14 Gauge Shotshells

I got my auction catalogs for the September Rock Island gun auction yesterday. I notice that a fairly large group of John Olin’s personal guns is included in the sale, including one 14 gauge Winchester Model 59 shotgun and a box of 14 gauge shells for it, that from appearances is a Winchester yellow box, maybe from the 1960s-70s. The shells themselves are not pictured. What’s the story behind this? Something experimental I would guess.

Winchester made 33 (or so) experimental 14 ga guns to chamber the thick-rimmed aluminum case shells that both Winchester & Western made & brand named. The shells were actually 20 bore in chamber size but would only chamber in the modified 59’s because of the thick rim, however the shells are headstamped 14 GAUGE. These guns had a EXP prefix to the serial number & the boxes the shells were put up in, were yellow with a 14 ga / data rubber stamp & perhaps some cancellation marks to the original text.

For more see Ron Stadt’s Winchester Shotgun & Shells book.

The shells are relatively common [but still in the $4-6 price range] for the garden variations. Both roll & pie crimps were used by both brands. The boxes are a bit more uncommon than the shells.

In the Rock Island catalog, it looked like there was a label pasted over the box end flap. I have to wonder what the perceived advantage was for having a shotgun adapted to a thick-rimmed 20 gauge shell and calling it a 14 gauge. Did they think the world needed a new gauge or new shell type?

Not sure of the why of it but I think these were done during the same time (mid 1950’s to early 1960’s) both Winchester and Western were working on conventional rimmed aluminum cased shells, and all-plastics for the same chamber as the conventional variation aluminum. [short, 2 3/8", 12 bores like the thick-rimmed 14 ga’s is only a 2" shell] Some of the conventional shells have some different coded non-standard headstamps, as do some of the military-market experimental aluminum .410 survival gun shells.
Even anodized aluminum cases exist. Think a long story could be on just these aluminum cased shells, seem to be no end to them. The aluminum .410’s were even made with a single lead bullet load, [quite uncommon].

So all that said my best GUESS for these 14 bores is a marketing ploy.

Let’s see if the wheel needs improved / reinvented? YES collectors LOVE IT!

edited once to add dates