Help dating a Bayard SBS


September 23, 2013, 04:09 PM
Hello everyone, Thank you in advance for any input this post will receive. I am a collector of old Colt pistols but couldn't resist the chance to pick up this beautiful old side by side. I have done many searches to try to find this info with no luck so i turn to thr's collective knowledge. I am simply trying to find out when this old gal might have been produced. Maybe a model. Id like to put a few rounds through it. I understand I should stay away from hot loads but would regular target loads be ok? Thank you.

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September 24, 2013, 11:30 AM
I have no expertise whatsoever, but boy, that sure is a beautiful gun.

My understanding is that older shotguns were commonly chambered for shells which are shorter than those used today. Modern shells will often fit, but there is not enough room for them to open up, leading to dangerously high pressures even in otherwise modest loads.

If someone here can help decypher those numbers under the barrels it will probably tell you exactly what to feed it. Please proceed cautiously.

September 24, 2013, 11:46 AM
Thank you for the compliment. I believe 75mm refers to the length of shell it can take. Which is just under 3", 2.95 I think.

September 24, 2013, 05:40 PM
I'd be very surprised if it took shells that long. Hopefully someone with some real knowledge will stop by soon - the extent of mine is nicely covered here:

Note that the length you observed may refer to the length of a _fired_ shell, with the petals open.

September 24, 2013, 06:21 PM
I don't know but good grief, that is a beautiful shotgun.

September 24, 2013, 08:26 PM
Go here for Belgium proof-marks to data it.

However, the case hardening colors are far too vibrant for a gun as old as that one appears to be.

I would suspect it has been refurbished and re-color cased in the not to distant past few years.


September 24, 2013, 08:54 PM
Thank you for the compliments and information. The man I purchased the gun from was a friend of mine before he passed. This shotgun was in his possession for the last 60 + years and I know he did not have any work done to it. He was a very persnickety collector and some of the rarities he had would blow your mind. Although it is not common for case coloring to survive as this has. With the right care and minimal use. It can be well preserved. I have a Winchester 1886 that has nearly all of its case coloring and it is also quite vibrant. Again, not common but thats why I added them to my collection.

September 24, 2013, 08:57 PM
The rib address marking shows this gun was made after 1905, but Pieper (the owner of the Bayard trademark) closed down in 1954, so that's still a pretty big window. There is a chart going around that's supposed to list the Belgian inspector's marks (the * over a letter) by the dates they were in use, but I can't find it.

Jim Watson
September 24, 2013, 09:42 PM
Proof marks look like 1910-1924, per Kennett.
The (star) A is consistent with a chief inspector there during the period.
Never saw the (star) UA inspector's mark.

75mm (3") chambers are highly unusual for a gun of the period. I'd get them measured anyhow.
Yes, shotgun shells are measured as fired with the crimp open, the chamber must match.
Although it is nitro proofed, I sure wouldn't be shooting any 3" magnums in that pretty little thing.

The closest thing I could find in the 1911 ALFA catalog was 160 marks, about the same as a Haenel Sporter rifle or a Winchester 1886 all the way from America.

Two Old Dogs
September 24, 2013, 10:06 PM
Based on the proof marks, you shotgun was made by Anciens Etablissments Pieper, S.A. (owner of the Bayard trademark) in the period 1910-1924 as indicated by Jim Watson.

It is a 12 gauge with 2.592" (75 mm) long chambers. The 1903 UMC catalog lists 3" and 3 1/4" length shells so one can assume that Belgian Ammunition makers loaded similar shells. The chamber diameter is 0.811" (20.6 mm).

This gun is not chambered for the modern 3" (76 mm) Magnum shell!

The bores are a tight 12 gauge with a diameter of 0.716" (18.2 mm). The left barrel is choked full at 0.685" (17.4 mm) diameter (0.31 or 0.8 mm constriction) and the right barrel is choked improved modified at 0.696" (17.7 mm) diameter (0.020" or .5 mm constriction).

The proof marks are standard for a smokless powder proved shotgun of the 1910-1924 era with appropriate inspectors marks.

Do not use modern 3" (76 mm) Magnum shells in this gun!

September 25, 2013, 10:25 AM
Wow! Thanks for all the great information. Is there a book or a place online I can find to access this info in the future? It may be very handy as I believe i've caught the shotgun bug. I would not and will not use a 3". That being said, would a modern 2 3/4 target load be safe or do I need to stick with a light load? Thanks

Jim Watson
September 25, 2013, 11:01 AM
The 1903 UMC catalog lists 3" and 3 1/4" length shells

I didn't know that, what were the loads?

If I wanted to shoot this little jewel, I would handload something at the low end.

If buying shells, I would use name brand target loads, like Winchester AA, Remington STS, or Federal Gold Medal. I doubt the "light" loads you see in the sporting goods department are of any lower pressure.

For something really mild, the Polywad Vintager shells are meant for old, light game guns, about anything nitro proofed.

Also RST

Two Old Dogs
September 25, 2013, 11:55 AM
The 3 1/4" length "Arrow" shells were loaded with Bulk Smokless powder and were 3 1/2 Dram Equivalent with 1 1/4 ounces of shot.

There are several old ammunition catalogs that are available for download including UMC 1904 and 1905 at:

Two Old Dogs
September 26, 2013, 01:41 PM
WaffenVerkaufer: My major reference on proof marks is "The Standard Directory of Poof Marks" by Gerhard Wirnsberger translated by R.A. Steindler which, I believe, is out of print. Also I use information from the following websites: and .

You can google Proof Marks for any country and usually find a list and explanations of what the marks mean.

Jim Watson
September 26, 2013, 03:33 PM
I go by the Lee Kennett proof mark articles in Gun Digest in the 1970s and 1980s.
He did one country a year. I wish they had put them all out in book form.
The Baron Engelhardt series in the 1950s was good, too; but I no longer have those.

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