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Thread: 16 Bore French Cape Gun

  1. #1

    16 Bore French Cape Gun



    A while back, I bought this 16 gauge double barrel shotgun. (Th fellow that sold it to me said it was French, but it doesn't look French to me. Maybe some of you shotgun experts here at SD can set me straight on that.) Both barrels are in fact 16 gauge, but the right one is rifled. I hadn't test fired it yet mostly because it represents a bit of a challenge. Here's a look at the right barrel:


    The biggest issue is that I know that there is some over-the-counter 16 gauge slug ammo "around", but they sure can't be found up here. That meant that I would have to either make my own or find one. (I don't have a mold and Lee is only selling 12 gauge molds as far as I can tell.) I found one, and actually a pretty good one. It's made in Gualandi in Italy, imported by Ballistic Products, and sold by Midway USA. (With two "middle men" the markup is probably not more than 6 or 7 hundred percent above what the Italians are getting for them.)





    I like the "carrier" or integral wad. It means I don't have to find one that 'fits'.

    The next challenge was finding some load data for 16 gauge slugs. Not much to be had. Finally, I decided to just do what I always seem to have to do - 'improvise'. The slug and "carrier" weigh exacty one ounce. I figured that if I found a charge for 1 oz of shot, it wouldn't be too different for 1 oz of solid lead. I got an OLD Lee Loader and looked at the charges for a one ounce load. The only one for a powder I had on hand was 21 grains of Unique. So be it.

    Next was cases/hulls. I have plenty of 16 gauge plastic hulls, but I wanted to use brass cases. After all, it's really a rifle we're talking about here. I found a source for 16 gauge brass but only Berdan-primed. Sigh. I bought a box and drilled out the Berdan anvil and the pocket fits a 209 just fine. (I had done this for some black powder "shot" cartridges before.)

    That wasn't the only problem. While the brass cases fit the chamber, the walls are so thin that the slug-and-carrier 'rattle around' in it. :stare: So... I got out the plastic hulls and tried them. Again, the hulls fit the chamber well, but this time, the plastic walls are so thick that the slug-and-carrier only fit with substantial elbow grease. Oy!

    I decided to 'enlarge' the slug-and-carrier (S&C) by essentially making it a "paper patched" bullet. I wrapped a square of TP around the S&C and it now fits tightly in the brass case. Here's what it looks like "patched". I also use a fiber wad beneath it to get the length of the "shot column" correct for the brass case.


    However, I am quite certain that if I found the need to fire the left barrel (shot) first, without some form of crimp, the recoil would move the S&C out of the brass case. That's not 'good'. The Lee Loader allows me to put a nice crimp on the brass case. Here's what the first loaded rounds look like.


    The slug mics at 0.669" +- 0.002". The muzzle mics at 0.645" x 0.665", so there's some "squeezing" goin' on. Finally, it was time to test fire these rounds.

    I loaded up four of each of the "paper-patched" brass cartridges, and four of the plastic ones. Again, the charge was 21 grains of Unique for both of them. I took the piece 'out back' behind the garage and set the target at 15 paces. I can get 25 yds back there but I didn't feel that was necessary for this exercise.

    The sights on the gun look like this:


    I haven't measured it, but I think there is a little 'cast off' on this piece's butt. That's fine by me. See for yourself and let me know what you think.






    So I fired the brass cases first, then the plastic ones. Here is the resulting 'target'. The brass cases are above to the holes that they produced, and the plastic ones to the right of the holes they produced.


    You'll notice the ragged holes produced by the "paper-patched", brass-cased shots. I think that might be due to the fiber wad still being 'attached' or right behind the S&C. The plastic-cased ones are sharply defined. I'm "fine" with these"groups". The one upper 'flier' was the first out so I suppose that's the cause of that. The "groups aren't bad for a "two bead" shotgun sight, even if it was only 15 yards. The "lowness" (the first shot hit the point of aim exactly) is difficult to assess. I'll have to look at the elevation at 50 and 100 yds.

    The biggest difference in the two cases was felt recoil. The brass cases were "pleasant" to shoot. The plastic one's recoiled "smartly". Not "bad", but those are not loads for "boys". It's clear that the tight fit of the plastic case imparts some increased velocity. I didn't set up my chronograph because I wasn't particularly interested in checking velocity. I was just checking "safe" firing and "grouping". However, given the very real difference in recoil between the two cases, I will be measuring MV. Probably not 'til next week. I'll post here when I have that info.

    Paul

  2. #2
    That is a pretty little SxS, nice work on the slug loads
    Hope they work as well on live targets.
    Can the rifled barrel cope with shot shells as well as the slug rounds ?

    Neil.

  3. #3
    Try having a look at 12 bore loads for 1 oz shot and 1oz slug and applying the same ratio alteration to your load and see if that helps but be careful, start low and work your way up and if you have access to a chronograph use it.

    Normally brass cases are made for the individual gun after sizing the chamber and the internal diameter of the case should be the same as the bore of the gun. Last time I bought a dozen for the 4bore they cost £10 -£12 each (5 years or so ago) but last forever. Have to be made by someone with experience in these matters or cases may not be excellent for purpose. Maker I use also supplies cardboard and fibre wads also can make an excellent former for making cup / thimble shaped cardboard over-powder wad which was for good obduration (gas seal).

    Plus side of the rifled barrel is that it can be used for shot loads at very close ranges say (10 yards) with normal shot say sixes for birds or rabbirs and not smash them and will still give a killing pattern out to 25 yards with a large pattern. Almost like imperfect home made shot! Improves your confidence greatly as pattern is large therefore most people hit more. If you have to shoot rabbits at very close ranges say 5 yards in heavy cover go to bb's and rabbits will still be useable.

    You have a nice toy there and you should have plenty of fun with it.

    ATB

    Bob

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Bob View Post
    Try having a look at 12 bore loads for 1 oz shot and 1oz slug and applying the same ratio alteration to your load and see if that helps but be careful, start low and work your way up and if you have access to a chronograph use it.
    I'm confident these loads are 'fine' pressure-wise. I'll compare 12 bore loads once I have some chronograph info. I do have pressure gear that I can put on non-destructively. I've never looked at shotgun pressure curves. It might be worth the hassle to do that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob
    Plus side of the rifled barrel is that it can be used for shot loads at very close ranges say (10 yards) with normal shot say sixes for birds or rabbirs and not smash them and will still give a killing pattern out to 25 yards with a large pattern. Almost like imperfect home made shot! Improves your confidence greatly as pattern is large therefore most people hit more. If you have to shoot rabbits at very close ranges say 5 yards in heavy cover go to bb's and rabbits will still be useable.
    An interesting perspective. I hadn't considered "close quarter combat" with shot for the rifled barrel. Here Stateside, that would be a novel use. However, I agree that it is a very practical application and may even be what its original intent was. I supposed it was primarily for driven boar with the occasional driven pheasant flushing. I may have to pattern it with 7.5.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob
    You have a nice toy there and you should have plenty of fun with it.

    ATB

    Bob
    Thank you,
    Paul
    Last edited by gitano; 05-10-2010 at 03:30.

  5. #5
    Here are some pictures of the "proof marks". Brithunter looked up some of them about a year ago. Any amplification would be appreciated. I also found out it was called a "Boar gun". I was probably subliminally remembering that when I suggested it above.

    Here are the proof marks and stamps I said above I found interesting.

    First are the barrels. The first picture is of the stamps on the underside of each barrel just forward of the chambers. In this picture, the upper barrel is the shotgun (left) barrel, and the lower one is the rifle (right) barrel.


    "St. Etienne" = Saint Eteinne, the town in which this piece was made. There are copious references (stamps) of St. Etienne.

    I have no clue as to what the "17.0" and "16.4" refer. Neither do I know what the "Omega" is under the 17.0, nor the crown over the crossed feathers(?).



    The next picture is a close-up of the rifle barrel stamp showing the proof just to the left. It's a crown in the "12 o'clock" position of what are probably crossed feathers or swords or ???. I can't tell what are in the other three quadrants, but they look like crucifixes or "t"s or "+"s.



    The next picture is of the stamps on the underside of the chamber of the shotgun barrel. The "Cal 16" obviously means 16 gauge;
    The "Choke" means choke I'm guessing;
    The "PERFECTIONNE" means "Full" I am guessing this time.
    I don't know what the "2" just left of "choke" means, nor do I know what the "6.5" and "6.1" mean to either side of the extractor groove.


    There is the Crown with the "PT" beneath it again. I suspect this is some government proof mark. It is on both barrels and the receiver.

    "Charge d'epreuve fusil fini" means, to the best of my ability to determine, "Approved 'Final' Charge" which I take to mean what we would call the "Proof Charge". It is followed by "T:2.93-30". Which I think defines the charge, but I haven't figured what that means "in English" yet.

    Beneath that is "Charge Normale" which I take to mean "normal charge". It is followed by "T:1.70-28"
    Help here would be especially appreciated.

    Between and to the left of these "charge" stamps is what I believe to be crossed lightening bolts.

    Between and to the RIGHT of the charge stamps is a stamp of Crossed Cannons with an arrow pointing down through the center, and "M" and "F" in the "9 o'clock" and "3 o'clock" positions respectively. The "MF" is seen elsewhere and essentially means "Manufacturing Factory". In this case, it refers specifically to a factory CALLED "manufacturing factory" in St. Etienne.




    The next picture is of the same part of the barrels as above, but for the rifle barrel. Again, the "Cal 16" refers to the 16 gauge, but in this case, it really is 16 'caliber'. "RAYE" in French means "scratch" in English. To me that could mean "no choke" or "cylinder choke" or "non-applicable". Again we have the crown and "PT" stamp and the crossed lightening bolts. The "Canon Frette Fabrication Mecanique" translates to "Barrel" "Hoop" "Fabrication" "Factory". You can decide how you would put that in English.

    To the right is what is obviously a factory stamp from the "Fabrication Mecanique" in Saint Etienne.

    The "Acier Extra" translates to "steel extra" which I think clearly means "Nitro steel" in English parlance.


    The next pictures are of the stamps on the sides of the chambers, visible above the water table when the piece is assembled. The first one says "Fusil Robust Brevet S.D.G.D". That means "Robust Rifle Patent S.D.G.D". The other says "Manufacture Francaise d'armes et cycles de Et. Etienne" which means "French weapon and bicycle factory in Saint Etienne".




    The next pictures are from the water table (the flat part of the receiver under the barrels). Since they are repeats of some of the above, I'll just post them without more explanation.






    Paul

  6. #6
    I remember Reading a few years ago on the Beretta Website that they were selling a short barelled lightweight over and under with one of the barrels rifled - not for shooting slugs but for shooting wood cock and grouse at close range - the rifling acting as a spreader.

    Your gun looks a lot of fun and quite - those slugs should knock over most things. Go to the double gun journal forum and you will find plenty of info on these sorts of things.

  7. #7
    Thanks, Heym SR20. I'll have a look.

    I got the chronograph out today and checked the the muzzle velocities at 5 feet.

    For the brass 'paper-patched' cartridge the average MV was 925 f/s.
    For the plastic-hulled loads, the average velocity was 1295 f/s.

    I think 925 f/s is a bit too anemic for my tastes. On the other hand, 1300 f/s is a 'nice', 'reasonable' MV for what use I would likely apply this arm. The muzzle energy for a 1 ounce projectile doing ~1300 f/s is ~1700 ft-lbs. The same projectile doing ~925 f/s generates ~855 ft-lbs of muzzle energy. I don't know the ballistic coefficient for these projectiles, but for ranges out to 100 yds or so, BC doesn't matter too much. I won't be trying to shoot a grouse's head off at 100 yds with this arm.

    Paul

  8. #8
    I could be wrong but I think the 17.0 and 16.4 are the bore diameter in mm

  9. #9
    Sweep 6.5x55,

    I mic'd the rifled muzzle - it mic'd at 0.645" (lands) and 0.655" (grooves). 16.5 divided by 25.4 equals ~0.649" and 17 divided by 25.4 equals ~0.669", so that's probably correct. The 0.669" means a basically a cylinder bore. Seems a bit odd to me, but maybe not.

    Paul

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Dalua
    As I was looking at the pic on the first post, it occurred to me that the slightly beaver-tailed forend and the distinct step in barrel-contour after the chamber made this gun took to me very like a Fusil Robust, made by Manufrance at St. Étienne.
    What happened to that post??? It was right on.

    Paul

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