Quantcast

What Killed the 16?

Discussion in 'Shotguns' started by joed, Feb 27, 2010.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. joed

    joed Member

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2009
    Messages:
    2,580
    Location:
    Ohio
    You just don't see anything in 16 ga. I know someone was making a 16 ga shotgun just a few years ago, but you never see one anywhere. Even loaders, try to find one in 16 ga.
     
  2. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2007
    Messages:
    59,076
    Location:
    Eastern KS
    I think what killed it was the overwhelming popularity of the 12 & 20 guage guns, and the cheap & diverse ammo available everywhere for them.

    In many cases the 16 ga was neither fish, nor fowl.
    Many were built on a 12 ga frame, so gun weight and action size didn't get proportionately smaller or lighter.

    20's were very often 20 size guns, so the size & weight reduction was apparent to a new gun buyer.

    Then the death nell for the 16 really struck with the passage of the steel shot regulations for waterfowl hunting.

    rc
     
  3. oneounceload

    oneounceload member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2008
    Messages:
    15,710
    Location:
    Hot and Humid FL
    Dropping it as one of the skeet gauges didn't help either (one of the main reasons the 28 is still around today).

    But there are a lot of guns in 16 available - both new and used.

    The 16 gauge society is the biggest proponent - if you're looking for information, I'd start there.
     
  4. BHP FAN

    BHP FAN Member

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2008
    Messages:
    5,810
    Location:
    Northern California
    I've got an old ''Ranger'' which is pretty much a Savage/Stevens 311.
     
  5. chas08

    chas08 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2008
    Messages:
    2,166
    Location:
    South Central Texas
    rcmodel & oneounceload pretty much nailed it. The one contributing factor not mentioned that I believe also contributed to it's slide is; Most folks nowadays can afford more than one shotgun. The difference between the 12&16 or 16&20 was not so much. The 16 could be loaded up to almost a twelve or loaded down to a 20. So if you can afford two shotguns, most folks will go for two that are not so close together. Oddly enough my Grandfather chose the 16 as his gauge of choice for his "only" shotgun for the former reason. The 16 is alive and well at my house. I love shooting the gauge. I just wish ammo manufacturers would expand the shot size availability, if even for a limited run once a year for those of us who don't, or no longer care to reload.
     
  6. ArmedBear

    ArmedBear Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2005
    Messages:
    23,171
    The 16 was popular for a number of reasons. I have an old American 16 Gauge SxS, and it handles pretty well for what it is. The 20 Gauge with the old vegetable wads were much more limited than today's 20 Gauge ammo is, and The 12 Gauge version of the gun is a P-I-G pig.:) The 16 packs a punch without feeling like a fencepost.

    The 16 was the do-it-all gauge, useful for every kind of game, and the guns typicallly felt better in the hands than 12s. Many still do. Higher-end SxS guns tend to be available in 16 Gauge to this day. It's really the perfect bore for pheasant hunting -- but that makes it a specialty gun, not the all-purpose gun it once was.

    A few things led to the 16's massive decline (never say the 16 is "dead" because it just draws out a bunch of fanatics who claim it's not dead because they have a closet full of 75-year-old guns chambered in it, or because Browning releases a few SHOT Show editions in 16 now and then:D). As oneounceload said, it's not a skeet class at this point. The non-toxic shot laws deep-sixed it more or less, since 12 Gauge had a 3" standard and 16 does not, and steel is less dense than lead. The 20 Gauge 3" standard helped, too, since it made the 20 Gauge even more versatile in the field than it already had been. Plastic wads also allowed more versatility in shell loadings.

    Is the 16 still a nice gauge? Yes, it is. Remember: shotguns are really about the gun, more than the bore. Gun handling is top priority in upland hunting, and if you swing an Ithaca 37 in 16, it's obvious why someone would choose it over the 12.

    However, when one can shoot 1 oz. well from a 12, as well as from a 20, it does make it hard to justify spending the money on something in between. The 37 in 20 is an awfully nice gun, also. Furthermore, gunmakers have been producing all-steel 12 Gauges, even guns with two barrels, that handle like the old 16s did, and alloy guns that are lighter and quicker than most were. Finally, per rcmodel, some manufacturers have produced 16s on the same frames as 12s, which means they tend to feel pretty close to the same. That again makes it hard to justify adding another gauge to the personal armory.:)
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2010
  7. paintballdude902

    paintballdude902 Member

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2007
    Messages:
    2,872
    its too bad im a big fan of the 16. i have bad shoulder and in my experience the 16 has less kick than the 12 and close to the kick of a 20. this is due mainly to the fact that they are built on 12 gauge frames so they have more weight than the 20 and less power than a 12. in my opinion the 16 is the perfect truck gun if there was more variety in shot
     
  8. Gordon
    • Contributing Member

    Gordon Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2002
    Messages:
    9,690
    Location:
    Southern Oregon
    Well I statrted out about 10 or 11 with a 16 gauge JCHiggens. I was taken duck hunting in NJ with it in the late 50s early 60s until I received an Ithaca 20 gauge for my 16th birthday. The 20 gauge felt very waspish next to the mighty 16 Gauge Bolt action Higgins I had shot at and later actually hit ducks and geese for 5 years. After Highschool it was all 12 gauge pumps with a .410 car gun always around. Then Military, LE, and Practical shooting with 12 ga. and 12 ga for waterfowl on the West coast. Oh yes the 20 gauge actually shot a rooster or quail each year.
    Then in the early/mid 80s I started going with an elderly Retired Major General Grouse hunting in the Dakotas and other closer states. He would pay all and I would be "his man" at swank clubs and guided hunts. He shot H&H and Purdey guns, and he felt I needed a suitable "sporting gun" (I was shooting a Superposed Lightning 12 ga) and gave me a 6 pound Darne SxS 16 gauge English style gun. I felt like royalty and he taught me to effectively shoot birds! I have actually semi retired the little Darne, still tight and with a little honest blue wear after at least a 100 flats of shells shot thru it in the field for 15 years.
    I have a very nice Remington 31 Deluxe Modified in 16 gauge which is a good field gun in my occasional Pheasant humts in the San Joaquin, along with it's Winchester cherry old 24 16 ga. SXS Pal. Either one with Fiocchi Golden Rooster #5s kill Roosters over dogs with monotonous effect. Unfortunately locally Monterey County has gone to steel shot mandate for upland game ! This has breathed new life into my old A-5 20 gauge Magnum as I shoot 3" Faststeel #4 (so far! I am gonna try 5 or 6 faststeel this year) and spelled the local deathknell for my beloved 16ga. in the field locally at least!
     
  9. winchester '97

    winchester '97 Member

    Joined:
    May 20, 2009
    Messages:
    306
    the model 12 winchester in 16 guage is the best pointing pump gun i have handled hands down.
     
  10. Dave McCracken

    Dave McCracken Moderator In Memoriam

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2002
    Messages:
    13,937
    Location:
    MD.
    One of the best bird guns I have been privileged to handle was an AH Fox mid grade in 16. It was a death ray and pretty as a show pony to boot. Guesstimated weight, 6.5 lbs.

    If another 16 shows up here, it will be despite the gauge, not because of it. And it will have a loader pronto. Market availability of 16 gauge ammo is too limited.

    And were I to have a nice 16, it would get fed no more than an oz of shot with some 7/8 oz loads worked up. If I need a cup of shot, I'll use a 12 or 10.
     
  11. Don Gwinn

    Don Gwinn Moderator Emeritus

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2002
    Messages:
    6,384
    Location:
    Virden, IL
    Dad loves them and has collected them for years, so this may be a little skewed, but I've seen a little bit of a comeback in the last ten years. Before that, dad figured the 16 was disappearing completely.

    I noticed last year during deer season that I carried an Ithaca 37 in 12 gauge, dad had a 16 in the same gun, and grandpa a 20. There's no big lesson there, I just thought it was neat.
     
  12. 351 WINCHESTER

    351 WINCHESTER Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2007
    Messages:
    4,489
    Location:
    NE FL
    It was the 20 ga. especially the 3" that killed the 16.
     
  13. reckless carolinian

    reckless carolinian Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2009
    Messages:
    218
    Location:
    Fletcher, NC
    Is there any buck available for 16ga? I have lines on several 16s, owners dumping due to scarce ammunition. Of course, I'm angling for the 37.
     
  14. chas08

    chas08 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2008
    Messages:
    2,166
    Location:
    South Central Texas
    Hello reckless, the short answer is yes. I just ordered some #1 buck and some 4/5 oz slugs from "The Sportsmans Guide". The buck only comes in #1 from what I can find. But if any one ever runs across some #4 buck let me know. I wouldn't hunt deer with it, but it's an awesome predator round.
     
  15. ky40601

    ky40601 Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2009
    Messages:
    168
    Like many, I still love and enjoy my .16.

    Browning Belgium Auto-5 Sweet Sixteen
    aBrowningBelgiumMadeAuto-5SweetSixt.gif
     
  16. tactikel

    tactikel Member

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2009
    Messages:
    1,244
    Location:
    Northeastern Illinois
    The 16 ga is a great compromise between power and weight. It died because of the 20ga 3" mag. A lighter gun that shot as hard and was more versatile. I shot an 870 16ga for a few years, then sold it. no regrets.
     
  17. chas08

    chas08 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2008
    Messages:
    2,166
    Location:
    South Central Texas
    reckless carolinian

    The ammunition isn't scarce anymore now in the days of internet orders. Just the selection of shot sizes suck. As a side note; My Fatherinlaw of the last 28 years has a farm at the base of Pilot Mountain. I've "primed bacca" and hunted & killed deer on his farm.
     
  18. PJR

    PJR Member

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2002
    Messages:
    1,718
    The 16 gauge isn't dead but is certainly in decline. The "magnumization" of the 20 gauge severely cut into it's popularity. The same happened to the 10 gauge when the 12 started to get longer and heavier.

    There remains a group of very intense fans of the 16 gauge claiming either some form of ballistic superiority or that no guns handle quite like the 16. Both are dubious claims at best and most of the 16 gauge adoration seems driven by nostalgia and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

    I wouldn't turn down a nice vintage sxs because it was a 16 but I also wouldn't buy a new gun in the gauge because there are better options.
     
  19. Geordie

    Geordie Member

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2006
    Messages:
    36
    16

    Magnumitis !!!
     
  20. Deltaboy1984

    Deltaboy1984 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2008
    Messages:
    7,032
    Location:
    Johnson County Texas
    I have one that I semi-retired due to lack of Ammo supply back about 20 years ago. I have a Remmy Model 11 in 16 and I take it Squirrel and rabbit hunting with it a couple of times a year since it was my Grandpa's Shotgun and my promotion gun from a single shot 410. With more ammo availble now due to the net I might use it more this fall.
     
  21. RDCL

    RDCL Member

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2009
    Messages:
    274
    Location:
    Westlake Ohio
    I still have my old 16 ga. Fox sxs. Balances very well in my hands....feels good. It is my bedroom "emergency-gun".

    The gun was a birthday gift from my late father.......get this......on my 16th birthday!:D.....no lie!


    Russ
     
  22. roo_ster

    roo_ster Member

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2003
    Messages:
    3,207
    Location:
    USA
    My dad has one of those. You aren't lying, it points better than anything else I have put to shoulder.
     
  23. chas08

    chas08 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2008
    Messages:
    2,166
    Location:
    South Central Texas
    I have a Model 12 16ga made in 1954 and you are right, it is Sweeeet!!!!!....But, I recently aquired an Ithaca Model 37 16ga Featherlight made in 1957 that will give it a run for it's money on handling. I believe the Ithaca is the lighter of the two. I would hate to have to choose between them.
     
  24. Bud Tugly

    Bud Tugly Member

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2007
    Messages:
    524
    Location:
    Ishpeming, MI
    IMO it was mostly the banning of lead shot for waterfowl. In the old lead shot days 12 gauge guns were mostly for ducks and geese and 20's were for upland hunting. Many people couldn't afford to own both so the 16 was the compromise gun for folks who wanted to do both.

    Requiring steel shot made the 16 a bit weak for waterfowl, especially since a 3" model was never offered and 3" 20's were. If someone came out with a modern 3" chambered 16 and the ammo makers supported it they'd still fill the gap nicely.
     
  25. Gordon
    • Contributing Member

    Gordon Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2002
    Messages:
    9,690
    Location:
    Southern Oregon
    Actually I saw some $18 a box steel #4 shot 15/16 oz. 1300 fps loads for 2 3/4" 16 ga. I'd shoot that in my Modifiied choke Rem 31 as the barrel is pretty darn thick in the choke area. I just think #4s is a little too heavy and the modified choke becomes a full choke which is a little too tight for doves and pigeons or quail in our mandated steel shot zone.
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice