really stupid 12/16 gauge question - THR

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Old May 10, 2016, 06:58 PM   #1
Join Date: June 11, 2006
Location: North Central Florida
Posts: 3,689
really stupid 12/16 gauge question

Digging through the closet today I ran across my box of "well you never know" shells. This is a box I toss the odd box, partial box, pill bottle or plastic baggy of odd ammo some buddy gave me after shooting his guns of a caliber I do not own or I saw on a super good sale and knew someone might need one day (Come on -kBob you really think you might have a house guess that NEEDS .30 Luger? It was cheap and ya never know.)

At any rate I came upon a box of 16 gauge shells. Now the difference in the diameter of a 12 gauge and a 16 gauge is only .06 inches, about 1/16th of an inch and the rim is big enough to barely catch on the chamber mouth of a 12 most of the time, I think.

I know, really I know, only use the ammo designed for the gun you are shooting.

Then I remembered talking to some one after some riots decades ago. He had a 12 gauge single shot break open and had in his last minute rush somehow grabbed a box of #6 16 gauge shells. He thus felt rather un armed during the evening hours when things got nasty.

Given the relatively low pressure of shotgun ammo what WOULD have happened if he had just made sure a 16 gauge round did seat on the rim and had fired one? Might he have gotten better results from a few wraps of Duck Tape around the shell body and sides of the base. What if he had cut the body off some spent 12 gauge hulls and slipped one over a 16 gage shell?


On the other hand if you have tried them or have access to information from others that have that you trust let me know, if you would.

Not something I would ever want to try myself......unless I was over at Waldo's house when the riot stuck and despite my urging he still had not replaced those wrong shells....

Mainly I want to know if it would be believable in a fictional story.

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Old May 10, 2016, 07:46 PM   #2
Join Date: December 11, 2010
Posts: 531
i have done what your talking about. i was trying out a pump shotgun years ago.

it was a 12 ga, i was in a hurry, grabbed some misc shells out of the misc shell drawer.

now when i was growing up, all 16 ga shells were purple. or at least the ones my dad and i had.

these shells were black.shoved one in the mag tube and it had trouble feeding into the chamber.ran it thru a couple times and it finally made it to the chamber.

fired it, i knew something was wrong when it went FLLLOMMMPH.Ejected swollen shell and yes it was a 16 ga.

no damage to gun at all, continued firing it with 12 ga rounds that worked fine.

dumb mistake but no harm done.upon examination the 16 ga round was a low base dove load. so not sure what would happen with a hi brass full power load.

i now know that all 16 ga shells are not purple, have never seen another black one but do have a old box of red ones.

as far as the effectivness of the round fired i have no idea.but id not volunteer tp be shot at 10 yrds with one.
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Old May 10, 2016, 09:27 PM   #3
Join Date: September 10, 2005
Location: Pell City, AL
Posts: 174
Federal tried to start standard coloring of 16 ga shells (purple) and 20 ga (yellow) a few decades back. only the 20 ga was adopted by other loaders.

Shame as it is a good idea.
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Old May 10, 2016, 09:57 PM   #4
Join Date: April 2, 2012
Location: Central NY, not the rotten apple
Posts: 674
Wrap the body with some 2" masking tape. Shotgun shells were paper hull for a long time. I use masking tape wrapped 16ga shells in my 14ga Martini Egyptian police shotgun.
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Old May 10, 2016, 09:58 PM   #5
AI&P Tactical
Join Date: September 1, 2012
Location: Michigan
Posts: 408
I was just getting out of my truck once and had just pulled my 870 from behind the seat and as I turned I say a Buck in the road staring at me. I moved real slow into my pock and pulled out what I thought was a 12ga 00 shell and without looking dropped into the open receiver and slowing racked the action forward. What I thought was a shell was a Bic Lighter (or some other brand, I forget) and of course those don't work in a 12ga. The Buck calmly walked across the road into the woods most likely in an attempt to get away from the idiot staring at him.

Never tried a 16ga in a 12ga but it would work better then a Bic Lighter.
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Old May 10, 2016, 10:06 PM   #6
Join Date: April 2, 2012
Location: Central NY, not the rotten apple
Posts: 674
"Never tried a 16ga in a 12ga but it would work better then a Bic Lighter."

Well thats one way to "Flick your Bic". LMAO You just made me remember those commercials.
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Old May 10, 2016, 10:14 PM   #7
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Elmer Keith, in his book 'Sixguns by Keith' told of a couple of boys captured by an outlaw and forced to work for him.

One of them found a 38-40 WCF cartridge, wrapped it in paper until it was a tight fit in a .45 Colt, and killed the guy with it.

No reason the same wouldn't work with a 16 in a 12 if the rim will catch in the chamber enough for the firing pin to hit it.

Don't put all your eggs in one basket.
Or all your primers in a glass jar!

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Old May 11, 2016, 01:49 AM   #8
Join Date: February 6, 2009
Location: Queen Creek, AZ
Posts: 683
I recall a local news story from years ago wherein Our Hero was trying to explain to his uninformed girlfriend how a 16 ga. shell would NEVER fire in a 12 ga. gun. He chambered the round, placed his hand over the muzzle, and pulled the trigger. Shredded his hand. So, yes, the round will fire and the payload will go downrange, at least fast enough to remove your fingers.

I would hope the hero in your story would be bright enough to realize that the world is full of 12 ga. rounds of all power levels, and would seek them out before going to a lot of trouble trying to make a smaller round function in a larger chamber.
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Old May 11, 2016, 05:20 AM   #9
Steve C
Join Date: January 5, 2006
Posts: 4,554
While you can shoot shells of slightly different size out of the shotgun without it exploding the first shot the danger is always creating a bore obstruction so that if you are fool enough to shoot another round, esp if it is the correct size, the result will be a blown barrel. The wad in the 16ga wouldn't seal in a 12 ga bore so the shot wouldn't have much velocity and if the wad didn't leave the bore the next shot you fired without clearing the barrel would KB the barrel.

Ridgerunner1965 gave a great description of what happened when he fired a 16 in a 12 ga.
i knew something was wrong when it went FLLLOMMMPH.Ejected swollen shell and yes it was a 16 ga.
This kind of thing is one of those things that will probably fire but work so poorly why would anyone want to do it? If you need 12ga and have some 16's laying around trade them with someone who has need for them or keep them around in case you ever pick up a 16ga.
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Old May 11, 2016, 09:59 AM   #10
Join Date: June 11, 2006
Location: North Central Florida
Posts: 3,689

Interesting idea about the wad failing to seal the barrel.....


The same could be said of the jillions of shots fired of say 20 gauge from a 12 gauge using "Shell Shrinkers" adaptors of only normal 12 gauge lengths. Also .410 supposedly fired from such a device made for 12 guage can break clays or take birds.

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Old May 11, 2016, 10:03 AM   #11
Join Date: June 11, 2006
Location: North Central Florida
Posts: 3,689

As per my friend in the original post , the situation would be more along the lines of "Thank goodness I have an old H&R break action 12 gauge as the bad guys approach. OH crap all I have are 16 gauge shells."

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Old May 11, 2016, 01:45 PM   #12
Join Date: November 24, 2010
Location: Springfield, MO
Posts: 2,180
I went dove hunting, setting up in the tall grass before dawn, with a Ruger Red Label O/U 12 gauge. I fished two shells out of my jacket pocket and put them into the chambers. When the first dove flew over, my gun went "click". I owned a 16 gauge double at the time and had left 16 gauge shells in my pocket. The shells went into the 3" chamber about an inch, jamming in the forcing cone. Had to go back to the car to get a rod and clear them out.

I vowed never to own a 12 and a 16 at the same time. I sold the 16. Now all I have are 12s and .410s. Enough stuff happens without courting disaster.
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Old May 11, 2016, 02:29 PM   #13
Carl N. Brown
Join Date: May 10, 2005
Location: Kingsport Tennessee
Posts: 7,376
Oh, I may end up wishing I said nothing.

One very bored day, I found that I had a few inherited 16 ga shells and some 12ga empties. Plastic hulls mind you. I cut the head off a 12ga empty to make a sleeve that press fit over the 16ga down to the rim. Fired one in a single barrel H&R. It seemed to work. It is the kind of thing I would try again only if the choice was starve or be killed versus shoot a 16ga shell in a 12ga gun. For fictional purposes only, it is possible. Real life, I would advise not to do it.
Cogito me cogitare; ergo, cogito me esse.
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Old May 11, 2016, 03:07 PM   #14
Join Date: June 11, 2006
Location: North Central Florida
Posts: 3,689
Well now, at least if I ever do publish something with the 16 gage shell shoved in a 12 gauge hull ( as suggested in my original post) then when detractors point it out as silly I can say, "Well Carl Brown did it, so there !"

That is exactly the sort of confession I was looking for.

I am not likely to try anything of the sort.

Do not worry guys the last 12 gauge swingle shot break action I owned was retired when it became an auto ejector with the ammo meant for it. That was a rush. I will admit that the first time it happened I thought I had some how struck the lock during recoil and tried again. That second one smacked me in the forehead and was enough for me.

I think my B-I-L may still have that thing......

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