Holland & Holland 4 Bore

This was recently acquired and looks like a 4 bore turned-brass shotgun shell, or rifle case. It looks very new and unfired, with a case length of 4". I know the original 4-bore rounds are quite rare. Is this one a current reproduction? Any value other than a novelty piece? Thanks!

These big gauge brass shells were also loaded with shot due to the longer life of the brass cases than paper cases if reloaded many times.However Jean Pierre would give you many more informations about this case and its value too


That is very interesting because the same shell has just turned up for auction on one of the ammo auction site. Did some one start making them or did a group get broken up?

This is definately a modern production - VERY MODERN! Firstly its lath-turned & not drawn as pre-WW2 production - also its not Berdan primed - and lastly the hst looks engraved rather than stamped!!! Possibly a remake for H&H? Regards JohnP-C

It looks like it would take a shotgun shell primer. If it’s a repro for H&H, then any idea who did it?

25 years ago, when I was stationed on a carrier out of Alameda CA, I met an old guy at a gun show in San Francisco. He was turning out 4 gauge shells that looked a whole lot like the one pictured here. He had “loaded” dummy rounds with a huge lead slug, and also empty cases. I cant recall exactly what his asking price was, but it was plenty stiff and the risk of having it confiscated by the MAA’s upon return to the ship made me decide to pass on it. I did get his buisness card and taped it inside the cover of my copy of the Cartridges of the World, 4th Ed, that I carried around the world in my sea bag. I know the card is still there, right next to one from some guy named John Moss, a salesman at a gun store in SF gave me his bosses card after I raided the collectable cartridge rack there. The salesman said that I just HAD to meet this guy, but I never did. A quick search of the premises failed to turn up the book, but I will keep looking. I kind of doubt that this craftsman is still around, he had a lot of seniority even back then.

so you’re saying it is a sort of handmade case don’t you?However I have seen a lot of these Handmade big gauge cases both brass and steel.It’s strange that who made this case had marked it “holland & holland”.It could be a faked round or a case especially made for a particular gun.Maybe this headstamp indicates “for use in british guns” .In fact English 4 gauge shells have some dimensional data a little different to French 4 gauge shells

According to me in the past there were a lot of handmakers of this kind of cases.I have a steel 4 gauge case made by Ravizza during the 50’s ( Ravizza is a famous italian gunshop ).It is turned from solid steel and has a primer pocket adapted to standard shotshell primer

The H&H shell shown here is not an original one but a recent manufacture.
Like the ones made by Ravizza.

About value I would say: not very much because it is new (this is my opinion, some people can desagree). Cost of machining , only that for me.
There is no history or rarity attached to this shell.

Pivi, nobody uses anymore the French THICK RIM 4 gauge, and this for a very long time.It is because of that the value of them (in my opinion !) is a lot more than regular common 4 British shells.

And if you talk about French THIN RIM standard 4 gauge, it is more than sacrce, it is very very rare ! I never seen one.

Another one which is very scarce is the French extra thick rim 4 gauge.

For 4 gauge, from the thickest to the thinnest rim you have:

  • French extra thick
  • British (3.10 to 3.25)
  • French thick (1.70 to 1.90)
  • French thin (1.20 to 1.40)

I agree.I wrote a theory because of the “holland & holland” headstamp.Handmakers usaully mark their cases with their own headstamp.

The lathe turned 4ga shells that I mentioned in my first post were headstamped with the gauge and either “H&H” or “Holland & Holland”, I don’t remember exactly. I had seen lathe turned shells before, but I was impressed by these because they were “properly” headstamped. The guy that was selling them was quite proud of his work and was not trying to pass them off as rare or antique. I suppose I could say they were reproductions, but that isnt accurate because I doubt H&H ever made lathe turned shells. I am still looking for that buisness card. I will post it when I find it.

Jean Pierre
Why did french make these heavy thick rim shotshells?Were they a conversion for pinfire shotguns such as french rim revolver cartridges?


hi pivi !

You are talking about the extra thick ones I think.
They were not for pinfire conversions but because of 3 reasons:

  1. Till 1878 there was no French standard for the rim thickness of the 4 gauge (this is true only for 4 gauge !!). Everybody was making his own chamber.And this was a standard of some famous gunsmiths I think.
  • In England, always in these days, some British gunmakers used this standard. Eley manufactured some rounds and because it was too different of their own standard (rim thickness : 3.10 to 3.25) they asked SFM to make the shells for them !!
    Some British gunmakers used to order these shells directly from SFM.
    (Before 1914 about 80% of the shells sold by British gunmakers whith their name on the case or on the headstamp were from French or Italian manufacture and not British made. H & H and Purdey didn’t buy their cases from France, but most of the other yes. And even many British shotshells manufacturers (Curtis and Harvey, Schultze, Nobel, Arms and Ammunition) didn’t make themselves all their shells but used to buy them from SFM or Fiocchi)
  • In England and in France they were guns with riffled barrels using these shells loaded with bullet.(in 8 gauge also)

Although this is newly manufactured it is a legitimate example, made for Holland & Holland, on their order. They were probably made about 2 years ago, for shooting purposes but, of course, some have turned up on the collectors market where they are fetching about $100 each.

100 $ each ???
I take orders if somebody is interested.
It dosen’t cost one tenth of that to machine them !