I’m not a big fan of gold on shotguns. Too little of it looks out of place and too much of it makes a double look like it was overhauled by Pimp My Ride. This 20 L.C. Smith Deluxe Grade comes to mind. Yeah – yuck.
But when gunmakers get it right, gold can actually make a double barrel more elegant and beautiful. That’s the case with this .410 Francotte sidelock that Steve Barnett has right now.
The gold on this shotgun makes a statement. But instead of screaming “Look at me and how expensive I am” it encourage you to admire the entire gun. There’s plenty to admire, too.
First, there’s the overall composition and execution of the inlays. Instead of looking superfluous, this gold work is part of the action’s sculpting, engraving and overall design. By varying the size, style, and positions of the birds, the engraver added depth and life to the work. This makes the inlays interesting and far more appealing. Instead of being stuck on top of the lockplates, these birds look like they’re alive and in flight.
I also like how the flashiness of the gold is restrained by dusky color-case hardening on the action (gold on a coin-finish is a bad idea). The bling that’s there actually enhances the blood-red hues and chocolate swirls of the French-walnut stock, making both more pronounced and stunning.
Along with its perfect adornment, this .410 Francotte is also beautifully made. Check out how well the forend iron fits against the barrels and action. Then look at those drop points and the shaping of the stock. Again, first quality work.
Mention gold inlays to me and I’m going to think “ostentatious”. There’s no way around it. On a gun, gold is always flashy and almost never necessary. It’s only there to call attention to itself. How it calls attention to itself, and the impression it leaves, are what’s important. In the case of this .410 Francotte, the impression leaves me, well, impressed.