PDA

View Full Version : Is a 12 gauge called the same in Europe as in the U.S.


novus collectus
May 1, 2005, 12:03 PM
(wasn't sure if I should post this here or in the shotgun section)

If most of Europe uses the metric system for handguns and rifles, do they do the same for shotguns? I know the name in England used to be 12 "bore" instead of 12 "gauge", but I am wondering if they call a 12 gauge an 18.5 millimeter something or other in the rest of Europe.

I didn't see this in the "Catridges of the World" book. (unless I missed it). I am looking for the current usage in Europe and not historically. But it would be interesting to know the history as well and all knowledge offered will be welcomed by me.

Mike Irwin
May 1, 2005, 12:44 PM
I think they use the 12, 20, 16, whatever gauge designations, with case length and choke restriction noted in metric.

I've seen a number of shotguns produced in Germany that have been marked with the British style gauge system, but with chamber length and choke designations marked in metric.

novus collectus
May 1, 2005, 05:29 PM
Thanks Mike. I was going to Cyprus in about a month or so and I was thinking about bringing some slugs (sans cartridge). I figured that they never fired slugs before and I figured I would introduce them to something different. I just wanted to know whether or not I would get confused with a metric system when I chose what gauge slugs to bring. I think you have eased my mind.

Blue Heeler
May 1, 2005, 05:57 PM
I have an English shotgun made by William Powell of Birmingham. They do indeed call the 12 Gauge a 12 'Bore' - it is the same animal though. Ditto with other European makes, eg Beretta. There might be some oddities in small manufacturers but any company that sells abroad, eg Baikal, uses the 12ga term. I haven't seen any strange calibers (there's bound to be a few though.)

JohnKSa
May 1, 2005, 08:52 PM
'Gauge' and 'Bore' are identical size measurements.

However, in proper usage, 'Gauge' applies only to smoothbores and 'Bore' only to guns with rifled barrels.

novus collectus
May 1, 2005, 09:48 PM
However, in proper usage, 'Gauge' applies only to smoothbores and 'Bore' only to guns with rifled barrels.
JohnKSa,
Are you sure about that? That is one thing I did see in the "Cartridges of the World" book. The book says that they were both used for the diameter of the barrell in smoothbore shotguns, historically. I think there may be confusing "bore" with the elephant guns that also used the "bore" designation and measurment. Unless you meant that it is the current proper use?

Mike Irwin
May 1, 2005, 10:24 PM
Actually...

They appear to have been used in conjunction.

Gauge, strictly speaking, was the measuring device used to determine the diameter of the shot. It appears to have come into use around the time that (surprise) cannons started to become common on the battlefield (mid 1400s), or quite a few years before individual firearms became common, and 150 years or more before the advent of rifling.

If the shot would fit in the cannoneer's gauge, then it was of proper bore diameter.

Interesting discussion, from of all places, a vetrinary sciences website.

http://www.vetscite.org/publish/articles/000032/index.html

The English usage of bore, instead of gauge, is sort of like their saying bonnet instead of hood.

jefnvk
May 1, 2005, 10:52 PM
One thing I noticed on imported ammo is that lengths are in mm, not inches. May want to note that.

JohnLizCas
May 2, 2005, 02:50 PM
Have owned an Antonio Zoli Delfino 20 ga over/under for over 30 years. Tubes are marked "20 caliber". John

JohnKSa
May 2, 2005, 11:14 PM
Mike,

I can't remember where I read it. It could have been in error, but I'm sure that's what I read.

If I can remember or find the reference I'll post it.

As far as common usage, I've seen it done both ways--that's why I specified proper usage.

John

Mike Irwin
May 3, 2005, 12:29 AM
"Proper" usage is a sliding scale, John, and multiple definitions can be correct, and in use, at the same time.

For example...

"The Firearms Dictionary," R.A. Steindler, Stackpole Books, 1970.

Bore - Inside of a barrel, also the diameter of the barrel as measured across the lands of a rifled barrel.

Right there are two definitions that allow a world of possibility to shine through.

Skipping over to the definition for gauge...

Gauge - The unit of bore measurement of a shotgun. Originally, the gauge number indicated the number of solid lead balls of bore diameter that could be cast from one pound of lead.

From that it's pretty evident that bore is applicable to both shotguns and rifles, while gauge is applicable to shotguns only.

JohnKSa
May 3, 2005, 12:40 AM
gauge is applicable to shotguns onlyI CAN find references for that, but I'm at a loss for where I saw the other... But from pounding on the web, it certainly seems that bore is now simply an uncommonly used synonym for gauge. One definition says that "bore" is simply the British equivalent of "gauge".

novus collectus
May 3, 2005, 05:55 AM
Gauge, strictly speaking, was the measuring device used to determine the diameter of the shot. It appears to have come into use around the time that (surprise) cannons started to become common on the battlefield (mid 1400s), or quite a few years before individual firearms became common, and 150 years or more before the advent of rifling.
So that explains why they referred to cannons, culverns, and carronades as "pounders" (as in 10 pounders, 16 pounders, etc.) before, during and after Lord Nelson's time. I don't know why, but I never made the connection until now. So I guess that a one pounder would be a 1 gauge or 1 bore. I wonder how they referred to the size of the Brown Bess musket's bore/gauge/caliber?

LAK
May 3, 2005, 06:52 AM
The British have always and still do use the term "bore" when speaking of shotgun gauges. In rifle terms bore refers to the inside measurement of the barrel; i.e. the diameter before the bore is rifled - on top of the lands. Caliber is the diameter measured inside the opposite grooves or bullet diameter.

johnbt
May 3, 2005, 07:03 AM
I'm killing 30 seconds until a meeting begins...

From the Holland & Holland site. The prices aren't boring.

Prices 12, 16 and 20-bore £44,500

28-bore and .410 £47,600

All 'Royal' gun prices include an aluminium gun travel case.

K80Geoff
May 3, 2005, 07:37 AM
Not to "Bore" anyone here but... The British like to use the term bore for gauge. Something about their national character I suppose.

Now the 410 is properly a bore and not a gauge. The Gauge for 410 is approximately 67.5! Calling it a 67.5 gauge won't do so it is referred to as a 410 bore as it was probably at one time a dangerous game rifle.

British officers were allowed to take one long gun with them when posted to the Empire. And often they took "Paradox" guns. SXS with one rifled barrel and one smoothebore barrel for hunting. Thus the 410 probably came about as a paradox gun and caught on.

The 410 is often marked as a 36 gauge, obviously not an accurate description but easier to pronounce. Some euro guns are still marketed as 36 gauge and some ammo manufacturers might still sell boxes of shells labeled 36 ga....not to be confused with 32 gauge which is a proper gauge and still used in europe.

The Brits calling everything a bore is probably due to the 410 bore, and the British propensity to misspell words. :p

Mike Irwin
May 4, 2005, 01:22 AM
Novus...

No.

The gauge system is only applied to small arms. At one time it WAS applied, in a rather loose fashion, to rifles and handguns, as well, even into the time when rifling became common. Why? Because it was probably a hold-over from the time when rifling was the exception, not the norm.

Cannons, at least by the time that "pounds" were applied, were firing iron balls, much less dense than lead balls. I THINK that the pound system for measuring shot was well on its way to being established by the late 1500s.

Being made of a uniform and relatively pure material, an iron ball of a certain weight would have a pretty standard diameter, meaning that the gunner's bore gauge was very good for ensuring that the shot just delivered to the ship would fit the ship's guns.

At one point in time I had a chart that converted gauges down to the decimal equivilent, but can't find it anymore.

IIRC, a .410 is about 67 gauge.

Mike Irwin
May 4, 2005, 01:32 AM
"British officers were allowed to take one long gun with them when posted to the Empire. And often they took "Paradox" guns. SXS with one rifled barrel and one smoothebore barrel for hunting. Thus the 410 probably came about as a paradox gun and caught on."

Paradox was, IIRC, a trade name of the Holland and Holland company. It wasn't that one barrel was rifled, and the other smoothbore. It was that BOTH barrels had partial rifling near the muzzle, normally about 2 inches worth (not unlike today's rifled choke tubes).

The rifling was pretty shallow, but would generally work, and give decent accuracy, with the H&H Paradox ammunition. The system was developed in the 1880s to give those posting to India or Africa a general purpose firearm.

Paradox guns are normally either 12 or 10 gauge. To the best of my knowledge, absolutely none were ever made in ".410 bore," as I'm fairly certain that the .410 was an American innovation.


Westley-Richards had a competing system, but I'll be darned if I can remember what it was. The Electra?

Crap.

LAK
May 4, 2005, 02:48 AM
Westly-Richards Explora?

MEDDAC19
May 4, 2005, 12:17 PM
Well, I would say that the gauge/bore question has been answered here, but.... I have a friend in the UK and he is scouting auctions for me. His biggest concern with finding one for me, is that many older shotguns are chambered for 2.5 inch shells. Which will not be easy to find over here. Would hate to see someone ruin a great old shotgun by trying one, and not be aware of this difference. People are usually aware of checking for the proper gauge but might not realize that many european guns have the shorter chamber. Slightly off topic but thought it may interest some.

Mike Irwin
May 4, 2005, 01:02 PM
"Westley Richards Explora"

I believe that's the one! Thanks!


2.5" shells...

Believe it or not, you can find them in this country again. Not easily, but you can also use the Aguila mini-shells.

Old Western Scrounger is probably the best source for the 2.5" hulls.

novus collectus
May 4, 2005, 03:06 PM
Meddac19,
Since I am the one who started the thread, I now proclaim that all that pertains to European shotguns and rilfes (and cannons) will now be the new topic of this thread . There is just too much information offered here for me to care if it applies to my origional post or not. :) So far, everything is what I wanted to know for my return trip to the "basically" European country (Cyprus) I plan to re-visit soon anyway.

I also personally think that if a discussion goes along the same theme of the thread, that it now has a life of it's own and becomes part of the topic in a way. It is almost as if it is now an entity that I had created (ITS ALIVE IGOR, ITS ALIVE).


Mike, I don't know why I didn't remember that the cannon balls were usually iron shot. Is it possible that it was still following the same "tradition" of using lead balls to measure the size of the bore and not be the same thing? (unlikely I know, but I am exploring a possible theory I have developed)

Mike Irwin
May 4, 2005, 05:16 PM
"Is it possible that it was still following the same "tradition" of using lead balls to measure the size of the bore and not be the same thing?"

No, I don't think so.

Think of it this way...

The gauge system only works well up to the point where you get to the theoretical 1 gauge, or about 1.59" in diameter, IIRC. Remember, it's the number of pure lead balls of bore size to the pound.

Once you get into cannon size stuff, anything over about 1.75 inches, you'd have to use NEGATIVE numbers to designate the gauge because at that point each pure lead ball of bore diameter is going to weigh more than a pound, and the formula would have to change. At that point it would have to be the number of pounds of lead needed to form a ball of bore size, so you could conceivably have numbers like -9.57 gauge. And because as the surface dimensions of a sphere grow larger, volume increases expodentially, you could very possibly have a 10-inch mortar turning into a -1,274.83 gauge.

Then, you have a rather different, and also unique, problem...

The larger the ball for the cannon, the WORSE a projectile lead makes. It simply grows too heavy to quickly, which is why stone was used early, and iron became the preferential projectile later.

Any way...

Just my musings.

LAK
May 5, 2005, 03:55 AM
Buffalo has 2.5 brass shells;

http://www.buffaloarms.com/browse.cfm/4,4675.html

Lone Star
May 5, 2005, 01:44 PM
I think the major problem you'll find is that many Euro guns have chambers for 65mm long shells. Our 2.75" chambers are for 70mm long shells. But some Euro companies also make 70mm chambered guns, especially now that many are sold in the USA, too.

I'm confident that H&H will chamber whichever length you prefer... :D

Beretta can furnish their high-grade doubles much sooner than the "Best Gun" English makers, of course, and they routinely (at least for US sale), have 70mm chambers, as do their autoloaders.

The Beretta Galleries in NYC and Dallas have very high grade guns in stock!

Lone Star

Lone Star
May 5, 2005, 01:50 PM
Someone said that British officers in the days of Empire could take only one long gun for sporting purposes. Can you confirm that?

I believe that they often had both shotguns and rifles. I'm almost sure that a Maj. Powell mentions using several guns, including a .401 Winchester auto in India, and Sir Gerald Burrard and others hunted a lot in northern India and adjacent areas.

I once read a book written in the 1880's by an officer on big game hunting in India and "Thibet", and he mentioned a selection of rifles. No need to shoot deer with the .465 double bought for tiger, elephant, and gaur!

Regulations may have varied with the times.

Lone Star

Mike Irwin
May 5, 2005, 04:09 PM
I tend to agree with you, Lone Star. Just about everything I've read indicates that the better off officers in the Royal Whatevers had a complete battery of firearms.

The Paradox and other emulators were more than likely developed for the civilians and officers who couldn't afford a complete battery of firearms.

I also came across some information in the 4th Edition of Cartridges of the World about the Paradox.

I had said they had shallow rifling at the muzzle, apparently they had pretty deep rifling to really grab the slug and spin it.

novus collectus
May 5, 2005, 04:37 PM
I wonder if there is a rifled screw in choke for remmington shotguns? If it is used for just saboted slugs, then deep rifling might bite into the plastic better over the short distance through the choke.

Mike Irwin
May 6, 2005, 12:22 AM
"I wonder if there is a rifled screw in choke for remmington shotguns?"

As a matter of fact, yes, there is.

I don't know why I didn't think of this obvious parallel earlier.

LAK
May 6, 2005, 01:57 AM
Hunting and shooting sports in general were quite popular among British officers in places like Africa, India etc and I do not recall the mention of such a restriction in any of the writings I have read. The one gun restriction may have been something that applied while travelling at H.M.'s expense or perhaps was in effect during a specific period. Once in country, perhaps they aquired others locally or simply ordered them and had them shipped out to them; as in those days one could do such things quite freely.

Mike Irwin
May 6, 2005, 08:18 AM
"The one gun restriction may have been something that applied while travelling at H.M.'s expense or perhaps was in effect during a specific period."


One British restriction that did affect a lot of officers and civilians alike in India and the Sudan was the outlawing of rifles in .45 caliber right around 1900. This was done to keep possible components out of the hands of rebels, many who were armed with .577-.450 Martini Henry rifles.

In one fell swoop, something like 25 to 30 cartridges and components became illegal to possess.

That's when you had the sudden introduction of cartridges such as the .465 Westley Richards (I think that one was theirs) and the .470 Nitro.

UltimaThule
May 6, 2005, 10:42 AM
I'm not really much of a shotgun person - but I don't see any other Europeans in this thread, and on the net anyone can be an expert, so:

As has been established, the numbers are the same. If you find a 12, 20 or an old 16, it's the same thing whether it is called gauge, bore or kaliber (correct spelling of caliber), just different words for basically the same thing.

Lone Star I think the major problem you'll find is that many Euro guns have chambers for 65mm long shells. Our 2.75" chambers are for 70mm long shells. But some Euro companies also make 70mm chambered guns, especially now that many are sold in the USA, too. Not really. To my knowledge, 65mm shells are around only to feed old shotguns. I doubt any European shotgun has been made with a 65mm (2.5") chamber in 50 years or more, at least I've never seen one - a new one, I mean. In Norway 65mm ammo is hard, maybe impossible to find. With guns old enough to have a 65mm/2.5" chamber, I would personally make sure it's safe to shoot with smokeless powder, the gun could be old enough to be black powder only.

The vast majority of guns made today seem to have 76mm chambers (3"). 12/89mm (3.5") guns are also available. Current markings are often just 12/70, 12/76, 20/76 or 10/89, you get the pattern. At least in Norway, the .410 is known as ... .410. Other European countries may have a different name for it.

Romulus
May 6, 2005, 11:23 AM
Can't speak for all of "abroad" or all of Europe. But in Italy, a land of excellent gunmakers, the 12 gauge is referred to as "calibro 12." So the numerical designation remains the same. I just went to the H&H website and funny thing is "caliber" is still spelled with a C.

novus collectus
May 6, 2005, 11:27 AM
In one fell swoop, something like 25 to 30 cartridges and components became illegal to possess.
Mike,
You made me wonder about the legality of my smuggl...importation of my 12 gauge slu....paperweights to Cyprus. I guess that the slugs are components and may be subject to restricions as well. Maybe I should leave my .45 acp cartridge key ring at home as well to avoid going to jail there (Greek food would be nice even in prison though ;) ).

I am going to have to call the embassy for the info unless someone knows about European Union laws about this? What about you Ultima Thule? Can you save me the laborious task of picking up a phone and making a (local) call to the embassy? :D Unless of course Norway isn't in the EU, or wasn't when you were there if it is now. And btw, thanks for the conversion numbers. I may have seen "10/89" somewhere before and was confused as hell. I never would have figured out that it was a mix of old measurement and metric measurment in the same designation.

Mike Irwin
May 6, 2005, 11:35 AM
"kaliber (correct spelling of caliber)"

No, the proper spelling isn't kaliber, caliber, or calibre, etc.

It's qalib, given that the word originated in Arabia. :)


Novus,

I'd have to say that I don't think I'd try to take components with me.

UltimaThule
May 6, 2005, 12:58 PM
Mike, I tried to be funny. And you have to be all seriuous, ah never mind. :D
(Y'all please disregard my kaliber comment above, it was a failed attempt at a joke.)

novus, Norway isn't a member of the EU, although I can still travel in the union without a passport or move there and get a work/residency permit just by saying "I'm here".

To my knowledge there is no EU law on this, each country has its own firearms laws. I would be careful about bringing anything into a country I didn't know. Lead paperweights are probably ok in some countries, but I don't know about Cyprus. Also, regardless of importation - if they don't have slugs there, it's probably because it's illegal to own/use, not because they haven't heard of slugs. Slugs are popular in many European countries, particularly for wild pig hunting.

I think it's better to be safe than sorry. If you were caught with illegal lead paperweights (assuming they are illegal), I think a fine and possible deportation is more probable than prison. That's just a guess though, I wouldn't want to be the one to find out. I don't think your cartridge key ring will put you in jail either, unless it's a live round :D and you try to take it on board an airliner. It's just not worth it to try to explain to a minimum wage airport ninja (US or Cypriot) about a dummy round, either, imo.

Anecdote: On hearing that suppressors were available over the counter in Norway, someone in a gun store in California once asked my father if Dad or I could bring him one on the next visit, he was curious as to how they were made. :eek:

Mike Irwin
May 6, 2005, 02:26 PM
I know you were making a joke, Ultima.

I was, too.

Romulus
May 6, 2005, 02:43 PM
while I was being an officious stick and missed it...my apologies

UltimaThule
May 6, 2005, 04:22 PM
Mike Irwin: Sense of humour

Romulus: No sense of humour

I'll try to remember that. :D

Alfa One
May 6, 2005, 05:20 PM
In the Dutch speaking part of Belgium, we say: kaliber 12. On my permit is says 12 gauge.

What I'm trying to say is, we call it as we like. But we preffer to shoot it

xmastree
May 6, 2005, 10:00 PM
In the Dutch speaking part of Belgium, we say: kaliber In Britain, Kaliber (http://www.diageobrands.com/brand_pages/kaliber.htm) is a brand of alcohol-free beer. :barf:

Alfa One
May 7, 2005, 01:25 AM
As you should know, in Belgium we don't believe in alcohol free things. We are the country of beer

novus collectus
May 7, 2005, 01:35 AM
Aahhh...Chimay....Belgian, trapist monks make the best :)

Ultima Thule,
How does your native country treat short barreled shotguns? If silencers are unrestricted, then how about the other stuff that they have a shtfit about here?

UltimaThule
May 10, 2005, 07:58 AM
novus collectus, no short barrels.

There is no system for paying a sin-tax and getting them registered either. Although if you can convince the licencing authority here (the police) that you really need one, I think it is theoretically possible for them to make exceptions to just about any part of the regulations (not just shotguns), wouldn't cost anything either. I just wouldn't hold my breath waiting for them to accept an application, note that I said "theoretically possible".

About "them" having ***fits. Depends on what you mean by fits. Accidentally trimming off your shotgun half an inch too much would probably lead to a fine (and possible loss of your other firearms). There is no minimum penalty. Maximum is two years, or four years in "serious" cases (such as smuggling machine guns for profit).

K80Geoff
May 11, 2005, 06:55 PM
Re Paradox guns. They had one barrel with the rifling, one without. Both barrels were the same gauge. You are correct that only a short section near the muzzle was rifled.

As to the one long gun, this was at H M expense. So unless you were independently wealthy you took one gun. Kind of like the Army shipping one car per officer to Germany today.

Now I am going to have to dig out old copies of Double Gun Journal just to footnote my comments.

And the 410 was a British invention dangit :p

Mike Irwin
May 13, 2005, 08:48 AM
I could swear that the Paradox that I saw years ago had both tubes rifled...

K80Geoff
May 13, 2005, 09:10 AM
It probably did. You could have it any way you wanted it in those days. They were hand made guns.

My point was that the 410 probably came about when a rifle caliber was adapted to shoot shotshells. Maybe because some poor British officer was posted to some obscure part of the empire and wanted to hunt game and birds.

Mike Irwin
May 13, 2005, 10:21 AM
When you get right down to it, the line between shotgun, rifle, musket, rifled musket, etc., was, for a long time, very blurry. It still can be today, too.

Para Bellum
May 15, 2005, 04:04 PM
Yes. We call ist "Caliber 12". There is 12/67,5; 12/70; and 12/76...