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Unread 07-10-2016, 05:16 PM   #1
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Greg Smith
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I have my fathers 1903 Parker, Damascus barrel, 12 gauge, side by side. What kind of load can I safely shoot, where can I purchase the shells? The gun is in excellent condition and I used to shoot it sixty years ago but have not since. Thanks for your help.
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Unread 07-10-2016, 06:18 PM   #2
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Many Parker shooters of Damascus barreled guns that I know shoot RST shells. http://www.rstshells.com/
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Unread 07-10-2016, 07:33 PM   #3
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Thanks Robin
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Unread 07-10-2016, 09:26 PM   #4
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Went to the web site you recommended--they clearly manufacture or sell the appropriate ammo. I'm sorry that my memory of 1955 is a bit foggy but what length shell does a 1903 Parker, Damascus barrel take; 2.5 inch or 2 inch--clearly a 2 3/4" shell is not appropriate. Thanks again, greg
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Unread 07-11-2016, 09:08 AM   #5
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2.5" will get the job done if you want to error on the safe side.
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Unread 07-11-2016, 09:13 AM   #6
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Brian and Robin give good advice but you really should have the chamber length and barrel wall thickness measured by someone with the proper tool so you'll know exactly what you have and what Ammo you can use.





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Unread 07-11-2016, 05:59 PM   #7
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Thanks to all for their help. greg
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Unread 07-13-2016, 02:29 AM   #8
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Most Parker Bros. 12-gauge doubles of 1903 vintage came from the factory with 2 5/8 inch chambers, intended for 2 3/4 inch shells. At the time your gun was made, the heaviest 12-gauge paper shells our North American ammunition manufacturers offered were 3 1/2 drams of bulk smokeless powder or 28 grains of dense smokeless powder, such as Infallible or Ballistite, pushing 1 1/4 ounce of shot.







According to a couple of DuPont smokeless shotgun powder booklets in my collection these old heaviest loads were pretty hot the 3 1/2 drams 1 1/4 ounce going 11,700 pounds and the 28-grains of Ballistite going 12,600 pounds!! Over today's SAAMI specs!! "Modern" progressive burning smokeless powders, introduced in the early 1920s, Western Cartridge Co.'s Super-X loads leading the way, could move that 1 1/4 ounce 12-gauge shot charge out at a considerably higher velocity and considerably lower pressure than the old bulk or dense smokeless powders.

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Unread 07-13-2016, 07:27 AM   #9
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Are you sure the figures you cite are PSI? I would think they are more likely lead units of pressure at that time in history.
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Unread 07-14-2016, 01:34 AM   #10
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Those DuPont booklets just say "pounds." No PSI, no LUP, no CUP.
So, feel free to interpret it any way you want to.

There were many lighter/slower loads being offered, but we all know the North American Nimrod's desire for the heaviest/hotest loads he can lay his hands on. I'm sure most of these old guns saw plenty of these 3 1/2 dram 1 1/4 ounce loads.

I recall an article by Bill Headrick on a high grade Parker Bros. Pigeon Gun, in I'm pretty sure, The Double Gun Journal, where the PGCA research letter showed the purchaser wanted it targetted with a load much hotter then anything our ammunition companies offered. Hopefully some day I'll have the time to find that article.
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