If you collect big bore, waterfowling shotguns, or want to start, you’re in luck: Two of finest you’ll ever find are coming up in James D. Julia’s April, 2017, auction. In their day, big bores like these were far too expensive to be used by commercial hunters as “market guns.”
Instead, they were bought by well-off sportsmen and used to pass shoot ducks, geese and even swans. From what I’ve read, as hunting pressure along the Eastern flyways increased, waterfowl became warier (and scarcer). To bring them down, hunters needed guns that could reach out further. With their big loads and heavy charges, big bores were able to do this.
A monstrous & fabulous E.M. Reilly 4 gauge Side-by-Side hammer shotgun. I’ve had this double in my hands, and it’s incredible. To help it resist corrosion, it was nickel-plated and it features no engraving. It was probably made in England in the 1870s, and it remains in incredible — and to my eye — all original condition. Interestingly, it has stalking safeties on it – a feature normally reserved for hammer rifles.
An L.C. Smith 8 gauge Quality No. 2 Side-by-Side hammerless shotgun. I’m pretty sure this shotgun popped up on the market a few years ago. If it’s the same gun, it’s in incredible original condition and pretty much new. L.C. Smith probably made fewer than 50 eight gauges. This one has to be the finest one in existence. The Quality No. 2 was L.C. Smith’s lower middle grade. The company built them from 1890-1914 and made 12,483 total. Of those, just 38 were 8 gauges.