It’s what you can’t see that counts…

A W.W. Greener with a straight grip and a top safety is one of the double-barrel shotguns on my current want list.  Nice Greeners are pretty easy to find. Greener made tons of guns, and many of them were imported into the US. Right now, there are at least a half dozen nice ones on the market, including these this one and this one.

W. W. GREENER  A 12-BORE 'GRADE FH50' FACILE PRINCEPS EJECTOR
W. W. GREENER A 12-BORE 'GRADE FH50' FACILE PRINCEPS EJECTOR

But almost all of Greener’s guns have side safeties. I HATE side safeties. They’re ugly and difficult to use, and I think they were more gimmick than innovation. Fortunately, down through the years many people have agreed with me. They ordered Greeners with top safeties and a few of these double-barrel shotguns hit the market each year.

This one at Holt’s 10/22  auction looked like a real nice example and possible addition. Here’s the it’s full description from the auctioneer:

W. W. GREENER: A 12-BORE ‘GRADE FH50’ FACILE PRINCEPS EJECTOR. 28in. nitro barrels, rib engraved ‘W. W. GREENER. MAKER. 40 PALL MALL. LONDON. S.W. WORKS. ST. MARY’S SQUARE. BIRMINGHAM’, 2 1/2in. chambers, bored approx. 1/4 and 3/4 choke, treble-grip action with slim side bolsters, top tang automatic safety with gold-inlaid ‘SAFE’ detail, fine acanthus scroll engraving, retaining some original colour-hardening and finish, 14 3/4in. well-figured stock including 1 1/8in. rubber recoil pad, weight 6lb. 7oz., in its lightweight green velvet-lined leather case with gold-tooled label and with large Greener oil bottle. Estimate £2,500-3,500

So far, so good. From what I could see, the gun looked nice: Twenty-eight inch barrels, nice long stock, decent weight, nitro proofed and in proof, in its original case. As I read all this, I was pretty sure my want list was going to get shorter. But buying out of the UK is a pain in the ass, especially at an auction, and I wanted to 175% sure that this Greener was worth the extra $$ and effort it would take to get it.

So I sent off these questions to the auctioneer:

-How original is this gun?
-What are the bore measurements?
-Are the barrels their original length?
-What are the barrel wall measurements?
-Are there any dents, ding, or bulges in the barrels?
-Is there any pitting in the barrels?
-Any rivelling in the bbls or other problems?
-Are there any repairs to the barrels?
-Are the barrels tight and on the face?
-Have the bbls been reblacked?
-Has anything on the gun been refinished, reblacked, recolored or reblued?
-Are there any cracks, splits, or repairs in the wood?
-Do all the serial #s match – action, triggerguard, forend, bbls?
-Does everything work properly – triggers, ejectors, top lever, safety, forend release, hammers, cocking, etc?
-Does it have a long triggerguard (like a straight-gripped gun should)?

I know it’s a lot, but I’ve learned to ask too many questions. This helps prevent surprises and expensive mistakes. Here are the answers I received back (I bolded the problem areas):

-The gun all appears to be original, possible later recoil pad

-The bore measurements are .735+ .735+ 23 21+

-The barrels appear to be the original length

-Some minor scratches to the bores, slight signs of minor rivelling

-No pits

-The gun does not appear to have been refinished

-No visible cracks to the woodwork

-All matching serial numbers

-All mechanisms appear to function correctly with the use of snap-caps

-The triggerguard is long, as it should be.

It’s interesting to see what the auctioneer did and didn’t say. I’m not sure what to make of discrepancies like his failure to mention if there are any dents, dings, or bulges in the barrels, or to tell me if the gun is tight and on the face.

I do know that this dream gun turns out to have mediocre barrels. Judging by so-so walls. enlarged bores and rivelling, I would say someone honed the tubes a bit. That’s sucks, and it makes the gun a pass for me.

The hunt for the perfect Greener continues.

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