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  1. #1
    Veteran neutron619's Avatar
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    "Modern" Arms 9mm Garden Gun

    Well chaps. I've been busy of late, so perhaps a bit quiet in these parts.
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    I wasn't sure whether to post or not today. I think what I'm about to say might not be very interesting and that you'll all have given up the will to read after the third paragraph, proving my point.
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    I suppose I'll say what I have to say in the form of a question. As you might have guessed from the title of the post, I've now managed to acquire (at least) one example of each of the common shotgun gauges: 12, 16, 20, 28, .410 and 9mm. I chalk this up as a minor achievement in my shooting career and one I hope that you like-minded folk won't mind me mentioning...
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    Right, paragraph four. Now that lot have gone, here's the inside story about Prince Charles, a tub of Lurpack and George, the wombat they used to keep at London zoo who recently disappeared in mysterious circumstances...
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    Just checking. Ahem.
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    I managed to acquire two single-barrel guns at the weekend: a 9mm bolt-action garden gun and a 20-gauge Accacio. Neither are special or intended for hunting, but are rather "safe tubes" from which I can test fire and pattern cartridges for a little "small bore" project I'm working on currently. The 20 gauge doesn't really count as small bore in my book, but for £30, it was hard to resist filling the last gap in my collection. The garden gun is definitely the most interesting of the two.
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    I'm afraid I haven't got a good picture of it, so here's a bad one taken with a very old camera phone:
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    I originally thought the gun was about 70-80 years old from the condition it was in but it appears to be older than that. It could have be as late as 1954, given the proof marks, but it's almost certainly pre-war. It's marked as being made by the "Modern Arms Company". The only record of a company with that name traded in London between around 1928 and 1939 (and perhaps earlier, though the records I've found date only until 1934) and this ties in with the London (rather than Birmingham) proof marks. That would make it a minimum of 83 years old!
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    Unusually, the gun has a rather long barrel at 28 inches - but at least there's no risk of it being section 1. It was nearly blocked with oil, grease and rust when I got it and though my .410 brush was rather inconveniently killed in the process of de-gunking it, I have managed to polish it out somewhat to make most of it clean and shiny. Another go with a more-appropriately-sized brush and some degreaser will probably get it properly clean, but I haven't had the chance yet. I think the barrel might even be chromed under all the dirt!
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    Although, at a distance, the gun looks ok, the outside surfaces are worn and a little rusted, but materially sound. Most of the blueing is gone and the muzzle has ingrained soot giving it a black, matte appearance. It needs scrubbing back to the metal, really. I managed to get most of the crap out of the action with a toothbrush, a pick and plenty of oil, but it needs the stock taking off at some point to get it properly cleaned up.
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    In fact, I plan to re-blue and refinish the gun later in the year when I've collected the requisite bits / pieces, as I think it could be rather tidy, given a bit of work. I already polished the bolt back to bare metal with wire wool in the interests of getting it to close smoothly and that was easy enough. The rest of the gun will be just as easy with a supply of wet & dry paper and a little patience. However, I'm going to do the testing required for my small bore project before I risk taking it to pieces and destroying it!
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    Still the first test firing will be done tonight, weather permitting. I don't expect any issues, but if you don't hear from me again, you can assume I died doing what made me happy - learning more about how unusual, small and antiquated shotguns behave and perform. I can't wait!
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    If I survive, I'll be back tomorrow with a report.
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    Freedom is having the right to offend and be offended; politeness is temporarily eschewing that right in respect of others; maturity is understanding the compromise and applying it.

  2. #2
    Young Shot
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    Neat. I've heard of the 9mm shotgun, but have never seen either gun or shell, until now that is, still need to see the shell.
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    My dad had told me he recalls them being used in an attempt to get indoor skeet shooting here in the States. But I don't know what time frame that was, dad died three years ago at age 88.
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    Congratulations on rounding out you stable of guns.

  3. #3
    Veteran neutron619's Avatar
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    Well - I didn't get back from the fields until late last night and when I did, I found a mountain of housework that my wife had kindly left for me. You know - the giving and exchanging of gifts in marriage etc.! Anyway, by the time that was all done, it was 10 'o clock and I sat down to write up my notes from the testing I'd managed to get done. I only got so far before I had to sleep, so what follows are the preliminary, rather than final conclusions.
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    The first thing I can say is that firing a 9mm shotgun is a slightly scary experience, in the sense that, on a couple of occasions, there wasn't enough recoil or muzzle blast to make me sure that the gun had fired. With ear defenders on, I heard the click of the pin hitting the cartridge and a fraction of a second later, the pellets tearing through the patterning paper, but between that was, if anything, the mildest "phut" I have ever (just about) detected from a cartridge-operated firearm. The report was more noticeable with the ear defenders off, but still significantly less loud than, say, a 12ftlbs springer or 30ftlbs PCP air rifle. It wouldn't have been uncomfortable to fire 100 rounds without the ear defenders, put it that way.
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    Twice, I had to "hold" for 30 seconds due to misfires. This isn't scary in itself and I adopted all of the usual precautions before discharging all the affected shells on the second attempt. I suspected a weak firing pin, and more testing might show that to be the case, but I'm hopeful that it might turn out to be very old ammunition.
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    I suspect that the shells I was given by the dealer would have been old and poorly stored. Whilst I would usually expect ammunition to last forever, the fact that the two kinds he'd given me both experienced misfires, but the brand new Fiocchi shells I picked up yesterday all fired first time makes me think it's either age-related degradation or perhaps the hardness of the case metal.
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    The Fiocchi shells are made of soft brass and came out intact when fired, but the shells from the dealer were made of a silver metal - a nickel-brass alloy, perhaps - and several of them split under firing, which suggests that they were harder and brittler. This may mean that they need a harder strike to ignite the primer. Firing another 10-15 of the Fiocchis will show this to be true or not.
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    Pattern-wise, the short of it is that I think shooting #9 or possibly #8 shot with this gun is the best bet. I suspect this would make it effective on small game at ranges of 15-20 yards. Since I've no plans to test this directly, the "wet telephone directory" penetration test may have to be performed at some point.
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    Some of the shells I had from the dealer contained #10 shot. These threw really rather good 20-yard patterns which I fully expect to show 120+ in the circle when I count them this evening. The gun has no choke, as far as I can tell, so these represent roughly what I'd expect from any shotgun. Pellet energy is low at that range, however - probably too low even for rats and other vermin - though an Italian acquaintance of mine has described their use in that situation.
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    At the other end of the scale, the Fiocchis, containing 2.7mm shot (English #5½) - far too big! - patterned tightly by comparison, but there was very little pattern to speak of at 20 yards. Sitting rabbits at 10 yards would be no issue, however, with a pattern the size of a dinner plate at that distance - provided one aims the gun.
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    In the middle were the other dealer shells. I have no idea what was in these, as they were unmarked, but probably #9 shot, given the number of pellet holes and the standard ĵoz. loading. These patterned poorly and were most prone to case-splitting. One, inexplicably - the exception to the rule - made a very loud bang when fired. I survived, but I've no idea what caused it.
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    I should get a chance to do the pellet counts and post a few more pictures this evening. I forgot to check whether the gun was pre- or post-1928 - I'll find out later and include that piece of information too.
    Freedom is having the right to offend and be offended; politeness is temporarily eschewing that right in respect of others; maturity is understanding the compromise and applying it.

  4. #4
    Veteran neutron619's Avatar
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    Just thought I'd post an update on what I'd written above and share a few pictures.
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    I discovered roughly how old the garden gun is. The barrel of the gun is stamped with “Modern Arms Company Ltd. London & Bromley” which dates it to between 1928 and 1942 according to the company records I can find. It's my oldest gun by about 30 years.
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    Another helpful piece of information which has popped up is the fact that the acorns embossed on the head stamps of the cartridges I was given with the gun are typical of ammunition manufactured by RWS, which means that I've been able to identify the #10 cartridges as their “double shot” loading. They patterned pretty well:
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    Of course, there's not much energy left in a #10 pellet at 20 yards, so whether they'd actually kill anything larger than a bluebottle is debatable, but I don't plan on testing it.
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    For GLS's interest, here's the contents of one of the other brands of 9mm ammunition. This is the Fiocchi #6 (Italian = English #5½) load:
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    I didn't pull the wads and powder because I'm not sure how sensitive rimfire primers are to being hit with a screw point. I'd have had to turn a screw into the wad to pull it to remove them -
    they're wedged in there pretty tightly. Either way, there isn't a lot of anything in there. In this shell I counted about 62 pellets in each case - not a huge number - but most of what there is tends to end up on the paper:
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    That's a 20" circle rather than the usual 30". These would probably kill a rabbit with an aimed shot, but again, I've no plans to try currently.
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    The third brand of shells turned out to be loaded with #10 shot as well. Both of those types had about 190 pellets in the case in total. I still think #9 (for about 150 pellets in the case) would give the best pattern-energy balance.
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    On average, all of the cartridges tested were patterning between 75-90% at 20 yards, which means that, with a good result, we'd be getting 120-130 in the circle at that distance with #9. I'm told by an Italian "in the know" that that's sufficient to kill pigeons over decoys, but I've not tried it myself, for obvious reasons.
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    Anyway - I've started writing all of that up and I'll go shoot some more patterns as soon as I can find some other brands of shells to test.
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    Last edited by neutron619; 12-Aug-2017 at 08:09 PM. Reason: Spelling.
    Freedom is having the right to offend and be offended; politeness is temporarily eschewing that right in respect of others; maturity is understanding the compromise and applying it.

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