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The 16 gauge French Cape Gun
Old 10-02-2010, 12:50 PM
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Default The 16 gauge French Cape Gun

A while back, I bought this 16 gauge double barrel shotgun. Both arrels are in fact 16 gauge, but the right one is rifled. ('You' know "how I am" about rifle shotgun combinations.) 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. 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.

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. John 8:32

"We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful." ~ C.S. Lewis.

Do not confuse technical skill for wisdom and do not confuse strength for skill. Paul Skvorc

Last edited by gitano; 10-02-2010 at 12:58 PM..
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16 ga, 16 gauge, 16 gauge rifle, gualadi, slug

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