get there.

Open the breach and remove the forend grip and barrels. take note of the locking lug under the barrels. The locking bar, which is in the receiver part of the gun below the breach face engages here to lock the gun, closed for firing. Let's look at that locking bar in the receiver. Move the release lever back and forth and you will see it moving. Most of your opening problems are right here. I have run into two of them, both restricting the throw of the bar so I will start with the easiest. They both require disassembly of the gun but I'm going to explain what their problems are first.

I spent about two hours on a friends gun doing my fixes and wondering why the darned thing still was giving me problems. This was a brand new, unfired gun. I finally removed the locking bar from the gun, set it down on a table noticed daylight under it and found that the darned thing had a bow in it from the factory. That's right, brand new. I flattened it out in my vice and with a hammer and that solved the problem.

The next opening problem was because the release lever was not able to move far enough to back the locking bar out enough to completely disengage the locking lug. It was snagging the lug and we were beating the gun over our knees to open it. This problem here seems to be the meat to everyone's complaints. Hold the receiver in your hand and work the locking lever to the right as if you were going to open the gun. On the Stoeger you will note that the lever still could go over some more before it would run up against that shoulder and stop it's movement. Mine did but not any more. That release lever, beside moving the locking bar, works a cam in the gun that moves a rod back to engage the safety. Therein lies the crux of the problem. That rod is a bit too long, it pushes against the safety mechanism and stops the release lever from moving far enough to release the locking lug from the locking bar cleanly. The fix? Take a bit off that rod. A little gives the release lever the room to disengage the lug. A bit more and it will also leave the safety alone creating a manual only safety.

Remove the buttstock and then you can work the release lever to see what the heck I'm talking about. Work the lever and follow the action. You will note the rod that has the spring on it moving to the rear and engaging the safety mechanism. This is where you'll want to take a bit off. Right where it engages the safety mechanism. I removed all but about 1/4" that protruded past the spring retainer and that solved my problem and changed my gun to a manual safety. If you want to keep yours an automatic safety then start with a little and work your way back. Before disassembling make a mark on the rod either where you want to cut it or where you don't want to cut past. Make sure to leave at least enough rod to go through the retainer for the spring. To get this rod off I used my needle-nosed pliers at the tapered end where it meets the cam before the spring and used the frame as a fulcrum, being careful not to scratch it, to compress and remove the rod and spring. I was then able to grind the rod down to the desired length.

While I had the rod out I ground off 1 coil from the spring to ease the pressure required for the wife to open the gun. [One coil may be all that yours needs.] I also pushed the locking bar rearward while working the releasing lever back and forth and applying upward pressure to remove it from the gun. EVERY part that I had removed or could remove that had any signs of wear or a bearing surface got stoned or made a trip to the rouge wheel to slicken it up, EVERYTHING. Your there, might as well go all the way.
[See other option below for a Lee spring, or cut a Ruger hammer spring about 2/3 length and use it as a replacement. Some folks have tried 1/2 length of hammer spring, but it is too light and the gun will begin to come open after some shooting. Marauder]

At this point the removal of the locking bar to check that it is not bowed would be a good idea.

When polishing parts don't forget the mating surfaces where the receiver and the forend grip come together.

The last item but far from the least important is getting your hulls to "eject" with a rearward snap of the gun. I watch more people waste serious time trying to pick the hulls out while the clock is running. Honing the chambers can remove 2-5 seconds from each unloading of the gun. Think I'm kidding? Watch and count to yourself sometime. I keep hearing people complain that the pump is faster then the double. The pump is easier to work and requires [some] tuning but a double that is working properly, and few are, is just as fast.

Go to an auto parts store and buy a wheel cylinder hone. You can buy a chamber hone through Brownells and other sources but every auto parts store has a wheel cylinder hone available. I'd look for one with 400 grit stones. These can be attached to a variable speed drill and run at a few hundred RPM to clean up the chambers. DON"T run the drill at full speed.

Before I start to hone the chambers I run my finger along the inside of the barrels looking for any obvious areas of interest. Pay particular attention to the edges of the ejectors. They do not always fit the opening properly and may require some filing prior to the chambers being honed. When your finished everything you should have a smooth transition over them.

I place the stones in far enough that they do not stick out and work them in about an inch and then back out stopping frequently to inspect. Remember the carpenter's rule of thumb. You can cut some off but you can't cut some on. Take your time. All you want to do is remove high spots that the hulls will stick to. I then, lightly, polish them by hand with emory cloth. You do not need the chambers to be mirror smooth and over polishing so that the interior gleams may remove too much material. Take a couple of practice rounds and after removing any residue place them in the barrels and they should slide out when the barrels are pointed upward.


Clean everything. You have just loaded the action up with filings and dirt.

Good luck and I am sure you will be very pleased with the results and the fact that you were able to do this yourself. There is always self-satisfaction when you can accomplish something for yourself and I hope I explained it in a way that you were able to.

Black Hills Blacky


Stiff Stoeger Lever

Hey Pards, I have a question. My Stoeger opens up very easy, dumps the hulls right out, but the lever to open it is very stiff. Is there any way to relax the spring or is there a replacement spring available? If there is a replacement spring available can a non-smith type person replace it?
Turkey Creek Jack Johnson SASS247 Lifer
"This aint Dodge City and you aint Bill Hickok" "Quigley"

Dillon sells a spring made by Lee's Gunsmiths for the Stoeger. It makes working the lever MUCH easier. It is in their Blue Press catalog by the cowboy stuff, cost is around $15.00. If you can work a screwdriver, a socket wrench and a pair of needle nosed pliers you can do it yourself.

First unload & disassemble the gun. Remove butt plate and use your socket on an extension to loosen and remove the bolt that connects the stock to the lockwork. Remove stock and you will see the spring on its retaining rod.

The rod is held in place by spring tension against the block base of the lever. There is a small dimple the tip of the rod rests in on the block. Carefully pull the rod to the left or right to unseat it and then remove it. Use tape on the plier jaws or a small piece of leather to avoid scratching anything. If your gun has the automatic safety engagement, you can now deactivate it, if you wish, by carefully grinding down the rod until it just misses touching the safety, the safety will still work, but it will no longer go on automatically every time you open the gun. You can push it on or off manually.

Next take the spring from Lee's and install it on the rod, small washer goes on the rod first. It makes the job easier to rest the tip of the rod against a small piece of wood with a shallow hole less than the diameter of the rod. To compress the spring, I use an old fork with tines bent apart wide enough to let the rod pass through. Push down on the spring with the fork and take the straightened end of a paper clip and pass it through the hole in the rod, once you have compressed the spring past the hole. This will retain the spring on the rod to reassemble everything. Now take the rod with the spring compressed on it and put the rod back in place. Carefully place the rod tip in the small dimple of the lever block and then hold in place and remove the paper clip to release the spring.

Everything should now be back together. Lightly oil the working surfaces and metal-to-metal contact points. Work the lever to be sure everything is working correctly. If all is well re-attach the stock, being carefully not to over tighten the bolt.

You are now a certified guntinkerer!

Happy trails,
Black Diamond

Dakota Doc Martin's Quick summary of work with Pictures

Additional Information from the SASS wire Page
A great collection of information about strengthening the lockup and avoiding the Stoeger Misfire Problem.

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