Q:I have an Iver Johnson gun that I believe is in .44 caliber, according to its markings. There is no rifling within the bore. Is it okay to use 2½" .410 shotshells? Also, what pistol cartridges are safe to use? The word “CHAMPION” is marked under the manufacturer information along with 53XXX under the trigger guard.
A:Your Iver Johnson single-barrel shotgun was made between 1891 and 1919. Serial numbers were not recorded at the time, so I cannot furnish a better date of manufacture. Shotshells in .410 bore are .41 caliber, so this was probably made for .44-cal. shotshells that were available during the era. These guns were considered to be versatile game guns for use on the frontier.
Because of the shotgun’s age, inexpensive manufacture and no repair parts, I would not fire this gun under any circumstances unless it is examined and declared safe by a qualified gunsmith.