We know that the Hunter Arms Company supplied shotguns to the military during World War II for training aerial gunners. Trainees were taught how to lead targets on the skeet range. These shotguns were shipped in 1942 and 1943 in several orders to the Rochester Ordnance District, Rochester, New York, and they have become known as the “Rochester Ordnance” Smiths. The serial numbers are between 197321 and 202813. They were stamped with the flaming bomb ordnance mark. The USA-F mark is likely an inspector's mark and is not a military mark. It appears on a lot of shotguns made during this era. A research letter will tell you if you have a military shotgun.
The Rochester Ordnance shotguns included 23 Ideal Grades and 1,512 Field Grades for a total of 1,535 side lock shotguns. Eight (<1%) had the Wild Fowl option (usually 3-inch chambers, and a reinforced barrel loop, and built on a regular-weight frame).
Many have assumed that all of the military shotguns were Wild Fowl shotguns. That is clearly not the case because 1,220 (79%) were built on a feather-weight frame. However, some of the Rochester Ordnance Smiths in collections are Wild Fowl shotguns and are not recorded as such in the ledgers. Some of the 315 shotguns with regular-weight frames (all had 32-inch barrels) may have been made with the Wild Fowl option. Hunter Arms may have not thought it necessary to note this option in the ledgers for shotguns being shipped to Rochester Ordnance.
Some of the shotguns may have been in stock when the early Rochester Ordnance orders were filled. These included Ideal Grades and shotguns with the nonselective Hunter One-Trigger (1.4%) and automatic ejectors (3.4%). Those options do not appear in the later orders. The majority (61%) of the side lock shotguns had the single sighting plane rib. Offered earlier as an option, it became standard during 1941.
William Brophy did not mention that Fulton and Hunter Special box lock shotguns were also shipped to Rochester Ordnance. Fultons (507) and Hunter Specials (186) accounted for nearly a third of the 2,228 military shotguns. They have the same military mark as the side locks.
Twenty-eight inches was the most common barrel length for both the side lock (50%) and box lock (61%) shotguns. Thirty-inch barrels were placed on 16% of the side lock and 22% of the box lock Rochester Ordnance shotguns. Twenty-one percent of the side lock shotguns had 32-inch barrels. None of the box locks had 32-inch barrels. Thirteen percent of the side locks and 17% of the box locks had 26-inch barrels.
Two interesting shotguns are a 20 gauge Field Grade and a .410 Fulton. They were not in stock because they were in the last orders. Did they receive the military markings? Could they have been gifts? It seems doubtful that they would have been used for gunnery training.
Responses are not allowed!