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  #1  
Old 01-28-2021, 9:40 AM
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Default Say someone wanted to test an old BP shotgun....

Just for discussion’s sake, say someone came across a turn of the century SxS double, and it appeared to be in decent shape. Again, theoretically speaking.......

How would you go about working up a low power BP load to test function?
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Old 01-28-2021, 10:08 AM
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Is this a cartridge gun or a muzzleloader?

If a cartridge gun I would have a gunsmith evaluate it and I would supply the gunsmith with some black powder shells of the correct length for testing like these

https://www.buffaloarms.com/obsolete...n/shotgun-ammo

Here is a two part article that may also be useful

https://loaddata.com/Article/LoadDev...hells-Pt-1/126

https://loaddata.com/Article/LoadDev...hells-Pt-2/127

Last edited by Elgatodeacero; 01-28-2021 at 10:11 AM..
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Old 01-28-2021, 10:08 AM
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Duplicate.
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Old 01-28-2021, 10:18 AM
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With a long string and a barricade.
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Old 01-28-2021, 10:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elgatodeacero View Post
Cartridge gun, Fluid Steel barrels so not Damascus.

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Originally Posted by sealocan View Post
Always think Safety First of course, as I'm sure you do
Of course... !! And, thanks for those links.

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Originally Posted by sealocan View Post
If you're not a reloader they do sell cowboy action low recoil shells that Might be a little safer but maybe do that After you first tried firing shells that you've completely emptied out, to test the primer strike.
I have reloaded shotshells for decades, but never BP. The gun in question has been disassembled, cleaned, and checked for function (not live fired). Firing pins are clean and freefloat as they should, and gun properly closes on primed empty hulls and fires the primers as normal.

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These are all just suggestions. Maybe keeping it as a wall hanger might be best. How about a photo?
Yeah - I bought it as a wall hanger, and that is its intended purpose for my reloading/gunroom. It just looks so cool and functions so nicely that I'm intrigued by the thought that it might still be serviceable. Probably a bad idea, and I probably won't act on it..... but if a low pressure load is a possibility, I'd love to see it blow some smoke downrange.
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Old 01-28-2021, 10:57 AM
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Have you checked the proofs to confirm it is bp only? My 1904 made shotgun was definitely intended for smokeless.

Assuming you want maximum safety, I'd look for a black powder specific forum, or talk to the cass guys. They have more experience in this area, and you'd probably get more germane responses.
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Old 01-28-2021, 11:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Imageview View Post
Have you checked the proofs to confirm it is bp only? My 1904 made shotgun was definitely intended for smokeless.

Assuming you want maximum safety, I'd look for a black powder specific forum, or talk to the cass guys. They have more experience in this area, and you'd probably get more germane responses.
I just assumed it was, from the age. Internet search shows this gun was made from the mid-1890's to about 1915 or so. I don't know how to interpret proofs..... any help in that area?

Taking to CASS guys is a good idea, thanks.
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Old 01-28-2021, 11:08 AM
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Originally Posted by bigbossman View Post
Just for discussion’s sake, say someone came across a turn of the century SxS double, and it appeared to be in decent shape. Again, theoretically speaking.......

How would you go about working up a low power BP load to test function?
add me to your mailing list please

just picked this one up a couple of months ago.. 1898-1902 Colton laminated steel..

so far a few quick browses, haven't found anything readily available, either due to ammo shortage or lack of interest..

I reckon the latter, wouldn't think there'd be a run on black powder or reduced power smokeless shotgun shells

anyways, please count me in.. I'm willing to contribute to this effort or copy it and try it myself, whatever helps





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  #9  
Old 01-28-2021, 11:19 AM
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add me to your mailing list please

just picked this one up a couple of months ago.. 1898-1902 Colton laminated steel..
Ohhh.... that one is Damascus. That's a Widow Maker, right there.
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Old 01-28-2021, 11:24 AM
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Good article on twist and damascus barreled guns in the recent Guns & Ammo magazine.
Maybe you can find it on line?

What I found interesting was the warning about twist barrels being subject to rupture if dented, that could cause cracks in the twist, so check carefully.
Also look for rust inside the bores that may have thinned the metal.
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Old 01-28-2021, 1:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Imageview View Post
Have you checked the proofs to confirm it is bp only? My 1904 made shotgun was definitely intended for smokeless.
All the proof marks I could find:





And a full length pic..... 32" barrels!:

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Old 01-28-2021, 1:52 PM
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Beautiful old shotgun. I would not trust smokeless. I wonder if there is a triple seven load for it. I used to have some load data. I will look for it.
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Old 01-28-2021, 2:14 PM
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2 drams (about 50 grains by weight) real black powder, 1 nitro card, 1 1/2inch fiber wad lightly lubed, 1 oz lead shot, 1 overshot card glued in place with Elmers. Should be about 1000 fps (I expect less) and very light.

I can send you a couple of brass hulls and appropriate sized wads if you have some black around.
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Old 01-28-2021, 2:16 PM
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Originally Posted by bigbossman View Post
I just assumed it was, from the age. Internet search shows this gun was made from the mid-1890's to about 1915 or so. I don't know how to interpret proofs..... any help in that area?

Taking to CASS guys is a good idea, thanks.
http://www.hunting.be/wp-content/upl...roof-Marks.pdf

I would expect fluid barrels to be nitro proofed but looking at your barrels, it looks to me like it's only black proofed.
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Old 01-28-2021, 2:27 PM
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Originally Posted by NapalmCheese View Post
2 drams (about 50 grains by weight) real black powder, 1 nitro card, 1 1/2inch fiber wad lightly lubed, 1 oz lead shot, 1 overshot card glued in place with Elmers. Should be about 1000 fps (I expect less) and very light.

I can send you a couple of brass hulls and appropriate sized wads if you have some black around.
I have black powder, shot, primers, and even some glue on-hand. Thanks!!
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Old 01-28-2021, 2:49 PM
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Originally Posted by edgerly779 View Post
Beautiful old shotgun. I would not trust smokeless.
Yeah - the chart furnished below confirms that. Only proofed for black powder.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NapalmCheese View Post
Damn, that is one cool chart - thanks!. The way the choke is designated (CHOKE 18.1/18.1) was used that way from 1910-1924, according to your chart. That narrows the date range down, and puts it in the beginning of the 20th Century. What is confusing is that the right-hand barrel is marked with just "18.3", which is another choke designator that was used 1810 - present.

Then, there is the proof mark "crown over oval with E/L/G and star" which was used 1893-present.

The gauge designator (12C in a diamond) was used 1898-1924, so that's consistent with the first CHOKE mark.

Fascinating...... thanks again!
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  #17  
Old 01-28-2021, 3:05 PM
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Beautiful gun, nitro proof would have been a bonus but still awesome. If you're gonna do any hunting with it let anyone you're with know, it's gonna get smokey really quickly.

I love how classic side by sides handle, how is the length of pull on it? My vintage side by side has to have been made for someone very small stature, I need at least an extra inch on the stock. Currently wearing a slip on recoil pad until I decide on a more permanent solution.
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  #18  
Old 01-28-2021, 3:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigbossman View Post
I have black powder, shot, primers, and even some glue on-hand. Thanks!!
Admittedly my brass hull reloading book specifies that load in balloon head brass hulls. Even with the smaller area in paper or plastic hulls it'll be safe, it's the lowest load available for 12 gauge. If you wanted to mess with even further reduced loads I'd leave the shot charge alone and work down in powder. Unlike smokeless, black only deflagrates when confined. So less shot could theoretically make more boom, and less burn. I've loaded 18 grains of red dot in those Magtech hulls and it's a powder puff load; but it produces pressure differently than black does. If your barrels ring true I'd start with a small load of black. It's about 27ish grains by weight per dram.

Loads in my brass hull book specify large pistol primers, 209s are more energetic but again, shouldn't cause a problem. The stacked load I gave you won't come anywhere near filling the hull, as an FYI.

I've got a bunch of 3 dram pyrodex loads sitting in the garage but haven't gotten around to shoot them. The local sporting clay place asked me to do it when there's less traffic as the smoke and smell tends to cause people to stop what they're doing and watch, lol.
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Old 01-28-2021, 5:30 PM
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Originally Posted by NaClAddict View Post
With a long string and a barricade.
Yep. I do that with all older weapons on first fire. Even first round ladder test on iffy calibers with not much data available. Bungy them to a tree or metal rail out in the sticks and give that string a yank behind the truck.
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Old 01-28-2021, 7:35 PM
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Go camping. Bring a heavy loose tire. Strap down said shotty to tire with butt inserted across and into the inside of the tread area. Make sure your backstop is good and tie a string to the trigger.
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Old 01-29-2021, 10:09 PM
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I used to own an antique 1889 10 gauge lever action. I hand made some shells by cutting up loaded 10 gauge rounds, dumping the powder and wad, loading with black powder and a lubed felt wad, and the same shot (and a couple buck).
I put a paper wad in the end glued in with gorilla glue (sand the inside of the end of the shell or it won't hold).

I sold the thing without ever firing it- but the new owner did and sent video- ran like a swiss watch, not much kick, lots of smoke.

-Dave
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Old 01-29-2021, 10:14 PM
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I've got a couple old doubles I need to proof test so I can hunt dove and quail with them. Some day I'll make time.
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Old 01-29-2021, 10:28 PM
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Does brownells still sell brass 12 gauge shells for these old guns?
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Old 01-29-2021, 10:30 PM
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https://www.brownells.com/reloading/...prod56263.aspx



One of the reviews
MAGTECK BRASS

Great Brass all around. I tap the shells so i can use, 209 primers. Black powder with these brass shells, works well in my 113-year-old side-by-side. Only thing i find wrong is. I need more of them! Great brass! Kevin
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Last edited by hermosabeach; 01-29-2021 at 10:32 PM..
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Old 01-30-2021, 10:10 AM
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You got me excited for a minute, but........ Out of Stock.


Quote:
Originally Posted by hermosabeach View Post
https://www.brownells.com/reloading/...prod56263.aspx



One of the reviews
MAGTECK BRASS

Great Brass all around. I tap the shells so i can use, 209 primers. Black powder with these brass shells, works well in my 113-year-old side-by-side. Only thing i find wrong is. I need more of them! Great brass! Kevin
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Old 01-31-2021, 8:59 AM
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those are what i use in 12 and 16 gauge. I tried to buy some more recently but all I could find were 16s.
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Old 01-31-2021, 9:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigbossman View Post
Just for discussion’s sake, say someone came across a turn of the century SxS double, and it appeared to be in decent shape. Again, theoretically speaking.......

How would you go about working up a low power BP load to test function?
Blackpowder is measured in Drams.
Start there.
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Old 02-02-2021, 12:53 PM
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Originally Posted by ar15barrels View Post
Blackpowder is measured in Drams.
Start there.
Good advice, thanks.

After consulting a friend that has experience in this process, I put together four test loads. 2 drams of ffg, 1 ounce of shot, a cut down Remington figure 8 wad, and homemade nitro and over shot cards. All assembled and glued/sealed.... Ready for take-off.

I'll post results when I get brave enough to try them.

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Old 02-02-2021, 9:59 PM
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Originally Posted by bigbossman View Post
Good advice, thanks.

After consulting a friend that has experience in this process, I put together four test loads. 2 drams of ffg, 1 ounce of shot, a cut down Remington figure 8 wad, and homemade nitro and over shot cards. All assembled and glued/sealed.... Ready for take-off.

I'll post results when I get brave enough to try them.

From what I have read, 2 drams is very light.
Most recommend 2.5 to 3 drams of powder under 1 ounce of lead shot.
Use an over-powder wad and then cut off the bottom gas seal and legs part of a plastic wad to use as a shot cup.
Blackpowder is so much slower that the wads melt and leave plastic in the bore after a few shots.
The over-powder wad stops the blackpowder from melting the shot cup.
If your stack height is short after cutting off the bottom part of the plastic wad, add additional card spacers to get the column height correct for a traditional fold crimp.
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Old 02-03-2021, 8:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ar15barrels View Post
From what I have read, 2 drams is very light.
Most recommend 2.5 to 3 drams of powder under 1 ounce of lead shot.
Use an over-powder wad and then cut off the bottom gas seal and legs part of a plastic wad to use as a shot cup.
Blackpowder is so much slower that the wads melt and leave plastic in the bore after a few shots.
The over-powder wad stops the blackpowder from melting the shot cup.
If your stack height is short after cutting off the bottom part of the plastic wad, add additional card spacers to get the column height correct for a traditional fold crimp.
Yes, I choose the 2 Dram load precisely because it is a powder puff load. I just want to test fire the gun to see what's what.

A friend forwarded me an interesting article addressing the subject of loading for and firing old BP shotguns, and there was a pretty informative chart attached. Apparently, even with a 3 Dram load of FFG, BP is only generating about ~4,000 psi, which is a far cry from the 11,000psi or so my reloads attain in my skeet gun (book value - I've never tested).

I did cut off the gas seal and legs of the shot cup as you mentioned to do (as seen in the previous pic). I'm not overly worried about melted plastic as I will only be shooting 3-4 test loads, just to see what happens. If the gun doesn't disassemble itself or so other signs of stress, any further testing will take place with proper nitro cards and lubed vegetable based wads as directed in everything I've read. Speaking of nitro cards - I didn't have any, so I made some from cardboard discs. They are not as thick as real nitro cards and probably won't do much in regard to protecting the wad from scorching, but they are keeping the powder confined nice and tight.

If the test rounds go as anticipated, the next step is to up the charge to 2.5 or 3 Drams and use the proper wads. I think that with a 2 Dram load, my real concern will be with maybe a blooper round. The one thing I'm real curious about is the pattern the gun will produce. Tightly choked 32" barrels at 20 yards..... I wonder what that's gonna look like.
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  #31  
Old 02-03-2021, 9:00 AM
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Old 02-03-2021, 9:25 AM
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just use aguila minishells
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Old 02-03-2021, 9:40 AM
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just use aguila minishells
In an old black powder shotgun that's not proofed for nitro?
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Old 02-03-2021, 11:53 AM
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Originally Posted by bigbossman View Post
Tightly choked 32" barrels at 20 yards..... I wonder what that's gonna look like.
Have you measured them at all?

I think both chokes are cylinder, with cylinder being 18.1mm in one barrel and 18.3mm in the other, meaning some constriction but different than chokes really. My take on the 18.1/18.1 mark is that the barrel is bored 18.1 instead of 18.5, and is 18.1 at the muzzle. My take on the 18.3 is that the barrel is bored 18.3 the whole way through.

I DO know that my 100 year old shotguns ('Murican! with 'Murican choke designations) run a good bit tighter than modern chokes. Old loads that didn't use shot cups and often used soft lead shot opened patterns, so guns were choked more tightly. Modern shotcups help tighten patterns, so lots of old guns shoot REALLY tight with modern loads.
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Last edited by NapalmCheese; 02-03-2021 at 11:56 AM..
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Old 02-03-2021, 3:19 PM
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In an old black powder shotgun that's not proofed for nitro?
i thought there were stamps in the picture they survived a double charge

and the #7 minishells are like half power
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Old 02-03-2021, 3:22 PM
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Originally Posted by NapalmCheese View Post
Have you measured them at all?

I think both chokes are cylinder, with cylinder being 18.1mm in one barrel and 18.3mm in the other, meaning some constriction but different than chokes really. My take on the 18.1/18.1 mark is that the barrel is bored 18.1 instead of 18.5, and is 18.1 at the muzzle. My take on the 18.3 is that the barrel is bored 18.3 the whole way through.

I DO know that my 100 year old shotguns ('Murican! with 'Murican choke designations) run a good bit tighter than modern chokes. Old loads that didn't use shot cups and often used soft lead shot opened patterns, so guns were choked more tightly. Modern shotcups help tighten patterns, so lots of old guns shoot REALLY tight with modern loads.
Near as I can measure - .704 and .715....... so, somewhere between improved modified/light modified and modified/improved cylinder?
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Old 02-03-2021, 3:25 PM
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i thought there were stamps in the picture they survived a double charge

and the #7 minishells are like half power
All the Aguila mini's I've seen on the net are either slugs or some variation of buckshot. Plus, smokeless powder has a different, faster pressure curve than BP, so that might be a consideration. Not sure if I want to go there yet, reduced charge notwithstanding. I'll keep it in mind, but I don't have them and the local stores ain't gonna have them on the shelves.
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Old 02-03-2021, 4:29 PM
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Near as I can measure - .704 and .715....... so, somewhere between improved modified/light modified and modified/improved cylinder?
I'm honestly not certain how the choker interacts with the barrel diameter vs. just having a barrel of a certain diameter. I /THINK/ those bores are bored straight with no constriction on the muzzle end, but are bored under diameter. Closer to a cylinder choked 12.8 gauge and a cylinder chocked 13.4 gauge or something...

Or I guess just consider them 12 gauge with LONG PARALLEL chokes, lol.

I am also interested to see how they pattern, if all goes well I'd like to see the pattern from a load of 3 dram 1 oz #8 with a stacked wad column!
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Old 02-03-2021, 4:32 PM
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Originally Posted by bigbossman View Post
Near as I can measure - .704 and .715....... so, somewhere between improved modified/light modified and modified/improved cylinder?
Don't measure chokes by finite diameter.
Measure them by constriction.

Constriction is the difference between the bore diameter (before the choke) and the exit diameter.

If your bore is 0.723", then that 0.715" exit diameter is 0.008" constriction.
If your bore is 0.729", then that 0.715" exit diameter is 0.014" constriction.
If your bore is 0.740", then that 0.715" exit diameter is 0.025" constriction.

More here:
https://allaboutshooting.com/blogs/b...-exit-diameter
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Old 02-03-2021, 4:38 PM
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Actually, thinking back, things are making sense in regards to the choked constriction vs. bore diameter.

If we consider that chokes are designated by the percentage of pellets in a circle at a certain distance rather than by constriction it makes sense. That is, a 12 gauge is normally loaded with between 1 and 1.25 oz of shot. If your 1.25oz load puts 70% of the pellets in a 30 inch circle at 40 yards it's a full choke. If you're 18.1 bore diameter shotgun with no apparently constriction at the muzzle puts 70% of the pellets in a 'normal' load into a 30 inch circle at 40 yards, it's a full choke (despite not having a choke constriction). I'd need to look at the picture again, but sometimes old shotguns have pellet counts or percentages listed on them.

That is to say that ultimately in this old gun the difference in bore diameter vs. muzzle diameter doesn't necessarily define the choke; the pattern density defines the choke and the gauge defines the shell used (not the bore diameter).
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Last edited by NapalmCheese; 02-03-2021 at 5:24 PM..
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