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Argo44 Offline OP
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Very interesting observations and food for thought. I now need to look at the three extant Reilly 4 bores to figure out wether they were 6 bores or truly 4 bores. I suspect the rifle....though also made in 1869 may be a true brass case 4 bore. It's also in the best shape.

I just checked the advertisements for the other two Reilly 4-bore center-break guns:

11937 -This was an original 1861 4 bore muzzle-loader single-barrel wild fowler converted to center-break, center-fire. No details, no proof marks, etc but it has 4" chambers and the buyer offered 20 Eley 4 bore cartridges to go with the gun. No telling what it was originally.

15986 - 4 bore rifle from 1869, originally a pin-fire. There is not enough details in the advertisement to separate fact from fiction from modification to alteration.

Last edited by Argo44; 04/06/21 06:56 PM.

Baluch are not Brahui, Brahui are Baluch
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Re your query about chamber length stamps at Proof in 19thC - Greener in Modern Shot Guns 1888 refers to designation of "chambers longer than three inches" - these should be stamped with LC and gauge in a diamond. I think that he is referring to 12 bore guns here and probably not to the eight and four bores. This remark was made after his referring to the newly revised Proof Law - 0f 1887

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Argo44 Offline OP
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This is a big-bore learning curve for me. Here is an non-serial-numbered 4 bore Reilly (no SN means Reilly marketed it but likely didn't make it though it has London proof marks) on Guntrader.UK - 36" barrel, extra-full choke, 12 lbs:
https://www.guntrader.uk/guns/shotguns/reilly-em/hammer/04-gauge/single-hammer-200910143431002

[Linked Image from jpgbox.com]
[Linked Image from jpgbox.com]
[Linked Image from jpgbox.com]

Comments:
-- Trigger guard tang that apes a pistol grip.
-- Original center-fire
-- Weight indicates it is an original shotgun
-- 36" barrel length would seem to tend to 1870's.
-- Original London Proofs 1855-1875 for a 6 bore.
-- Full choked barrel (post 1875) but no "not for ball"? (Might the 6 bore barrel in itself = "full choke?"
-- Reproofed after 1989 as a 4 bore. (Might "23.4" be 6 bore in mm?)
-- Chamber 101.4 mm (4 inches)
-- £6,900 - a lot of money

So is it a 4 bore or a 6 bore, or a 4 bore with a 6 bore barrel in the 19th century, and why a full choke with no "not for ball"? So many mysteries and such a great place to have them explained.

Last edited by Argo44; 04/09/21 10:36 PM.

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6 BORE has internal diameter of 0.919" (Burrard)
23.4mm = 0.921" when measured at re-proof, the owner presumably decided on having it proofed for Nitro powder.....ie the gun is still a 6 bore - as constructed.
At re-proof, 4 in diamond was struck, to show that it is chambered for the 4 gauge cartridge. So in answer to your question it is a true Six bore although it is loosely termed a 4 bore- because that is the dimension of the cartridge for which the gun was built.
You will note that the level of proof is 800 bar which is well below that of the modern 3 1/2" 10 G. Sadly the other Proof House caused not a few tears for those 4 bore owners who sent their gun for nitro -and which subsequently failed (sometimes irreparably) when subjected to test pressures calculated from CIP rules .....!! Let this be a warning to any owner of these old guns.

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Argo44 Offline OP
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Much appreciate the above and very interesting. Still there are two question swirling about:

-- There were no 6 bore cartridges in UK in the 1870's...at least that's the premise posted by SKB and per the extant cartridge catalogs. So is the gun chambered for 4 bore but using a 6 bore barrel? That's sort of the conclusion all posited about SN 18860 above. Opinions were that this was a sort of "poor man's choke" permitting tighter patterns. (Or did I misunderstand this)?

-- How can the shotgun be billed as "beyond full choke" but without the "not for ball" proof stamp? (i.e. Greener popularized chokes in 1875 and the proof marks were changed in Summer of that year - so if it's choked, it should have the stamp? - (unless using a 6 bore barrel on a 4 bore chamber constitutes in and of itself a sort of choke?)

-- Is a Shotgun's "bore" size for sales judged by the shells it chambers, or the bore of the barrel. (Obviously "bore size" indicates the latter; but there seems to be some slippage and confusion in advertisements (there are several "12 bore" shotguns but with 13 bore barrels that I've seen) and if it's chambered for 4 bore, certainly UK auction houses advertise it as "4 bore"..

-- Are there any "true" 4 bores (4 bore chambers, 4 bore barrels) or were they all chambered for 4 with 6 bore barrels? If so, what do you call them?

Last edited by Argo44; 04/09/21 10:45 PM.

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May I suggest that you read, if available, the section relating to paper vs brass case shotguns in The Modern Sportsman's Gun & Rifle by J H Walsh (Stonehenge)...the author goes to some length describing the dilemma of bore - gauge classification at that period.

A 12 G gun which is chambered to take the standard 12 G cartridge but has the barrel bored on the narrow side would have been stamped as 13, a narrow bored 16G would be stamped as 17 and so on. Basically the gun was stamped with the barrel diameter as per the definition of bore size for muzzle loaders. As you know the cartridges for each gauge were identified with a headstamp signifying the chamber size of the gun. After the "chamberless" gun for brass cases was introduced there arose considerable confusion as to which cartridge type was appropriate to use in a gun which may only be stamped as , for example,"12". Latterly the cartridges had head stamps to clarify the problem - a chamberless 12 which accepts a 12G cartridge but with a barrel bore diameter matching that of 10G- those shells would be head stamped as 12 / 10.

Back to the issue in hand:
a muzzle loading 4 bore will have a true 4 gauge barrel, based on 4 lead balls of that calibre weigh 16 ounces.
a thin brass case 4 bore also has a true 4 gauge barrel , give or take a few thou.
a paper case 4 bore generally would have a 6 bore barrel although labelled with the misnomer of 4 - ie paper and brass case guns will have similar chamber dimension but different barrel diameter. The ballistics given by paper case shells in a chamberless/brass case gun were notably weak, the use of brass case shells with their heavy load of powder and shot in paper case guns was not recommended! ....until gunmakers started to manufacture (wildfowl) guns bored specifically to handle both types of cartridge...progress of sorts?

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Argo44 Offline OP
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Thank you sir, an elegant explanation of a very confusing topic.


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Stan, thanks for private message, which I just saw and responded to. Two weeks ago our deep freeze finally lifted in northern PA and we were able to unleash dozers and skidders and move timber and lumber and i have been busier than a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest ever since. See my message back to you about people invoking Jim Kelly's name, which I sought to protect, because my experience is that particular seller who invoked Mr Kelly's name was not straight about any of his guns. Everyone keep your powder dry
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Have not received any private messages from you, pamtnman. Not since Jan. 1, 2021, at least.

Stan


"With one foot in the grave ..........and one foot on the pedal, I was born a Rebel" T.P.
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