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 Post subject: 1927'ish Lefever SXS, 16 gauge - 2-3/4" conversion?
PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2020 12:23 am 
Utility Grade

Joined: Sun Jan 19, 2020 1:09 am
Posts: 9
Someone suggested I post this here... it is regarding the notion of reaming a possible 2-9/16" chamber to 2-3/4" in said firearm.

My friend just purchased a Lefever Nitro Special (aka Ithaca???) SN 270201 that he got for $350. It has matching numbers, is not obtusely marred, is fully functional, is sporting VERY well worn field wear, and it "has some very minor play when locked up". Someone has added a rubber recoil pad and fiber optic bead (single/front). The DOM source I found has that SN as made between 1927-28. (Lefever Arms Collectors Assoc> https://www.lefevercollectors.com/resou ... ion-dates/).

He has always wanted a 16 gauge double and has been enamored with Lefevers. Problem is, he doesn't reload. I do, and can, but he would like the ability to be able to buy off the shelf 1-1/8oz, 3-1/4 dram loads just like everyone else who has ever posted such musings.

It isn't clear yet if it has 2-3/4" chambers or 2-9/16". I will check the shotgun when I can next get my hands on it. When did Ithaca/Lefever start with the 2-3/4" variant? I will still measure it when I have the chance.

As he sees it, it's not a high grade or high value collection piece and it has already been adulterated by the pad and the bead anyway. The VERY generous field wear, era aesthetic, gauge, and fit of it are the real charms for him. It's a major part of the joy of the experience of hunting for him just to be carrying it and able to use it without risk.

He's more a pragmatist I guess. He said he would never consider doing such to a truly worthy collection piece but to him, this is a really neat, unadorned piece of American firearm history that has the charm of the era but the unencumbered utility of a tool still.

I'm so far inclined to be in his camp, lacking a convincing argument against it. That said, will the design take to rechambering to 2-3/4" well enough?

Much obliged for considerate insight folks are willing to share.

-w




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 Post subject: Re: 1927'ish Lefever SXS, 16 gauge - 2-3/4" conversion?
PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2020 10:26 am 
Crown Grade

Joined: Wed Dec 21, 2005 11:09 am
Posts: 2574
The gun has no collector value as you described it BUT I would not shoot 1 1/8, 3 1/4 dram eq. loads in it. The gun is approaching 100 years and is a little loose. Not a gun for that ammo.


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 Post subject: Re: 1927'ish Lefever SXS, 16 gauge - 2-3/4" conversion?
PostPosted: Thu Aug 06, 2020 9:33 am 
Presentation Grade

Joined: Sun Mar 24, 2013 1:08 pm
Posts: 551
Location: North East Ohio
I believe all Nitro Specials were chambered for 2 3/4". Having said that, 1 1/8" 3 1/4 DE loads in any 16 ga double is just going to beat up the gun and the shooter. If you have a need to use that ammo, a sturdy pump or autoloader is a much better choice.


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 Post subject: Re: 1927'ish Lefever SXS, 16 gauge - 2-3/4" conversion?
PostPosted: Fri Aug 07, 2020 10:24 am 
Crown Grade

Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2007 11:12 am
Posts: 4955
Location: WA/AK
Ithaca began chambering their 16-gauge guns for 2 3/4 inch shells in 1934. When Western Cartridge Co. brought out their 16-gauge progressive burning powder, high velocity, 1 1/8 ounce, Super-X load in late 1922, it was put up in their 2 9/16 inch FIELD shell.

Image

Here is my 16-gauge history lesson.

16-Gauge History lesson --

From the late 1890s until after WW-I, the heaviest 16-gauge loads our North American ammunition companies offered were 2 3/4 drams of bulk smokeless powder or 22 grains of dense smokeless powder such as Infallible or Ballistite, pushing 1 ounce of shot. Those loads could be had in the "standard" 2 9/16 inch case or any of the longer 2 3/4, 2 7/8 or 3-inch cases. In late 1922 or early 1923, Western Cartridge Co. added the 16-gauge to their progressive burning powder, high velocity loads called Super-X, but unlike the 1 1/4 ounce 12-gauge and 1 ounce 20-gauge Super-X loads which were put up in Western's 2 3/4 inch FIELD shells, the 1 1/8 ounce 16-gauge Super-X load was put up in their 2 9/16 inch FIELD shell. When the Lubaloy shot Super-X loads were introduced in July 1929, they were put up in Western's high brass RECORD shell, but the 16-gauge still in a 2 9/16 inch length case. The other ammunition companies followed suit, Peters' High Velocity and Remington's Nitro Express 16-gauge loads were put up in 2 9/16 cases.

The 2 3/4 inch 16-gauge shell really began to get some traction when Remington Arms Co., Inc. introduced their Model 11 and "Sportsman" autoloaders in 16-gauge in 1931, chambered for 2 3/4 inch shells. While Remington's regular Nitro Express 16-gauge progressive burning powder load was put up in a 2 9/16 inch hull with a load of 3 drams equiv. pushing 1 1/8 ounce of shot, for their new 16-gauge autoloaders they introduced the slightly faster Auto-Express with a 3 1/4 drams equiv. charge pushing 1 1/8 ounce of shot --

Image

I'm thin on Winchester ammo catalogues, but for sure by 1934, they were offering a similar 2 3/4 inch 16-gauge load.

The 2 3/4 inch Magnum shells with 1 1/2 ounce in 12-gauge, 1 1/4 ounce in 16-gauge and 1 1/8 ounce in 20-gauge first appear in the December 15, 1954, Western Cartridge Co. catalogues.

Western Cartridge Co. added a 2 3/4 inch 16-gauge to their Super-X offerings for 1938. From 1938 through 1942 they called this 16-gauge 2 3/4 inch Super-X shell "Magnum", even though it was still a 1 1/8 ounce payload. By Western Cartridge Co.'s March 7, 1946, catalogue the term "Magnum" was gone from this 2 3/4 inch 16-gauge Super-X shell. In Western's January 2, 1947, catalogue, the 2 9/16 inch 16-gauge Super-X shell was gone from both the chilled shot and the Lubaloy offerings, and their only 2 9/16 inch shells being offered were Xpert. This may have been an oversight, as the 2 9/16 inch 16-gauge Super-X shell with chilled shot is back in Western Cartridge Co.'s April 8, 1948, catalogue and price list, and the 2 9/16 inch 16-gauge Super-X loads remained until their last appearance on Western Cartridge Co.'s January 2, 1962, catalogue and price lists, where it is "available until stocks depleted." By Western Cartridge Co.’s January 2, 1963, catalogue and price lists the new Mark 5 was introduced and all the 16-gauge Super-X offerings are 2 3/4 inch. By the January 2, 1964, Western Cartridge Co. catalogue and price list the 16-gauge 2 9/16 inch Xpert shell is gone as well.

I'd want to make sure that the gunsmith that lengthens the chambers has the proper gauges to measure wall thickness at the point where he would be removing metal.


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 Post subject: Re: 1927'ish Lefever SXS, 16 gauge - 2-3/4" conversion?
PostPosted: Fri Aug 07, 2020 4:14 pm 
Utility Grade

Joined: Wed Oct 02, 2019 8:24 am
Posts: 13
Since “It’s a major part of the joy of the experience of hunting for him just to be carrying it and able to use it without risk.“ and as a NS owner and user (1925 16ga long frame) I, too, would advise him to not shoot the heavier loads. I load for all my pre’34 Ithacas and one of the many low pressure 3/4 or 7/8 oz loads will give Him all the “joy” he could want. Or RST has whatever he might need. And since the gun is already loose, hastening the need of a repair that will cost more than the value of the gun doesn’t seem prudent.

Enjoy this wonderful old sxs for what it is and since he’s already on the Ithaca train, watch for an NID or M37 that was made to shoot the 1 1/8 oz loads.

He’s going to find out soon enough anyway that he can’t own just one (Ithaca).


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 Post subject: Re: 1927'ish Lefever SXS, 16 gauge - 2-3/4" conversion?
PostPosted: Sun Aug 09, 2020 7:42 am 
Presentation Grade

Joined: Sun Mar 24, 2013 1:08 pm
Posts: 551
Location: North East Ohio
Researcher - thanks for the history lesson - most informative!


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 Post subject: Re: 1927'ish Lefever SXS, 16 gauge - 2-3/4" conversion?
PostPosted: Mon Aug 10, 2020 9:18 pm 
Crown Grade
User avatar

Joined: Thu Nov 27, 2008 2:26 pm
Posts: 3384
nesto wrote:
I believe all Nitro Specials were chambered for 2 3/4"...



Not so. My 1st shotgun was a pre-1935 Nitro Special 16 ga. chambered for 2-9/16" cartridges. The $35.- price included a well used leather leg-of-mutton case. As 2-9/16" shells were becoming difficult to find and being uncomfortable with the thought of lengthening the chambers and reducing wall thickness, I traded the gun over 50 years ago.
If it had 2-3/4" chambers, I might still have it.

DF

Montani Semper Liberi




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