There are several attractive reasons for using a 16-bore.
Properly made, it is lighter than a comparable 12-bore and a little slimmer, but, with game loads, effectively has the same punch and reach.
It’s worth thinking about that one. When compared to the lighter 12-bore shot loadings, such as that old favourite the Eley Impax, the difference between a 1oz shot load of No.7 (340 pellets) and the benchmark 15/16oz of the 16-bore averages just 21 pellets.
With modern propellant powders, the velocity and therefore pellet strike energy of the 16-bore can easily equal, and may be loaded to exceed, some of the more modest 12-bore loads.
Try both and, in terms of bringing down high birds or tumbling rabbits along a brambled hedgerow, for all practical purposes there is no appreciable difference.
It is true that cartridges can be a little more expensive than 12s and there is not such a variety of loadings generally available, but there is still a reasonable choice when it comes to gameshooting.
As for this slight extra cost, for most gameshooters the comparatively modest number of cartridges used in a season – compared with clayshooting makes it of little real consequence.
Yet, for all its attributes, the 16-bore has become something of a Cinderella a bore, it seems, awaiting rediscovery. At one time it was even neglected by some manufacturers, which either did not list it or, reluctantly it would seem, produced sixteens on heavier 12-bore actions, negating many of the benefits of this very useful gun.
Something to appreciate
The Lincoln Jubilee Prestige is how a 16-bore should be made, weighing a modest 6¼lb, only an ounce or two more than many 20-bores. Seen in profile, at first glance it is indistinguishable from its slightly larger 12-bore stablemate.
It is only looking down on the breech, especially when open, that the smaller action and slimness of the barrels become obvious.
This is enough, though, to shed some ¾lb compared with the 12-bore version. Not much, you may think, but in handling terms or when slogging across ploughing near the end of a tiring day, it becomes very real something to be appreciated.
In spite of its light weight, this does not qualify as a dainty gun. It has handsome, robust styling, accentuated by the bag grip and roach-bellied fore-end. The dark, oil-finished, tight-grained walnut and extensive laser-cut chequering contribute to the overall impression, as does the extra depth at the tip of the fore-end to accommodate the Anson-style push-button release.
The length of pull measured 14.5/8in to the middle of the wooden butt-plate, virtually the same at the bump or heel, and a good 14.7/8in to the toe. With a drop of a fraction over 1.1/2in at the tip of the comb, going to 2.1/2in at the heel, a reasonable amount of cast-off and slim comb, it conformed to useful dimensions suitable for most right-handed shooters.
A comfortable gun
Sometimes what qualifies as perfect handling to one shooter may not be quite the same to another. This Lincoln balanced just on the fore-end knuckle, far enough forward to give a slight positive bias in favour of the barrels without feeling forward-heavy. This gives the type of feel to the handling that most shooters are happy with.
The curve of the grip and long fore-end both allowed for a certain amount of self-adjustment, so even users of somewhat differing physiques, arm lengths and hand sizes would be able to use it and still feel quite comfortable.
The action is the well-proven modified trigger-plate type, which here, due to the addition of nicely fitted sideplates, has the appearance of a sidelock. While really only ornamental, the sideplates add pleasing lines to what would otherwise look to be a short boxlock action.
There is far more scope for decoration, and the outline of the panel where the sideplates fit carries the flowing lines down into the hand of the stock.
The deeply carved fences behind the top barrel have clean and attractive lines, as does the top-lever and attractively curved trigger-guard bow. Only the rather substantial safety button/barrel selector seems a little out of place, even if it does follow the current fashion in these ultra safety-conscious times.
This gun has the polished silver-finished action, while there is an optional colour case-hardened version sporting the subtle blues and browns that have such a classic appeal. Laser decoration is neat and well done, giving good coverage without cluttering the clean lines of the action body.
The recessed, matted areas around the gold-finished animals is visually particularly effective, leaving them standing in relief. Blacking is deep and glossy, and the perforated styling of the thumbpiece on the top-lever a thoughtful touch. The well-shaped, gold-finished trigger is both elegant and practical, leaving plenty of room for the trigger finger within the guard.
This test gun had 30in barrels fitted with multi-chokes, but barrel lengths from 28in to 32in are available. The barrels were finely tapered, well struck-up and nicely blacked.
The side ribs were laid true, as was the ventilated 6mm-wide top-rib, finished off with the traditional brass bead. The chambers were cleanly finished at 70mm for 2¾in cartridges and the bores showed almost a mirror finish.
Built on the monoblock principle, there is the usual decorative line where the spigoted barrel tube meets the block, and jewelling on the lower sides of the block where it fits into the action body.
Proofed at a bore size of 17mm, this converts to 0.669in in imperial terms or what would be 16/1 for those familiar with the old British system of measurement.
Five screw-in chokes and a choke key are part of the package, stored in individual containers that fit into the Lincoln’s distinctive royal blue ABS gun case.
Each choke is notch-marked and billed as being easily identifiable in poor light conditions, and includes full, improved modified, modified, improved cylinder and cylinder. This translates, when checked by bore gauge, to the nominal sizes of full (I), three-quarters (II), half (III) and quarter (IIII), with cylinder being true cylinder, ie. bore size.
I think chokes should carry as much information as possible, so additional engraving or etching on the sides is beneficial.
Good information in the detailed handbook does warn about matters such as use of steel shot, but it is always useful to have it on the actual part.
In the field
This is the sort of gun that would be nice to have out on a stand during the latter end of the season, when the birds are a bit wild and wily.
Testing in the summer prevents that, however, and I had to be content with taking it to a small local clay shoot that, nonetheless, puts up some surprising and unexpected sporting ‘birds’.
The auto safety on this particular gun was a little stiff to operate, but on the return, when opening the gun, it snicked very positively back into place.
Trigger pulls had a slightly long pull, indicating the sears were engaged quite deeply in the hammers, but once tripped they snapped off cleanly.
The trigger mechanism incorporates an inertia block backed up by mechanical sear selection, so there is unlikely to be a problem, and the ejectors were well timed and operated strongly, throwing spent cases well away.
The gun handled smoothly, was easy to mount consistently to give the same point of air and generally inspired confidence. As for results, except for the giveaway slowly mounting pile of blue Eley cases, no-one would have known it was not a 12-bore.
The 16-bore might be a bit neglected at the moment, perhaps one for the keen shooter who does not follow fashion but knows a good thing when it comes along.
For the real enthusiast it is nice to know that, with this Lincoln range, special orders can be accommodated and also pairs supplied at no extra cost.
Though in many shooters’ eyes the 16-bore might be regarded as a Cinderella, it is worth remembering she was the sweetest of the sisters.