Sterlingworth question

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Sterlingworth question

Postby Caylerman » Sat Aug 25, 2012 5:15 pm

I just picked up a A.H. Fox Sterlingworth 12ga. A. H. Fox is stamped on the barrel and Philadelphia also stamped on the barrel, with S/N 63162. I believe this to correspond to a 1912 manufacture date, is this correct? Also, i purchased this gun from the Cabelas Gun Library and it was listed with 2 3/4" chambers, can this be possible? I'm really looking forward to shooting this gun. I have read several posts about using low pressure shells, do modern game load shells qualify? If not, I have a connection for British made shells for older guns and will get those.
TIA.
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Re: Sterlingworth question

Postby gunut » Sat Aug 25, 2012 5:47 pm

1912 is correct....if the gun has a 2 3/4in chamber using a chamber gauge it has been lengthened.....no big deal....but I would still stay with the low pressure loads with 1oz to 1 1/8oz loads....the barrels&action can take modern field loads but the wood might not....
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Re: Sterlingworth question

Postby Caylerman » Sat Aug 25, 2012 5:54 pm

Thanks for the info. As the gun has been refinished and based on placing a spent 12ga 2 3/4" shell in the chambers it looks as though they lengthened the chambers too. I went ahead and ordered some RST 7/8 oz loads for it. Now to get used to double triggers! :D I'm only going to use the gun for dove and pheasant hunting, no steel, but I'm really looking forward to it. I know it's not fancy, but it's really been my "grail" gun for a long time!
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Re: Sterlingworth question

Postby gunut » Sat Aug 25, 2012 6:15 pm

I have a 1914 Sterlingworth that I use on phez now and then....I also have a 1937 Sterlingworth that I use a little more often because it has a little less drop in the stock.....enjoy your gun..
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Re: Sterlingworth question

Postby Researcher » Sat Aug 25, 2012 7:31 pm

I believe 63162 would be more like 1913 or 14. I have 62126 and it was shipped August 4, 1913, and No. 60726 was shipped July 22, 1912. The only way to know for sure would be to get a letter from John Callahan, the Savage historian -- http://www.foxcollectors.com/ah_fox/con ... tters.html

I've posted this many times before, but here it comes again --

FOX CHAMBERS --

The only two A.H. Fox Gun Co. catalogues, that I have seen, that state chamber lengths are the 1913 and 1914. They both state 12-gauge guns are regularly chambered for 2 3/4 - inch shells, 16-gauge 2 9/16 – inch shells and 20-gauge 2 1/2 - inch shells. This is the page from the 1914 A.H. Fox Gun Co. catalogue --

Image

That being said, virtually every 12-gauge Ansley H. Fox gun made in Philadelphia (other than the HE-Grade Super-Fox) that I've run a chamber gauge in shows about 2 5/8 - inch. The chambers of unmolested 16-gauge guns seem to run about 2 7/16 inch and 20-gauge guns a hair over 2 3/8 inch. A very few graded guns were ordered with longer chambers. Savage began stating chambered for 2 ¾ inch shells in their 1938 Fox catalogues.

All this being said there is a good body of evidence that back in those days chambers were held about 1/8 inch shorter than the shells for which they were intended. In the book The Parker Story the Remington vintage specification sheets on pages 164 to 169 call for a chamber 1/8-inch shorter than the shell for which it is intended. Also in the 1930's there were a couple of articles in The American Rifleman (July 1936 and March 1938) on the virtue of short chambers. A series by Sherman Bell in The Double Gun Journal showed no significant increase in pressure from shooting shells in slightly short chambers. IMHO I don't much sweat that 1/8-inch in 12-gauge guns. On the other hand when one gets a 20-gauge chambered at 2 3/8-inch likely intended for 2 1/2-inch shells I do worry about folks firing 2 3/4-inch shells in such guns.

Note that the loads the A.H. Fox Gun Co. is recommending for 12-gauge guns are 1 1/8 ounce loads with 3 drams of bulk smokeless powders (DuPont, E.C. and Schultze) or in desne smokeless powders 20-22 grains of Ballistite or 20-24 grains of Infallible. These are quite light loads compared to the maximum loads the North American ammunition companies were offering in those days. From the late 1890s to the early 1920s, the heaviest factory loaded 12-gauge shells were loaded with 3 1/2 drams of bulk smokeless powder or some number of grains of dense smokeless powder (28 grains of Ballistite was one of the most popular) and 1 1/4 ounces of shot. In several of the old sporting books I've read the authors expressed the opinion that these loads were excessive and were of the opinion that the 3 1/4 dram 1 1/4 ounce was a better balanced load.

I've scored some old DuPont Smokeless Shotgun Powders booklets from the late 1920s and early 1930s. These booklets are very lengthy tomes, 96 and 103 pages, promoting their DuPont Oval progressive burning powder, which allowed the development of the high velocity loads like Western's Super-X, Remington's Nitro Express, etc. In the manual they show a table giving the pressure of the 3 1/2 drams DuPont Bulk Smokeless pushing 1 1/4 ounces of #6 shot as 11,700 pounds, with 3 1/2 drams of Schultze 11,800 pounds, and the same load pushed by 28-grains of Ballistite at 12,600 pounds!!
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