Issue 02 August 2019

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Cartridges for Vintage Guns.

A pracical guide to what will suit your gun.

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Gunsmithing & Technical|June 2017

When selecting ammunition, please consider the environmental impact of game shooting. We recommend using paper-case, fibre-wad loads, wherever possible. The cost differential is negligible and the benefits in-keeping with the conservation-minded aims of our sustainable sport.

Original chambers.

English guns of the pre-war period will usually be chambered for 2 1/2″ cases (ammunition now sold as 65mm).

Some wild-fowling and pigeon guns will be chambered for 2 3/4″ cases (ammunition now sold as 70mm).

A few wild-fowling guns were made with 3″ chambers (ammunition now sold as 76mm).

Some English guns, originally made with 2 1/2″ chambers, may have been altered and re-proof tested with 2 3/4″ chambers.

Case Lengths

Imperial                   Metric Equivalents

2 1/2″                         65mm / 67mm /67.5mm

2 3/4″                         70mm

3″                                76mm

Suitable Ammunition for British Shotguns

We shoot British 65mm cased ammunition in all our guns (even those with 70mm chambers) We believe that modern ammunition, of quality in 65mm (2 1/2″) cases is equal to all normal game shooting activity. Most people over complicate the issue. As a practical measure, we use Gamebore Regal 28g and 30g 12-bore loads and Gamebore Regal 28g, 16-bore loads. No.6 shot with a fibre wad will kill anything you hit with it within 40 yards and these loads will be kind to your old guns as well.

We are often asked to advise clients about a range of ammunition.

If your 12-bore guns are chambered for 2 1/2″ cases, we suggest:

For general game shooting: Gamebore Regal 65mm case, 28g, No.6. Fibre Wad.

For higher pheasants: Gamebore Regal 65mm case, 30g, No.5. Fibre Wad.

If your guns are chambered for 2 3/4″ cases, we suggest:

For all game shooting: Eley Zenith 70mm case, 30g, No6,  Fibre Wad

If your guns are chambered for 3″ cases, please avoid modern 3″ magnum loads,

The proof test for these is a higher service pressure.

Instead, try Eley Alphamax 70mm case, 36g, No.3, Plastic Wad

Be aware that the weight of your gun is an important factor in choice of ammunition. If you have a light gun, pushing super-fast, heavy loads through it (even those which conform to proof marks) will be uncomfortable for you, giving a lot of felt recoil, and hard on your gun, making it liable to shoot-loose faster. In the days of black powder, the standard English 12-bore game load was 1 1/8oz of shot, in a 2 1/2″ case. After the introduction of ‘smokeless’ powders in the late 19th century, the standard load was reduced to 1 1/6 oz. The 1 oz Eley Impax  2 1/2″ paper case was,  for most of the first half of the 20th century, considered a ‘gentleman’s load’ for driven pheasant shooting.

Published by Vintage Guns Ltd on (modified )

Gunsmithing & Technical|June 2017

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