View Full Version : French 16 Gauge SxS

January 23, 2001, 12:44 AM
I recently picked up what I believed to be a custom made Belgian 16 gauge boxlock double. At least that's what it looked like to me. The stampings on the bottom of the barrels are in French but I don't know enough about the proof marks to able to correctly identify the maker and/or year it was made.
On the flats under the barrels it has the typical "Acier de Surete" and "Choke Rectifie Porte Garantie" with what appears to be either a small case letter "e" or a capital "C" with a diagonal slash though it found in between the above two statements. At the front end of the flats, on each side, the capital letters "E.M." are found under another "Choke Rectifie" that forms a semi-circle partially around the two letters.
There's what looks like a three pointed crown with the capital letters PT directly under it on both barrel flats and one on the water table. I found out just the other day from a gunmaker in St. Etienne, France that the Crown over a PT means that the gun was made there in St. Etienne but that it could have been made by any number of companies. The "Crown-PT" proofmark apparently just refers to the city.
Just ahead of the flats both barrels are marked 17.0 (which I understand translates into actually the midpoint between a 15 and 16 guage) and "St Etienne" is stamped in extremely small lettering just ahead of that number. Both flats are marked 6.5 which is 2 1/2" chambers, the typical European size.
Immediately in front of the lettering is a proof mark that I'm totally unfamiliar with. The shape is as if it were a pair of letter "U's", one right side up, the other upside down, both joined together at the bottom of their curves making sort of a curvy "X" shape. There's something in the middle of the top "U" that I can't make out and there appears to be a dot on each side of the proofmark and in the middleof the bottom "U". It's got the typical Belgian looking sling swivels on the barrels and straight grip English style stock. It has a Greener crossbolt and two locking lugs. The serial #'s all match (69873) and there's another number(N40) stamped in under the right barrel up near the post where the forearm snaps in. The post that the forearm snaps to has a very small number 8 stamped on it. Oh, and another little thing. I don't know if it's broke or just designed that way because I haven't taken it apart yet but the tang safety does not automatically engage upon opening.
The most interesting feature about this gun and the reason I think it may have been built on order is that there's a name, "Tourain Provins", in gold on the bottom of the action. There's small amounts of very light engraving on the action. The stock to hardware fit is very good. The stock's got a lot of cast off, which appealed to me personally cause it looks like it'll fit me, and there's a horn buttplate. Barrels are blued of course but the action was finished bright.

If you know anything here that would help me figure out how/when/where this thing originated I would be much obliged. And if there's any other information that I can provide I have no idea what it would be but I'll try. Thanks!

Wendell Beall OzarkArkie@juno.com

Dave McC
January 23, 2001, 08:10 AM
There's a lot of confusion about Continental shotguns. French gun makers included a lot of small shops that would buy Belgian made actions and sometimes bbls and make up guns to order.They'd proof them at St Etienne,where the governmental proof house was as well as their equivalent of Springfield Armory. I gather a lot of little shops operated in the area, with some overlap.

I had a nice little 12 ga double made like this by a maker no one knows around 1919. First quality, tho not up to British "Best Gun" standards, but not far below them. A couple of caveats and some info.

Lots of these came to the US around 1945,in duffle bags. most are chambered for shorter shells than in use at present, and should be checked by a knowledgeable smith BEFORE loading and firing. More than one tragedy has occurred when someone stuck a heavy load in a short chambered gun proofed for say, oz loads. My little French work of art was a 2 1/2" chambered job, lengthened to 2 3/4" by a good smith. Not all of these can be altered safely, and some shouldn't be. Good news, those short shells are available, tho not cheap.Or, if you reload, some data is around using cut down US cases.

In your case, this might be chambered for the older 2 9/16" case, a Continental standard. I'd recommend using 1 oz loads, after that checkout, or maybe 7/8 oz, and leaving the heavy loads to a modern, US made, shotgun. A nice rule of thumb on these is to load them as if it were the next popular gauge down. My 12 ga, for instance,worked well with 1 oz loads, 16 ga country. Forget slugs and buckshot, this is a different tool.

What you have sounds like a great small shot, small game and bird at moderate range shotgun. Treat it accordingly and enjoy.

January 23, 2001, 11:05 PM
I appreciate the information you passed along. I'm planning on using it on mostly doves, maybe occasionally quail, so light loads are gonna work just fine. I may figure out a workable load to bust the occasional pheasant with. In any case I'll go easy on it. Ounce loads are pretty much SOP for 16 gauge anyway and 7/8's are as common as ticks and chiggers in the summertime. Going 7/8's or 3/4's should work out ok. It's a beautiful little thing. If I ever get rich and famous I may someday swap it for an English gun. Work my way up in the world, sort of. Anyway thanks!

Dave McC
January 24, 2001, 08:22 AM
I'm in Md, OA. An oz of 6s will do the job on pheasant at reasonable ranges, I used to load that'un with an AA trap load of 7 1/2s in the open bbl and generic field load 6s in t'other. Got as many with the 7 1/2s on the rise.

After using that for a while, you may change your mind about trading up. You may find there is no "up"(G)...

Also, most of these Continental arms are choked a bit tighter than we need now. Shells have changed. Pattern that little delight, and see how big and regular the patterns are at the distances your shots usually occur.

The one I had was opened to 8 points of contriction in the open bbl and 15 in the other, kinda Skeet I and a light Modified. Worked great for me on quail and woodcock. I like a bit more choke for dove, but sticking to the tight bbl worked OK.