The Split 20 Gauge Tube Problem


I shoot registered skeet with a K-80. I shoot 20ga. in the 12 events. As you know 20ga. tubes are prone to split more often than one would like. My question is why haven’t/couldn’t a person have there 12ga. chamber bored out to 10 or even 8 gauge and have Briley or Kolar make tubes to fit it. If you were never going to use it for 12 ga. Would this not work?

What I am thinking is to take metal from the chamber and add it to the subgauge tube chamber. You could have 20ga. tubes that were as thick as .410 tubes, and if made out of titanium like the .410s they shouldn’t weigh to much more. Am I crazy?



Dear Ron,

Yup, you’re crazy. I’m sure that you could enlarge the chambers of a carrier barrel to anything that you want, but it would really be expensive as you would have to custom-make the ejectors on the carrier barrel. It wouldn’t just be a case of reaming out the chamber. As with so many things, when part “A” is changed, you also have to change part “B”, and “C” and so on.

It will also be a real problem getting the tube maker to build extra large tube chambers when the max he is set up to make are 20s. That means he has to custom make not only the chambers, but the tube’s ejector set also. Those big chambered tubes will end up costing you the price of a nice new car.

I once had Briley make me a set of tubes for a heavily backbored carrier barrel. The aluminum tube portion of the tubes was larger than their normal run of tube stock, so there was a long wait to get things done. Yes, they did everything perfectly the way Briley always does, but the long wait just shows you how they get set up to make a certain product within certain bounds and when you get beyond that you get into custom work. Custom work means custom waiting periods. Something to consider.

I’ve never seen splitting the 20 gauge tube chambers as much of an issue. Yes, it happens, but it really doesn’t happen all that often. Besides, both Kolar and Briley guarantee their stuff forever, so they will just repair your tube by replacing the chamber section or send you a new one.

As with so many potential gun problems, sometimes it’s better to wait until the problem occurs. My standard gun parts solution has always been that when one part breaks, I order a replacement and a spare. I can’t tell you how many guns I have sold with a pile of expensive spare parts that were never needed. On the other hand, as a gas gun shooter, I do realize the value of a parts kit. Prudent operation probably lies somewhere in the middle.

As a total rambling aside, since there is some coffee left in the cup, let me tell you about my Big Parts Coup. Back in the ’70s I bought a Wincester Model 42 410 pump skeet gun, second year production. It had fancy aftermarket wood, but had been shot a lot. After enjoying it for half a year, it became apparent that it had broken it’s bolt. A common occurrence with the 42s. There were no spare bolts to be found then for love or money, or at least for my love and money. I put the gun in the corner of the closet and tried to forget about it.

Quite a few years later, in the last days of the Remington Lordship shooting facility, I was chatting with a guy about guns. My 42 came up. He said that he was a retired gunsmith and that back in the ’50s or ’60s some customer had ordered an entire stack of M42 parts from him, but had never picked them up. He’d never even opened the package. I could have it, unopened, for whatever the invoice was. He seemed to remember it as being about $100.

I agreed and next week he gave me the package. Inside was a treasure trove of three complete Model 42 bolts, two action bars, and packages of extractor claws, springs and other bits and pieces. There is enough stuff there to keep several model 42s running for several lifetimes. I can now shoot my 42 to my heart’s content, knowing that I won’t run out of parts. Sometimes a good parts supply is worth the piece of mind.

Bottom line: As a tube shooter, I would just shoot the tubes until something happened and then send the offending tube back for repair/replacement.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
The Technoid writing for Shotgun Report, LLC
(Often in error. Never in doubt.)

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