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How Practical are Antique Shotguns?

Posted: Fri Aug 30, 2019 10:29 pm
by DistrictCow
So I'm a total shotgun noob. But I tried some clay sports (trap and skeet) and got a bit hooked. Hooked enough that I decided that it might be time to buy a shotgun for myself instead of using loaners.

Incidentally, a friend's family is selling off a few shotguns owned by a recently deceased family member and asked if I was interested. Long story short, they're offering what is supposedly a significantly lower price on an "antique shotgun" (pre war). It's manufactured by a reputable Belgian company, is engraved, etc. But the question is, how practical are old side-by-side, two trigger shotguns when it comes to regular use shooting clays? I'm notionally interested, but I'm so outside my realm of familiarity that I don't know where to start. Does anyone have any opinions?

Re: How Practical are Antique Shotguns?

Posted: Fri Aug 30, 2019 10:35 pm
by lurker
any chance you can borrow one and take it thru it's paces?

Re: How Practical are Antique Shotguns?

Posted: Fri Aug 30, 2019 10:45 pm
by Hiker
OK I am definitely NOT an expert. But may years ago I had a double barrel shotgun, a fairly old one at that. I don't remember what kind or how old it was. What people told me was that it was probably a 'wire wound' barrel and should only be fired with black powder shells.
So what you might want to do is get the name of the manufacturer, the model number, and a few good pictures of it, and put them in the thread. Lots of smart folks here that can tell you more about it than I can.

Re: How Practical are Antique Shotguns?

Posted: Fri Aug 30, 2019 11:06 pm
by Marlene
Chamber length is an important question too.

Old Belgian guns run from gorgeous to marginally safe, so specifics are very important.

Re: How Practical are Antique Shotguns?

Posted: Fri Aug 30, 2019 11:33 pm
by DistrictCow
So it's in a different state so trying it out isn't really possible. Sounds like the main issue is whether it's safe to fire at all? My understanding is that the previous owner has indeed used it for bird hunting, but besides it being 16ga and having a 27 3/4" barrel, I have no additional specs. Here are the pictures I was given:

Re: How Practical are Antique Shotguns?

Posted: Fri Aug 30, 2019 11:42 pm
by onebohemian
That looks like a beautiful gun, but don’t buy it to shoot clays. Get yourself an old Remington 1100 or find a used over under for competition or just fun at the clay range. Buy the antique if you want to have a collectible to enjoy, show off to your new shooting buddies at the range, or carry in a field to shoot a few pheasants in the Fall.

Re: How Practical are Antique Shotguns?

Posted: Sat Aug 31, 2019 12:11 am
by K9s
Beautiful!

I wouldn't take that outside in the mud. I agree. Buy it if you want a collectible and for the range, but find an inexpensive modern shotgun.

Re: How Practical are Antique Shotguns?

Posted: Sat Aug 31, 2019 12:47 am
by geno
K9s wrote:
Sat Aug 31, 2019 12:11 am
Beautiful!

I wouldn't take that outside in the mud. I agree. Buy it if you want a collectible and for the range, but find an inexpensive modern shotgun.
Plus 1 on that.
Plus if truly is a "antique shotgun" (over a hundred years) some of those in 16 gauge took a 2&9/16" shell instead of the more "modern" 2&3/4"
But from the pictures you posted, it certainly does not look to be that old.

Re: How Practical are Antique Shotguns?

Posted: Sat Aug 31, 2019 1:17 am
by K9s
You'd probably have to get more information to determine what it is worth in the marketplace. For example, you stated Belgian pre-war, but didn't specify the brand or which war.

Sure is pretty, though.

Re: How Practical are Antique Shotguns?

Posted: Sat Aug 31, 2019 1:43 am
by Marlene
It looks like a quality gun. The question is whether it’s the right gun for you. You can shoot it plenty with ammo from RST. That’s specialty ammo that costs more. Also, it would be a real shame to drag that beautiful thing through the mud.

Probably not the workaday 12ga you want for busting tons of clay. Might still be something ya want. I’d be happy to have it. I was shooting clay just this morning with an old German gun of similar peculiarly (also an upland bird 16 pre-war, engraved, etc). It’s one of my favorites.

Truth is, I had just as much fun with the $250 ratty old Winchester model 12 I shot, with 12ga ammo you can buy anywhere for half as much as the fancy 16.

Feel free to pass the seller’s info to me if you don’t want that thing.

Re: How Practical are Antique Shotguns?

Posted: Sat Aug 31, 2019 6:40 am
by MayhemVI
1. Based on your descriptions above - buy it right now! Before someone else does.

2. Send it to a qualified shotgun expert to have it appraised and evaluated. If by "Belgian" you mean Browning, cool. Send it to them. (why you're not telling us the brand is a bit beyond me).

3. If (on the off chance) it's a black powder only shotgun, you just bought a long term property investment that you're probably never going to shoot. But your descendants are going to enjoy a decent payday when/if they ever decide/need to sell it. And (from the pics) you own a helluva conversation piece...until you croak.

4. If all is well, and you can shoot modern Trap/Skeet, low brass loads; enjoy your new/old gun and make sure to show it off to envious-but-trying-not-to-show-it enthusiasts like me. Keep in mind, James Purdey shoots a gun that is approx. 110 years old. A good double barrel is a good double barrel. Guns like this, from the pre-war era, were all made by hand by people who loved their jobs. If it was used and maintained properly all this time, you'll have a gun you can use and maintain properly...until you croak. And then your descendants will STILL get a nice payday.

Re: How Practical are Antique Shotguns?

Posted: Sat Aug 31, 2019 11:35 am
by DistrictCow
I dug up the consignment page on it- https://www.gunsinternational.com/guns- ... =101235112

However, after digging around on "H. Mahillon", it seems like they were either a Belgian importer or engraver? In other words probably not the actual manufacturer. Presumably, the manufacturer/serial number is underneath the barrels/on the action??? Or would it be hiding somewhere else?

Re: How Practical are Antique Shotguns?

Posted: Sat Aug 31, 2019 12:00 pm
by lurker
if you were close i'd offer my sportsman's cleveland sxs 12.

Re: How Practical are Antique Shotguns?

Posted: Sat Aug 31, 2019 12:10 pm
by offensivename
DistrictCow wrote:
Sat Aug 31, 2019 11:35 am
I dug up the consignment page on it- https://www.gunsinternational.com/guns- ... =101235112

However, after digging around on "H. Mahillon", it seems like they were either a Belgian importer or engraver? In other words probably not the actual manufacturer. Presumably, the manufacturer/serial number is underneath the barrels/on the action??? Or would it be hiding somewhere else?
Thats a gorgeous gun. I think you're right about the H. Mahillon. I dug and probably got the same google results you did. Based in Liege it seems like they just imported/bought shotguns from other manufacturers and made them pretty. I used my morning coffee time and surfed some other sites looking for something with that particular screw/pin pattern but didn't find anything that matched.

If you have the money to grab it at cheaper than what its listed for thats probably a hell of an investment.

Re: How Practical are Antique Shotguns?

Posted: Sat Aug 31, 2019 12:19 pm
by Marlene
DistrictCow wrote:
Sat Aug 31, 2019 11:35 am
I dug up the consignment page on it- https://www.gunsinternational.com/guns- ... =101235112

However, after digging around on "H. Mahillon", it seems like they were either a Belgian importer or engraver? In other words probably not the actual manufacturer. Presumably, the manufacturer/serial number is underneath the barrels/on the action??? Or would it be hiding somewhere else?
I'd say $10k is too much for that gun.

Re: How Practical are Antique Shotguns?

Posted: Sat Aug 31, 2019 1:00 pm
by geno
Its been available at that price for at least nine months:
http://www.dogsanddoubles.com/2019/01/t ... o-miss-13/

That tells me its not undervalued by any means.

Re: How Practical are Antique Shotguns?

Posted: Sun Sep 15, 2019 11:13 am
by NuJudge
Caution.... Such European shotguns are usually made with shorter chambers than we now consider normal, and usually with tighter chokes than are useful today. Add to that the fact that it is in a caliber you will probably not find a lot of places. I don't know if you've ever shot a shotgun with dual triggers, or a side by side, but they will really mess with your head. I find either dual triggers, or side by side, is harder to get used to than switching from auto or over-under double, to pump.

Ammo is available for 16s, but not in the variety that 12s are, and especially not in the shorter chamberings. The tight chokes can be worked around by buying "Spreader" ammo, but you'll pay heavily for it. The side by side barrels keeping you from seeing so much, and the weirdness of moving to a different trigger, you'll have to get used to.

Re: How Practical are Antique Shotguns?

Posted: Sun Sep 15, 2019 6:15 pm
by MayhemVI
https://www.cheaperthandirt.com/ammunit ... /16-gauge/

These guns are far from my price range but I've done my share of Googling, ogling and reading. This the first I've heard of shorter chambers and/or tighter chokes, and "tighter chokes" not being useful today (as opposed to yesterday) has me confused. Chukar are still chukar, geese are still geese, pigeons are still pigeons.

Re: How Practical are Antique Shotguns?

Posted: Sun Sep 15, 2019 6:21 pm
by Marlene
shorter chambers and tighter chokes are both artifacts of roll crimped paper hulls with felt wads rather than shot cups; old tech ammo behaved differently and needed tighter chokes to get the same patterns