Hard to find: A pre-1913 12 gauge L.C. Smith Pigeon grade SxS…

L.C. Smith Hunter Arms Damascus Side by Side Pre-1913 Pigeon Grade Shotgun
L.C. Smith Hunter Arms Damascus Side by Side Pre-1913 Pigeon Grade Shotgun

A hundred years ago, live pigeon shooting was a huge pastime in the U.S. People participated in shoots throughout the country, and the top shots traveled the country–and the world–competing and winning huge amounts of prize money.

Gunmakers responded to this popularity by building shotguns for this sport. Here’s the one that L.C. Smith offered from 1893-1913. It’s a Pigeon grade, and it looks like it’s in excellent original condition. I have to say, I really like it — especially the damascus bbls and the blush of color-case hardening on the action. I love how L.C. Smith finished the fences, too, as well as the overall shape of the stock. Very nice.

According to the L.C. Smith collector’s website:

L.C. Smith Hunter Arms Damascus Side by Side Pre-1913 Pigeon Grade Shotgun
L.C. Smith Hunter Arms Damascus Side by Side Pre-1913 Pigeon Grade Shotgun

“Only 1,397 Pigeon Guns were produced from 1893 through 1913 including four 10 gauge, 1,350 12 gauge, 23 16 gauge, and 20 20 gauge guns. Automatic ejectors were fitted to 883 guns. The catalog (1900) stated: “Our Pigeon Gun is an innovation. Appreciating that there is a demand for a very quick shooting gun, we deliver this grade. The straight grip admits the most rapid work possible and supplies a want long felt by many sportsmen. They are specially adapted to stand the tremendous strain of many heavy loads of nitro powder.” The stock was said to be: “A choice piece of French walnut, beautifully figured. The richness of the color in these finer stocks is superb. They are all finished in oil equal to the best pianos and consequently please the most exacting . . .” Stocks were not straight. could be ordered with a pistol grip and a Monte Carlo. Pigeon Nitro Steel barrels were available in 12 and 16 gauges, and Chainette Damascus barrels were available in 10, 12, and 16 gauges. Twenty gauge guns were available starting in 1907. The 20 gauge guns were only made with Pigeon Nitro Steel barrels. The catalog said: “The engraving is

L.C. Smith Hunter Arms Damascus Side by Side Pre-1913 Pigeon Grade Shotgun
L.C. Smith Hunter Arms Damascus Side by Side Pre-1913 Pigeon Grade Shotgun

handsome and very appropriate for a gun of this character. On one lock plate is engraved with a pigeon in full flight, on the other is a blue rock, and on the extension rib a pigeon in his native home. You will always find an artistic and appropriate finish on Smith Guns . . .” A precious metal bar was inlaid across the rib near the engraved pigeon. Engraved forward of the bar is HUNTER ARMS CO., MAKERS FULTON N.Y. Lightweight guns were available in 12, 16, and 20 gauges, and the Hunter One-Trigger was an option for about $25. The price increased from $125 at the start of production to $150 in 1898, but it dropped to $110 by 1912.”

L.C. Smith Hunter Arms Damascus Side by Side Pre-1913 Pigeon Grade Shotgun
L.C. Smith Hunter Arms Damascus Side by Side Pre-1913 Pigeon Grade Shotgun

L.C. Smith Hunter Arms Damascus Side by Side Pre-1913 Pigeon Grade ShotgunA marvelous example of the Damascus art. This was a real shooter’s gun, well maintained and ready to make friends with some dogs again. Price: $2,899.99

Caliber: 12 Gauge
Chambers: 2-3/4 Inches
Metal Condition: Good. Very pretty damascus pattern. Fine grouse and partridge engravings are all very sharp.
Wood Condition: Good. A few shallow scratches and dents. Fineline checkering is quite flat and worn indicative of a a tool gun carried in the hunting field.

L.C. Smith Hunter Arms Damascus Side by Side Pre-1913 Pigeon Grade Shotgun
L.C. Smith Hunter Arms Damascus Side by Side Pre-1913 Pigeon Grade Shotgun

Bore Condition: Bright and serviceable
Barrels: 30 Inches
Triggers: Double triggers.
Stock: Prince of Wales pistol grip walnut

L.C. Smith Hunter Arms Damascus Side by Side Pre-1913 Pigeon Grade Shotgun
L.C. Smith Hunter Arms Damascus Side by Side Pre-1913 Pigeon Grade Shotgun

Stock Dimensions:
14-3/8 Inch LOP to front trigger
Fore End: Matching walnut splinter
Butt Pad: Black plate.
Weight: 8 Lb – 6 Oz.
Sights: Solid rib with gold bead
Chokes: Measures Full and Full

Rare double alert: 16g L.C. Smith 2E, straight grip, double triggers…

L.C. Smith No. 2 Grade, pic courtesy The L.C. Smith Collector's Association
L.C. Smith No. 2 Grade, pic courtesy The L.C. Smith Collector’s Association

Every gun nut has THE shotgun they’re trying to find. For a friend of mine, it’s 2o gauge Lindner-made Charles Daly with damascus barrels. Another guy I know is searching everywhere for an all original, color-case hardened Belgian-made 20g sidelock with 28″+ tubes.

My holy-grail used to be a 16 gauge L.C. Smith No.2 with a straight grip and double triggers. I spent years trying to track one down. When you look at the gunmaker’s production numbers, it’s easy to see why.

L.C. Smith No. 2 Double Barrel Side-by-Side 16 gauge shotgun
L.C. Smith No. 2 Double Barrel Side-by-Side 16 gauge shotgun

According to the L.C. Smith Collector’s Association, the folks in Fulton made just seven-hundred and ninety-three 16-gauge No. 2s. I bet at least 90% of these had pistol grips, and that’s why one with this configuration are easy hard to find (I’ve owned at least 3).

But swap in a straight grip, ask for double triggers, and now you’ve got a tough gun to track down. L.C. Smith probably set up fewer than thirty 16g No. 2s like this, and I’ve spent a decade looking for one.

L.C. Smith No. 2 Double Barrel Side-by-Side 16 gauge shotgun
L.C. Smith No. 2 Double Barrel Side-by-Side 16 gauge shotgun

In the past few month — bang! — two of them have popped up on the market. When I found the first one, I shocked by the condition – 90%+ all original – and stunned by the price – $8,0000. This one has less of that condition, but the price  is still steep. Of course, it may be the last one you every see:

16 gauge L.C. Smith 2E with an original straight grip and double triggers: Nice, original condition LC Smith 16 GA, grade 2E.  28″ barrels choked .021 modified right and .032 left.  Both bores are .661.  Barrels retain 75-80% original blue.  Engraving is sharp and clear, original case color remains at 50% or so.  Straight hand stock with splinter fore-end.  Checkering is sharp and un-damaged.  Butt stock has an extension added that is so good that is hard to see.(see photos).  LOP is 14 7/8″ to a 1/2″ pad.  DAC 1 5/8, DAH 2 3/4, Cast is neutral.   Mechanically perfect, this one is ready for some action in the field or on the range.  Price: $5,495.00

L.C. Smith No. 2 Double Barrel Side-by-Side 16 gauge shotgun
L.C. Smith No. 2 Double Barrel Side-by-Side 16 gauge shotgun
L.C. Smith No. 2 Double Barrel Side-by-Side 16 gauge shotgun
L.C. Smith No. 2 Double Barrel Side-by-Side 16 gauge shotgun
L.C. Smith No. 2 Double Barrel Side-by-Side 16 gauge shotgun
L.C. Smith No. 2 Double Barrel Side-by-Side 16 gauge shotgun

A couple classics: Check out these vintage American Doubles…

12 gauge L.C. Smith Grade 2 Double Barrel Side-by-Side shotgun
12 gauge L.C. Smith Grade 2 Double Barrel Side-by-Side shotgun

If classic American doubles are your thing, here are two nice ones to check out. This first shotgun is a 12 gauge L.C. Smith No. 2. According the L.C. Smith Collector’s Association, “The No. 2 grade was nicely finished and engraved… and was said to be “just the kind for rough usage.” The Hunter Arms Company made 10,814 of them in 12 gauge, and the twelves are very common on the used market.

I’ve owned a few No. 2s over the years — a 12 gauge and two or three 16s. They were all solid, reliable shotguns. I still own one of the 16s — a real early one that’s a nice grouse gun. There’s another No. 2 that I’ve always wanted: a 16 gauge with a straight grip and double triggers. If you have one and you want to sell, drop me note. I would love to buy it.

Here’s more about the one pictured:

12 gauge L.C. Smith Grade 2 Double Barrel Side-by-Side shotgun
12 gauge L.C. Smith Grade 2 Double Barrel Side-by-Side shotgun

LC Smith Grade 2 – 12 GAUGE with ejectors and chain damascus barrels: Nicely figured stock with sharp checkering. Gun is tight on face. Ejectors are perfectly timed. Three position safety. Bores are excellent with right at .732 and 22/1000 choke (Imp Mod) and left at 31/1000 choke (full). Barrel length is 30″. Chambers are 2 3/4″. Weight of gun is 7 LBS 1/2 OZ. LOP – 14″. Drop at Heel – 2 3/8″. Price: $2,200

The next double is a 20g Ithaca Flues Grade 3. The Ithaca Flues was one of the country’s most popular doubles. But even though the company made 223,000 of them from 1908 to 1926, they didn’t make a whole lot of 20 gauge. They made even fewer of them in Grade 3 with 30′ barrels, so it’s safe to say that this is one very rare American side-by-side:

20 gauge Ithaca Flues Grade 3 Double Barrel Side-by-Side shotgun
20 gauge Ithaca Flues Grade 3 Double Barrel Side-by-Side shotgun

Fantastic Ithaca Flues 20 gauge Grade 3E — 30″ barrels: Rare gun, with ejectors. Beautiful original condition, tight as the day it was built. 80% original color, 95% barrel blue and varnish. Full figured wood with perfect original butt place. Splinter forend with push-button release. Long, 30” barrels. Perfect upland gun. 14 ¼”  x 1 ¾”  X 2 7/8”. Price: $5,500.00

20 gauge Ithaca Flues Grade 3 Double Barrel Side-by-Side shotgun
20 gauge Ithaca Flues Grade 3 Double Barrel Side-by-Side shotgun

Wow- what a cool 10g L.C. Smith…

The 2 7/8″ 10 gauge is a load lost to time. Back in the late 19th century, it was the most popular load in this country and lots of American double barrel shotguns were made to shoot it. But as powders improved and shooting styles changes, more and more hunters swapped their 10s for 12s.

10 gauge L.C. Smith Grade 3 double barrel shotgun
10 gauge L.C. Smith Grade 3 double barrel shotgun

By the beginning of the 20th century, the 10g was pretty much obsolete. While a few were still made, it was a vanishing species. It would be revived a bit when 8 gauge shotguns were banned by the Feds and Ithaca introduced its 3 1/2″, 10g to fill the gap, but it would never reign supreme again.

Here’s a 10g L.C. Smith made towards the end of this gauge’s popularity. It’s a beautiful gun, and rare in a Gr. 3. The Gr. 3s were medium quality Smiths and the company made just 3,790 of them.

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