Harold took the ironwork out of the vinegar and screwed a jeweller's loupe int his right eye to check for blemishes.
"Exquisite, isn't it?" John the imp tapped ash from his perpetual cigarette and grinned. "It took me almost three months to perfect making the lock. Authentic fifteenth century metalworking techniques and accelerated aging.
"There's some pitting on--"
"—the trigger-guard, yes." John smiled. "Well, there would be after five hundred years, non?"
Harold nodded, picking up the barrel and sighting through it. "No rifling?" he said, turning to see John's nose outlined at the end of the tube.
"Not invented until 1498." John picked up the stock. Oddly, this was the hardest to forge," he said. "Getting hold of wood from the period is no easy task. I did buy a barrow load in 1462 but the whole lot had rotted before I dug them up again."
"So where did the wood come from?"
"Ah." John coughed and stubbed his cigarette out. "Did you know the Mayor had a house full of antiques?"
"Ha! Not any more." Harold grinned. "There was a robbery last week." He frowned. "Oh."
"Quite." John patted him on the arm. "Don't go down the cellar for a bit, eh?"
Image: Lock, Stock & Barrel: Making an English Shotgun and Shooting with Consistency