Questions regarding my new (old) Belgian guild 16-gauge SxS
Recently while visiting my favorite local gun shop I suffered a severe case of double-gun lust, and in my fevered state I purchased a beautiful, sleek, 16-gauge side-by-side with fluid steel barrels, sidelocks, and outside hammers. The shop owner informed me that it was manufactured by the guild of Belgian gun-makers, and that this was the reason that it carried no brand name or obvious makers' names.
Prior to this visit I was unaware of the existance of Belgian guild guns, and since then I have been attempting to learn more about them. I have found bits and pieces of information through Internet searches, but my curiosity is far from satisfied. What can you tell me about them, and can you recommend any Websites, books, or other informational resources to help further my education?
Also, I am curious as to what you may be able to tell me about my particular piece. I do not currently have a means of uploading image files, so please allow me to briefly describe it.
Barrels: 30-inch with flat rib. Choking (marked in millimeters on their bottoms, just ahead of the barrel flats) is 16.6 and 16.9. Both barrels carry provisional and definitive black powder proof-marks. Interestingly, they also carry the view stamp and inspector's mark for parabellum pistols!
The left-hand barrel has a five-digit serial number; the letters S.P.I; the letters AC with an L below, all contained within a circle; a crescent with a vertical oval; the word CHOKE; a small star with the letters AE beneath it; and the numbers 16.6 with a horizontal line between them. The barrel flat on this side features a small star with the letters AM beneath it; the view and inspector's stamp detailed above; 16 with a crescent beneath it, both contained within a diamond; and the definitive black powder proof-mark.
The right-hand barrel has a 1 with a small letter "c" above and to the right of it; a horizontal oval; what appears to be H99 with 16.0 stamped below it;a z with a crescent above it; a 3; a small star with what appears to be the letter B in script; 16.9; and another small star with what appearls to be a K beneath it. The barrel flat on that side features the same markings as detailed above.
The left-hand side of the water table features the last three digits of the serial number, and has a 7 beneath it. The web between the cut-outs for the barrel lumps has a V inside of a square. The right-hand side has a small star with what appears to be the letters AM in script beneath, and the view stamp and inspector's mark detailed above.
Beneath the top-lever are the letters SPI, and they are contained within a circle.
The serial numbers on the barrel, water table, and underside of the splinter fore-end all match
The receiver, lock plates, fences, and trigger-guard all features stylized ivy engraving
The stock features a half pistol grip, and a steel butt-plate.
I purchased this gun to use on upland birds, and to that end will have it thoroughly vetted by a competent gunsmith. Regarding ammunition, are black powder shells commercially available or will I have to load my own? Should I have the chambers lengthend for use with 2.75-inch hulls? To what does this gun's choking equate in modern terms?
Thank-you for your help!
Good luck, and good shooting.
"If we're all thinking alike, somebody isn't thinking." General George S. Patton, Jr.