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View Full Version : 4, 6, 8-Gauge Shotguns. Are They Still Made?


Carnac the Magnificent!
03-22-2001, 11:18 PM
Years ago, I stumbled across some gun book that showed these huge-bore shotguns--in the 4 to 8-gauge range.

Are they still made? How were/are they used? How powerful was the kick? Any facts you have would be appreciated--especially if you have fired one yourself.

Badtz Maru
03-22-2001, 11:23 PM
My Uncle Raymond had an 8-gauge goose gun, but it was lost in a tornado.

I'm not sure if the ban on anything bigger than a 12 gauge is national or not, I'm thinking that they may be legal under certain circumstances based on a hunting magazine I read about ten years ago that had an article on an interesting way of hunting ducks with them, but maybe they were discussing a (currently) banned activity (it did seem somewhat unsporting).

Lumpy
03-22-2001, 11:41 PM
I remember in the movie Tremors, the heroes' survivalist neighbor has a freakin' big elephant gun; barrel nearly five feet long and loaded with cartridges about the size of two D batteries. So I guess they're still made.

Gunslinger
03-22-2001, 11:41 PM
What use is ther efor a 4-guage shotgun? I want a 4-bore double rifle.

Una Persson
03-22-2001, 11:49 PM
Originally posted by Badtz Maru
I'm not sure if the ban on anything bigger than a 12 gauge is national or not, I'm thinking that they may be legal under certain circumstances based on a hunting magazine I read about ten years ago that had an article on an interesting way of hunting ducks with them, but maybe they were discussing a (currently) banned activity (it did seem somewhat unsporting).

Ban? What country do you live in? In the US, I know that 10-gauges can still be bought, and I have seen a new 8-gauge in a catalog for sale. Perhaps the ban is a State one on hunting with them? I don't honestly know myself.

Turbo Dog
03-22-2001, 11:49 PM
They are still made, but as far as I know, only in England. There is also an English gunsmith that makes 2 and even 1 bores for those with the cash. I'll try to find out more info on them. I have lying around the house, but don't know where at the moment. They were used for hunting, generally at longer ranges. I've fired a 4 bore once... once. It's something you have to get used to:)

Gunslinger
03-22-2001, 11:50 PM
Originally posted by Lumpy
I remember in the movie Tremors, the heroes' survivalist neighbor has a freakin' big elephant gun; barrel nearly five feet long and loaded with cartridges about the size of two D batteries. So I guess they're still made.


That's not a shotgun. It's a rifle. A .600 Nitro Express, IIRC. That's a .6 inch diameter, 2-ounce (945 grain), copper/lead slug.

The bissest hunting rifle commercially available is the .700 Nitro Express. That's big (see below). .70-caliber, 1000-grain bullet, will lift a charging African elephant off the ground (okay, only the front end, but still...:eek: )

By comparison, 12-gauge is .72 inch.

Gunslinger
03-22-2001, 11:53 PM
Originally posted by Gunslinger
The bissest

:rolleyes: I give up. It's late, I'm tired, and I'm not a great typist anyway. Needless to say, that should be biggest

Una Persson
03-23-2001, 12:11 AM
Originally posted by Gunslinger
That's big (see below). .70-caliber, 1000-grain bullet, will lift a charging African elephant off the ground (okay, only the front end, but still...

So how can a 200-pound human fire it then?

Badtz Maru
03-23-2001, 12:16 AM
I doubt it's actually the force of the bullet hitting that's lifting the elephant in your example. The kinetic force a bullet imparts on it's target is equal to the recoil. I think even if you had a gun that applied that much energy to a .70 caliber bullet (and in the process shattering bones in the firer and knocking them back a dozen yards or so) it would have to be going so fast that it would not just knock the elephant back, but cause it to explode.

Turbo Dog
03-23-2001, 12:26 AM
As far as the 700 Nitro, it's muzzle energy is approximately 12,000 joules. In comparison, the .50 BMG (used in the Barrett sniper rifle) is approximately 17000 joules. Hardly enough to "lift" the front end of an elephant, but enough to stop it, yet still be fired. Painfully yes, but fired.

Una Persson
03-23-2001, 12:31 AM
And I'm guessing, because of the NFA restriction on rifles with a bore larger than 0.600, that the 700 Nitro is not available in the US without an NFA license...?

fnord1966
03-23-2001, 01:16 AM
Gunslinger, you want a 4 bore double rifle? Are you insane?
If you get one, I want the chance to shoot it.

Now if you want something really hot, you need a McMillan Fat-Mac.
Its a .50 diameter bullet, stuck in a shortened and necked down 20mm cannon shell. It developes a little over 19,000 lbs of energy at the muzzle.

Padeye
03-23-2001, 01:33 AM
Anthracicte, IIRC the NFA regulates anything over .50 caliber with a fixed cartridge (muzzle loaders are exempt) aside from sporting shotguns. I'm not sure if most of those elephant rifles have to be registered as destructive devices or in the case of antiques are part of the curio and relic class.

Doc Nickel
03-23-2001, 06:35 AM
Okay, let's back it up a notch, there's something being slung off the fanblades here somewhere... :D

Original question: Yes, they made 4-bore and 8-bore... and 10-bore, and 2-bore and yadda yadda. BUT... not every maker had the same concept of "bore". It was somewhat like the original designation of "caliber", in that the caliber was the length of the barrel in bores. (Using that terminology, the big 16"-bore Iowa-class battleship rifles are technically "fifty caliber" guns.)

Some used 12-bore, but that wasn't the same as another maker's "12-guage". Still another maker might have called theirs an 8-guage but it might have had the same actual bore diameter as a fourth maker's 10 guage.

That having been said, most of them are long defunct. Most of what we know as a "standardized" shotgun cartridge, was "fixed" around the time between the two World Wars. (More or less.)

The larger bores were in fact often used for "commercial" duck and goose hunting, and were not always shoulder-fired.

Long story short, with a few minor exceptions, anything but 10, 12, 16 and 20-guage, as well as .410, are considered antiques, curios, collector's pieces, and so on. Few, if any, have been manufactured for some eighty years.

As for "kick", that's dependent on several factors:
Weight of the gun
Weight of the projectile(s)
Muzzle velocity and rate of accelleration.

Put it this way: if you fired a full-house 240-grain .44 Magnum from a compact, lightweight 2-1/2" barreled snubby revolver, it's gonna knock ya down and stomp ya (as my pap used to say. :D )
But if you fired it from a full-sized bolt-action type rifle, it almost feels like a squib load.

Same thing with the big-bore rifles: there's a reason most of the .50 BMG rifles weigh upwards of 35 lb. :D

Anthracite- Because the human holding the rifle and the rifle itself outweigh the projectile by a factor of two or three hundred.

Back to the topic:
Yes, current NFA rules prohibit anything over .500" bore diameter. Things like the .600 and .700 Nitro Express skim the rules by being a blackpowder/Pyrodex cartridge.
Shotguns have a larger bore but again pass since shotguns are considered their own category.

Badtz- I suggest some light reading on muzzle energy, velocity vs. recoil and projectile dynamics.
The infamous .577 Tyrannosaur- there's a cool video out there showing a guy who can't weigh 125 lbs shooting it (it gets the better of him)- has some 11,000 lbs of muzzle energy in a 13-lb rifle. The aforementioned videos show four different people shooting it, and not only surviving unbroken, but laughing about it afterwards.

Elephants exploding? Somebody's been watching too much TV where gunfire from a handgun can throw a 200-lb man 20 feet backwards through a wall.

There have been numerous cases where an elephant has barely reacted to being shot with anything from a .338 to a .416 to a .585 Nayati. If you can't afford an African hunting trip, watch the videos. Watch a Wildebeest take three shots from a .416 and only stop running because the third shot broke his shoulder.

As far as "Tremors" is concerned, I didn't see the first one, but I did see the second. In that one, one of the good guys caps a monster-thing with a Grizzly bolt-action single shot in .50 BMG (Browning Machine Gun, basically a .30-'06 scaled up about 100%.)
The bullet 'splodes the beastie- of course- but then travels through a concrete wall, several drums, a shack and kills the truck they were trying to get to. :D

The only problem is, the bullet would have only "exploded" the monster if it were an expanding bullet of some sort, which transfers far more of it's energy to the target. More typically, a "ball" bullet, as in fully-jacketed and nonexpanding a'la the Geneva Convention, will zip in and zip back out the other side like a high-velocity icepick.
Yes, the target croaks but it doesn't "explode".

If the bullet does expand- and such an expanding bullet would indeed have popped the beastie like a ripe cantelope- it would NOT have then penetrated the wall, the drums and the truck.

Sorry about the novel, but too many people seem to take their firearms knowlege directly from the TV and "Mack Bolan" paperbacks. :D

Fleetwood
03-23-2001, 07:10 AM
In the posts above, there were many mentions of the NFA. Are they a US gov't agency? If so, what branch and or department are the under?

Badtz Maru
03-23-2001, 07:21 AM
Badtz- I suggest some light reading on muzzle energy, velocity vs. recoil and projectile dynamics. The infamous .577 Tyrannosaur- there's a cool video out there showing a guy who can't weigh 125 lbs shooting it (it gets the better of him)- has some 11,000 lbs of muzzle energy in a 13-lb rifle. The aforementioned videos show four different people shooting it, and not only surviving unbroken, but laughing about it afterwards.

Elephants exploding? Somebody's been watching too much TV where gunfire from a handgun can throw a 200-lb man 20 feet backwards through a wall.

I HAVE seen way too much TV where gunfire from a handgun can send people flying - that's why I said that the idea of a man-portable firearm lifting the front end of an elephant was unrealistic, just like movies like 'Last Man Standing' where bullets send people flying. I'm not saying the gun he described would send the firer flying backwards - I'm saying that if it COULD, in effect, knock an elephant back (or up, whatever) then that gun would have to have a LOT more kick than could be handled, it would have to be to impart many times more than 11,000 lbs. of muzzle energy. The elephant probably rose up on it's own muscle power, in reaction to having a large bullet imbedded rather far into it.

A projectile big enough to lift the weight of an elephant on it's own would have to be very very big (like a cannonball) or if it was bullet sized (even big bullets) it would have to have ridiculously high muzzle velocity - and a small projectile hitting at hypersonic speeds would probably pass straight through the elephant, the shockwaves of it's passing shredding it.

UncleBeer
03-23-2001, 07:50 AM
NFA is the National Firearms Act of 1934 (http://usgovinfo.about.com/newsissues/usgovinfo/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?site=http%3A%2F%2Fwww4.law.cornell.edu%2Fuscode%2F26%2Fch53.html)

funneefarmer
03-23-2001, 07:58 AM
Originally posted by Badtz Maru
I'm not sure if the ban on anything bigger than a 12 gauge is national or not, I'm thinking that they may be legal under certain circumstances based on a hunting magazine I read about ten years ago that had an article on an interesting way of hunting ducks with them, but maybe they were discussing a (currently) banned activity (it did seem somewhat unsporting).

You're probably thinking of the illegal use of large punt guns for commercial goose and duck hunting which could kill large numbers with a single shot. Since it was mounted to a floating 'punt' recoil was not a huge problem.

plnnr
03-23-2001, 08:16 AM
I haven't seen anything less than a 10-gauage shotgun in a long time, but I do own a 28-gauge. Its perfect for hunting the squirrels and rabbits. Mine is made by Harrington and Richardson (I don't know that any other companies make them - I've never seen any). I also have a double barreled .410, which isn't something you don't see much. Another great squirrel gun.

My father-in-law has an old punt gun that is really nothing more than a barrel and a trigger. It sat down in the bottom of the skiff with the barrel sticking over the bow. You loaded it with shot, nails, rocks, damn near anything and let fly. He also had pictures of him taken in the early 30s with just hundreds and hundreds of ducks and geese that he and his brothers killed on the Chesapeake Bay.

Johnny L.A.
03-23-2001, 08:30 AM
It was somewhat like the original designation of "caliber", in that the caliber was the length of the barrel in bores. (Using that terminology, the big 16"-bore Iowa-class battleship rifles are technically "fifty caliber" guns.)
I'm sure I'll be corrected if I'm wrong, but...

I think that 16" is actually the caliber, since "caliber" is "the diameter of a bore of a gun". A "50 caliber gun" is a gun with a barrel length of 50 times the caliber. So a "16-inch, 50-caliber gun" would be a gun with a bore (caliber) of 16 inches and a length of 50 times the caliber, or 66 2/3 feet.

Una Persson
03-23-2001, 09:07 AM
Originally posted by Doc Nickel
As for "kick", that's dependent on several factors:
Weight of the gun
Weight of the projectile(s)
Muzzle velocity and rate of accelleration.

Put it this way: if you fired a full-house 240-grain .44 Magnum from a compact, lightweight 2-1/2" barreled snubby revolver, it's gonna knock ya down and stomp ya (as my pap used to say. :D )
But if you fired it from a full-sized bolt-action type rifle, it almost feels like a squib load.

Same thing with the big-bore rifles: there's a reason most of the .50 BMG rifles weigh upwards of 35 lb. :D

Anthracite- Because the human holding the rifle and the rifle itself outweigh the projectile by a factor of two or three hundred.

I know this Doc. I'm an engineer and pretty handy with firearms for a gal. My question was argumentative. And my .44 Magnum does not knock me down and stomp me...

labdude
03-23-2001, 09:23 AM
Originally posted by Anthracite
[QUOTE]
I know this Doc. I'm an engineer and pretty handy with firearms for a gal. My question was argumentative. And my .44 Magnum does not knock me down and stomp me...

I think I love you more everyday. :)

Fleetwood
03-23-2001, 12:16 PM
Originally posted by UncleBeer
NFA is the National Firearms Act of 1934 (http://usgovinfo.about.com/newsissues/usgovinfo/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?site=http%3A%2F%2Fwww4.law.cornell.edu%2Fuscode%2F26%2Fch53.html)


Thanks, UB. I thought it was an agency from the usage, but had never heard of it. Though it would not suprise me to have multiple gov't angencies with the same purpose.

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