Old shotguns with tons of condition spook me. I love original condition, so I’m excited to see any vintage side-by-side that looks brand new. At the same time, I wonder if what I’m really looking at is an excellent restoration. Unless I have the double in my hands, it’s hard to tell.
So when I saw this 12 gauge Francotte Knockabout I was intrigued, but then put off. Part of me thinks that this side-by-side is all original. But another part says no ‘friggin way.
Up until they were purchased by Abercrombie & Fitch, Von Lengerke & Detmold was a major importer of Francotte shotguns. The Knockabout was the lowest grade they offered. Shotguns like this were bought by guys who wanted a quality double that they could really use. That’s why so most of the ones you see today look more like this one: decent, but definitely used.
The one shown here looks like it spent more time in a closet than in a marsh or field. For a shotgun that’s 85+ years old, it’s just not showing it’s age. That’s what worries me. Did the owner really buy it, shoot it for a couple years, and then put it away for a lifetime?
Or was it restored 20- 30 years ago by someone who knew what they were doing, and then used gently since then? I just can tell from these pics. I have seen brand new, honestly 100% original shotguns that are even older. And those are the ones that keep me hoping to find more.
What do you think? Let me know.