Joined: 17 Mar 2017
Location: Endless Mountains of Pa
I have often wondered about this myself, the American gun Builders produced more shotguns than any one else in the world, from about the 1820's clear thru 1960's.
Unfortunately the American gun building companies like L.C. Smith ( Hunter Arms) and Ithaca and kept incomplete sales records & production records, as to each and every gauge and numbers produced and sold. Many believe this was done on purpose.
In reality nobody really knows how many 16 Gauge double guns Ithaca and L.C. Smith really made and sold to the general public. You can bet it was a bunch however, even today the 16's keep surfacing for resale.
You might be able to do a SWAG on that number by looking at Bill Brophy's L.C. Smith book, remember however he only found part of the L.C. Smith Hunter Arms manufacturing/sales records when he retrieved them from the trash.
Hunter Arms was the largest producer of American Shotguns, Remington and Ithaca built a lot also. Winchester produced many single barrel 16 gauge shotguns like the M12.
If we could actually figure out how many 16 Gauge shotguns were really built you might be able to put an era on the hay day, unfortunately it really is impossible.
_________________ "L.C. Smith America's Best" - John Houchins
Don't know when, or even if such a thing as a 16-gauge hey day ever started, but the 16-gauge decline started In that 1910 to 1930 time period when Remington Arms - Union Metallic Cartridge Co. and then Remington Arms Co., Inc. didn't make one. The next nail in the 16-gauge coffin was when NSSA didn't formalize a 16-gauge event in their program. Another nail was when FN/Browning didn't make the Superposed in 16-gauge. The final nail was when the Olin brothers introduced their 20-gauge 3-inch Magnum load to the public in January 1954.
Just my opinion but the 20 gauge is very highly over rated. Trying to pack a 12ga in that small bore is extreme. Never found much use for the 20.
That's your opinion, but the North American shooting public was subjected to decades of Jack O'Connor and Francis Sell promoting the Magnum twenty. Sixty years earlier Edwin Hedderly, the editor of Western Field, along with Parker Bros. West Coast salesman Arthur DuBray, were writing volumes on the 20-gauge and pushing it to the point that many of the upscale California Duck Clubs limited their members to the 20-gauge -- the famous Widgeon Duck Club Parkers probably the most noted. I have a big Parker Bros. 20-gauge with 32-inch barrels and 3-inch chambers built on the 2-frame. Weighs 8 pounds 4.5 ounces. Many of Seattle's high rollers in the 1920s and 30s had very special 30-inch barrel Ansley H. Fox 20-gauges for use at their club down near Toppenish.
wonder why chamber lengths chanaged with the 16, when it was on the decline?
It mostly seems to have to do with Remington Arms Co., Inc. getting back into the 16-gauge market in 1931 when they brought out their Model 11 and "Sportsman" autoloaders in 16-gauge made for 2 3/4 inch shells. Along with their new 16-gauge autoloaders Remington introduced a 2 3/4 inch 16-gauge progressive burning powder shell just a bit hotter than the 2 9/16 inch Remington Nitro Express and called it the Auto Express.
These 16-gauge Remington autoloaders, even though they had their own frame size, were very heavy. Every one I've weighed tipping the scales well above the 7 pounds Remington stated in their catalogs during the 1930s for the 16-gauge. By post-war catalogs they were admitting to 7 1/2 pounds for the 16-gauge.
The long 16-gauge shells from the old 1890s to the 1920s era seem very scarce. In the records for the graded Ansley H. Fox 16-gauge doubles we've only found nine guns ordered chambered for the 3-inch shell and one ordered chambered for the 2 7/8 inch shell. I have several boxes of early vintage 3-inch 20-gauge shells in my collection, but I've never been able to score a box of 2 7/8 or 3-inch 16-gauge shells.
Last edited by Researcher on Fri Apr 13, 2018 12:10 pm; edited 1 time in total _________________ Share the knowledge
With respect to upland bird hunting, I shot 12ga guns since my teens and 40 years ago switched to 20ga guns. 13 years ago I discovered 16ga in the form of a #2 AyA and the gun/gauge combination has made me very happy while hunting upland birds.
When I was about 14 (1962) I recall seeing a magazine article that contained a chart of effective ranges for various shotshells. Naturally the 12ga was longest, but right near the top was the "new" 20 ga 3" magnum with 1 1/4oz shot. At 10 yards less of effective range was the 16 ga that also had 1 1/4" shot but was just a standard length shell. I don't know why the author would have listed such a disparaging comparison, since the 16 ga actually had a faster velocity than the 20 ga, but I suspect the full page advertisement for the virtues of the light 20 ga Magnum that carried the power of a 12 ga had something to do with it. That is about when the 16 ga was downgraded to obsolete and the 3" 20 ga guns got the forefront. Ah, the wonders of the advertising dollar.
Joined: 16 Dec 2007
Some insight from an older Gun Dog article written by Layne Simpson about the 16 gauge (which I suspect was basically a rehash from his book on shotguns and shooting)...
There was a time when the 16 gauge was second in popularity to the 12 gauge. The popularity of a gun that “shot like a 12 and carried like a 20″ peaked sometime during the late 1940s or early 1950s when just about every briar patch in my small part of America contained at least one cottontail rabbit, and 20-covey days on bobwhites were not exactly uncommon.
According to annual reports filed by Remington, Winchester, Browning, Savage and others around 1953, about 52 percent of the shotguns sold in the United States during that year were in 12 gauge, while 16 gauge guns accounted for 24 percent of sales. In other words, 24 out of every 100 guns sold were sixteens.
Due to the popularity of 16 gauge guns, every hardware store and farm supply store in rural America stocked a plentiful supply of 16 gauge shells. In case you are wondering, the remaining 24 percent of guns sold consisted of 20s, 10s, 28s and .410s. Back then, the .410 was more popular than the 28 and 10 and almost as popular as the 20 gauge.
During the tail end of Sweet Sixteen’s final glory days of the 1950s, every gun built by every company who was somebody (and a few who were not) was chambered for it and hunters could choose from a great variety of 16 gauge ammunition with Remington alone offering over 30 different loads. Shot size options started at No. 9 for clay targets to double-ought buck and a ⅞ ounce rifled slug for deer.
You can read the entire article by searching the web but he basically jumps to the status as of the early 2000s.
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