game loads for a Fox Sterlingworth

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game loads for a Fox Sterlingworth

Postby Magwa45 » Thu Sep 23, 2010 10:49 am

I inherited a Sterlingworth 12 ga., vintage 1917 and would like to get advice on the type of loads to use for small game. Would standard 2 3/4" lead shot be reasonable, something like the usual Remington game loads? My Dad picked this gun up at an estate auction a few years ago and I am not sure if he ever fired it. With an old gun like this, I just want to be sure that I don't use something too much for the gun. He bought some Fiocchi target shells for it. The right barrel has a modified choke and the left is full choke. I may go out and do some squirrel and crow hunting just for fun. When I have time I may do some sporting clays and dove hunting.

Don
1918 A.H. Fox Sterlingworth Field 12 ga.
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Re: game loads for a Fox Sterlingworth

Postby Silvers » Tue Sep 28, 2010 9:58 am

This subject has been hashed to death in many earlier threads. Your 12 gauge Sterlingworth was probably made with 2-5/8" chambers for paper roll crimp shells. Modern 2-3/4" 12 gauge shells are loaded to significantly higher pressure.

If you want to review earlier postings on shell pressures etc you can use the search function on this site. As you will read, there are many opinions on what is ok and what is not in Foxes like your early Sterlingworth. The best advice I can give you is to use shells of the proper length and loaded to pressures that were standard at the time your gun was made. Personally I don't fire any modern factory shells in regular frame Foxes, except for RST's which are loaded to about 5-7,000 psi, transducer measurement. I also handload shells for old Foxes and keep them < 7,000 psi. One of my Foxes, a 1916 gun, just turned 6000 rounds at the traps and she's still tight as a tick, with the same clearance between the barrel flats and the water table as when I first measured her.

Just for info in reference to short chambers, here are the Warnings printed on some 2-3/4" shell boxes circa 1960's. Modern max shell pressures are essentially held to the same industry pressure limit as these 1960's shells were. Silvers

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Re: game loads for a Fox Sterlingworth

Postby CLAYBORN » Tue Sep 28, 2010 9:32 pm

So is it ok to shoot 2 and 3/4 shells in the old fox sterlingworth if you keep the psi at 7,000 or do you have to have 2 and 5/8 inch cases??
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Re: game loads for a Fox Sterlingworth

Postby Silvers » Wed Sep 29, 2010 5:46 am

Don asked about shooting modern 2-3/4" Remington commercial game loads or similar in a 90+ year old Fox, and I tried to answer it.

It's always good to measure your chambers since some 12 gauge Foxes left the factory with full 2-3/4" or even longer chambers, and with one so chambered the question of using shorter hulls when reloading is moot. At one point Savage started the practice of lengthening the chambers of earlier Foxes, to 2-3/4", when they were sent in for repairs. I have to believe Savage had good rationale for doing that. The 1916 AE I referred to earlier has 2-3/4" chambers, and two other Foxes I shoot quite often have factory 2-7/8" chambers.

I'm sorry Clay but I am not qualified to answer shotshell reloading questions, and even if I were I would avoid doing that. The loading site I'm familiar with (Hodgdon's) has precautions and warnings that people must read and agree to before entering to get data. Hodgdon has professional ballisticians and engineers working for them, along with sophisticated pressure testing equipment, and they and similar reloading companies are the best source of safe and reliable loading data to include hull lengths. In comparison, anyone (me included) can write anything here or on other forums in the way of reloading dope, and make it sound like gospel to readers worldwide.

Here's another pic for the first post. I really liked these Peters Blue shells when I was a kid, often riding my bike three towns up the line to get them. The store owner would break the boxes and sell kids one or two shells if that's all the money they had (almost always the case). But I have to add, the ones I bought back then had folded crimps. :)

Anyone remember the old "Peters packs the Power" ads? I guess you can tell I'm hyped about the leaves changing colors and hunting seasons coming on! Silvers

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Last edited by Silvers on Wed Sep 29, 2010 1:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: game loads for a Fox Sterlingworth

Postby Twice Barrel » Wed Sep 29, 2010 10:56 am

CLAYBORN wrote:So is it ok to shoot 2 and 3/4 shells in the old fox sterlingworth if you keep the psi at 7,000 or do you have to have 2 and 5/8 inch cases??


The problem with most promotional loads is that they are rarely if ever held to a max chamber pressure less than 9,500 psi. I do not have data available for 12 gauge factory loads but 16 gauge factory loads have been tested with chamber pressures as high as 11,200 psi for one commonly available loading. Poywad and RST are your best bet to find low pressure loadings in the sub 8000 psi range.

Mr Silvers and I sometimes disagree on the maximum service pressures for our old Foxes so I will not comment on that.
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Re: game loads for a Fox Sterlingworth

Postby Magwa45 » Thu Sep 30, 2010 1:49 am

I will have to get the chamber measured! And I do not reload, so are there any sources for 2 5/8" shells. This looks like a dilemma. I think I know a good gunsmith I can rely on, but for now I will have to put off any immediate use of the Sterlingworth.

Don
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Re: game loads for a Fox Sterlingworth

Postby Silvers » Thu Sep 30, 2010 8:15 am

Just for the heck of it I looked at the spreadsheet of 12 gauge Fox guns I've measured - to include those I do or have owned, also those handled at exhibitions and gun shows, owned by a friend, etc. In sum, 31% of them had what I believed to be factory 2-3/4" chambers. This data covers a full range of serial numbers from the early 4 digits, to late Savage era. It does not include HE Grade Supers, SBT's, any that were repair-stamped 2-3/4" by Savage, nor any I was sure had been re-chambered. Also for info, I use a precision chamber length gauge made on the lathe. Chambers are rarely "dead nuts" on length and so I round up/down to the nearest 1/8" increment.

For those who don't reload, and if your gun is in good mechanical condition, RST 2-1/2" shotshells work just fine in 12 gauge Foxes with 2-5/8" chambers. A quick phone call with a credit card will get a flat of shells UPS'd to your door. I like the Best Grade 2-1/2 inchers which are available in #5 thru 9 shot, including #7's a good compromise for the uplands. All are 1 ounce at 1175 fps. Just for info, RST will mix/match shot sizes and shells within the case. Link below.

http://www.rstshells.com/

I understand that "Classic Upland Supply" will ship individual boxes of RST's at a higher price per box, but that is data from over a year ago and I don't have their contact info. Also, I am not familar with Polywad's offerings and don't have contact info. Perhaps someone else will post their links, or you can google them yourself.

Again, Don, there are gents with different opinions on this subject and I wouldn't be surprised if someone else weighs in here. Silvers
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Re: game loads for a Fox Sterlingworth

Postby jolly bill » Thu Sep 30, 2010 1:13 pm

My $0.02 for whatever value that might be worth.

I have an early A grade Fox, SN 7983, that I have owned for 42 years.

During the first 20 years or so that I owned the gun, I used it to hunt every thing from ducks, geese, pheasants, pidgeons and fox (the furry ones) using lead shot. For geese I used the 2 3/4" magnums and was quite successful. Somewhat lighter loads for ducks and even lighter loads for pheasants and pidgeons. No apparent problems have resulted.

I wouldn't shoot 2 3/4" magnums out of the gun any more but would shoot an occasional 2 3/4" light field load but for more than a couple shots, would use the RST's.

I'm sure others have used/misused their classic doubles pretty much as I have with no negative results.

Exhaustive tests have been done by others to determine how capable these old guns are. If I remember correctly, guns that were in obvious good solid condition did fine.

I would not suggest to anyone that they use 2 3/4" loads in their older guns. Only you can make that decision and live with the results.

As Silvers suggests, get some of those RST's. They're made for the old guns and you won't go wrong.

A couple pictures of the old girl is below. As solid and classy as the day I bought it in Coudersport PA 42 years ago this month for $175.00.

Jolly

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Re: game loads for a Fox Sterlingworth

Postby Magwa45 » Thu Sep 30, 2010 10:07 pm

Thank you to Silvers for the info on RST. I have a couple boxes of 2 1/2" Best Grade Lite ordered from Classic Upland. I am new to shooting the Fox Sterlingworth and want to shoot it and keep this gun in prime condition. I really appreciate everyone's comments. I hope to learn and appreciate this fine gun.

Don
1918 A.H. Fox Sterlingworth Field 12 ga.
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Re: game loads for a Fox Sterlingworth

Postby HIGH$TRAP » Fri Oct 01, 2010 9:48 pm

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Re: game loads for a Fox Sterlingworth

Postby marshboy » Mon Oct 04, 2010 9:31 am

I know a fellow who has shot an old LC Smith Field Grade 12 ga for a couple of decades for waterfowl. He has shot a lot of steel through those old tubes, which were fixed full and full. No problems, no barrel bulging, no nothing. He has since retired the gun in favor of others, but to say that the old Elsie proved reliable is an understatement.
I think a lot of the fears of modern shells through old vintage guns could be unfounded. How many folks actually have real data and/or experiences to share on this topic, not just their best opinion?
I'm not taking shots at anyone, shoot what you think is most reasonable, but my point is that actually discussing this topic with someone with real experience is difficult because the number of these folks with experience is few and far between.
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Re: game loads for a Fox Sterlingworth

Postby Twice Barrel » Mon Oct 04, 2010 3:05 pm

Marshboy I have examined several double and 1960s and earlier vintage single barrel shotguns with "ringed" chokes (bulged barrels at the beginning of the choke constriction) but have never felt the compulsion to photograph or otherwise document their existence. In my meager arsenal I have a 1920s vintage L C Smith 16 gauge that has had the "ring" expertly reduced so L Cs are not immune to choke rings from steel shot.
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Re: game loads for a Fox Sterlingworth

Postby Magwa45 » Tue Oct 12, 2010 11:02 pm

Thanks to everyone's help here. I was out doing a little hunting last week and posted a couple pics of my gun to the Sterlingworth forum.

Don
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