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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
My brother found an old external hammer 12ga SxS that was in really rough condition at a yard sale. It had a dent in one barrel, the bite was loose, the barrel was covered in something green and the stock was broken and missing pieces.

He decided it wasn’t even a wall hanger and I got it from him for a project about 10 years ago.

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This winter I started checking it out and found this when I took it apart.
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I was going to try to make a new stock for the experience but finally decided to see if I could repair it first.

I did some reassembly of what I had and then filled in the missing parts. I took almost all the dent out of the barrel, tightened the bite and cleaned the green off the barrel.

Final reassembly was today. Nothing of beauty but good enough to hang on the wall as a 100-130 year old beater.
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I’m tempted to try it if I can find some short low power shells for it, but for now it’s the only external hammer gun I’ve got on the wall. :)
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It did come out good. Load up some black powder shells. with the light load for the gauge. I assume that's a 12?
 

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IF you're thinking BP, I'd start at 3 -3 1/2 drams and 1 1/8 oz. of shot. If the chambers are 2 1/2 you can cut back plastic hulls. You can make a few wads, the hard card wad, fiber wad and over shot card. A punch to knock out old primers and a dowel to push the wads in are all the tools a fella needs....well, I guess he also needs a roll crimper. I think they're about $20.00 from Ballistics Products. They sure do a slick job!!

Ah...plastic hulls are only really good for one reload with BP. It eats the base wads and will eat the hulls themselves.

If I'm mentioning a bunch of stuff you already know, tell me to shut up and go sit in a corner....
 

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Discussion Starter #6
A friend reloads shotgun and promises to make me what I will need. I need to study all the stampings and try to determine what can be used before we do anything.
 

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I would consider 3 to 3 1/2 dram to be full power loads. For a light load, try 2 1/2 dram which would equate to about 75 grains of ffg black powder with 1 or 1 1/8 oz shot. This load works well in my 1880's 12 ga, 2 1/2" cartridge gun as well as 16 ga and 14 ga muzzle loaders. When trying out old guns, especially with repaired barrels, I clamp the gun in a lead sled and attach a long string to the trigger. Fire 2 or 3 shots from each barrel and inspect for cracks, bulges or other damage. If all OK, then fire from shoulder. Best to be safe.
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Ok, I’m ready for a little more information from you guys.
I’m not finding much stamped into this old gal, not even the gauge.
I’m getting chamber diameter of approximately .810 which appears to be 12 ga.
A rough measurement to the cone is 2 7/8” so 2 1/2” shells?
I’m only getting .683 for the muzzle diameter.
Barrel is stamped “choke bored” and “genuine armory steel”
These pictured below are the only other marks I can find except for what I assume is the serial number on several parts.
I’m not seeing anything that would indicate it is rated for smokeless so should I just assume it’s a BP gun?
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I think the mark that looks like a U is a poorly stamped S.

I hadn’t considered it being. BP gun but it could very well be. I think it’s best as a wall hanger for the tough shape that it’s in.
 
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If it was made in the USA, it won't have any proofing house marks. I think it's a late enough gun to have been built for smokeless powder but perhaps not. But if you want to make it go boom a few times, Take it easy on the old girl and load a few BP rounds because it will be a less pressure than smokeless and put less stress on that stock repair. BP doesn't have that pressure spike or a sharp recoil impulse, it's more of a push than a jolt.
 

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To your questions:
Yes, it appears to be 12 ga. chambered for 2 1/2" shells.
Choke bored indicates the barrels have chokes, in this case a .43 restriction which is full choke, very full. Old guns tend to be tighter choked than modern since they didn't have shot collar wads then.
I don't see any proof marks. They would help indicate black or smokeless powder, country of manufacture. Also would give some idea to date. The referance to Armory Steel barrels puts it around the time of change over from black to smokeless powder, 1890's. There were a lot of inexpensive shotguns sold in that era, both European and American. English, Belgian and German guns almost always have proof marks. Not so with American but they usually have a manuacturer name.
My 1909 Ithaca is marked Smokeless Steel and no proofs. The 1870's Belgian cartrige gun is marked Cast Steel on barrels but has black powder proofs. Bottom line, I'd stick to BP especially with repaired barrel. BP has a much lower pressure curve even compared to light smokeless loads.
 

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Look at the size of the firing pins. If they're bigger than a reasonably modern shotgun, it's a BP gun. Given what I can see of the firing pin, it looks pretty big.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I thought I had already noted on here that it is a Hartford, most likely made by Cresent somewhere between 1890 and 1920.
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That was info I got from this forum from one of my first posts back in 2010.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Look at the size of the firing pins. If they're bigger than a reasonably modern shotgun, it's a BP gun. Given what I can see of the firing pin, it looks pretty big.
Here is a shot next to my Stevens 16 ga 311. They are a little bigger.
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Purely my opinion and it's based on a SWAG, it seems to be a BP firearm to me. Whether it is or not, in deference to the old piece, BP with its attendant low pressures might be the best way to shoot it.
 
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