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Ammo for a Model 1912
March 12, 2017
4:12 am
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gopher38
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Hello,

Should say up front that I'm a borderline novice regarding guns, so apologies if I say something dumb.  I have a Model 1912 (nickel steel).  The "When was your Winchester made?" link above puts the manufacture date at 1914.  It's a 12 gauge that belonged to my grandfather.  He was in the Army in WWI in France, and reading the history of this gun on some site, it said that this gun was used by the armed forces from WWI till Vietnam, I think, so maybe it's from WWI (I know the US wasn't in the war until later, but still could have been from then; or maybe he picked it up later, I really don't know).  At any rate, it's got sentimental value, and I'd like to get it firing again.  Not that it's in bad shape, it's actually pretty pristine, as it's spend most of it's life in the attic under carpets.  I'm pretty sure everything on it is original.  Like I said though, I rarely shoot guns, and never shotguns (I have a Beretta 9mm for the home that I shoot a couple times a year, but that's it).

So I read on some site that you shouldn't use steel shot with this model because, although the nickel steel was considered good at the time, that it's not great by today's standards.  This guy (who may or may not know what he's talking about) said you should use lead shot.  Does anyone know if this is true?  I thought lead shot was illegal or something.  I wouldn't be shooting it real often, so is this truly a constraint for an occasional shooter?

I also read that the the 20 gauge version from this vintage took 2.5 inch shells, so it can't take modern shells which are (excuse my ignorance) apparently larger?  Does a shotgun take only one size shell, or is there a maximum and you can use anything shorter?  Is there a width component that I have to worry about, or are all the shells the same width going back to 1914? 

Any idea where I'd get the shells for this?  Would a local gun shop carry ammo for a gun this old?

Any insight would be appreciated.

Thanks.

March 13, 2017
4:07 pm
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gopher38
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Right after I hit send, it occurred to me that this couldn't have been from WWI, because it doesn't have "US Army" stamped on it anywhere, so he must have got it afterwards.  Still appreciate it if someone could help figuring out what kind of shells it takes.  Thanks.

March 16, 2017
2:17 am
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Should have 2 3/4" chamber, most target ammo for the 12 today is 2 3/4". Lead shot should be readily available unless you reside in California. I would avoid using steel shot unless for some reason it has a cylinder choke, even then I'd probably avoid it. Most of the steel loads seem to be high velocity (and pressure). How about some pics?

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March 16, 2017
3:11 pm
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gopher38 and TXGunNut,

  Guys,  A couple of things here I feel I should comment on, even though I do NOT collect nor am intimately familiar with model 1912 shotguns.  First, I fully agree with TXGunNut's advice to stick with lead loads.  However, it is not that the modern steel (or other nontoxic) loads are working at higher pressures than were possible with heavy game loads in lead, but due to the hardness (lack there of) of the inner surface of the barrel.  The lockup and burst strength of the barrel likely, depending on its condition, would easily sustain the pressures of such loads.  However, the barrels of the older models were of relatively soft surface and subject to abrasion and chokes subject to being peened out from the inside as the charge of steel shot pounds into them.  Think in terms of fluidity of the shot column.  Lead was relatively fluid, steel in particular is more a solid.  The greater the restriction of the choke, the more pronounced such damage can be.  My old, favorite Browning model A-5's suffer the same limitations.  Early in the days of steel shot, and before Browning warned to not use steel in their earlier guns, I put a scratch from the forcing cone to the muzzle of my A-5.  Probably within firing the first 10 shots of steel while hunting.  I was and continue to be heartsick.  It is way too deep to polish out.  They, and the model 12, will have a tough enough barrel to handle the pressures, but not a hard surfaced bore.  New guns proofed and approved for steel are still proofed to the same pressure levels but with a different composition steel to get a hardened surface to resist abrasions and at least limit peening of the chokes.  Many use screw in chokes and often with the choke outside the barrel so if it is peened it can be replaced.  

  With the gun in question, if you decide to pursue game that requires nontoxic shot, there are specialty loads for old double guns, etc., that meet that need.  Not cheap by anymeans, but better than permanent damage.  I keep some Kent tungsten/matrix on hand for my Browning A-5, as example.

Tim Tomlinson

March 16, 2017
4:07 pm
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I use Bismuth in my Heavy duck M12 for the couple times a year I give it some exercise.

 

Erin

March 17, 2017
2:18 am
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Thanks, Tim. I thought the shot cup would protect the bore from the steel shot but your A5 proves otherwise. My condolences. I know just enough about metallurgy to know that a scratch in steel is a serious thing.

Just diving off into Model 12's myself. Found a sweet trap gun that shoots as well for me as my modern O/U.....and looks better doing it! Oldtimers all want to fondle it and get a little misty-eyed when they shoot a round with it, lol.

Life Member TSRA, Endowment Member NRA
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Smokeless powder is a passing fad! -Steve Garbe
I hate rude behavior in a man. I won't tolerate it. -Woodrow F. Call, Lonesome Dove
Some of my favorite recipes start out with a handful of depleted counterbalance devices.-TXGunNut
March 17, 2017
8:09 am
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TXGunNut,

Current steel shot loads have much better wads than back in the beginning, plus better shot.  Generally far less likely to have a tip on a pellet to scrub against the bore, but the slits in the wads almost always allow some steel pellets to contact the bore at some point in their passage.  Early loadings allowed pellets to periodically poke through the wad itself, too.  Not now, thankfully.  If you shoot enough steel, in a modern firearm designed and advertised for steel, you still see abrasions in the forcing cones, chokes, and sometimes in the bores between.  

I should think old timers would indeed get misty eyed over a nice model 1912 or 12 Trap gun, as one time they tended to be a premier trap gun.  I know one fellow locally who never saw a model 12 he didn't like!  But rarely do I see a 1912/12 on the field anymore.  They did the job with a certain flare!

Hope to see you in Cody!

Tim

March 20, 2017
2:52 am
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gopher38
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Thanks for the feedback.  Seems like everybody seems to agree that you should use 2 3/4 shell with non-steel (lead) shot.  I'm not a hunter, so I'd just be taking it to the range to shoot it once in a while like I do with my pistol, so I don't think there's much environmental concern. I'm in Minnesota, not California.  I mostly just want to get it cleaned up and firing for the fun of it.

Here's a photo of the gun.  I tried to take a close up of the writing on it, but it was always out of focus.  Like I said, it says Model 1912 12-gauge nickel steel and FULL (whatever that means).  Then there's a bunch of patents.  And a number twice on the barrel and stock, which the Winchester site says corresponds to 1914 manufacture. 

Anyway, thanks again for the feedback.

[Image Can Not Be Found]

[Image Can Not Be Found]

Edit: not sure if those photos are going to work.  Can't quite figure out how to add them.

March 21, 2017
3:19 am
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Sounds like a nice old shotgun, hope shooting it helps preserve the memory of your grandfather. In his day the Model 12 pretty much ruled the trap fields, your shotgun will be right at home there. Shot a round with mine yesterday, best score I've shot in awhile.

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Smokeless powder is a passing fad! -Steve Garbe
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Some of my favorite recipes start out with a handful of depleted counterbalance devices.-TXGunNut
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