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Old 05-21-2014, 02:38 PM
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Default A. H. Fox Sterlingworth 12 gauge

I am a sucker when it comes to nice looking old guns. I went by yesterday to pick up a car that a guy worked on (leaking oil pan gasket). He did a great job on the car.

He wanted to show me a few shotguns that he was selling. I didn't need another one, but I knew a few people......

I got out with only spending $1200 ($250 on the car, $50 on five boxes of .38 Special HP ammo, and a darn shotgun).

It's was a beauty made in about 1912 (and refinished at some point). It's an A. H. Fox Sterlingworth double barrel 12g made in Philadelphia. I had never heard of one. The book says the serial number (which matches in four places) is in about the second year of production.





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Old 05-21-2014, 03:26 PM
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Nice, should make a very nice hunting gun.
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Old 05-21-2014, 03:49 PM
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Wonderful shotgun!

May have been restocked some time in its past.
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Old 05-21-2014, 03:49 PM
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Sir--I have an AH Fox Sterlingworth 20 ga. my grandfather bought new in the early 1900's and hunted quail with until his death in the early 1960's. My father had borrowed it occasionally from his father, then hunted upland with it exclusively until his death in the late 1980's. I had borrowed it occasionally from my father, then have hunted upland with it exclusively since my dad's death in the late 1980's. I am 52 this year and sure hope I don't punch my ticket anytime soon. But I passed it along to my 9 year old son this hunting season. (I was blessed with becoming a father at an age when many are grandfathers).

My grandfather, father, myself and my son all killed our first ducks, rabbits, quail, squirrel, doves, etc. with the same A.H. Fox Sterlingworth.

You bought a treasure. I hope that your grandson will be writing something like this over a century from now on a tradition YOU started in YOUR family.

John
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Old 05-21-2014, 04:02 PM
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Nice classic double. As already mentioned, the gun was restocked. You should also check the chambers - early A H Fox guns were chambered for 2 9/16" shells. There's a high possibility someone lengthened the chambers when the restocked it.
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Old 05-21-2014, 04:56 PM
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My first decent quality shotgun purchased in the 60s was a Fox Sterlingworth and I still have it. It was really my only shotgun for quite some time and I used it for everything fron Quail to ducks to Pheasants and ever shot my 1st deer with it.
It was built in 1924 and is a 12 ga and I've never had one problem with it even after pass shooting ducks out of a blind for a few seasons with heavy express loads.
Fox guns are considered by many to be the best pre-war shotguns built here.
Jim
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Old 05-21-2014, 05:12 PM
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Nice classic double. As already mentioned, the gun was restocked. You should also check the chambers - early A H Fox guns were chambered for 2 9/16" shells. There's a high possibility someone lengthened the chambers when the restocked it.
I knew that it was restocked, but the metal frame on the front stock still had the proper serial number. Someone did the work that knew the shotgun. The work was good (IMO).

How can I find the original chamber? They didn't much bother to stamp them in 1912.

It's seems to have a 30" barrel. It says "Made by A.H.Hays Gun Co.Phila, PA, USA." on the left barrel.

The right barrel says "Sterlingworth Fluid Compressed Steel".

I have having a hard time finding that buttom/screw on some of the others:


I've bought some guns just because I liked them. This is one of them.
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Old 05-21-2014, 06:01 PM
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Does it have Krupp Fluid Steel barrels? Wk
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Old 05-21-2014, 06:21 PM
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Nice early AH Fox.
It is what the Fox collectors refer to as a 'Pin Gun'.,,because of the profile of the hinge pin inletted into the frame. Parker used the same style.
Used for only a short while on the very first production Sterlingworths,,the 'Pin Guns' usually bring a small premium in collectible condition,,and at least added interest in any condition.
Ejectors would add nearly 50% to value and are found quite often on Sterlingworths

Sterlingworth Fluid Compressed Steel was the Fox branding of steel on the Sterlingworth line early on. Chromox and Krupp were used on graded guns. Krupp also later on the Sterlingworths.

On the bottom of the bbls just ahead of the bbl flats will be a large single digit number 1 thru 4. Sometimes faint as it was stamped before the final strike polishing of the bbls. That # indicates the bbl weight of the set. #1 is the heaviest,,#4 the light weight tubes (thinnest). Chokes were not marked,,you have to measure bore and choke diameters and take the constriction difference.
Most 30" S/Worths were Mod/Full but anything was possible.

Good strong guns,
Should be a great shooter!

Added..
At the time it was made, I believe standard 12ga chambering was 2 5/8" .

Last edited by 2152hq; 05-21-2014 at 11:33 PM. Reason: added
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Old 05-21-2014, 06:24 PM
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I knew that it was restocked, but the metal frame on the front stock still had the proper serial number. Someone did the work that knew the shotgun. The work was good (IMO).

How can I find the original chamber? They didn't much bother to stamp them in 1912.
The best way is with a chamber gauge, they cost about $20 from Brownells. You can also slide something along the wall of the chamber until you feel the forcing cone, then pull it out and measure the length to the forcing cone. The chamber needs to be a of 2 3/4" to fire modern 2 3/4" shells. Some modern shells are a hair under 2 3/4" when open, you can measure the length of an expended shell you plan to use in the gun to get an exact length.

The old shotguns had very steep forcing cones - more a step in the barrel really. This is because shot shells did not have shot cups in them back then. The shot sat over a flat wad and were not encased in a plastic cup, so the smoothest transition to the barrel is if the open shell just reached the forcing cone. Modern forcing cones are less steeply angled in order to reduce felt recoil.

If your gun has 30" barrels, there is a chance it was choked full and full. If you don't have a choke gauge, use a dime to see if it fits in the barrels. A full choke gun will not fit a dime and mod lets it in with a little play. Older guns with full chokes tend to be tighter than modern guns, again because the lack of a shot cup holding the shot through the barrel. Since the gun is a 100 years old, someone may have already opened up the chokes somewhere along the way.

You probably know this already, but DO NOT shoot steel shot out of this gun. I would also avoid slugs unless the chokes are open. They will ripple the barrels and loosen the ribs holding them together.
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Old 05-21-2014, 06:30 PM
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Thanks 2152hg, get info on a great find GA 1911.
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Old 05-21-2014, 08:26 PM
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If your gun has 30" barrels, there is a chance it was choked full and full. If you don't have a choke gauge, use a dime to see if it fits in the barrels. A full choke gun will not fit a dime and mod lets it in with a little play. Older guns with full chokes tend to be tighter than modern guns, again because the lack of a shot cup holding the shot through the barrel. Since the gun is a 100 years old, someone may have already opened up the chokes somewhere along the way.
Thanks.
The dime test feel right through it.

The Remington 2 3/4" seemed to fit very well. It would cock and lock well (3/09 means when I bought it).



The inner barrel is perfect in S&W tech. The barrel may have been modified with the stocks. I sort of doubt it, but I am not a shotgun guy.

I can make more pictures if needed.

Thanks,
Doc
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Old 05-21-2014, 08:56 PM
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[QUOTE=2152hq;137910863

Chokes were not marked,,you have to measure bore and choke diameters and take the constriction difference.


Good strong guns,
Should be a great shooter![/QUOTE]

That is the correct way to find out the choke. Trying to put a dime in a gun only tells you whether or not the dime in your hand will or will not go in the barrel. A .730 bore with a .690 muzzle is a lot of choke. A .690 bore with a .690 muzzle does not have any choke. Larry
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Old 05-21-2014, 10:02 PM
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I'm a pushover for a classic box-lock double gun, and that one is a beauty.
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Old 05-21-2014, 10:39 PM
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You have a ' pin ' gun.

Made to look like a Parker.

Few were made: the pin look was dropped to save manufacturing costs.

The stock replacement is probably 50+ years old and very good.

2 3/4 inch shells will easily fit in 2 9/16. (2.5) inch chambers. The overall length of the fired shell is often indistinguishable between 2.5 and 2.75 inch varieties.

2.5 inch ammo is readily available.

You can get chamber and choke measuring tools from Connecticut Shotgun

You can probably safely shoot modern 2 3/4 inch ammo, but I'd avoid using hi velocity modern ammo or heavy loads (no more than 1.25 oz lead) and I prefer less than 1,200 fps. These are usually stout guns.

I wouldn't us steel or most composite alloy ( except bismuth ) shot.

Fox Collectors Association members are active on the internet and very helpful.

You should have your gun examined by a competent double gun gunsmith before you decide whether to shoot it and what's no to use in it.
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Old 05-22-2014, 02:00 AM
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Fox Collectors Association members are active on the internet and very helpful.

You should have your gun examined by a competent double gun gunsmith before you decide whether to shoot it and what's no to use in it.
Thanks,
I tried to register under my S-W user name but it didn't happen. I guess that they don't allow S&W guys.

I will still continue to post here for updates and new tech on my A. H. Fox Sterlingworth.

It was obviously a nice shotgun to own in 1912.

And for a 1911 guy, it is very interesting. I believe the "Sterlingworth Fluid Compressed Steel" on the barrel to be very important as to the tech of the day.

The finish reminds me of some old SA Colts that I once owned.

Doc
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Old 05-22-2014, 02:55 AM
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I think you need to use your real name when dealing with the Fox folks. Read their rules.

The name stamped on the barrels is more marketing than anything else.

Unless it says Krupp or Whitworth steel, the name given fluid steel barrels only tells you if the barrels were intended for the quality level of the gun within the manufacturer's models.

All shotgun barrels of that era were imported.

Yours are correct for your gun.

Nice gun.

What does it weigh?
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Old 05-22-2014, 05:12 AM
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Very nice old Fox. I used to own a later model that balanced very well, and was a solid gun. Modern, 2 3/4 inch shells will chamber, but if your gun has the shorter chambers, when 2 3/4 inch shells are fired, the crimp opens, and is partially blocked by the forcing cone, raising pressures/ I know a lot of shooters shoot them the way they are, and have no problems, but I would have a gunsmith who knows what he is doing lengthen the chambers for modern shells, if not already done. Cost is not high to have done. When I was a kid, I hunted with some old timers who used older, originally short chambered 12 and 16 ga shotguns. It was a popular modification with them at the time. Bear in mind not all "target" shotgun shells are loaded to low pressures.

Larry
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Old 05-22-2014, 08:55 AM
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It's easy to make a chamber length "gauge" out of an old credit card. Simply cut** a strip the width of the chamber at the breech and insert it into the barrel until you feel an obstruction. Mark the strip at that point and measure the length and this will yield the chamber length for you.
Jim

**A side benefit here is cutting up credit cards will help to keep your expenses down!
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Old 05-23-2014, 05:39 PM
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Thanks!

I have an electronic digital caliper gauge (two parts - one measures the inside diameter; the other the outside diameter).

The outside diameter of the shell is 0.800".

The inside width of the barrel as the shell enters is 0.811". The end of the barrel at the muzzle are 0.68-0.684". So, it is choked.

Here are a few more pictures that I made in a light box:

Barrel:


Without barrel:


Rear with stocks:
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Last edited by GA 1911; 05-26-2014 at 03:40 PM. Reason: Confirmed measurements
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Old 05-23-2014, 06:53 PM
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I would proceed with extreme caution before firing your Fox. You'll want it checked by a gunsmith that really knows old side by sides. It has some signs of possible bubba work.

Problems I can see are the metal finish work. The give me cause pause. The case colors were done with a torch and chemicals which can effect that hardness of the action. You can tell by the colors on the water table/action flats. Also, the barrels look like they may have been hot blued which doesn't mix well with the solder holding the barrels and ribs together. Re-finished barrels means they have been re-struck removing some metal. The bores may also have been honed; removing more metal. You may have wall thickness issues. Thins walls are very dangerous. Have the barrel wall thickness measured over the length of the barrels. This requires a special measuring device to be done correctly. Thin walls can be deadly so don’t just guess have them measured by someone with the right tool for the job. As other have said; measure the chambers. Either way I would only shoot 2 1/2 inch shells in the old Fox even if someone lengthened the chamber from its original 2 5/8 inches. If the chambers have been lengthened that wall thickness measurement becomes even more critical.


You'll want the barrels checked for soundness. If you hang the barrel on your finger from the hook and give them a tap with your nail or a pencil they should ring like church bells. If the buzz or clink there could be solder issues. Of course ringing the barrels only gives you an idea of soundness. Ringing is a not certain science and of course doesn't guarantee soundness. A proper inspection would be wise.

You'll want to make sure the barrels are on face. Again this is something that takes experience.

The stock work is a little modern in flavor for me but it does look like decent work.

I really hope it is a nice sound gun. Foxes are special and even more special when you can hunt with them. I own three Foxes and just took a very nice turkey with a 94 year old 12 gauge Fox AE.



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Old 05-23-2014, 07:04 PM
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Very nice looking old Double. Love the grain in the wood.
Wish we had some Auto repair shops/Gun stores in these parts.
Maybe not. I would go in for an oil change and come out as you
did with a new to me gun and flat broke every time.


Chuck
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Old 05-23-2014, 07:18 PM
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Looking at the new pics, I think Bill might be right about those being torch "case colors". There's a guy out there who's notorious for doing that to old American guns in an effort to give the appearance that they are in better condition than they actually are. This particular man is despised by the double gun community.

It's an unfortunate and idiotic thing to do as any serious collector or shooter would rather have the gun in original condition, even if worn with no colors at all.

If you want someone who knows what they are doing inspect the gun, contact gunsmith Bill Scwharz in Ellijay, GA. He's very knowledgeable about doubles, Foxes in particular. He's probably the best in the area, the go-to guy for doubles. You'll sometimes see Foxes he's restored at gunshows around here and they are exquisite.

He'll have the tools to accurately measure bbl wall thickness and choke constriction and the knowledge to tell you what you really have.

PM me for his number if you want--like Bill Bates, I'd recommend having someone like him look the thing over.
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Old 05-24-2014, 02:15 AM
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I would proceed with extreme caution before firing your Fox.
Many thanks, Bill. That is a fine looking turkey that you got. It is a very nice Fox.

I am an old guy that needs to figure this out. Did I pay too much at $900 (see post #1)? Well maybe.

I need to go back to other shotguns and measure them. I am a revolver guy, but I have two 1960 Browning A-5's and a Win 50.

The narrowing of the barrel compresses the spray as to the degree of choke.
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Old 05-24-2014, 10:45 AM
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At $900 with the restock I don't think you got hurt. Likely it is a good solid gun as most old Foxes. You'll want to be sure before you go tossing modern high pressure shells into it. Get it checked out by someone that knows doubles before you risk life and limb.
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Old 05-24-2014, 12:36 PM
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I bought an original Sterlingworth, about 1920 vintage, when I was stationed in Anchorage, Alaska in 1969. It is a 12 ga., and has 28" barrels choked M and IC. It is a wonderful shotgun and still locks up amazingly right. Case colors are almost all gone, but the blueing is in excellent condition. A wonderful double gun!!
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Old 05-26-2014, 04:06 PM
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I bought an original Sterlingworth, about 1920 vintage, when I was stationed in Anchorage, Alaska in 1969. It is a 12 ga., and has 28" barrels choked M and IC. It is a wonderful shotgun and still locks up amazingly right.
Many thanks for your replies (PM incoming to Cooter).

Is your 1920 vintage barrel marked of the choke?

I believe that both of these Fox barrels to be MOD (modified choke). I compared the measurements to a marked (circa 1960) Winchester 50 and a pair of (circa 1960) Browning A-5's. I am just guessing here.

I fully understand. I will not shoot this gun until I understand what I have.
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Old 05-26-2014, 04:32 PM
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Guns of that vintage do not have the choke marked on the barrels.

The current chokes may not be original. Given the restocking job, a previous owner may have modified them.

That's not bad since older doubles are often very tightly choked.

Generally, a restock doesn't increase the value of a good double.

As far as value is concerned, there are no modern doubles of comparable quality available for $900.00.
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