Last fall my dogs and I traveled to Idaho to try our hand at chasing chukar. We joined a few friends early one morning along a river on public lands, set up our camp, and made ready for our first ascent.
A friend and I trailed my two shorthairs up an extreme vertical chute. We eventually caught up to a covey of birds on the opposite side of the slope. Charlie, my older GSP, moved ahead in an attempt to trap the birds. She leapt off an outcrop of rock but lost her footing as she landed and then bounced end-over-end 300 yards down the mountain.
I watched in horror as she rolled uncontrollably down the slope. At points she rebounded 5 to 10 feet in the air until she was out of sight.
I was certain there was no way she had survived the fall.
I frantically worked my way down the pitch. Sliding to a stop about 100 yards down, I saw my pup limping back up the slope. I yelled for her to stay, choked up by fear and disbelief. Scrambling, I reached her and began checking her over. She was bleeding heavily from her muzzle; I immediately assumed she had punctured a lung or other internal organ. I feared she would likely bleed out before I could get her help.
I couldn’t find any broken bones or other deep lacerations. Once I washed the blood off her muzzle it appeared the source was a puncture wound in her tongue. This brought some relief, and a plan to get her down the mountain was made. My friend offered to carry my shotgun, but I didn’t want her to fall from the extra weight of another gun. We decided the best option was to break the double apart. She carried the stock/receiver in her vest, and I put the barrels and forend in mine. My mind was on Charlie so I was moving as fast as I could, alternating between carrying and gently leading her. After descending over a mile with an injured dog, we reached the base of the canyon and stopped to catch our breath. It was at that point that I realized my barrels were gone.
Let’s start with the positive: Charlie survived the fall with minimal injuries. She was actually back in the field three days later chasing birds in Montana. I will forever be in awe of the toughness and tenacity displayed by our canine counterparts.
Now the downside: I have half a shotgun. An exhaustive search the following day by myself and another friend yielded no results. My best guess is that they flopped from my vest and tumbled like Charlie down the side of the mountain, landing in a spot beyond the search grid.
No problem, right? My dog survived the unthinkable and I can always buy another set of barrels.
I reached out to Franchi customer service and learned that only whole units (firearms) are shipped to the US. Over-under shotguns are not a mass production firearm. Putting an unmatched set of barrels on a different receiver was not feasible. “Sorry. We can’t help you. There’s nothing we can do.”
A friend had recently purchased the same model Franchi and we met to test a theory. Surely these guns weren’t so finely handcrafted that the barrels from one wouldn’t fit and function on another, right? Turns out his barrels and forend fit my receiver without issue and the gun functioned perfectly.
From this test, I formulated a new solution to make my shotgun whole again. What happens when a gun gets returned for a warranty issue? Maybe Franchi would sell me a set of barrels from a warranty return. Why wouldn’t they want to make money on a returned loss, right?
I called the Franchi repair department and explained my solution. The conversation went pretty much like this:
Franchi: “Sorry, we can’t help you. Any gun that gets returned on warranty gets chop sawed and recycled.”
Me: “So….. you can’t sell me a set of perfectly good barrels off a gun that has a bad receiver?”
Franchi: “No. Sorry. We actually order pizza each week with the money we get for the recycled metal.”
I’ve got half a shotgun that’s not broken. I’ve got a whole bird dog that’s not broken. And pizza keeps this Franchi a paperweight.