Bit the proverbial bullet and went to town with the hack saw. The first four inches or so of the barrel were a disaster which is fine since I really wanted to whack it anyway. Gross modifications included cutting the barrel, slimming the for-end and the butt. The butt is still very thick and will son see a 2" rasp I just ran out of time.
Next up is sights. I am thinking I will get a Warne 2 piece mount, ditch the rear most most base, set the front receiver base, add a Weaver compatible "ghost ring" ( guess that's trendy, looks like a plain old peep sight to me) and set a front sight base and ramp. That will give me 17" between the front and rear sights, while keeping the rear sight away from the hammer. I'd only gain 3.25" if I mounted it on the rear mount.
I can't believe the difference in the way it handles just by cropping the barrel. It looks way short but I cut it at 16.5" in order to leave plenty of "wiggle room" for crowning and lapping the muzzle. Here it is next to my model 94 Trapper with a 16" barrel.