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The top lever on my 686 Beretta single barrel is straight up and down. Is that a concern? I bought the gun used but the fellow I bought it from bought it new and didn't shoot that many shells through it. I have hardly shot it either. I'm having a guy look at it today to see if he wants to buy it. If it needs something fixed, I can either lower the price or have it fixed first. The gun is cherry and I'm selling for $1200.00
 

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The level should be straight when the gum is closed and to the right around 4 or 5 o'clock when its open.
 

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Generally on double barrel shotguns the lever is to the right of center when new. As it gets used the lever will travel to the left. This is a self adjusting way to keep the action tight. Many for sale ads you see guns described "Lever right of center" . A "Centered" lever is not broken just a way to judge age, use, etc..
 

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There's a test you can do that will give you an idea of how much service life your locking system has left.

-With the gun disassembled, trip the top lever (on your 686, push the top lever to the right, press the pin in the breechface in, and ease the top lever to center). Note where it ends up.

-Push the top lever over (like you were opening the gun), install the barrels, and close the gun. Now note where it ends up.

-If the top lever is further to the right when the barrels are on, you have life left. If the top lever is in exactly the same spot, is it time (or in reality past time) to have the locking system rebuild.

The 686 will show a top lever at dead center without barrels installed, so if it is at dead center with the barrels on, the locking lugs have reached the end of their service life, which sounds like it is the case for you.
 

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Great advice skeet_man gave.

In fact, I've used this same method on both a 686 and a 687. The only difference was that in both cases, the lever sat at about 7 or 8 o'clock with the lug released and the barrel off.

That said, the key as skeet_man said is that the usable life of the lug is established by having distance between the barrel-on and barrel-off position of the top lever when the lug is released.
 

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With the action closed, grasp the receiver and the barrel.
If you can detect any movement between the barrel and receiver, it's
time for a new locking block.
Maybe, maybe not.

The barrels can be off-face, but the locking block could still be fine, it may just be time for a larger hinge pin or trunnions.

Conversely, you may feel no movement at all, but that does not mean the locking block hasn't reached the end of it's service life.
 
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