Bargain bests: A nice pair of 12g sidelock Henry Atkin shotguns…

ATKIN 12 SIDELOCK PAIR- NEW CHOPPER LUMP Bbls. in 1988 by the MAKER
ATKIN 12 SIDELOCK PAIR- NEW CHOPPER LUMP Bbls. in 1988 by the MAKER

I love vintage British shotguns – especially sidelocks. But even though I think they’re as good as guns get, they can have problems. One comes from their age. Because they’re old, people have had a lot of time to mess with them. That’s why so many Purdeys, Holland & Hollands, and other top-tier British shotguns around today are tired, shot out, and pretty much dead.

This pair of best-quality Henry Atkins was made around 1896, so they’re very vintage. What caught my eye is their new stocks and barrels, all made by Atkin, Grant & Lang in 1988. They make this pair of 119-old SxSs part vintage and part brand new.

Whoever had these guns rebarreled and restocked spent a lot of money. Today, a single set of new barrels by Atkin, Grant & Lang costs £8995. These guns have two new sets – so that’s £17990, or about $28,000. All new wood costs $10,000+ a gun and brings the costs to $48,000 in all.

When you see the asking price —  just $24,000 — you understand why these Atkins such a steal.

ATKIN 12 SIDELOCK PAIR- NEW CHOPPER LUMP Bbls. in 1988 by the MAKER
ATKIN 12 SIDELOCK PAIR- NEW CHOPPER LUMP Bbls. in 1988 by the MAKER

ATKIN 12 SIDELOCK PAIR- NEW CHOPPER LUMP Bbls. in 1988 by the MAKER- NEW BUTTSTOCKS by the MAKER- ALL LONDON: #912 & 913, Henry Atkin (From Purdey’s) 6 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London, A Very Nice Pair of Bar Action Sidelock Ejector 12 Bore Game Guns, Both guns with modern and new 28″ Chopper Lump barrels installed and proved in London in 1988 when they operated as Atkin Grant & Lang & Co Ltd at 6 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London (The address on these barrels), Both barrels remain as new since 1988: The #1 gun London proved at 3 1/4 tons with 2 3/4″ chambers, #1 is .730 .008 & .020″ (Imp.Cyl. & Mod.), 2 3/4″ chambers: The #2 gun London proved at 3 1/4 tons with 2 3/4″ chambers, #2 is .730 .008 & .016″ (Imp.Cyl. & Mod.), 2 3/4″ chambers, Wall thickness all the way around at .032″, Both with new buttstocks with excellent internal inletting (I presume done in 1988 when the new barrels were added), Very nice wood with excellent color and contrast, The pair with Ejectors, Double triggers, Splinter forend with an Anson release, Straight hand stock and both 14 3/4 x 1 9/16 x 2 1/8″ over checkered butts, Both guns 6 lbs. 11 oz., Stanton & Son locks, 94% coverage of period scroll engraving, The action body’s still retain 15-20%

ATKIN 12 SIDELOCK PAIR- NEW CHOPPER LUMP Bbls. in 1988 by the MAKER
ATKIN 12 SIDELOCK PAIR- NEW CHOPPER LUMP Bbls. in 1988 by the MAKER

original case colors, The barrel blue at 97% on both, The buttstocks and forends remain at 94%, The checkering at 98%, Number 1 & 2 in Gold in 3 places, The engraving is very sharp & crisp and has never been brushed, All 4 barrels are almost as new inside & out, The pair is cased in what appears to be the original brass cornered trunk & now with the trade label from AG &L when the new barrels and new buttstocks were installed in 1988. Here is a very nice pair of guns with new modern Chopper Lump barrels & wood that will go a lifetime. These are a super pair of guns that are in much better condition than many of the vintage pairs offered on the market today. Price: $24,000

This week’s good guns: Powered by Gunsinternational.com…

Pre-war Purdey Extra Lightweight 12 ga
Pre-war Purdey Extra Lightweight 12 ga

Pre-war Purdey Extra Lightweight 12 ga: An extraordinary pre-war Purdey 12 ga. weighing just 5 lbs, 15 oz.  26″ Sir Joseph Whitworth steel barrels feature a semi-swamped, hand-stippled rib, and retain 99% original barrel blue.  Choked improved cylinder and full, original 2-5/8″ chambers, spectacular original condition throughout.  The action retains 99.9% of its factory brilliant color case hardening over the traditional Purdey rose and scroll engraving pattern.  Straight hand stock of highly figured French walnut measures 1-3/8″ comb, 2-1/4″ heel and a 14-3/4″ length of pull to the checkered butt as indicated in the factory records.  Illustrated in the photos, you will see the original high-polish luster blue on the trigger guard.  Built in 1930, delivered to Abercrombie & Fitch, this may be the ultimate walk-up gun.  This racy, small frame 12 exhibits the balance and feel one would expect from London’s premier gunmaker.  Can’t say enough about this one!  Cased. Price: $42,500

WESTLEY RICHARDS OVUNDO O/U 20 GA
WESTLEY RICHARDS OVUNDO O/U 20 GA

WESTLEY RICHARDS OVUNDO O/U 20 GA: Serial #17536. Barrel Length: 28″. Chokes: C (.007″) & M (.011″).
Trigger SST (Single Selective). Stock Straight Grip, Foream Field style with horn tip. Rib: Solid Weight: 5#8oz Dimensions: 1 1/2 x 2 x 14 with 3/8 cast off, 2 1/2″ chambers. Other Options Gold oval, Heel & Toe plates, Cased in maker’s leather case with label. Price: $32,500

ATKIN 12 SIDELOCK PAIR- NEW CHOPPER LUMP Bbls. in 1988 by the MAKER- NEW BUTTSTOCKS by the MAKER- ALL LONDON
ATKIN 12 SIDELOCK PAIR- NEW CHOPPER LUMP Bbls. in 1988 by the MAKER- NEW BUTTSTOCKS by the MAKER- ALL LONDON

ATKIN 12 SIDELOCK PAIR- NEW CHOPPER LUMP Bbls. in 1988 by the MAKER- NEW BUTTSTOCKS by the MAKER- ALL LONDON#912 & 913, Henry Atkin (From Purdey’s) 6 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London, A Very Nice Pair of Bar Action Sidelock Ejector 12 Bore Game Guns, Both guns with modern and new 28″ Chopper Lump barrels installed and proved in London in 1988 when they operated as Atkin Grant & Lang & Co Ltd at 6 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London (The address on these barrels), Both barrels remain as new since 1988: The #1 gun London proved at 3 1/4 tons with 2 3/4″ chambers, #1 is .730 .008 & .020″ (Imp.Cyl. & Mod.), 2 3/4″ chambers: The #2 gun London proved at 3 1/4 tons with 2 3/4″ chambers, #2 is .730 .008 & .016″ (Imp.Cyl. & Mod.), 2 3/4″ chambers, Wall thickness all the way around at .032″, Both with new buttstocks with excellent internal inletting (I presume done in 1988 when the new barrels were added), Very nice wood with excellent color and contrast, The pair with Ejectors, Double triggers, Splinter forend with an Anson release, Straight hand stock and both 14 3/4 x 1 9/16 x 2 1/8″ over checkered butts, Both guns 6 lbs. 11 oz., Stanton & Son locks, 94% coverage of period scroll engraving, The action body’s still retain 15-20% original case colors, The barrel blue at 97% on both, The buttstocks and forends remain at 94%, The checkering at 98%, Number 1 & 2 in Gold in 3 places, The engraving is very sharp & crisp and has never been brushed, All 4 barrels are almost as new inside & out, The pair is cased in what appears to be the original brass cornered trunk & now with the trade label from AG &L when the new barrels and new buttstocks were installed in 1988. Here is a very nice pair of guns with new modern Chopper Lump barrels & wood that will go a lifetime. These are a super pair of guns that are in much better condition than many of the vintage pairs offered on the market today. Price: $24,000

ITHACA 5E 12 GAUGE SIDE BY SIDE SHOTGUN
ITHACA 5E 12 GAUGE SIDE BY SIDE SHOTGUN

ITHACA 5E 12 GAUGE SIDE BY SIDE SHOTGUN: 28″ BARRELS CHOKED MODIFIED AND FULL (.017& .035), 2 3/4″ CHAMBERS, DOUBLE TRIGGERS, EJECTORS, SPLINTER FOREND, STRAIGHT GRIPS STOCK 14″ LOP DROP 1 1/2″-2 3/4″, AUTOMATIC SAFETY, VERY HIGH ORIGINAL CONDITION, SERIAL NUMBER 433707 Price: $5999

20ga RBL Launch Connecticut Shotgun MFG: Lightly used 20ga RBL. 99% Very few imperfections. Gorgeous wood. Great configuration. Previous owner did not like the bright yellow case so he “aged it” to tone it down. A very atractive gun at a very atractive price!!!

20ga RBL Launch Connecticut Shotgun MFG
20ga RBL Launch Connecticut Shotgun MFG
Price: $3250
Manufacturer: Connecticut Shotgun
Model: RBL Launch
Chambers: 2 3/4
Ejectors: yes
Condition: Excellent
Barrels: 28in
Triggers: 2
Gauge: 20
Stock: English
Stock Comb: 1 1/2
Stock Heel: 2 1/8
LOP: 14 7/8
Weight: 6.55
Chokes: 5

 

Seriously nice: a super rare 12g Henry Atkin O/U shotgun…

12 bore Henry Atkin over and under sidelock ejector circa 1925
12 bore Henry Atkin over and under sidelock ejector circa 1925

The London gun trade has always been a bespoke business. If you wanted it and could pay for it, a gunmaker would build it for you — or in the case of the Henry Atkin O/U you see here, the gunmaker would find someone else to build it for you.

Henry Atkin started in the gun trade in 1848 as an apprentice at Purdeys. Around 1875, he was building shotguns in his own name, and he did so until his death in 1907. His firm continued on until it was absorbed by Atkin, Grant & Lang in 1960. Even though Henry Atkin was a talented gunmaker, he never developed a design for an over-under shotgun. After he died, his company continued their focus on side-by-side shotguns. So in 1925 when one of their customers wanted an O/U, Atkin turned to another team of gunmakers and had them build the gun instead.  I’m 99% certain this team was the Hill family.

Charles Hill played a major role in creating the over-under shotgun James Woodward & Sons patented in 1913. Unfortunately, he received little credit for his contributions (or not as much as he though he should). So Mr Hill left Woodward and started turning out Woodward-style O/Us for other makers.

12 bore Henry Atkin over and under sidelock ejector circa 1925
12 bore Henry Atkin over and under sidelock ejector circa 1925

Up until the WW2, the Hills turned out twenty or so Woodward-style O/Us for other makers. I’ve seen one other Atkin O/U – #3217 (believed to be the only Atkin-Woodward-style O/U until #2680 popped up). I’ve also seen Hill-made, Woodward-style over-unders with E.J. Churchill’s name on them and the Ogden, Smith & Hussey name on them.

12 bore Henry Atkin over and under sidelock ejector circa 1925: #2680. Twenty eight inch original fluid steel barrels with solid file cut top rib, choked quarter quarter and chambered for two and a half inch cartridges. The action is of “James Woodward” patent, fully engraved with “Henry Atkin” bouquet and scroll pattern, retaining full original colour and finish with double triggers. The stock measures fourteen and seven eighths with no extension, cast slightly for a right hander with a strait hand grip. Gun is presented in original maker’s oak and leather case with accessories. Price: £49,995

12 bore Henry Atkin over and under sidelock ejector circa 1925
12 bore Henry Atkin over and under sidelock ejector circa 1925
12 bore Henry Atkin over and under sidelock ejector circa 1925
12 bore Henry Atkin over and under sidelock ejector circa 1925
12 bore Henry Atkin over and under sidelock ejector circa 1925
12 bore Henry Atkin over and under sidelock ejector circa 1925

 

The Purdey side-by-side, perfected…

Henry Atkin Spring Opener Model 1909 Double Barrel Shotgun
Henry Atkin Spring Opener Model 1909 Double Barrel Shotgun

Henry Atkin, Sr, used to be one of the big boys of the London shotgun trade. Coming from a family of gunmakers, he learned his trade at Purdeys. In 1875 he went out on his own and by 1890 he was doing so well that he moved to Jermyn Street–a prestigious part of town . He passed away in 1906, 1 year before his firm (being run by his nephews, C.F and F.W Hinton) developed the side-by-side which some people claim bested Purdey and created the finest self-opening double barrel in the world.

Henry Atkin's shotguns, fom Best Guns by Michael McIntosh
Henry Atkin’s shotguns, fom Best Guns by Michael McIntosh

From the AG&L website:

Henry Atkin Spring Opener Model 1909 Double Barrel Shotgun
Henry Atkin Spring Opener Model 1909 Double Barrel Shotgun

“In 1907, Atkin produced the first of the guns which were to become the firm’s trademark ‘1909 model’; the spring opening side-lock ejector. The gun is essentially the Beesley/Purdey 1880 patent spring-cocking mechanism, with alterations to the ejector system and cocking pads to make the gun easier to close. Many aficionados believe this the very best of the self-opening side-locks; giving the advantages of the self-opener without the stiffness associated with the Beesley design upon closing.”

Among the 1909’s fans was Gough Thomas Garwood, the engineer/gun writer who penned many articles and books on shotguns and shooting. G.T. had  Atkin’s make him a Spring Opener in 1947, spelling out that the company needed to “guarantee that in respect of material, workmanship, finish and shooting qualities, the gun will conform to your highest pre-war standards.” Apparently they succeeded (although I’ve read that after delivery the gun went back  to the maker for some tweaks). Thomas went on to rave about the gun for the rest of his shooting & writing career.

Henry Atkin Spring Opener Model 1909 Double Barrel Shotgun
Beesley/Purdey-style action on Henry Atkin Spring Opener Model 1909 Double Barrel Shotgun

Atkin made a number of Model 1909 “Spring Openers” and today they come on the market from time to time. Right now there’s this one at Fieldsport in MI. There’s also this one. It just popped up at Cabela’s and from what I can tell, it looks like a pretty good deal. It’s a later gun (1959 or so) so it has the typical so-so engraving of the period, but the overall quality of the shotgun looks excellent. And where else can you find a double barrel that’s better than a Purdey, and in excellent original shape, for just $13,500?

Henry Atkin Spring Opener Model 1909 Double Barrel Shotgun
Henry Atkin Spring Opener Model 1909 Double Barrel Shotgun
Henry Atkin Spring Opener Model 1909 Double Barrel Shotgun
Henry Atkin Spring Opener Model 1909 Double Barrel Shotgun

 

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