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 Post subject: Help with identifying H&R 12 gauge single shot.
PostPosted: Tue Mar 27, 2012 1:42 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 07, 2012 7:58 pm
Posts: 15
I have an H&R 12 gauge single shot that I believe is a 1908 model (breaks into 3 pieces with the snap on foregrip) but it is marked differently than any I have seen online or off. It only has writing on the left side and it is only two lines. First line is "HARRINGTON & RICHARDSON ARMS CO,." Second line is "WORCESTER MASS, U.S.A. PAT FEB.27.00." There is also the serial number behind the trigger guard which is "35288". The barrel is 30" long with a steel bead sight and marked "12 GA CHOKE". Any information you can give me concerning this gun will be much appreciated, thanks.


Last edited by ithaca123 on Tue Mar 27, 2012 3:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Help with identifying H&R 12 gauge single shot.
PostPosted: Tue Mar 27, 2012 2:00 pm 
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Joined: Wed Dec 24, 2008 10:42 pm
Posts: 3466
It can be difficult to identify Harrington & Richardson Model 1900, Model 1905 and Model 1908s. H & R had a habit of changing model designations and rarely marked the model number on the gun. And add to this fact, they often changed model designations back and forth,some years the Model 1908 was called the Model 1908 while at other times it was called the No. 6, No. 7, NO. 8 or No.9 seemingly without rhyme or reason. My reference book,"The Breech Loading Shotgun In America. 1860 To 1940" shows that the patent dates were marked as follows: On the Model 1900-Pat.20/27 1900, the Model 1905 was marked Pat. 20/27 1900 (and) 14 May 1901 while the Model 1908 had no patent date stamped on it. Assuming your gun is a Model 1900, it was made in 1903.


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 Post subject: Re: Help with identifying H&R 12 gauge single shot.
PostPosted: Tue Mar 27, 2012 2:39 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 07, 2012 7:58 pm
Posts: 15
Ned Fall wrote:
It can be difficult to identify Harrington & Richardson Model 1900, Model 1905 and Model 1908s. H & R had a habit of changing model designations and rarely marked the model number on the gun. And add to this fact, they often changed model designations back and forth,some years the Model 1908 was called the Model 1908 while at other times it was called the No. 6, No. 7, NO. 8 or No.9 seemingly without rhyme or reason. My reference book,"The Breech Loading Shotgun In America. 1860 To 1940" shows that the patent dates were marked as follows: On the Model 1900-Pat.20/27 1900, the Model 1905 was marked Pat. 20/27 1900 (and) 14 May 1901 while the Model 1908 had no patent date stamped on it. Assuming your gun is a Model 1900, it was made in 1903.

I don't believe that mine is the 1900 or 1905 because as far as I can tell these models were two pieces with a removable hinge pin. Mine does not have the removable hinge pin and is a three piece so while it resembles the 1908, it is missing the markings that would identify it as such and I believe the 1908 had a 32" barrel instead of a 30". Also the writing I have in quotes is exactly like how it is on the gun except on the gun it is all capital letters but all punctuation and forms of numbers such as the date "Feb. 27. 00." are exact.


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 Post subject: Re: Help with identifying H&R 12 gauge single shot.
PostPosted: Tue Mar 27, 2012 3:17 pm 
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Joined: Wed Dec 24, 2008 10:42 pm
Posts: 3466
I failed to do what they taught us in the military and that was "Read the full (and that was not the word they used) question." There are illustrations and verbal descriptions of each gun in the reference and here's each.

H & R Model1900 Single Gun. " Thais gun can be most easily identified by the method of take down.. namely a spring loaded lever must be lifted clear of the frame and turned 1/4 turn and pulled out to free the barrel. In addition the forend must be unscrewed to be removed from the barrel.

Mode,1905 Single Gun. Mostly identified by its small bore size (24 gauge, 28 gauge, .44 caliber, .45 caliber, 12 MM, 14 MM and .410 Eley as well as .45-70 Government Shot Cartridge, discontinued in 1915). other than this, gun had the same takedown method as the Model 1900.

Model 1908 (two models, one Standard Frame and the other Heavy Breech Frame) This gun takes down in the same manner as the Models 1900 and 1905 except the forend is a snap type and not a screw type.

And yes, that was my bad, all markings on these old guns were in upper case and one should not make abbreviations, deletions or changes. i.e. COMPANY for CO. or the reverse. It is difficult to see in the illustrations in the reference (the guns are shown from the left side but the Model 1908 Heavy Breech does not appear to have a removeable hinge pin.


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 Post subject: Re: Help with identifying H&R 12 gauge single shot.
PostPosted: Tue Mar 27, 2012 3:36 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 07, 2012 7:58 pm
Posts: 15
Ned Fall wrote:
I failed to do what they taught us in the military and that was "Read the full (and that was not the word they used) question." There are illustrations and verbal descriptions of each gun in the reference and here's each.

H & R Model1900 Single Gun. " Thais gun can be most easily identified by the method of take down.. namely a spring loaded lever must be lifted clear of the frame and turned 1/4 turn and pulled out to free the barrel. In addition the forend must be unscrewed to be removed from the barrel.

Mode,1905 Single Gun. Mostly identified by its small bore size (24 gauge, 28 gauge, .44 caliber, .45 caliber, 12 MM, 14 MM and .410 Eley as well as .45-70 Government Shot Cartridge, discontinued in 1915). other than this, gun had the same takedown method as the Model 1900.

Model 1908 (two models, one Standard Frame and the other Heavy Breech Frame) This gun takes down in the same manner as the Models 1900 and 1905 except the forend is a snap type and not a screw type.

And yes, that was my bad, all markings on these old guns were in upper case and one should not make abbreviations, deletions or changes. i.e. COMPANY for CO. or the reverse. It is difficult to see in the illustrations in the reference (the guns are shown from the left side but the Model 1908 Heavy Breech does not appear to have a removeable hinge pin.

Yes I am starting to believe that it is the 1908 model and it does not have a removeable hinge pin. I have also changed the lines in the original post to be exact in terms of spelling, punctuation, spacing, capitalization, and such (it is an exact copy of what is written on the gun). I also just measured the chamber and it is for 2 3/4" shells. Can I use modern ammo like birdshot or any lead load in this? I won't be firing any magnum power loads or slugs out of it but I am wondering about the birdshot and buckshot.


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 Post subject: Re: Help with identifying H&R 12 gauge single shot.
PostPosted: Tue Mar 27, 2012 7:09 pm 
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Joined: Wed Dec 24, 2008 10:42 pm
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I err in favor of caution when advising whether one of these old guns can be fired or not since I can not see the gun to determine its condition. I advise that it not be fired just to protect my own butt and the shooters as well. But yes one of them can be fired if in good mechanical condition and appropriate ammunition is used. Then again, I hesitate to use the term modern ammunition because that can mean 3 inch or magnum shells loaded with high pressure smokeless powder and steel shot. These old guns were certainly NOT designed or made for modern high pressure smokeless powder or steel shot. I also advise that the owner have the gun inspected by a good qualified shotgun smith before attempting to shoot it and follow any advice he gets. Given the American propensity for wanting something more powerful, somewhere some time some damn fool is going to stuff a 3 inch magnum loaded with pistol powder and steel shot in one of these old guns and pull the trigger and when various pieces take off for parts unknown is going to try (assuming he still can) come back and say "You didn't tell me that wasn't safe". Enjoy your gun.


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 Post subject: Re: Help with identifying H&R 12 gauge single shot.
PostPosted: Tue Mar 27, 2012 7:12 pm 
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Joined: Wed Dec 24, 2008 10:42 pm
Posts: 3466
Oh, forgot to mention. According to the serial number-year made tables for the Model 1908, the gun was made in 1912.


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 Post subject: Re: Help with identifying H&R 12 gauge single shot.
PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2012 5:37 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jul 05, 2010 7:16 pm
Posts: 2845
Location: New England
Just because the chamber's the same length as modern shotshells doesn't mean it's safe.

In 1925, the ammo companies changed all shotshell ammo, and started loading with a different powder to higher pressures than previously - coincidentally causing several "name" shotgun companies (Ithaca, for one) to revise their product line(s).

IF it checks out as being "on face" and has no bbl defects like dents, bulges, rust or cracks, then proper, low-powered ammo is available from the likes of RST and PolyWad.

.

_________________
["CriscoKid", alias: Fat in the Can]


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 Post subject: Re: Help with identifying H&R 12 gauge single shot.
PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2012 6:01 pm 
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Joined: Wed Dec 24, 2008 10:42 pm
Posts: 3466
To many people posting on these sites, a 12 gauge is a 12 gauge, they don't know about shell length. or powders or shot. It is possible to stuff a 2 3/4 inch shell in a 2 9/16 chamber (only a 16th of an inch difference and the forcing cone can accept that) and some damn fool is going to force a 3 incher in a 2 3/4 inch chamber and close the breech and then pull the trigger. These old guns may not be in shape to take the pressure and shock and will tend to disassemble themselves rapidly. Not only is an old gun destroyed but there is a good possibility that the shooter is going to be injured. That's why I won't recommend that one of them be fired because Joe Doakes will go down to the local hardware store and buy any shell that's on the shelf behind the counter. One of my gunsmithing books says that these guns are an accident waiting to happen. One shot, four shots, forty shots or four hundred shots, sooner or later it is going to give up and let go.


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 Post subject: Re: Help with identifying H&R 12 gauge single shot.
PostPosted: Wed Apr 04, 2012 1:34 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 07, 2012 7:58 pm
Posts: 15
Thank you everyone who has replied. If you do not think that standard skeet loads would be safe to fire than what do you think about loads like Winchester AA light skeet loads? Basically I don't plan on firing anything larger than a skeet load out of it and from the way everyone is talking it sounds like it might be able to handle standard skeet but a light skeet load would be safer. The gun has some slight rust on the barrel but no pitting and the inside has the same. All of the wood is solid and the gun is a very tight lock with no wiggle anywhere. There is almost no rust on the action and it is clean and operates smoothly as far as dry operating it as I haven't fired a round from it yet. The guy I got it from previously said that he fired standard skeet loads in it without a problem and there doesn't seem to be any stress, bulging, or damage but I would rather it not be me holding it with standard skeet loads and finding out that he was lucky and I am not. The gun overall seems really sturdy and has a thicker barrel and chamber than my ithaca featherlight, not that it means anything as the ways of building guns has changed alot in between the manufacture of these two guns. Anyway, any comments for or nay would be greatly appreciated, thanks.


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 Post subject: Re: Help with identifying H&R 12 gauge single shot.
PostPosted: Wed Apr 04, 2012 6:48 pm 
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Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2007 11:12 am
Posts: 3230
Location: WA/AK
Here are some H & R catalogue pages from various years. Maybe you can match your gun up --

Shreve & Barber 1903 --

Image

Wm Read & Sons 1906 --

Image

S D & G 1912 --

Image

Edw. K. Tryon 1926 --

Image

Stoeger 1929 --

Image


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 Post subject: Re: Help with identifying H&R 12 gauge single shot.
PostPosted: Wed Apr 04, 2012 10:32 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 07, 2012 7:58 pm
Posts: 15
Researcher01 wrote:
Here are some H & R catalogue pages from various years. Maybe you can match your gun up --

Shreve & Barber 1903 --

Image

Wm Read & Sons 1906 --

Image

S D & G 1912 --

Image

Edw. K. Tryon 1926 --

Image

Stoeger 1929 --

Image


First, thank you so much for posting those pages, they are exactly what I was looking for. I would have to say out of all the ones you showed, it is closest to the 1908 model on the "Edw. K. Tryon 1926" page. It doesn't seem exactly the same as they do not make any mention of bluing but mine is clearly blued. Other than that they are completely identical. If this is the case then pending the gun smith giving it a clean bill of health, it should be fine to fire with light loads as they started using smokeless powder in 1915 or so I believe as well as the 2 3/4" chamber began to be seen more. I will still have the chamber checked when I go to the gunsmith but I believe I got it right as I stuck my finger down the chamber until I felt the constriction point from chamber to barrel and then marked my finger, pulled it out, and measured it. It was 3" which taking a bit for discrepancies on my part and the fact that a opened 2 3/4" shell is almost 3" and there were no other size shells that were made that close on either side of 3" I really can't see it being anything else and I feel like my method was close enough for this purpose. Please let me know if anything else comes to mind concerning the safety of firing the shells and concerning the bluing on the gun, thanks.


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 Post subject: Re: Help with identifying H&R 12 gauge single shot.
PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2012 10:15 am 
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Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2007 11:12 am
Posts: 3230
Location: WA/AK
The first smokeless powder for shotgun shells was Wood powder introduced in 1876. Shotgunners being a hidebound lot were rather slow to embrace smokeless powder, but by the 1890s it was coming on strong. In 1890, Captain A.W. Money came to America from England, and established the American E.C. and Schultze Powder Company in Oakland Park, Bergen County, New Jersey, with offices on Broadway in New York City, to manufacture smokeless shotgun powders. In 1893, Union Metallic Cartridge Co. was already offering smokeless powder shotshells, and that year Winchester was providing them to selected shooters with Winchester offering them to the general public in 1894. The American ammunition companies held their smokeless powder loads offered in the 2 5/8 inch 12-gauge shells lower than those offered in the 2 3/4 inch and longer shells. The very heaviest 2 5/8 inch shells I find offered were 3 1/4 drams of bulk smokeless powder or 26 grains of dense smokeless powders such as Ballistite or Infallible with 1 1/4 ounces of shot. In 2 3/4 inch and longer shells they offered 3 1/2 drams of bulk smokeless powders or 28 grains of Ballistite or Infallible dense smokeless powders with the same 1 1/4 ounce of shot. These loads were very high pressure according to a DuPont Smokeless Shotgun Powders (1933) book I have. It shows the 3 1/2 drams of DuPont bulk smokeless powder pushing 1 1/4 ounces of shot as being 11,700 pounds; 3 1/2 drams of Schultze bulk smokeless powders pushing 1 1/4 ounces of shot being 11,800 pounds and the 28-grains of Ballistite pushing the 1 1/4 ounces of shot being 12,600 pounds!!! There were plenty of lighter loads being offered, but American shotgunners being what they are, I'm sure many were opting for the heaviest loads available. The same situation held with the 16- and 20-gauge shells. The "standard" 2 1/2 inch 20-gauge shells and the "standard" 2 9/16 inch 16-gauge shells carried slightly milder loads than the extra cost longer shells in 2 3/4, 2 7/8, and 3-inch lengths.

Many folks believe that the "modern" shotshells loaded with progressive burning smokeless powders, introduced in the early 1920s, Western Cartridge Company's Super-X loads leading the way, were higher pressure than the old bulk and dense smokeless powder loads. Reading period literature, this is not the case. With progressive burning smokeless powders they were able to move out equal shot loads at higher velocity or a heavier shot load at equal velocity, but at lower pressure than the old style bulk or dense smokeless powders.

I've picked up a little 96-page Du Pont Smokeless Shotgun Powders booklet written by Wallace H. Coxe, Ballistic Engineer, Brandywine Laboratory, Smokeless Powder Department, copyright 1928. It is primarily about Du Pont Oval progressive burning smokeless powder, but does a lot of comparisons with earlier style bulk and dense smokeless. As a Du Pont Oval example, he states on page 25 –

"Du Pont Oval can be loaded with 1 3/8 ounces of shot in a 12-gauge shotgun to develop the same velocity and pressure as obtained with a load of 3 1/2 drams of Du Pont Bulk Smokeless Powder or 28 grains of Ballistite and 1 1/4 ounces of shot. The relation naturally holds with other charges, but as Du Pont Oval is used principally for maximum loads the comparison is more striking as it shows the possibility of using a heavy load with Du Pont Oval that would be an abnormal load were it used with Du Pont Bulk Smokeless, Ballistite, or other existing old-style types of shotgun powders. As the pressures developed by this load of 1 3/8 ounces of shot with Du Pont Oval are the same as the pressures developed by 1 1/4 ounces of shot with 3 1/2 drams of Du Pont Bulk Smokeless, or 28 grains of Ballistite, it is impracticable to increase further the weight of shot charge with DuPont Oval. It is not advisable to load ammunition to the limit of safety of a shotgun for the reason that the pressures at this high level will ruin the pattern percentage developed by the load."

IMHO those Damascus barrel warnings that began appearing on shotshell boxes by the early 1930s were more a thinly veiled attempt to coerce shooters into buying new guns, though they probably did have some relavence to all those cheap Belgian imports that came into North America from 1880 to WW-I. All the major U.S. manufacturers guaranteed their Twist and Damascus barrel guns for nitro powders. Most U.S. manufacturers dropped their composite iron and steel barrels when the sources of the rough tubes dried up with the outbreak of WW-I, but at least Parker Bros. continued to offer them into the late 1920s. There is at least one late Parker Bros. double with Bernard barrels, vent rib, beavertail forearm and single selective trigger known.

All the above being said, I don't mean to imply that any given gun is safe to shoot. No one can tell you over the internet that a gun is safe to shoot and with what ammunition. Only a competent gunsmith (not as many out there as you might like to think) with the gun in hand, can make that assessment!!


Last edited by Researcher01 on Thu Apr 05, 2012 6:46 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Help with identifying H&R 12 gauge single shot.
PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2012 12:59 pm 
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Joined: Wed Dec 24, 2008 10:42 pm
Posts: 3466
No one here on these forums (with any sense anyway) is not going to speculate whether the gun is safe to fire or not since we can not see the gun to determine its condition. The best thing to do is to take it to a competent shotgun smith for a hands on examination. Then follow his advice.


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 Post subject: Re: Help with identifying H&R 12 gauge single shot.
PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2012 2:42 pm 
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Joined: Wed Nov 25, 2009 3:54 pm
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Thanks for that explication, Ned. I've raised the question in the past, here and elsewhere, of whether current factory shotshells really operated at a higher pressure than equivalent(same shell length/shot load/drams equivalent/velocity) early smokeless loads. I never got a straight answer.

I'll bet your comments about damascus barrels will get some reaction, though.


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 Post subject: Re: Help with identifying H&R 12 gauge single shot.
PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2012 6:41 pm 
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Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2007 11:12 am
Posts: 3230
Location: WA/AK
Ned is correct, that no one can tell you over the internet that a gun is safe to shoot and with what ammunition. Only a competent gunsmith (not as many out there as you might like to think) with the gun in hand, can make that assessment!!


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 Post subject: Re: Help with identifying H&R 12 gauge single shot.
PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2012 7:34 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 07, 2012 7:58 pm
Posts: 15
Researcher01 wrote:
The first smokeless powder for shotgun shells was Wood powder introduced in 1876. Shotgunners being a hidebound lot were rather slow to embrace smokeless powder, but by the 1890s it was coming on strong. In 1890, Captain A.W. Money came to America from England, and established the American E.C. and Schultze Powder Company in Oakland Park, Bergen County, New Jersey, with offices on Broadway in New York City, to manufacture smokeless shotgun powders. In 1893, Union Metallic Cartridge Co. was already offering smokeless powder shotshells, and that year Winchester was providing them to selected shooters with Winchester offering them to the general public in 1894. The American ammunition companies held their smokeless powder loads offered in the 2 5/8 inch 12-gauge shells lower than those offered in the 2 3/4 inch and longer shells. The very heaviest 2 5/8 inch shells I find offered were 3 1/4 drams of bulk smokeless powder or 26 grains of dense smokeless powders such as Ballistite or Infallible with 1 1/4 ounces of shot. In 2 3/4 inch and longer shells they offered 3 1/2 drams of bulk smokeless powders or 28 grains of Ballistite or Infallible dense smokeless powders with the same 1 1/4 ounce of shot. These loads were very high pressure according to a DuPont Smokeless Shotgun Powders (1933) book I have. It shows the 3 1/2 drams of DuPont bulk smokeless powder pushing 1 1/4 ounces of shot as being 11,700 pounds; 3 1/2 drams of Schultze bulk smokeless powders pushing 1 1/4 ounces of shot being 11,800 pounds and the 28-grains of Ballistite pushing the 1 1/4 ounces of shot being 12,600 pounds!!! There were plenty of lighter loads being offered, but American shotgunners being what they are, I'm sure many were opting for the heaviest loads available. The same situation held with the 16- and 20-gauge shells. The "standard" 2 1/2 inch 20-gauge shells and the "standard" 2 9/16 inch 16-gauge shells carried slightly milder loads than the extra cost longer shells in 2 3/4, 2 7/8, and 3-inch lengths.

Many folks believe that the "modern" shotshells loaded with progressive burning smokeless powders, introduced in the early 1920s, Western Cartridge Company's Super-X loads leading the way, were higher pressure than the old bulk and dense smokeless powder loads. Reading period literature, this is not the case. With progressive burning smokeless powders they were able to move out equal shot loads at higher velocity or a heavier shot load at equal velocity, but at lower pressure than the old style bulk or dense smokeless powders.

I've picked up a little 96-page Du Pont Smokeless Shotgun Powders booklet written by Wallace H. Coxe, Ballistic Engineer, Brandywine Laboratory, Smokeless Powder Department, copyright 1928. It is primarily about Du Pont Oval progressive burning smokeless powder, but does a lot of comparisons with earlier style bulk and dense smokeless. As a Du Pont Oval example, he states on page 25 –

"Du Pont Oval can be loaded with 1 3/8 ounces of shot in a 12-gauge shotgun to develop the same velocity and pressure as obtained with a load of 3 1/2 drams of Du Pont Bulk Smokeless Powder or 28 grains of Ballistite and 1 1/4 ounces of shot. The relation naturally holds with other charges, but as Du Pont Oval is used principally for maximum loads the comparison is more striking as it shows the possibility of using a heavy load with Du Pont Oval that would be an abnormal load were it used with Du Pont Bulk Smokeless, Ballistite, or other existing old-style types of shotgun powders. As the pressures developed by this load of 1 3/8 ounces of shot with Du Pont Oval are the same as the pressures developed by 1 1/4 ounces of shot with 3 1/2 drams of Du Pont Bulk Smokeless, or 28 grains of Ballistite, it is impracticable to increase further the weight of shot charge with DuPont Oval. It is not advisable to load ammunition to the limit of safety of a shotgun for the reason that the pressures at this high level will ruin the pattern percentage developed by the load."

IMHO those Damascus barrel warnings that began appearing on shotshell boxes by the early 1930s were more a thinly veiled attempt to coerce shooters into buying new guns, though they probably did have some relavence to all those cheap Belgian imports that came into North America from 1880 to WW-I. All the major U.S. manufacturers guaranteed their Twist and Damascus barrel guns for nitro powders. Most U.S. manufacturers dropped their composite iron and steel barrels when the sources of the rough tubes dried up with the outbreak of WW-I, but at least Parker Bros. continued to offer them into the late 1920s. There is at least one late Parker Bros. double with Bernard barrels, vent rib, beavertail forearm and single selective trigger known.

All the above being said, I don't mean to imply that any given gun is safe to shoot. No one can tell you over the internet that a gun is safe to shoot and with what ammunition. Only a competent gunsmith (not as many out there as you might like to think) with the gun in hand, can make that assessment!!


Thank you very much for this. It was very interesting and I had no idea about the loads being almost equivalent or even greater than modern loads. And yes I know that you can not tell me what my particular gun may or may not be able to handle but your post has put my mind at ease about shooting it. I have never owned a gun with Damascus steel barrels but I have seen a couple of them and this one is definitely not Damascus. I appreciate all the answers I have received and I after I get my gunsmith to take a look at the barrel I will hand it my friend to fire first :lol:


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