In Praise of 2" 12s
As a longtime subscriber and upland hunter for 58 years, I really enjoyed Vic Venters’ article on 2" guns and loads (“The Short-Shell 12”) in May/June.
In the early 1990s I sought a 2" 12-gauge as an alternative for our elusive Black Hills ruffed grouse. After much research and comparative shopping, I settled on a 1930s-era Webley & Scott boxlock from Jack Jansma of Wingshooting Adventures.
What I most remember about the transaction was surviving Jack’s “20 questions” on the telephone about my wingshooting experience and intentions for such a special-purpose gun. Obviously I passed muster, and I still have my little 2" 12-gauge.
Thanks again for spotlighting these wonderful, classic little shotguns!
Rapid City, South Dakota
A question raised in my mind and perhaps often by other readers has to do with cartridges shorter than the chambers: Generally, does shooting a cartridge shorter than the chamber length influence the efficiency of the load?
More specifically, I shoot 2½" Cheddite hulls in a 2¾"-chambered gun with SK1 and SK2 chokes. The recipe suggests 7,745 psi and 1,186 fps. The pattern is perfect, and the felt recoil is less than modest. I can only guess about the shotstring, but I am pleased with the results on a medium-range sporting clays course.
What’s the theory? At a difference of ¼", perhaps very little. Perhaps more in an extreme case?
Tom Roster responds:
The fear that shooting short shotshells in long chambers would produce negative results harks back to the days when lead-shot charges were not contained in any kind of plastic wrapper or shotcup device. Then the longer the distance of the chamber ahead of the shotshell’s overall length, the more deformation was caused to the pellets in the outside of the shot charge. This was because they expanded to fit and rubbed against the dimensions of the chamber before being abruptly squeezed down (and deformed further) by what were then generally short and sharply angled forcing cones before passing through the narrower diameter of the bore.
But it’s not a concern any more, as today almost all shotshell pellets, regardless of metal type, are contained in protective shot wrappers or shotcups. Since the pellets do not escape these devices throughout their entire journey from crimp mouth to muzzle, they enjoy almost complete protection from scrubbing. This is one reason why in the chamber area of almost all modern shotguns, the barrel is stamped with wording that proclaims the chamber safe for shooting both the maximum shell length it can accommodate and any shell of the same gauge that is shorter.
Keep them open
I feel the need to rebut the letter by Jim Deck (March/April) dealing with carrying break-action guns open when not ready for the flush. I found it insulting and degrading.
First, even low-end guns are built well enough to withstand carrying this way. The writer obviously has no idea how much force is applied when guns are fired.
I always carry open and loaded chambers until the bird is at foot, and then close, ready for the shot. I have never worn out any of my doubles by carrying them. I can assure him I am not a “jackass,” as he suggests.
On one hunt many years ago I had the misfortune to hunt with a jackass who insisted on carrying closed and “safed.” The result was an accidental discharge that struck me in the legs. He was checking his safety.
Second, I am delighted to see more pictures in the May/June issue of sensible gunners carrying with the barrels dropped.
I hope I never have the misfortune of being afield with such misguided individuals.