Perfection. An awesome 12g by James Purdey & Sons …

12 gauge James Purdey & Sons SxS shotgun with extra finish, 1920
12 gauge James Purdey & Sons SxS shotgun with extra finish, 1920

If there were a Hall of Fame for sporting guns, this SxS would be in it.

12 gauge James Purdey & Sons SxS shotgun with extra finish, 1920
12 gauge James Purdey & Sons SxS shotgun with extra finish, 1920

It’s a 12 gauge James Purdey & Sons built in 1920 and upgraded with “Extra Finish” on the action and fences (or “detonating”, in Purdey lingo). The oak & leather case is lined in red velvet and it looks like all the original accessories are present.

12 gauge James Purdey & Sons SxS shotgun with extra finish, 1920
12 gauge James Purdey & Sons SxS shotgun with extra finish, 1920

It’s all original, pretty unmessed with, and one of finest doubles I’ve seen.

12 gauge James Purdey & Sons SxS shotgun with extra finish, 1920
12 gauge James Purdey & Sons SxS shotgun with extra finish, 1920
12 gauge James Purdey & Sons SxS shotgun with extra finish, 1920
12 gauge James Purdey & Sons SxS shotgun with extra finish, 1920
12 gauge James Purdey & Sons SxS shotgun with extra finish, 1920
12 gauge James Purdey & Sons SxS shotgun with extra finish, 1920
12 gauge James Purdey & Sons SxS shotgun with extra finish, 1920
12 gauge James Purdey & Sons SxS shotgun with extra finish, 1920
12 gauge James Purdey & Sons SxS shotgun with extra finish, 1920
12 gauge James Purdey & Sons SxS shotgun with extra finish, 1920
12 gauge James Purdey & Sons SxS shotgun with extra finish, 1920
12 gauge James Purdey & Sons SxS shotgun with extra finish, 1920
12 gauge James Purdey & Sons SxS shotgun with extra finish, 1920v
12 gauge James Purdey & Sons SxS shotgun with extra finish, 1920
12 gauge James Purdey & Sons SxS shotgun with extra finish, 1920
12 gauge James Purdey & Sons SxS shotgun with extra finish, 1920
12 gauge James Purdey & Sons SxS shotgun with extra finish, 1920
12 gauge James Purdey & Sons SxS shotgun with extra finish, 1920
12 gauge James Purdey & Sons SxS shotgun with extra finish, 1920
12 gauge James Purdey & Sons SxS shotgun with extra finish, 1920
12 gauge James Purdey & Sons SxS shotgun with extra finish, 1920
12 gauge James Purdey & Sons SxS shotgun with extra finish, 1920

At auction: An odd 12 gauge Boss + Purdey = Burdey SxS shotgun …

BOSS & CO. A RARE 12-BORE 'PURDEY-ACTION' SELF-OPENING SIDELOCK EJECTOR, serial no. 5633, with extra barrels
BOSS & CO. A RARE 12-BORE ‘PURDEY-ACTION’ SELF-OPENING SIDELOCK EJECTOR, serial no. 5633, with extra barrels

This shotgun is just plain strange. It’s a 12 gauge Boss & Co. side-by-side built on a Purdey/Beesley self-opening action, and it’s coming up in Holt’s Fine Modern & Antique Guns auction on Thursday 16th March 2017.

Purdey patented the Beesley hammerless self-opening action in 1880. By the time this Boss was built (1908), that patent had expired. So Boss was free to build this gun without paying Purdey s single cent in licensing fees. But that doesn’t mean Boss went ahead and did it.

BOSS & CO. A RARE 12-BORE 'PURDEY-ACTION' SELF-OPENING SIDELOCK EJECTOR, serial no. 5633, with extra barrels
BOSS & CO. A RARE 12-BORE ‘PURDEY-ACTION’ SELF-OPENING SIDELOCK EJECTOR, serial no. 5633, with extra barrels

The Beesley action is difficult to make and nothing like the action Boss uses on its side-by-sides. So rather than manufacture this gun themselves, I think Boss had Purdey (Purdey’s outworkers) do it for them. Here’s why:

  • While the action is filed up like a Boss, the fences look like they belong on a Purdey
  • The toplever, tail of the topstrap, and safety looks more Purdey than Boss
  • The screws securing the locks to the action are a hybrid of Purdey & Boss styles
  • The action features striker discs and firing-pin retaining screws. Boss didn’t add these to SxSs they made until the late ’20s
  • It looks like it has Purdey ejectors

A RARE BOSS &CO 12-BORE ‘PURDEY-ACTION’ SELF-OPENING SIDELOCK EJECTOR, serial no. 5633, with extra barrelsOriginal Whitworth-steel 30in. nitro chopperlump barrels, rib engraved ‘BOSS & CO. 73 ST. JAMES’S STREET. LONDON.’ and gold-inlaid ‘1’ at the breech end, tubes engraved ‘SIR JOSEPH WHITWORTH’S PRESSED FLUID STEEL’, 2 1/2in. chambers, bored approx. true cyl. in both, rib slightly loose, right wall at 18;  extra 28in. unsigned nitro barrels (by another), 2 1/2in. chambers, bored approx. imp. cyl. and 1/2 choke;  self-opening action with removable striker discs, toplever gold-inlaid ‘1’, gold-inlaid cocking-indicators, best fine acanthus scroll engraving with floral bouquets, retaining traces of original colour-hardening, 14 3/8in. figured stock, weight 6lb. 7oz. (original barrels) and 6lb. 9oz. (extra barrels), in a brass-cornered oak and leather case with provision for the 30in. barrels only, the extra 28in. barrels in a canvas leg of mutton slip. Estimate £7,000-9,000

Provenance: The makers have kindly confirmed that the gun was completed on the 26th August 1908 as No.1 of a pair of ‘Purdey Action’ guns for an Edward Bunbury.

BOSS & CO. A RARE 12-BORE 'PURDEY-ACTION' SELF-OPENING SIDELOCK EJECTOR, serial no. 5633, with extra barrels
BOSS & CO. A RARE 12-BORE ‘PURDEY-ACTION’ SELF-OPENING SIDELOCK EJECTOR, serial no. 5633, with extra barrels
BOSS & CO. A RARE 12-BORE 'PURDEY-ACTION' SELF-OPENING SIDELOCK EJECTOR, serial no. 5633, with extra barrels
BOSS & CO. A RARE 12-BORE ‘PURDEY-ACTION’ SELF-OPENING SIDELOCK EJECTOR, serial no. 5633, with extra barrels

Wow – what a quail gun: 28 gauge Joseph Manton / Purdey SXS …

Joseph Manton London 28 gauge, Sidelock, Shotgun, Purdey Action, 28" barrels
Joseph Manton London 28 gauge, Sidelock, Shotgun, Purdey Action, 28″ barrels

Joseph Manton was one of the finest gunmakers of the 19th century and one of the most influential gunmakers in British history. His work set the standard and the course for the 180+ years of Best quality gunmaking that came after him.

A handful of men who worked for Manton– including James Purdey, Thomas Boss and William Greener–followed his standards and founded some of the most important makers in the British gun trade.

Joseph Manton London 28 gauge, Sidelock, Shotgun, Purdey Action, 28" barrels
Joseph Manton London 28 gauge, Sidelock, Shotgun, Purdey Action, 28″ barrels

Joseph Manton work was so good that  Colonel Peter Hawker, the 19th century sportsman and writer, is said to have called Manton ‘The greatest artist in firearms that ever the world produced.”

Unfortunately, other than its name and the traditions it carries on, the double you see here has no connection Joseph Manton or to the Manton family. Instead, it was made in the 1980s by a team of British craftsmen, one of whom owned the rights to the name Joseph Manton.

Joseph Manton London 28 gauge, Sidelock, Shotgun, Purdey Action, 28" barrels
Joseph Manton London 28 gauge, Sidelock, Shotgun, Purdey Action, 28″ barrels

Regardless, it’s not the name on the gun that matters, but rather skill that went into building it. And from what I can see, a tremendous amount of skill went into building this side-by-side.

(BTW: Since this gun was made, the name Joseph Manton name passed to other owners. You can find out more about the guns they’re building here.)

Joseph Manton London 28 gauge, Sidelock, Shotgun, Purdey Action, 28″ barrels: 2-3/4″ chambers, auto-ejectors, choked tight improved cylinder and modified (.009/.016).  London proof 1986.  Narrow tapered raised game rib.  Built on a finely scaled Purdey-type self-opening action.  Extensively engraved with a bold foliate scroll and vibrant case color hardened finish.  Single trigger, auto-safe.  Straight hand stock of classic French walnut with contrasting grain and black and gold fiddleback measures 14-1/8″ to a checkered butt, splinter forend.  The diminutive size is reflected as this little gun tips the scale at a mere 5 lbs, 3 oz.  The 28″ barrels give this gun a forward bias and truly lively feel in the hand! Simply outstanding!  Cased in lightweight leather trunk case. Price: $57,000

Joseph Manton London 28 gauge, Sidelock, Shotgun, Purdey Action, 28" barrels
Joseph Manton London 28 gauge, Sidelock, Shotgun, Purdey Action, 28″ barrels
Joseph Manton London 28 gauge, Sidelock, Shotgun, Purdey Action, 28" barrels
Joseph Manton London 28 gauge, Sidelock, Shotgun, Purdey Action, 28″ barrels
Joseph Manton London 28 gauge, Sidelock, Shotgun, Purdey Action, 28" barrels
Joseph Manton London 28 gauge, Sidelock, Shotgun, Purdey Action, 28″ barrels
Joseph Manton London 28 gauge, Sidelock, Shotgun, Purdey Action, 28" barrels
Joseph Manton London 28 gauge, Sidelock, Shotgun, Purdey Action, 28″ barrels
Joseph Manton London 28 gauge, Sidelock, Shotgun, Purdey Action, 28" barrels
Joseph Manton London 28 gauge, Sidelock, Shotgun, Purdey Action, 28″ barrels
Joseph Manton London 28 gauge, Sidelock, Shotgun, Purdey Action, 28" barrels
Joseph Manton London 28 gauge, Sidelock, Shotgun, Purdey Action, 28″ barrels

A nice 12g James Purdey & Sons SxS at an OK price …

James Purdey and Sons Side-By-Side 12 Gauge
James Purdey and Sons Side-By-Side 12 Gauge

A friend of mine hates Purdeys. Even though he’s as much of a double dork as I am, he just can’t stand how people fall all over themselves for any shotgun with P-U-R-D-E-Y on the lockplate.

I get what he’s saying. I’ve seen guys foam at the mouth for tired, shot out SxSs by this maker and then dismiss a lesser known, top-quality doubles in much better condition.

But that’s the power of a name. And to be fair, Purdeys are fabulous shotguns (if they’re in nice, original condition). When you own one, you’re getting top quality, plus all the fame and mystique that comes with owning a true, best-quality, London-made SxS.

If you’re in the market for Purdey today, this is one worth considering. It looks very original, and the price is pretty reasonable.

James Purdey and Sons Side-By-Side 12 Gauge
James Purdey and Sons Side-By-Side 12 Gauge

James Purdey and Sons Side-By-Side 12 Gauge: Featured here is a rare Heavy Field Gun built by James Purdey and Sons in 1928 (serial number 23486, barrel assembly numbers 57810 and 57811). This gun features Frederick Beesley’s famous self-opening (or “self-operating”) action. This gun was originally built with 3 inch chambers. It has Purdey’s interpretation of the Greener patent single inertia trigger (combined with Purdey’s 1911 single trigger patent). As with most all of Purdey’s Heavy Field Gun, this gun has 30 inch barrels, side clips, and Purdey’s patent third fastener (or “third bite”). Barrel wall thickness measures .030 inch six inches back from the muzzles for both barrels. Price: $23,999.99

James Purdey and Sons Side-By-Side 12 Gauge
James Purdey and Sons Side-By-Side 12 Gauge

Manufacturer: 1928
Caliber: 12 Gauge
Chambers: Factory 3 Inch
Metal Condition: Very Good 90%
Wood Condition: Very Good 85%
Bore Condition: Very Good
Barrels: 30 Inch .0285 / .030 BWT at 9 Inch from muzzle
Triggers: Single
Stock: Walnut
Stock Dimensions:
14 Inch LOP, 1 1/2 Inch DAC, 2 1/8 Inch DAH, 1/8 Inch Cast Off
Butt Pad: Wood Checker
Weight: 7 Lbs 9.7 Oz

James Purdey and Sons Side-By-Side 12 Gauge
James Purdey and Sons Side-By-Side 12 Gauge

Sights: Bead
Chokes: -.009/ -.021

One of my favorite doubles: The Beesley “Shotover” O/U shotgun…

FREDERICK BEESLEY SHOTOVER 12 GAUGE OVER UNDER
FREDERICK BEESLEY SHOTOVER 12 GAUGE OVER UNDER

What do you get when one of England’s most inventive gunsmiths takes on the O/U? The gun shown here – a Frederick Beesley “Shotover”.

In 1880, Frederick Beesley created the Beesley-Purdey Self Opener, one of England’s most successful shotgun actions- the Beesley-Purdey Self Opener. He invented the Shotover in 1913, four years after Boss & Co. created came out with their revolutionary over under. While the Shotover shares some similarities with Boss’s design, it’s really a much different gun. To learn about what makes it so special, check out this article by Morris L. Hallowell IV. I have a feeling the gun you see here is the same 12g featured in that piece.

FREDERICK BEESLEY SHOTOVER 12 GAUGE OVER UNDER: EXTREMELY RARE BRITISH OVER UNDER 30″ BARRELS 011 AND 020 2 3/4 SINGLE TRIGGER EJECTORS FIELD FOREARM PISTOL GRIP MAKERS CASE EXCELLENT ORIGINAL CONDITION WITH REBLACKED BARRELS AND VIVID ORIGINAL CASE COLORS 6LBS 14 OZ X 2 X 1 1/4 X 14 1/2. Price: $35,000.

FREDERICK BEESLEY SHOTOVER 12 GAUGE OVER UNDER
FREDERICK BEESLEY SHOTOVER 12 GAUGE OVER UNDER
FREDERICK BEESLEY SHOTOVER 12 GAUGE OVER UNDER
FREDERICK BEESLEY SHOTOVER 12 GAUGE OVER UNDER
FREDERICK BEESLEY SHOTOVER 12 GAUGE OVER UNDER
FREDERICK BEESLEY SHOTOVER 12 GAUGE OVER UNDER
FREDERICK BEESLEY SHOTOVER 12 GAUGE OVER UNDER
FREDERICK BEESLEY SHOTOVER 12 GAUGE OVER UNDER
FREDERICK BEESLEY SHOTOVER 12 GAUGE OVER UNDER
FREDERICK BEESLEY SHOTOVER 12 GAUGE OVER UNDER
FREDERICK BEESLEY SHOTOVER 12 GAUGE OVER UNDER
FREDERICK BEESLEY SHOTOVER 12 GAUGE OVER UNDER
FREDERICK BEESLEY SHOTOVER 12 GAUGE OVER UNDER
FREDERICK BEESLEY SHOTOVER 12 GAUGE OVER UNDER
FREDERICK BEESLEY SHOTOVER 12 GAUGE OVER UNDER
FREDERICK BEESLEY SHOTOVER 12 GAUGE OVER UNDER
FREDERICK BEESLEY SHOTOVER 12 GAUGE OVER UNDER
FREDERICK BEESLEY SHOTOVER 12 GAUGE OVER UNDER
FREDERICK BEESLEY SHOTOVER 12 GAUGE OVER UNDER
FREDERICK BEESLEY SHOTOVER 12 GAUGE OVER UNDER
FREDERICK BEESLEY SHOTOVER 12 GAUGE OVER UNDER
FREDERICK BEESLEY SHOTOVER 12 GAUGE OVER UNDER
FREDERICK BEESLEY SHOTOVER 12 GAUGE OVER UNDER
FREDERICK BEESLEY SHOTOVER 12 GAUGE OVER UNDER
FREDERICK BEESLEY SHOTOVER 12 GAUGE OVER UNDER
FREDERICK BEESLEY SHOTOVER 12 GAUGE OVER UNDER

Did John Dickson & Son build Purdey shotguns? Yes…

16-BORE BEESLEY 1880 PATENT SELF-OPENING SIDELOCK EJECTOR, serial no. 6553
16-BORE BEESLEY 1880 PATENT SELF-OPENING SIDELOCK EJECTOR, serial no. 6553

Bespoke. In the shotgun world, it describes a custom made. A side-by-side or over under for you. Gauge, wood quality, engraving, grip style, barrel length, chokes, weight, triggers, and stock dimensions are a few of the features we imagine “bespeaking”.

But in the Golden Age of gunmaking, bespoke went beyond this. In the case of this side-by-side by John Dickson & Son – Scotland’s most famous maker built a shotgun on London’s famous Beesley action.

The Beesley action is ingenious. But compared to other sidelock designs, it’s complex and a pain to build. That’s why so few makers copied it.

Atkin used the Beesley on their Spring Openers, and Francotte used it on a few of his Best-quality sidelocks. But that’s about it. If other makers used the Beesley action, I haven’t seen these shotguns.

16-BORE BEESLEY 1880 PATENT SELF-OPENING SIDELOCK EJECTOR, serial no. 6553
16-BORE BEESLEY 1880 PATENT SELF-OPENING SIDELOCK EJECTOR, serial no. 6553

So why did Dickson do it? They created the Round Action, one of the most elegant side-by-sides of all time. Why would they build a shotgun on another company’s design? I suspect it’s simple: that’s what the customer wanted.

Lot 150: JOHN DICKSON & SON. A RARE 16-BORE BEESLEY 1880 PATENT SELF-OPENING SIDELOCK EJECTOR, serial no. 6553: 28in. nitro reproved chopperlump barrels (in 2013, require bluing), rib gold-inlaid ‘2’ and engraved ‘JOHN DICKSON & SON. 63 PRINCES STREET. EDINBURGH’, 2 3/4in. chambers, bored approx. 1/4 and 1/2 choke, wall thicknesses below recommended minimum, incorporating Beesley patent self-opening system, patent no. 31 of 3rd January 1880, toplever gold-inlaid ‘2’, automatic safety with gold-inlaid ‘SAFE’ detail, bold acanthus scroll engraving with decorative borders, the underside with a cartouche engraved ‘JOHN DICKSON & SON. EDINBURGH’, (some wear), 14 1/2in. replacement stock, weight 6lb.

16-BORE BEESLEY 1880 PATENT SELF-OPENING SIDELOCK EJECTOR, serial no. 6553
16-BORE BEESLEY 1880 PATENT SELF-OPENING SIDELOCK EJECTOR, serial no. 6553

Provenance: The makers have kindly informed us that this shotgun was completed as No.2 of a pair of ‘best sidelock hammerless ejectors (Purdey actions)’ with 28in. barrels in September 1913 for A.M. Spence.

Estimate £1,500-2,500

Auction alert: a 16 gauge Purdey double barrel shotgun……

16 gauge James Purdey & Sons Double Barrel Side-by-Side Shotgun
16 gauge James Purdey & Sons Double Barrel Side-by-Side Shotgun

Auctions are exciting. You never know what you’re going to find, and you never know who is going to show up to bid. Can you get buys at them? Yes. But you can also get burned.

Affiliated Auctions & Realty in Tallahassee, FL, is having their Fine Art & Military auction this weekend. There are a few shotguns in the sale, including this decent looking Purdey.

From what I can see, this shotgun looks like it’s in decent, original condition. But there are a few things about the shotgun that worry me: the right-side lockplace tooks proud to the metal and the wood around it looks too worn. The bbls look a bit sketchy, too.

16 gauge James Purdey & Sons Double Barrel Side-by-Side Shotgun
16 gauge James Purdey & Sons Double Barrel Side-by-Side Shotgun

I reached out to the auctioneer for more info on this stuff, but they never responded to my emails. This makes me give this sale 4-stars for Buyer Beware. If you want this gun, be sure you take a good, close look at it. If you’re brave and want to bid online, remember this: New bbls, done right, cost at least $12,000.

Here more info about the shotgun, as provided by the seller:

16 gauge James Purdey & Sons Double Barrel Side-by-Side Shotgun
16 gauge James Purdey & Sons Double Barrel Side-by-Side Shotgun

James Purdey & Sons Best 16 gauge Double Barrel Shotgun: With ties to the well known Welaunee Plantation of Leon County, Florida. 26 inch barrels with solid rib. barrels marked “J Purdey & Sons Audley House South Audley Street London” on left barrel, and “Made of Sir Joseph Whitworth’s Fluid Pressed Steel” on right. Marked “Made in England” under fore end, and numbered “1” and marked “WN” on inside surface of actual fore end piece. Serial number 24019 marked on lower tang behind trigger guard, on each barrel under fore end, and on inside surface of fore end. British crown over “V” proof on water table, as well as well as more proof marks on barrels on either side of lug. Action and side plates have an extensive tight English scroll and rose engraving, extending to blue break lever, trigger guard, trigger guard plate and forearm hardware. Side plates boast the “J. PURDEY & SONS” name on each side. Tang mounted safety with gold “SAFE”, and break lever engraved with a “1”. multi point checkered walnut forearm and grip with tear drop flats. Escutcheon on bottom of stock is monogrammed “MF” from the original owner, Margaret Fleischman of Welaunee Plantation, who gifted the gun circa 1960 to the grandfather of the seller. Bores are bright and clean, and bluing on barrels is about 85-90%, with some thinning and fading from handling. Most of case coloring remains visible, but slightly dulled on receiver. Stock shows significant handling, under dark patina, with what appears to be light moisture damage to finish near butt plate. Gun is in overall good condition, retaining the classic elegance of a fine sporting gun, and an intriguing journey from north Florida sporting plantation history. This lot has a reserve. EST $13,000-$18,000

Comparing double rifles by Holland & Holland & James Purdey…

A .303 side-by-side double rifle by James Purdey & Sons
A .303 side-by-side double rifle by James Purdey & Sons
Side-by-side double rifles by James Purdey &  Holland & Holland
Side-by-side double rifles by James Purdey & Holland & Holland
Side-by-side double rifle Holland & Holland
Side-by-side double rifle Holland & Holland
Side-by-side double rifles by James Purdey & Holland & Holland
Side-by-side double rifles by James Purdey & Holland & Holland
Extension on a James Purdey & Sons .303 Side by Side Double Rifle
Extension on a James Purdey & Sons .303 Side by Side Double Rifle
Holland & Holland case label, circa 1895
Holland & Holland case label, circa 1895
H&H ammo on left, .303 Purdey ammo on right
H&H ammo on left, .303 Purdey ammo on right
James Purdey & Sons case label, circa 1895
James Purdey & Sons case label, circa 1895

Last week I put up this post about shooting a James Purdey & Sons .303 double rifle. I had a lot of questions about that rifle, and I wanted to share some more pictures of it with you.

I also snapped some pics of a Holland & Holland double rifle that I saw the same day. The H&H was made for a larger cartridge. But because the cartridge was a black-powder load that generated lower pressures, H&H made this rifle much smaller and trimmer.

 

A great video about James Purdey & Sons….

James Purdey & Sons is one of the world’s most famous gunmakers – and for good reason. They’ve been making some of the world’s finest rifles and shotguns for almost 200 years. This video is an interesting look inside the company. It’s good, but long (1 hour and 30 minutes). To make it easier to watch, here’s a cheat sheet of times & topics. The things I do for you!

00:00 – 10:00 – General History, with Richard Purdey
10:00 – 27:48 – Evolution of the Purdey Shotgun
27:49 – 32:40 – Inside the Purdey Factor – Barrel Making
32:41 – 39:20 – The Action
39:21 – 50:00 – The Locks
50:00 – 55:30 – The Triggers
55:30 – 1:11:12 – Stocking, unique jobs of Purdey Stockers
1:11:12 – 1:17:28 – Engraving
1:17:28 – 1:30:15 – Regulating & Finishing

Shooting a rare Purdey double rifle…

Purdey .303 Double Barrel Underlever Rifle
Purdey .303 Double Barrel Underlever Rifle

Here’s an as-good-as-it-gets, best quality James Purdey & Sons double rife. Of the 30,000+ firearms that Purdey has made, fewer than 400 of them have been hammerless double rifles.

The one you see here is .303, snap-action underlever, made on a Beesley action and in excellent original condition.

Purdey .303 Double Barrel Underlever Rifle
Purdey .303 Double Barrel Underlever Rifle

 

Purdey .303 Double Barrel Underlever Rifle
Purdey .303 Double Barrel Underlever Rifle

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

 

Darwinism and double barrel shotguns…

Frederick Beesley, London. “Shotover” 12ga. Over/Under shotgun
Frederick Beesley, London. “Shotover” 12ga. Over/Under shotgun

Just like humans, double barrel shotguns have evolved tremendously through the years. The new side-by-sides and over/unders that we see today have benefited from decades of this refinements, and for every design that has made it into the 21st century, many more have have disappeared.

Frederick Beesley’s “Shotover” is one of the forefathers that went extinct. Very few of these over & under shotguns were made, so it’s nice to see this one at Lewis Drake & Associates.

Frederick Beesley, London. Beautiful light weight “Shotover” 12ga. O/U Game gun, ca. 1923. Weight: 6 ¾ Lbs. Stock Dimensions: 14 ¾”x 1 3/8”x 2 5/8”x ¼” cast-off. 29 ¾” steel barrels with 3” chambers and fine bores (.732”/.732”), choked .019”/.019”, and minimum wall thickness of .025”/.026”.  Price: $34,500.00.

Here’s  bit about Beesley’s Shotover that I pinched from the web. I think this is from Diggory Hadoke’s informative and well researched book Vintage Guns for the Modern Shot:

The Beesley ‘Shotover’ Over & Under

Frederick Beesley, London. “Shotover” 12ga. Over/Under shotgun
Frederick Beesley, London. “Shotover” 12ga. Over/Under shotgun

Frederick Beesley, ‘Inventor to the London Trade’ and famed for his Purdey sidelock action was in business on his own account at the time that London makers were turning their attention to over & under shotguns. Typically, Beesley approached the task with ingenuity and originality. His o/u of 1912-13 was called the ‘Shotover’ and is unlike any other in that in order to obtain the best possible angle of strike for the ‘under’ barrel, he turned the lock which fired it upside down (sometimes this was the right lock, sometimes it was the left). This allowed the angle of strike to be horizontal on both barrels rather than having the sharply angled lower barrel striker of other designs. The mainspring is compressed when the gun is closed and the locks incorporate intercepting sears to prevent inadvertent discharge. Unusually, the assisted opening mechanism of the gun works only when the gun has been fired, which is actually when it is most required.

The forend cannot easily be removed as it is fixed to the barrels by a screw at the joint pin. Like the Boss, the ‘Shotover’ uses the bifurcated lump arrangement, which generally produces a shallower action. However, there are additional grips on the underside and a simplified Rigby-Bissel style top extension and vertical bolt. The overall effect is of a solid, large framed gun. However, in 12-bore it typically weighed a modest 6lb 10oz. Beesley also made the gun in 16-bore and, if a lightweight gun was required, as a 5lb 10oz 20-bore. It was fitted with V-spring, adapted Southgate-type, ejectors in the forend. Numerous, slight, variations are found in the ejector systems used from gun to gun, suggesting Beesley continued to refine the gun for some time after it went into production.

Though certainly well engineered (possibly over-engineered) and made in fine quality, the Beesley did not achieve the sales volumes of the Boss or Woodward designs and a side-by-side comparison shows why; it does not quite have their grace of line and proportion and, like the Purdey sextuple-grip gun, built a redundant degree of locking strength into the action, which must have made it very expensive to make. Few examples of ‘The Shotover’ survive and it was certainly only made in small numbers. Beesley died in 1928 and the ‘Shotover’ did not continue in production after World War 2.”

Frederick Beesley, London. “Shotover” 12ga. Over/Under shotgun
Frederick Beesley, London. “Shotover” 12ga. Over/Under shotgun

All pics courtesy Lewis Drake & Associates.

Daily Double: a 12g Purdey, 2-barrel set…


12 gauge Purdey Double Barrel Shotgun
12 gauge Purdey Double Barrel Shotgun

James Purdey & Sons has made a lot of shotguns. Since Purdey the Elder started the business in 1814, his company has turned out 30,000+ shotguns and rifles. This is one reason why you see so many Purdeys on the market today.

While this one looks like many of ones on the market today, there are a few things that set it apart. First, it’s an original two-barrel set. Next, it’s a heavy proofer with side clips, 2 3/4″ chambers and a third fastener. Up third is its condition: this double looks very original. And lastly, there’s the price. t $28,499.99 this Purdey could be a deal. If I had that kind of dough to spare, I would have already bought it.

London auction alert, 4/18: Henry Atkin sidelock…

Here’s another lot at Gavin Gardiner’s April 18th Spring Fine Modern and Vintage Sporting Guns that caught my eye.

Henry Atkin Opening sidelock ejector double barrel shotgun
Henry Atkin Opening sidelock ejector double barrel shotgun

Lot 179: Henry Atkin self-opening 12-bore sidelock ejector, N0. 3296

Catalog info: 29-inch chopper lump barrels with 2 1/2-inch chambers, about 1/4 choke boring, the frame, locks and top lever with border engraving and retaining much original hardening colour, 14 3/4-inch well figured stock including 1/2-inch extension, 6lb. 9oz., nitro proof, leg-of-mutton case. Bores/walls: Lt: 735/25 & Rt: 738/22. Estimate: £4,000-6,000

Pros: Appears to be an Atkin Spring Opener    (built on a Beesley action), lots of original color on the action, unusual engraving pattern.

Cons: Big bores, marginal walls in right barrel, stock extended and probably refinished, barrels probably reblacked.

Henry Atkin opened his own gunmaking business in 1877. In 1907 he introduced his self-opening double. From the Atking, Grant & Lang website: “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.”

 

Good Gun Alert: 20 gauge F. Beesley Boxlock…

In England, 12 gauge shotguns rule. That’s why it seems like you’ll see a dozen or more 12gs for every 16g or 20g double barrel you come across. And because many of the smaller-gauge guns were made for smaller people, these side-by-sides often have shorter barrels and stubby stocks.

20 gauge F. Beesley double barrel shotgun
20 gauge F. Beesley double barrel shotgun

That’s not the case with this Frederick Beesley 20 gauge boxlock ejector coming up to auction this weekend at Poulin’s Antiques. This gun has 28″ barrels and a 14″ stock–the kind of specs you find on most 12g British Boxlocks.

If you’re looking for a nice, lightweight 20 gauge side-by-side shotgun, this clean and very original double may be worth bidding on.

Here’s auctioneer’s complete listing:

Lot #2379: Cal. 20 Ga./ 2 1/2″. S# 2751. Bbl. 28″. Cylinder & 1/2 choke. Bbls. have nitro proof markings for 7/8 oz. of shot. Top rib marked “F. Beesley., 2 St. James’s Street, London, S.W.”

Box lock action with foliate scroll engraving. Automatic ejectors. Dbl. triggers. Checkered splintered forearm & straight grip stock of English walnut. LOP: 14 1/4″ to serrated butt; Drop at comb: 1 9/16″; Drop at butt: 2 3/16″; Weight: 5 lbs 2.3 oz.

CONDITION: bbls. have 80% blued finish with light scratches. Action has 60% case colors on receiver with 70% blue on floorplate & trigger guard. Tight action with sound mechanics. Very good bright bores.

UNATTACHED ACCESSORIES: canvas case with maker’s label containing cleaning rod, oil bottle, pewter parts container & cleaning accessories. (11-2236/DS). CURIO. $3000-4000.

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