A brief historical past of two″weapons & hundreds
The historical past of the little-known 2″12-gauge is curious and colourful—with many ups and downs in additional than a century, together with its delivery in Britain that was virtually stillborn. But nonetheless it survives at present, with a small-but-ardent following, particularly in America with upland hunters.
As a cartridge, the two″ 12 predates the business introduction of weapons chambered for it by greater than three many years. Developed within the 1890s on the top of high-volume pushed capturing, cartridges loaded to 2″ and 2¼” had been marketed to shooters who needed to hold extra shells afield, although they had been supposed for weapons with 2½”-or-longer chambers.
Herein the issue: Poor obturation within the cartridges of the Victorian Age typically led to “balling” of the shot cost when stubby shells had been fired via standard-length chambers, primarily fusing a swarm of pellets right into a projectile with doubtlessly harmful downrange penalties. After a radical trashing within the sporting press, the two″ 12 cartridge’s future appeared dim.
It wasn’t till round 1930—when light-weight, short-barreled weapons had been all of the craze—that the two″ 12 was born anew, this time reinvented as an ultralight load and as a featherweight gun made particularly to shoot it. Birmingham gunmaker Skimin & Wooden is credited with finishing the primary commercially viable 2″ 12 in 1930—an A&D boxlock dubbed “The 20th Century Gun,” constructed to weigh 5 to 5¼ kilos and controlled to throw a ¾-ounce cost. Skimin & Wooden touted “its lightness, regularity of sample, excessive velocity and low recoil” and claimed (dubiously) that, owing to its cartridge’s absence of shotstring, its efficiency equaled or exceeded that of normal 2½” 12-bores.
In an age that wished to disassociate itself with the previous and one entranced by novelty, the fast-handling 20th Century Gun was one thing new and recent, and it met with success. It wasn’t lengthy earlier than rivals had been both constructing their very own variations or, in lots of circumstances, promoting Skimin & Wooden-made weapons badged with different names.
J. & W. Tolley No. 84040 (pictured right here) belongs to the Birmingham Gun Barrel Proof Home museum assortment and is a primary instance of its sort. It was little question constructed by Skimin & Wooden, which in 1929 had acquired gunmaker Holloway & Naughton, which itself had taken over Tolley someday across the First World Battle. Proofed in 1934, the Tolley was offered to Birmingham Proofmaster Lt. Col. Charles Playfair and, though it was re-proofed in 1984, it stays in almost-unused situation.
Examples of two″ 12s embrace Arrieta’s Wingshooter’s Gentle Sport Gun and this J. & W. Tolley, which weighs a mere 5 kilos 2 ounces.
As an unaltered instance, the Tolley demonstrates how British gunmakers made 2″ weapons a lot lighter than typical 12-gauge boxlocks. With 26″ barrels and a 14¾” inventory, it weighs a scant 5 kilos 2 ounces. Among the weight discount outcomes from thin-walled barrels—which mike out at .024″ thickness left and proper—in addition to marginally thinner barrel lumps and thinner chamber partitions on the breech. However one other important distinction is the gun’s slender motion bar—the Tolley’s is 13⁄eight″ extensive in comparison with 19⁄16″ for, say, an ordinary Midland boxlock. Precisely why the Guardians (the governing board of the proof home) offered the gun to Lt. Col. Playfair is misplaced to present proof home workers. A latest search of Guardian archives by proof home historian Dave Evans turned up no references to it. It’s believable that the presentation was associated to a disputatious proof home choice round 1934-’35 to start proofing 2″ weapons at heavier 2½” strain ranges due to the sale of latest metal-hull 2″ hundreds that had been as highly effective pressure-wise as 2½” shells. Absent written affirmation, nonetheless, the connection stays speculative.
Two-inch 12s had been by no means made in nice numbers; one area of interest appears to have been with walk-up red-grouse shooters in Scotland and northern England. After the ’30s the weapons fell from favor, although within the post-war interval London makers, significantly E.J. Churchill and Holland & Holland, continued to construct a couple of “greatest”-quality 2″ sidelocks. The inherent limitations of a light-weight shot cost had been a part of the issue; skinny barrels that would dent simply had been one other. Gunmaker Mark Crudgington of George Gibbs, Ltd., informed me he has labored on or offered 21 two-inchers via the years and has discovered many to have wall thicknesses of .015″ to .018″, with one exhibiting .zero12″ partitions measured off of authentic bore dimensions. The sunshine actions of two″ boxlocks even have proved liable to capturing unfastened, not shocking given the atrocious recoil fashionable British 2″ cartridges generate.
America’s double-gun revival within the late 1980s helped rescue the two″ 12 from oblivion. Quite a few fine-gun sellers—notably Woodcock Hill, British Sport Weapons and Wingshooting Adventures—started importing used examples from Britain, whereas writers resembling Michael McIntosh, Douglas Tate and Charles Fergus praised the weapons for his or her utility within the uplands. By the mid-’90s, 2″ 12s had an avid following, particularly with grouse and woodcock hunters within the Northeast and Higher Midwest.
Arrieta importer Jack Jansma of Wingshooting Adventures took rising curiosity one step additional when he despatched a 2″ Holland & Holland Centenary sidelock weighing 6 kilos to Spain for the Basque maker to duplicate.
The consequence was Arrieta’s Wingshooter’s Gentle Sport Gun, a sidelock launched in 1995. Constructed on 20-gauge (typically 16) frames, most of them weigh between 5 kilos 12 ounces and 6 kilos, relying on wooden and barrel size. Two-inch purists argue that the Arrietas are too heavy by a number of ounces, with prevailing knowledge holding 2″ 12 ought to weigh “not more than 5½ kilos!” However they’re gracefully proportioned, deal with and carry superbly, and are extra appropriate for sustained capturing than most of the older, thin-frame A&D boxlocks. (I converse from expertise; I’ve owned each.) In accordance with Lucas Urquijo, a director and associate at Arrieta, 82 2″ 12s had been made by the top of 2015, with 1998 having been the preferred yr of manufacturing.
Morris Baker, a 2″ 12 proselytizer and proprietor of Pennsylvania’s RST Basic Shotshell Firm, has solved the issue of hard-kicking, hard-to-find English ammo imports by introducing a full line of American-made, roll-crimped, paper- and plastic-hulled 2″ shells. “The very first thing I did after I purchased RST was develop a variety of shootable 2” hundreds,” Baker stated. A newly launched ¾-ounce load, which mimics the cartridge’s 1930s shot cost, is gentle on the shoulder and develops solely about four,300 psi, stated Baker, making it good for older British ultralights. I’ve discovered them a delight to shoot, and their availability bodes nicely for the way forward for the short-shell 12.
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