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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Had a bad day at a Gunshow yesterday, to drown out sorrows I bought this ancient Single Shot .12 Gauge Shotgun, vary worn on the outside, but the bore is actually vary good, it locks up surprisingly well, not an ounce of give. But my question is... WHAT IS IT? I've searched and I can't find this exact model wit the little wing on the side, my other question is... Is it safe? its quite old, when I took off the foregrip there where some patent dates from like 1888 to 1895, as well as a larger "M 1855", the gauge was stamped in a vary odd spot under the barrel. Help
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Ancient Gaseous Emanation
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Single-shot 12 gauge breechloading shotgun with a walnut stock and an iron buttplate. This is a trade brand name shotgun labeled "Spencer Gun Co". These guns were made by the Crescent Fire Arms Company of Norwich, Connecticut and sold by Hibbard, Spencer, Bartlett & Co., the precursor to True Value Hardware, based in Chicago, Illinois.

Mfg dates: Between1892 and 1931
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Wow, only got one thing wrong, it has a plastic butt plate, but thanks so much for that fire hose of info! the barrel was cut by the way

So the next question is is it safe? I know its mechanically safe, but I'm wondering about the barrel, if its a really early production one, could it be a (And I'm going to butcher this spelling) "Lamontation" steel barrel? By the way the only numbers I could thus so far find on the gun are "12" at the top of the foregrip, and "127" behind the trigger. Is 127 the serial number?? And also some numbers on the stock you can only see if you remove it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I found the other numbers, I believe this is the serial, "40127". on the bottom photo it
says "Patented Oct. 2. 1894 - AUG.11.1898 - MODEL 1855" Can you pin down a near
exact production date with this information?
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Old laminated steel shotgun barrels can be perfectly safe to use today. They can also be bombs waiting to go off. There is no way of telling without using very expensive equipment.
 
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Hmm. Well is there a year they where generally used up to? then if one could figure out the year this specific gun was made you could figure out if its safe or not, right? I also thought I'd let you know I did test fire it yesterday before looking up or knowing anything about laminated barrels, and I still have a face, so either I'm vary lucky, or the gun is safe. ( I used No. 8 lead bird shot with a low rim)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I was just reading something about "Fluid Steel marked" that if its marked that, its not Damascus or laminated. What is the "mark" to look for, if any?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I found this photo, the ONLY one I've been able to find online that has the same trigger guard and takedown lever as mine. It sold on a site called EBTH in 2013, its serial is 8159, mine is 40127.
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Before you shoot any more ammo in it. Measure your chamber depth. The chamber will be the length of a fired shell. If it's 2.5 inches stop using 2 3/4 inch shells. Polywads MFG makes low pressure shells for older guns.
 
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I did do some red neck chamber measuring before shooting it, it actually feels like a 3 in. is that even possible?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
Yeah I just remeasured with a dowel, its about 3 and a quarter inch chamber. What does this mean? Someone has been using it recently, the barrel is cut and a nice bead was added, so they must have been using it. But wait, you said 2.5, that's longer than 2 3/4, so why is it bad to use shorter loads in a longer chamber? And what does it mean if I have a 3 and a quarter inch chamber?? Explain
 

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You can shoot the 2.5 inch ( it's shorter) in a 2 /3/4'' chamber. The lenghts are fired shell size. I have a 16 gauge from 1918. It has a 2.5 inch chamber. I use the polywads shells in it. You need to recheck your chamber too. I don't think they had 3 inch shells back then.
 
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I've got two of that type of shotgun. One was my great grand uncle's and the other belonged to #1 wife's grandfather. I have shot them both in the past with field load 12 gage shells. Neither of them are as tight as you say yours is. I have now lived too long to shoot them any more but, in a pinch, and under the right circumstances I would not hesitate to load and use them with great prejudice on any of the local varmintry. They were made to be a utility shotgun, a tool, to protect the chicken coop and procure meat for the table and sometimes both at once. They also served as an introduction to 12 gagery for many firearms aficionados of my generation.

Alan
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I see! I still haven't remeasured my chamber, but you say you've just been loading normal 12 gauge shells in yours for as long as you can remember?

I still have trouble wrapping my mind around all the numbers of shotgun shells and the science behind it, like I still somehow don't know if 2 3/4 is longer than 2.5, or what's safe in what, or if the barrel is going to explode, I really what to shot this shotgun, but now I'm scared stiff!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
I don't know what to tell you, I just remeasured it and I'm SURE I have it right, it comes to 3 and a 8th, almost exactly half an inch longer than a 2 3/4. What on earth does this mean? Is this safe? does having a chamber too long cause problems? Is this a really old shotgun gauge? Does this mean the barrel could be some weird early unsafe steel?

(My dad brought up a good point, what if this has been re-bored?)
 

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I'd say it is NOT safe to use 3" shells in this gun.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Oh yeah! Of course! But I'm wondering WHY it has a 3 and an 8th chamber?? and then if 2 3/4 shells are safe in it. And have a hunch, usually old strange gauges go with old strange (Unsafe) barrels. Right?

But like I said In an earlier post, someone's been using it recently before me, the barrel is cut, (And I can tell recently) it had a new bead drilled in, and then is it possible they lengthened the chamber?
 

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The chamber is as long as a fired shell. Measure a fired 2 3/4" shell and then measure your chamber.

What I do and what anyone else does is of no consequence to what you should do. If you do not feel safe firing the shotgun, then don't. You are the final judge of what you do.

No one here is going to tell you to shoot that shotgun.

2 3/4" is longer than 2 1/2", always has been always will be.

While that shotgun should be a shooter.... There are a number of reasons why I may not be advisable to shoot it. You know nothing of the history of that gun. Judging from the general outward condition, it appears to have been rode hard and put up wet more than once. It's old, and old things don't work well sometimes, like my brain right now search for correct terminology. The locking lever may be worn even though the action seems tight. Break open guns can pop open when fired if the locking mechanism is worn. The stock may be rotten on the inside and simply break or splinter upon firing. The list goes on........

If you are serious about shooting it and don't know how to look for problems yourself, take it to someone who does and who can give you a sound answer based on "hands on" examination.

Or you could tie it to a tree with a string on the trigger. Won't be the first time that's been done.


Alan
 
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Oh yeah! Of course! But I'm wondering WHY it has a 3 and an 8th chamber?? and then if 2 3/4 shells are safe in it. And have a hunch, usually old strange gauges go with old strange (Unsafe) barrels. Right?

But like I said In an earlier post, someone's been using it recently before me, the barrel is cut, (And I can tell recently) it had a new bead drilled in, and then is it possible they lengthened the chamber?
I think it's a safe bet that the chamber has not been lengthened on purpose.

Something being old doesn't translate to unsafe. I've got plenty of guns older than the one in queston that are quite safe to shoot.

Measure the barrel from breech to muzzle.

Alan
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Thanks for all your time and information. I should have corrected myself, the chamber is still half an inch LONGER than a fired 2 3/4 shell.

I know that just because its older doesn't necessarily mean unsafe, that's just the general knee jerk reaction I have sometimes. (I have the Same problem with people)

As for me feeling unsafe, when I bought it, and before I started reading stuff here, I felt perfectly safe. And I still do have a desire to shoot it, like I said in an earlier message I shot it 3 times right after I bought it. I have an old Marlin Model 24 (Just broke a few days ago) and that thing was what the general gun community might call 'unsafe", but I did my research, and since it was mechanically sound, the barrel was safe steel, the chamber was a safe length, I had no problem shooting it. (Plus I did the tie to a tree style test) So. I'll apply the same rules here, if its Mechanically sound, the barrel is not Dem. or Lam., and the chamber is safe for low power 2 3/4 modern loads, I have no issue shooting it.

I bought it as utility gun (Like you said yours where) for target shooting, birds, and home defense, so if possible that's hat I still wont to do.

Yesterday I took the shotgun partly apart, the stock has 1 or 2 fixable hairline cracks, but otherwise good. No rotting. I was looking at what I think is the locking mechanism as well, if you could tell me what "Worn" is, that would be great, I cant take it back apart and see if its safe. I took out the main spring and that was as far as I got, my knowledge of single shot shotgun disassembly doesn't go much farther, but I do wont to take it totally apart. I could see down into the body and its laughably rusty, but everything moves and works. I wont take it fully apart and clean it, but I wont to be able to put it back together! lol
 
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