Discreet growth in popularity of the 16 bore?

Hello everyone.

Recently I've noticed a steady trickle of articles praising the sixteen bore shotgun, such as the one mentioned on the cover of Fieldsports magazine:


I also saw this advert in Shooting Times for new 16 bore shotguns built on dedicated actions:

2016-07-19_10-01-00 by pinemarten, on Flickr

Earlier this year, Browning launched a 16 bore version of its' A5 shotgun:

A5 Sweet Sixteen

Is this a real phenomenon back by any sales figures or just a lot of PR? It can't be just that because they're making products so they must think they can sell them.

I just want to point out if it does grow into a genuine trend that I was into 16 bore before it sold out and went all mainstream.


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Also in 'The Field' - Mike Yardley (remember?) reviews Boxhall and Edmiston o/u 16bore.

Browning's 16bore self-loader is perhaps more of a relaunch, though.

A 16 made by a maker who scales the action to the bore is likely to be a good few ounces lighter than similar 12bore, and with loads in the 15/16th to 1 1/16th range is not running at absurdly high pressures. With the current popularity of cumbersome great o/u guns over proper game-guns, this might be seen as an advantage; while avoiding the dog-walking-on-its-hind-legs phenomenon of 1oz loads in 28bores that in any case weigh as much as 12s.

The purpose of adverts, 'review' articles and so on is not, of course to bear witness to an increase in sales: but rather to stimulate one.


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I'd be pleased if cheap 16-65mm clay cartridges became available in this country. With plastic wads and everything.


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In this day and age, when everyone seems to be trying to be different/interesting/unusual, I think the 16bore will be a winner. The problem will be getting a good range of ammunition.


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I've had a good look at the recent Browning 16bores, and they're very nice. I went with a 20 bore, rather than the 16, because of the cartridge issue - there isn't (yet?) a wide range of them, and they're expensive just now. At the Holts stand at the Scottish Game Fair, there was a pair of Woodward O/Us in 16 bore, original case, looking as if the came almost straight out of the factory, but built pre-war. They even had spare barrels for each gun which looked brand new. Can't imagine what they'll go for, but I expect it'd buy me a couple of new cars.......
Ballistically, the 16 bore makes good sense as it's a 'square' load (as wide as tall) in typical load weights and you avoid shot damage from 'stacking'. Having patterned 20 bores with 32g shot loads, the charge is a bird mincer out to about 30yds and after that the pattern deteriorates quite quickly. I finished up shooting 25/26g out of the 20b with good results.
Hopefully the modern 16's will catch on - it's a really nice calibre
Well if people start buying sixteen bores again, the ammunition supply will follow. There's not a huge range available in the UK compared to France for example where it was for a long time the most popular cartridge, so there are still a lot of shotguns in use. For me, the difficulty is that there's only a single manufacturer who make a bismuth load for duck flighting and they cost an absolute fortune, something like £2 a cartridge, assuming you can even find them. Actually I should probably start looking now for next season. Oh, hang on, maybe while I'm in France!


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16 gauge SxS shotguns were very common when I was young, and my first shotgun was a Stevens 16. Much later in life, I bought and restored a Fox Sterlingworth 16 gauge, then bought a Browning Citori. Ammunition is not to be found in the discount stores like Walmart. You have to go to a real gun store, or a Cabelas or Bass Pro Shop, and load your own. It is like a big brother to the 28 gauge - all you need for most large bird shooting.
Well it's Tommyrot! Or, rather, I'll believe it when I can once again buy 16 bore #8 and #9 off the shelf as once was in the late 1960s and eraly 1970s. Or, other than the odd remaindered Sellier and Bellot, paper cased of any shot size at a reasonable price.

As I posted elsewhere I've never had anyone want to buy my 1920s Manufrance 16 bore easy-opener s/b/s boxlock ejector and for practicalities try and get any sort of shot size below #7 and, in UK, you won't! So it's a dead end calibre as far as clau use where most grounds mandate a minimum size, now, of # 7 1/2.

Unless anyone knows different and I'd be well delighted to be put right and told XX or YY has such cartridges.

As a game calibre it's still useful, I've a pair of single trigger self-opener Arrieta 803 sidlocks "Made for Somerton Guns" in that bore size. Modern 70mm chambers, too, 16" one piece stocks, 29" barrels. What's not to like. But as I only really will shoot single gun days with small bags under 100 I bought them on a whim to complement the 12 bore gun I am most likely to use nowadays (thus the single triggers were welcomed).

Mr. Gain

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I put it down to 3 factors:

  1. Manufacturers know shooters want new toys on a regular basis. Consequently, they are constantly looking for something new to offer us, and when they shook the bag this time 16g came out. Every one has at least one 12g and one 20g already, and not enough people can shoot a 28g with success (cf. Fiocchi, below), let alone a .410, for these to be as promising a proposition as the 16g.
  2. High demand for 12g and 20g classic guns at auction has hiked prices so far as to make the previously overlooked 16g more attractive to buyers.
  3. 16g guns are usually nice to shoot as the limited range of loads available are loaded right for the gauge (references to "square loads" are duly abundant). Cartridge manufacturers are always trying to extend their product ranges by offering loads which push the weight of shot and/or velocity to levels that make guns of whatever gauge unpleasant to shoot. Almost everyone who shoots a 20g shoots too heavy a load, and Fiocchi's new 3" 30-gram 28g load is just the latest example of over-egging the ballistic pudding. The 16g has yet to be sullied by this tendency!
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Indeed many current 16 bore loadings are 15/16 ounce instead of the full 1 ounce in 65mm. Eley's 70mm 16 bore Alphamax was 1 1/8 ounce. But as I've said I still can't get a broad spectrum of 16 bore cartridges in the shot sizes once available in my youth.
Increase in popularity maybe a bit like fashion ,everything comes around again saw many more 16 bores in the shooting field in my youth
than I see now at that time they were much more popular than the 20b which was seen as a youths or ladies gun.

As a matter of interest how many have seen a 14b? I haven't but in my first job there was a box of Eley 14b cartridges in the gun room
I believe 14b was quite a popular size in pinfire shotguns, but these were. normal centre fire cartridges.

Glyn 1

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Nice for a novelty but with the way gunshops in this country are going I think anyone would be barking to buy anything other than the 'vanilla' version of anything these days. That goes for rifles and shotguns. Obviously handloading can help as can owning a massive estate and buying your cartridges by the pallet but I still think you would be setting yourself up for hassle. I wish my 7mm-'08 was a .308!
Nice for a novelty but with the way gunshops in this country are going I think anyone would be barking to buy anything other than the 'vanilla' version of anything these days.
No no no, that's just being defeatist! Come on man, try a little frivolous consumerism... That sort of attitude just sucks some more of the joy out of life.

I wish my 7mm-'08 was a .308!
No you don't. You chose the 7mm-08 for a reason, same as I did, so stick to it!
I adore my 16 bore!

I had more fun with it during the last season than I've had with any other shotgun I've owned.

I have a second, a basic AYA, that I need to stick in the Classifieds.