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Old May 1, 2005, 12:03 PM   #1
novus collectus
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Is a 12 gauge called the same in Europe as in the U.S.

(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.
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Old May 1, 2005, 12:44 PM   #2
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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.
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Old May 1, 2005, 05:29 PM   #3
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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.
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Old May 1, 2005, 05:57 PM   #4
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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.)
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Old May 1, 2005, 08:52 PM   #5
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'Gauge' and 'Bore' are identical size measurements.

However, in proper usage, 'Gauge' applies only to smoothbores and 'Bore' only to guns with rifled barrels.
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Old May 1, 2005, 09:48 PM   #6
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Quote:
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?
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Old May 1, 2005, 10:24 PM   #7
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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/arti...032/index.html

The English usage of bore, instead of gauge, is sort of like their saying bonnet instead of hood.
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Old May 1, 2005, 10:52 PM   #8
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One thing I noticed on imported ammo is that lengths are in mm, not inches. May want to note that.
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Old May 2, 2005, 02:50 PM   #9
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Bore, gauge, caliber

Have owned an Antonio Zoli Delfino 20 ga over/under for over 30 years. Tubes are marked "20 caliber". John
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Old May 2, 2005, 11:14 PM   #10
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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
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Old May 3, 2005, 12:29 AM   #11
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"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.
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Old May 3, 2005, 12:40 AM   #12
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Quote:
gauge is applicable to shotguns only
I 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".
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Old May 3, 2005, 05:55 AM   #13
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Quote:
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?
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Old May 3, 2005, 06:52 AM   #14
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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.
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Old May 3, 2005, 07:03 AM   #15
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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.
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Old May 3, 2005, 07:37 AM   #16
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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.
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Old May 4, 2005, 01:22 AM   #17
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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.
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Old May 4, 2005, 01:32 AM   #18
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"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.
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Old May 4, 2005, 02:48 AM   #19
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Westly-Richards Explora?
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Old May 4, 2005, 12:17 PM   #20
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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.
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Old May 4, 2005, 01:02 PM   #21
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"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.
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Old May 4, 2005, 03:06 PM   #22
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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)
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Old May 4, 2005, 05:16 PM   #23
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"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.
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Old May 5, 2005, 03:55 AM   #24
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Buffalo has 2.5 brass shells;

http://www.buffaloarms.com/browse.cfm/4,4675.html
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Old May 5, 2005, 01:44 PM   #25
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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...

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!

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