Most Belgian double barrel shotguns get a bad rap in this country. Unless they’re by one of the big names, like Francotte or Lebeau Courally, nobody wants them. That’s too bad, really. There a lot of barely know Belgian makers out there, and many of them made fantastic guns. In fact, some of these guns are on par with best-grade shotguns from the big English makers.
The good part of this is that these guns are fantastic values. While you can easily spend 2x-3x more for a bigger English name, or something trendy from Italy, you won’t be buying that much more gun.
Here are a few examples on the market right now:
An Ernest Wilmart 12 gauge sidelock ejector: Of the three gunmakers listed here, Ernest Wilmart is the only one I could find some information on. The firm was founded in 1879. This gun is a very fine sidelock ejector, finished and engraved and a very “Belgian” style. While its aesthetics may not be to your liking, it’s quality is pretty apparent. If this gun had a good decent British name on it, it would be priced in the $15,000 range. Right now, I think it’s still $3000-$4000 over priced. How many guys do you know who are lusting for a Wilmart?
A 12 bore double barrel sidelock ejector by “Fabrication Artisanal Ligeoise”: This is a good gun by a maker who is totally unknown to me. I couldn’t find anything about them, either. Judging by the name, I wonder if they were a cooperative or association of makers? Again, no idea. Regardless, though, this is a quality shotgun.
A DeFourney 16 gauge sidelock ejector side by side: This is a name I’ve heard. There were several DeFourney (or Defournys) in the Liege from about 1870 and on. I’m not sure which one made this gun. But whoever did knew what they were doing. If you put this gun side by side with a Holland & Holland Royal, I think you would have a hard time telling me what makes the Holland worth $20,000 more. This little 16 gauge is THAT nice. These days, the engraving alone would cost more than the $7,000 asking price.