Central Arms SXS 12 ga

Discussion in 'The Ask the Pros & What's It Worth? Forum' started by Ken W, Jun 14, 2012.

  1. Ken W

    Ken W Member

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    A friend of mine showed me an old shotgun she's had for years. Unfortunately it had been stored somewhere damp and is covered with surface rust. Nothing a bit of steel wool won't take care of, I think. The bores are still shiny baring the occasional cobweb. From what I've read tonight look up the name, Central Arms was a trade name used by the Shapleigh Hardware Co. of St. Louis Mo. Actually manufactured my Crescent or Stevens. What I'm wondering is how old it is so I can advise of the shot shell strength for her to use. The serial number for it is E96666. I don't imagine it's worth a whole lot but it's still interesting. I disassembled it for her and will help clean it up. I'll try to remember to bring my camera.
  2. Ken W

    Ken W Member

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    I finally took some pics. Now that I got a closer look at it I see that the rust on there is a lot deeper that I originally thought. The first photo shows the way it was before I went at it with steel wool.

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    Even though a lot of rust came off the evidence of it's existence is present over the entire gun. It would take a lot getting rid of it completely

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    I'm estimating it's manufacture sometime in the 20's or 30's. I wouldn't bet on that though. If it is that old am I correct in assuming that it's not exactly safe to fire modern powered shells in it? I know a couple companies sell light loads for older shotguns but would need to be acquired online and aren't exactly the cheapest. This is the main issue I need to find out for her. How old is it and can it safely shoot normal low brass shells?
  3. Ken W

    Ken W Member

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    Doesn't anyone have any idea about this thing? I found one that looks just like it; it's a Westernfield New Model, sold by Montgomery Wards. Anyone have info on those and what maker and model it really was?

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  4. Hammerslagger

    Hammerslagger New Member

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    Your gun appears to be an Iver Johnson "Hercules" model with a private brand on it.

    Enter; Iver Johnson Hercules SXS shotguns from Google, Yahoo, etc. and start reading.

    If you take stainless steel scouring pad material and a good penetrating oil like Kroil, WD-40, PB Blaster, etc. (really makes little difference) and gently oil and rub you can likely shear the red rust off flush with the surface and greatly improve the gun's appearance.The black oxide (bluing) is harder than the SS scouring pad; the red oxide (rust) is not. Just go slowly and carefully and you will improve the situation.
  5. hrf

    hrf Well-Known Member

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    Last edited: Jun 19, 2012
  6. Hammerslagger

    Hammerslagger New Member

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    hrf is correct. I was wrong. Did not look thoroughly at the receiver contours before answering.
  7. Ken W

    Ken W Member

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    Plus the I.J. has only one pin at the back of the receiver whereas the one I'm researching has two. I think I've found what it is. I believe it to be a Stevens 330. This means my guess about it being made in the 20's or 30's was correct. Which also, unfortunately for my friend, it's only rated for low powered shells like Vintager Shells from Poly Wad. That particular model was only made from the teens through the early 30's.

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  8. Hammerslagger

    Hammerslagger New Member

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    Yes, I really screwed up on the shotgun's ID. Such is very embarrassing as I should have known better. But, like Forrest Gump said "It happens".

    With the introduction of gas operated auto-loaders in the 1960's, major ammo companies standardized 12 ga. pressures at between 11,000 and 12,000 psi. Prior to 1950 there were mainly 8,000 to 9,000 psi field shells (low brass) and 12,500 psi waterfowl shells (high brass). The J M Browning A-5 design shotgun made by FN, Remington, Savage, and others had a recoil system adjustment for these different loads.

    About 10 years ago, I had Remington Cust. Service advise me not to shoot their ammo in any pre-1950 SxS double gun; but they would not give a reason why.

    The bottom line is that most US "forged steel barrels" SxS guns were typically proofed at around 14,000 psi. {Spanish SxS guns typically a little lower, and not much over the pressure of a US "high brass" waterfowl load.} These guns will shoot loose a lot faster using modern factory ammo than with the lower pressure loads that they were mainly designed to shoot but are likely stronger than many other SxS guns. It is best to get a loading machine and load your own light pressure (8000 to 9000 psi) loads. See next paragraph.

    I am unsure if any engineering design changes were made to the early 1950's Stevens SxS guns. I personally witnessed one such Stevens take a double charge of Unique powder (42 to 45 grains) in the early 1960's. I would estimate the breech pressure as being at least 32,000 psi. The gun was damaged and should have been scrapped, but the barrel did not obviously swell or burst. The outside edge of the receiver ear was pushed back about 0.030" to 0.040" and the shell blew out at the rim. The gun was subsequently fired several times without incident, and traded to a pawn shop that did not know much about guns, for a early model Fox B. That Stevens is probably still in use, somewhere, but should not be.
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2012
  9. Ken W

    Ken W Member

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    Thanks for the added info HS. So it's anything before the 50's that needs to be used with low powered shell. I assumed it would be similar to when rifles and pistols, namely 22's, were strengthened for higher pressure loads in the mid 30's. Obviously a dangerous assumption.
    Thanks also to hrf for his input as well.
  10. Hammerslagger

    Hammerslagger New Member

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    Re: post #9.

    The problem with most modern shot shells, that you can find at mass retailers, is that their pressure was, on average, increased for the benefit of gas operated auto-loaders which became very popular some years ago, and remain so.

    Handloaders can custom make their loads. There are several specialty ammo makers that can be found on the internet, that make light pressure ammo for old SxS shotguns.

    Many US made post WW I and pre-WW II SxS shotguns (including Ithaca, Fox, L C Smith , and Parker, etc.) actually had their barrel tubes often made in Belgium or Germany. The unfinished barrel stock was imported and finished into a shotgun barrel set in the USA. These barrels were typically ingot forged from a low carbon steel billet or ingot, proofed at about 14,000 psi. and expected to be shot mostly with say 9000 psi ammo common at the time. They have taken significant use with 12500 psi waterfowl loads. Barrel failures on such guns are rare but, if shot a lot with modern pressure ammo many may loosen up faster than would otherwise be expected.

    A large number of Spanish SxS guns entered the US after WW II. Most of them are not regarded as being suitable for extensive use with modern ammo either.

    Pre WW II US mono-barrel repeating shotguns typically had their barrels made of stronger steel (e.g. "nickle-steel") than was typically used on most SxS guns except Winchester. The W21 was proofed at 16,800 psi; and one test gun was fired with over 2000 proof shells without measurable changes.
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