Fox Sterlingworth shotgun question - The HuntingPA.com Outdoor Community
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-09-2018, 10:36 AM Thread Starter
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Fox Sterlingworth shotgun question

Hi everyone. I've been wanting a side by side shotgun for some time now and I've decided that there is no time like the present to act on this. I want an old side by side that I can take hunting and shoot. I'm not looking for something that is in perfect condition but I also dont want junk either. I've decided on a Fox Sterlingworth based on the recommendation of a few friends. I was able to find three that I really like. They are all in the $800-$1000 price range and are in similar condition. Most of the case hardening is gone. I would estimate about 50% on each. All have good bluing and the stocks appear to be original and in good condition. One is a 1936 Gun from Utica but it is chocked IM/extra full and has 1/8" cast off. Is that normal? The second is a Philly gun made before 1930 but I'm not sure on the exact year. S/N is 115xxx. The third was made after 1930 but I'm not sure if it's Philly or Utica. I'm also not sure on the year. S/N is 130xxx. It also seems to have a shorter lop ar 13 3/4. The second and third guns are both choked M/F. What do you think? Any input would be appreciated. Unfortunately I can't buy all of them.
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-09-2018, 09:19 PM
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There is / was a guy who was a Fox expert. I forgot his name. I believe he hung out on ShotgunWorld.com. You may be better off posting you question over there.
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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-09-2018, 09:31 PM
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Here is a link to the correct area.

Shotgunworld.com ? Classic Shotguns
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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-11-2018, 10:57 AM
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SO,

IMO, there is no better choice than an A.H. Fox Sterlingworth for your first SxS. I have a modest accumulation of American doubles and they are by far my favorites. That said, if you are new to them, having someone who is educated in their nuances and "limitations" to guide you through your first purchase will be a great benefit to you. I won't volunteer his name but there is a member here who is fairly well versed in them. He is within an hours drive of you. I only know him through this and a few other sites but my opinion is he is a stand up fellow and would probably be willing to help you out. Hopefully he'll post soon.

The Fox website is a good source to start your education. https://www.foxcollectors.com

Keep in mind you are not dealing with a modern gun. Amongst those who deal with older doubles, there is an adage that you "buy the barrels". Most anything else can be fixed but if the barrels aren't sound, walk away from the purchase. If unaltered, the chambers will be short (2 1/2", 2 9/16" or 2 5/8" depending on gauge) on earlier guns. The stocks typically have more drop than most shooters today are accustomed to. The Fox action is very strong but most of us who shoot them choose to use lower pressure loads (reloaded or those such as sold by companies like RST RSTShells ). You're dealing with wood that is either pushing or over 100 years old. A steady diet of heavy loads can be detrimental to old stocks. Others may say different, but the barrels are not compatible with steel/HeviShot loads. Lead, Bismuth, Tungsten-Matrix and the like are what you'll want to use. As far as the chokes you mentioned, sounds pretty typical. Most likely they were "measured" using a drop-in gauge which doesn't tell the real constrictions. To find the true numbers, a bore gauge is needed but that only tells you the difference between the bore and the choke. Paper patterning will tell the whole story as different loads will pattern differently.

Best of luck in your decision. They're great guns.

Marcus

Last edited by Marc Ret; 01-11-2018 at 11:02 AM.
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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-11-2018, 02:13 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the info. What would you do if there is a small dent in a barrel? Walk away?
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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-11-2018, 02:26 PM
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I would go for the Philly gun unless there is a condition issue and I would not buy a gun with a dented barrel unless I had an expert gun smith in double guns look at it and give the green light first, Dents be removed but it is expensive.

When you are up to your butt in alligators, it is hard to remember your intent was to drain the swamp. Stay focused!
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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-11-2018, 03:49 PM
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Dents are dependent on their severity and location. Certainly not a deal breaker if they aren't severe. A competent doublegun gunsmith can raise them using a set of plug gauges. Typically not overly expensive to repair if they aren't major. A good SxS gunsmith (and a knowledgeable mentor) is almost a necessity to have if you're going to delve in to doubles, particularly older ones. They aren't something the majority of local gunsmiths have the knowledge and skills to work on.

I'm certainly not trying to talk you out of a Fox but if you're open to a bit newer double, I can point you in the direction of several quality ones in your price range (assuming you're looking for a 12ga?) that are for sale. Not mine and I have no affiliation with the sellers. Just trying to help. PM me if you're interested and I will send you the links.

Marcus
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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-12-2018, 10:03 AM Thread Starter
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I'm not opposed to buying a newer gun. But it seems that most of the newer side by sides retail for $3000 plus for a good one new and the "newer" used ones seem to be quite a bit beat up by the time they get to my price range. I'll spend up to maybe $1500 but beyond that I'd be afraid to take it hunting.
There's a couple reasons I'm looking for an older side by side. One being that I don't have a side by side and I also don't have anything that old. Looking to fill the gap so to speak. And a few years ago I was pheasant hunting in Montana and one of the guys had an old side by side. I just thought it was the coolest thing. Unfortunately at the time I didn't take note of the make. But I wanted one ever since.
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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-12-2018, 10:15 AM
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All my shotguns except my turkey gun are side by sides, 2 12ga, 1 16 ga, 1 20 ga and a 28 ga. I can't imaging using anything else, I just like them.

When you are up to your butt in alligators, it is hard to remember your intent was to drain the swamp. Stay focused!
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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-12-2018, 10:16 AM
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Fox Shotguns - Sterlingworth For Sale , shotgun shopping is fun

"one hand clapping" mork from ork
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