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*Old* Shotgun Shells Safe?

Discussion in 'Shotguns' started by Life During Wartime, Jul 7, 2013.

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  1. Life During Wartime

    Life During Wartime Member

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    So I have some very old shotgun shells and am trying to find out if they are safe to fire. At least two of them (the red ones) seem to be paper cartridges and have some pretty dark discoloration on the metal part of the shell. The other shell, the green, seems to be a slug but its strange cap worries me. It seems to be made out of paper. What do you think? Pics to follow.
     
  2. Life During Wartime

    Life During Wartime Member

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    pics
     

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  3. ColtPythonElite

    ColtPythonElite Member

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  4. Life During Wartime

    Life During Wartime Member

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    this is the one with the cap
     

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  5. limpingbear

    limpingbear Member

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    I'm with Colt. Shoot them, they will either go bang or they wont. Just make sure the gun you shoot them through is mechanicaly sound. Should be no real worries shooting them.
     
  6. maxyedor

    maxyedor Member

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    The paper shells can "swell" over time. So either check them with calipers or pull your barrel and drop them in to make sure they're within spec. If they're still the right size, shoot and enjoy.

    After you shoot the paper shells, check out the smell in the air, much different than modern plastic shells.
     
  7. oneounceload

    oneounceload member

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    Are they factory or reloads?
    If factory, shoot and toss, the brass is starting to go.
    If reloads, do you know who loaded them and what the load is? (And do you trust that person enough for your hands and fingers' sake?)
     
  8. kBob

    kBob Member

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    If you do shoot old shotshells you might want to use lead rather than swing through as the biggest problem I have had with shooting some paper hulled .410 from the 1960's ( I put it away when I went in the service and Mom and Dad packed them away when they moved and then I got them again) was slight hang fires. Oddly all the boxes shells fired, but about a quarter had noticeable hangfires up to one second long.

    Hangfires can be dangerous in that folks do not realize that they may take place quite a while after a primer gets punched. I have had a rifle hangfire that lasted right at a full minute and in fact went off as I was reaching for the bolt handle thinking a minute was more than enough wait and it must be a dud.

    On the other hand I would be concerned about shooting any ammo that might have been reloaded by someone not known to me and not a commercial reloader.

    -kBob
     
  9. 303tom

    303tom member

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    Keep them old suckers & start you a ammo collection................or send em to me I will add them to mine !............
     
  10. Fred Fuller

    Fred Fuller Moderator Emeritus

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    Shoot the worst looking of the red shells, and immediately pick up the empty and huff it. There's no smell like it.

    Remember that smell, it was something pre-plastic shotshell generations of shotgunners pretty much took for granted. Even beats the smell of Hoppe's in my book.

    Save the other two as curios and relics of a bygone era...
     
  11. Arizona_Mike

    Arizona_Mike Member

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    I had bought a shotgun from the origional owner and he gave me a box of paper shells from the '60s. I shot most of them in the early '90s with no issues. Found 2 more and shot them last year and the brass was full of cracks after firing. One nearly split in two. If I find more I won't be shooting them.

    Mike
     
  12. John Peddie

    John Peddie Member

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    So right, Fred

    The smell of a fired paper shell on a warm sunny fall afternoon is about as close to magic as we'll find around here.

    Never would have thought it would ever smell any different-til I smelled plastic, (which doesn't, to my nose).

    I feel sorry for those who missed it.
     
  13. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    It is.

    It was a paper label pasted over the crimp to keep the shot from leaking out the tiny hole in the middle of the crimp.

    Usually yellow paper, and usually had the shot # size printed on them.

    rc
     
  14. loose noose

    loose noose Member

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    ah the fresh smell of cordite....:D
     
  15. Mamertine

    Mamertine Member

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    Three or four years ago I shot a round of trap with paper shells. They all fired and worked great in the gun. Afterwords a number of people came and asked for the spent hulls to add to their collections. Feel free to shoot it, but I think they're worth a couple of bucks each unfired.
     
  16. twofifty

    twofifty Member

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    how well marked are these shells?

    Make sure that they are marked as being hunting loads. There are special military shotshell applications out there that may be dangerous to fire in your gun.

    For instance, I recall finding a 28 gauge paper shell, well varnished, that had the word MORTAR printed on it. Someone told me this type of shell was at one time used to propel small mortar rounds. I took it apart and sure enough, it had cordite propellant inside it.
     
  17. Fleetman

    Fleetman Member

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    Ahhhh....I can almost smell 'em from here!
     
  18. Life During Wartime

    Life During Wartime Member

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    Thank You all for your answers

    I have decided that I will shoot one of the red shells, since it appears to be factory, and breathe in that smell i've been hearing so much about and save the other two. I am really thinking that the green slug might be a reload and probably not smart to shoot since I dont know who did it.

    @rcmodel,
    is paper top something a factory would do? it seems a bit rough. Its a remington btw
     
  19. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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  20. Gaucho Gringo

    Gaucho Gringo Member

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    I've got some old paper roll crimped 16 ga shells that I am going to shoot once I get the firing pin fixed on my 1955 JC Higgins single shot that was my dads. Hard to believe it is now 58 years old.
     
  21. Deltaboy1984

    Deltaboy1984 Member

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    Amen I still remember that smell. I shoot old shells in my H&R single shots.
     
  22. 410.bird.shot

    410.bird.shot Member

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    I would probably fire them, or at least attempt to do so unless you do in fact have a cartridge collection. My only caveat is that I would NOT use them in a semi-auto or pump. I would go with an inexpensive single shot, or double, or o/u for this experiment. During a dove hunt a few years ago, I was shooting some old Rem. 7-1/2 high brass 2-3/4" loads in my Browning Gold and had the "Bolt Link" (a/k/a "Slide Link") break on me. I do not recall if the bolt link broke upon firing or loading the shell. I do know I had to switch over to a heavy kicking Franchi 48AL for the remainder of the day and I was sure to use very clean ammo from then onward when hunting. No further issues with the Gold, et al. (EDIT: The reason I wouldn't use in pump it to prevent damage to moving parts during loading or ejection, I fully realize most, if not all, pumps have no rebound springs or bolt links.)

    The brass on these shells was tarnished somewhat but not to the point of metal failure. The level of tarnish on my shells approximated what you have shown with the green shell in the photos. I seem to remember the box had gotten wet and soaked the moisture via wicking action and most of the box was tarnished. The bolt link is "U" shaped with a tail on it that engages the rebound spring in the stock and then returns the bolt to the home position during cycling. The "U" part made a clean break about 1-3/4" above the tail piece. You can see what broke by looking at Item No. 45 on the schematic via this link: http://www.gunpartscorp.com/Manufac...d-40786/PartsList-36389.htm?results=50&page=2

    I keep my firearms very clean, and I am almost certain the old tranished load was the cause of the failure, although I had about 15,000 loads through the Gold at the time of the breakage. The repair was about $30, and I was able to do it myself after locating the parts. Just something to keep in mind if you do shoot these.

    Paper shells do have a great smell upon firing, but I usually keep them for my collection these days.

    Best of luck.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2013
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