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Old March 11, 2009, 09:16 AM   #1
DG45
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Old Forehand Arms Shotgun; shootable?

I own an old single barrel top break single-shot shotgun that says it was manufactured by Forehand Arms Co. of Worcester, Mass. The patent date appears to be sometime in May 1896. The shotgun's serial number is 110315. Most of the guns of this type I've ever seen were sawed off by people who didn't have a lot of money and who needed a cheap and effective weapon, but this is just an old full size shotgun. I literally bought this thing about 20 years ago for $1.00 when it was just a barrel a stock, and a bunch of parts in a paper bag. I put them together and VIOLA! this shotgun appeared. It just needed a new firing pin which a local gunsmith put in for me.(He appears to have used a sheetmetal screw.) I asked him before he did this if this gun had a Damascus steel barrel and he said no, it had a milled steel barrel, that he could see the milling marks inside the barrel. There is no bluing left on the gun, if there ever was any, and the exterior of the barrel has light rusting all over. There is also some rust inside the barrel but overall it doesn't look too bad and naval jelly would probably take care of the rust. I've never ever fired this gun but according to the gunsmith who fixed the firing pin back 20 years ago, it was ok to shoot. (However, since he used a sheetmetal screw for a firing pin, I wasn't sure how good a gunsmith he was, and wasn't sure I could trust his opinion.) Does anybody have an opinion on whether this thing would be a safe shooter or not. If so, with what, black powder shotshells or what? Would a low power modern field load be ok? How about No. 1 Buck?
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Old March 11, 2009, 09:58 AM   #2
PetahW
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I "MIGHT" try BP shells, but anything else would be a no-no - not even tied down, with a tree between the gun & me, and a string-pulled trigger.
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Old March 11, 2009, 09:05 PM   #3
TEDDY
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forehand arms

FOREHAND AND WARDSWORTH MORFED INTO FOREHAND ARMS IN 1900.you can take a chance but the guns were inexpensive guns that were sold to farmers ect .
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Old March 11, 2009, 09:10 PM   #4
feudalson
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some old shotguns had wired wrapped barrels and are no longer safe to shoot with new ammo.... if i was you i would buy or find and old tire cut a hole through one side and but the barrel in it and stick the butt in the other side....string pull the trigger... but i myself would just keep it and not shoot it...
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Old March 16, 2009, 02:17 PM   #5
Hawg Haggen
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The chambers will be somewhere between 2 1/2" and 2 5/8". 2 3/4" will chamber fine but when fired will raise chamber pressure quite a bit. I'd measure the chamber length and use shells cut to the appropriate length with mild loads.
BTW shotgun shells are measured after firing, not before.
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Old March 17, 2009, 12:51 PM   #6
PetahW
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Most people measure a shotgun chamber incorrectly, and will go ahead and chamber/fire a 2 3/4" shell in a shorter chamber, thinking it's OK.

The bulk of these 100 Y.O. guns had short chambers - please don't use modern ammo in them !
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Old March 21, 2009, 10:26 AM   #7
DG45
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Thanks to all those who responded. I was surprised by the information about the chamber length. I'd been mostly concerned about the barrel. I'm not into making my own shotgun shells. This gun shall remain an unfired (since I've had it) wallhanger.
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Old March 29, 2009, 09:33 AM   #8
woad_yurt
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About the sheet metal screw firing pin:
Those screws are very hard steel. If your guy was able to use one as a blank and has made it work, more power to him. If it's shaped correctly, what's there to worry about? Now, new ammo in that gun is another story....
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Old April 7, 2009, 09:51 AM   #9
TEDDY
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forhand

I believe the gun to be 2 3/4 as that has been the size since 1900 or earlier
the europeans used short shells. H&R bought Forhand I think.
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