Francotte: “… an imported hand made gun at an American price.”

Francotte Shotguns, from 1938 Abercrombie & Fitch catalog
Francotte Shotguns, from 1938 Abercrombie & Fitch catalog

For most of the 20th century, Abercrombie & Fitch was the most famous name in American sporting goods. From a retail store on NYC’s Madison Avenue, and through catalogs sent out across North American, A&F sold everything from firearms to fishing lures.

In 1938, the first spread of their Rifle-Shotgun catalog opened with the following copy:

“In our opinion the Francotte, famous Belgian gun adapted by us to the American Sportsman and improved over a period of 50 years, represents real gun value second to none. It is, in fact, an imported hand made gun at an American price.”

Three pages of Francottes followed: From the top of the line Eagle Grade Hammerless Ejector No. 45 Quality to the Knockabout Ejector. All these guns featured Siemen-Martin ‘Special’ fluid steel barrels and could be ordered with Greener-crossbolts or doll’s head extensions. They were made made on what A&F called a “Francotte lock action”, said to be an improvement on Anson & Deeley-type boxlock action, and featured Francotte-patent ejectors.

Francotte (Abercrombie & Fitch) 28 gauge SXS Shotgun
Francotte (Abercrombie & Fitch) Quality 30E 28 gauge SXS Shotgun

Price wise, Francottes weren’t cheap. But they weren’t super expensive, either. At a time when a Parker Quality A-1 Special Quality with ejectors was $890, a Parker Quality B.H.E. was $375 and a Fox X.E. was $165, Francotte’s Eagle Grade Hammerless Ejector No. 45 Quality was $550. Their most affordable double — the Francotte Knockabout Ejector — was $175. In between were models like the No. 30 Quality (30E) at $400 and a No. 20 Quality (20E) at $275.

Compared to their American competitors, all these Francotte’s were built on superior designs, featured better finishing and proper scaling, and were more aesthetically pleasing overall. If you had stopped into A&F’s Madison Avenue store and placed a Parker, Fox, and Francotte side by side, it would have been plain to you which one was superior.

Francotte (Abercrombie & Fitch) 28 gague SXS Shotgun
Francotte (Abercrombie & Fitch) Quality 30E 28 gauge SXS Shotgun

Francotte (Abercrombie & Fitch) “30E” 28 gauge SXS ShotgunFrancotte Pre-war (Abercrombie & Fitch) SXS Shotgun. Side plated 28 GA. Ejectors, side clips, 26 inch BBL, Full and Full, Double triggers, 14 1/2 inch pull to horn butt plate with Abercrombie and Fitch Leather case. Bores like new. Price: $17,995

FRANCOTTE MODEL “20E” DOUBLE 20 GAUGE SIDE-BY-SIDE SHOTGUN RETAILED BY ABERCROMBIE & FITCH28″ barrels choked  R: .009″   L: .030″.   Engraved sideplate action with auto ejectors, side clips, hiddend third bite (crossbolt with rib extension), double triggers, top lever.  Checkered splinter forend and semi-pistol grip buttstock.  Stock measurements:   Comb: 1 1/2″  Heel: 2 1/2″  LOP: 14 1/4″ to a horn buttplate.  Weight 5lbs 13oz.   In beautiful original condition retaining nearly all of the casehardened finish on the action and sideplates.   Trigger guard and top lever have all of the high polish charcoal blue remaining.  Barrels showing 98% original blue with the maker’s  and A&F’s names engraved on top.  “A FRANCOTTE MAKER” and patent info on the left  sideplate at the bottom.  Excellent wood and checkering. 1949 mfg. Price: $8,750

FRANCOTTE MODEL "20E" DOUBLE 20 GAUGE SIDE-BY-SIDE SHOTGUN RETAILED BY ABERCROMBIE & FITCH
FRANCOTTE MODEL “20E” DOUBLE 20 GAUGE SIDE-BY-SIDE SHOTGUN RETAILED BY ABERCROMBIE & FITCH

EARLY FRANCOTTE 12 GAUGE DOUBLE EJECTOR GUN: 26″ damascus steel barrels, auto ejecgtors, beautiful scroll engraved sideplates and relief engraved fences.  Double triggers, top lever, double underlocking lugs with Greener type third bite.  Bores measure .729″ both barrels with walls over .030″   Chokes:  R: .003″  L: .033″   Weight: 6lbs 7oz.    Stock measures   Comb: 1 1/2″   Heel: 2″  LOP: 14 1/2″ over a thin English hardrubber pad.  The barrels retain all of the beautiful damascus pattern,  The action showing lovely subdued case colors.  Mint bores, excellent checkering and varnish.  This would make a perfect bird gun. Price: $5,950

EARLY FRANCOTTE 12 GAUGE DOUBLE EJECTOR GUN
EARLY FRANCOTTE 12 GAUGE DOUBLE EJECTOR GUN

Good gun alert: A great looking 12g Greifelt O/U …

Greifelt Over/Under German 12 ga Shotgun.
Greifelt Over/Under German 12 ga Shotgun.

Here is a fantastic shotgun. It’s a 12g Greifelt Grade No. 1 over under. This shotgun was built on a boxlock-style OU action, and it features Purdey-style underbites and a Kersten-style topbolt. It is incredibly well made.

Check out how fine the slots are on the pins in the action. Look at the checkering. Take a close look out the engraving. Now try to find that kind of quality on another gun priced at $2499.99.

Firearms with stacked barrels have been around for hundred of years. But they did’t take off until German makers like Merkel and then London’s Boss & Co. started building them. I’m not sure when the first German-made OUs made it into the US, but I’m pretty sure Boss’s design could be ordered through retailers here soon after the gun was patented in 1909.

Greifelt Over/Under German 12 ga Shotgun.
Greifelt Over/Under German 12 ga Shotgun.

Von Lengerke & Detmold in NYC imported Greifelt OUs in the 1920s. Back then, the Grade No. 1 was a $400 gun and a Parker BHE cost around $330.00. Stoeger was imported Merkels at around the same time, and an outfit called Sloan’s was bringing in German-made OUs made built by Heym and Adamy.

If you have an old German OU, please let me know. I love these guns, and I’m always on the lookout for them.

Greifelt Over/Under German 12 ga Shotgun. Price: $2,499.99

Caliber: 12 ga.
Chambers: 2 3/4″
Metal Condition: nice
Wood Condition: good
Bore Condition: Bright and Shiny
Barrels: 26″

Greifelt Over/Under German 12 ga Shotgun.
Greifelt Over/Under German 12 ga Shotgun.

Triggers: dual
Stock: Walnut
Stock Dimensions:
13″ and `14″ LOP
Fore End: Splinter Checkered
Butt Pad: Black plastic
Sights: Front Bead on close rib
Chokes: Skeet and Imp Cyl
Extras: ejectors

Greifelt Over/Under German 12 ga Shotgun.
Greifelt Over/Under German 12 ga Shotgun.
Greifelt Over/Under German 12 ga Shotgun.
Greifelt Over/Under German 12 ga Shotgun.

Auction alert: lightweight 12 gauge Prussian Lindner Charles Daly side by side

Prussian. Lindner-made Charles Daly Empire Grade Double Barrel, Side by Side, Boxlock ejector, Shotgun
Prussian. Lindner-made Charles Daly Empire Grade Double Barrel, Side by Side, Boxlock ejector, Shotgun

Here’s another Charles Daly side-by-side that’s selling at auction tomorrow. This is a Prussian/Lindner-made Daly, and if you follow this blog at all you know how much I like these shotguns. If you don’t follow it, you can read more about these Prussian/Lindner-made Dalys here.

Prussian Charles Daly Empire Grade Double Ejector shotgun: Serial #1051, 12 ga., 28″ matted rib Krupp steel barrels choked skeet and improved modified with bright excellent bores. The barrels retain 98% original blue having scattered scratches, particularly around the breech end and some fading at the muzzles. The scalloped frame is embellished with a panel of scroll and the Charles Daly name on both sides and it exhibits 80% vibrant case colors with some fading around the balls of the fences and on the bottom plate. The triggerguard also exhibits good color but showing a silver tang.

Prussian Charles Daly Empire Grade Double Ejectorgun, 12 gauge, Lightweight
Prussian Charles Daly Empire Grade Double Ejectorgun, 12 gauge, Lightweight

The nicely figured round knob pistol grip stock rates very good to excellent having a few handling marks over a gentle refinishing and very fine checkering with some rounded diamonds. The splinter forearm has a lever release which still exhibits some fading color and an ebony tip, and also rates very good to excellent as lightly refinished with fine crisp checkering.

The stock has a gold monogram plate in the toeline and an expertly added leather covered recoil pad providing a length of 14 1/4″ and drops of 1 5/8″ at the comb and 2 1/2″ at the heel with no cast. The gun features double triggers, ejectors, and automatic safety, and weighs 6 lbs. 3 ozs. This is a beautiful Lindner Daly built with the precision and craftsmanship that is the hallmark of these early Prussian doubles, and would make a wonderful lightweight upland double. (Estimate $3000/$4000)

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