SuperBritte 16g OU: See how it’s like a SxS turned on its side …

Super Britte - Side Opening - 16 ga - OU - Shotgun
SuperBritte – Side Opening – 16 ga – OU – Shotgun

Of all the odd-ball shotguns I’ve handled, from Darnes and Manufrance Ideals to Lancaster 4-bbls, the SuperBritte is my favorite and the only one I would like to own. Unlike those other weird guns, the SuperBritte’s quirkiness is a benefit–instead of an impediment.

SuperBritte - Side Opening - 16 ga - OU - Shotgun
SuperBritte – Side Opening – 16 ga – OU – Shotgun

While the side-opening action and sidelever look odd, they made the gun extremely trim, lively, and easy to use. Learning how to operate a SuperBritte takes a box of shells or so. Then you discover it’s as easy to shoot as a SxS, but with pointability and precision of an OU.

SuperBritte - Side Opening - 16 ga - OU - Shotgun
SuperBritte – Side Opening – 16 ga – OU – Shotgun

A Belgian gunmaker named Theophile Britte patented the “SUPERBRITTE” side-opening OU shotgun in 1931. “Super” refers to “superimposed” (French for Over Under). Britte — obviously — his name and the name of well-known Belgian gunmaker.

SuperBritte - Side Opening - 16 ga - OU - Shotgun
SuperBritte – Side Opening – 16 ga – OU – Shotgun

The Britte gunmaking company built SuperBrittes from 1932 to 1936. Only 250 of them were completed. Sometime in the 1990s, Griffin & Howe acquired a small collection of finished SuperBritte OUs plus several 12-gauge SuperBritte action/barrel sets. I think the SuperBritte you see here is one of the original, completed guns in the batch Griffin & Howe’s acquired.

SuperBritte - Side Opening - 16 ga - OU - Shotgun
SuperBritte – Side Opening – 16 ga – OU – Shotgun

SuperBritte – Side Opening – 16 ga – OU – Shotgun: Ejectors: Yes, Trigger: Double, Grip: Straight Grip, Forend: Checkered Lop: 15 3/8 “, Pad thickness: 1 ” ,Type of butt: Leather Covered Pad, Drop comb: 1 1/2 “, Drop heel: 2 3/8 “, Cast amount: 3/8 “, Cast: Off, Weight: 6 lbs, 6 oz Manufactured in: Belgium, Finish: Coin, Overall condition: Very Good, Stock condition: Very Good, Metal condition: Very Good, Stock: Original finish, Metal: Original finish, Type of Case: G&H luggage case, Extra barrels: 0 Barrel info: Gauge: 16 ga, Chamber: 2 3/4 “, Length: 27 1/2 “, Chokes: M/IM, Rib type: Solid, Comments : A very unique side open action. Gun is in very good condition. Price: $30,000

Auction alert: exceptional 12 gauge Stephen Grant side by side…

12 gauge Stephen Grant & Sons Best Quality London Sidelock, double barrel SxS shotgun
12 gauge Stephen Grant & Sons Best Quality London Sidelock, double barrel SxS shotgun

Stephen Grant was one of the 19th century’s finest gunmakers. Today, he may be one of the under appreciated. Born in 1821 in Tipperary, Ireland, he started his apprenticeship in Dublin and then moved to London where he worked with Charles Lancaster and Thomas Boss.

In 1867, Grant went out on his own. He quickly became one of England’s top gunmakers with warrants from cream-of-the-crop royals like the Prince of Wales, Queen Elizabeth, and the King of Spain, as well as orders from Aristos and rich people from around the world. By the time of his death in 1898, Stephen Grant was one of London’s most respected gunmakers. If you take a good look at the wonderful 12 gauge Stephen Grant pictured here, you’ll see why – and why his shotguns are as nice as anything turned out by Purdey, Holland & Holland, or Boss.

12 gauge Stephen Grant Double Barrel Shotgun with Sidelever, 1897
12 gauge Stephen Grant Double Barrel Shotgun with Sidelever, 1897

This Grant is coming up in Little John’s annual May antique and sporting guns auction which starts today. It was made around 1897. The tight, scroll engraving, fluted fences, and sidelever-action are all signature styles of Grant doubles. I’m 99.9% certain that it was re-barrelled by Atkin, Grant & Lang in the 1950s, and the new, fluid-steel bbls look like they’re close to untouched since then. Here’s more about it from the auctioneer:

12 gauge Stephen Grant Double Barrel Shotgun with Sidelever, 1897
12 gauge Stephen Grant Double Barrel Shotgun with Sidelever, 1897

Lot 545: 12 gauge Stephen Grant & Sons Best Quality London Sidelock, double barrel SxS shotgun: Serial # 6957. Originally one of a pair. The gun is cased in and leather covered oak case. 28” barrels, double triggers, auto-ejectors. Nitro proved for 2 ½” shells, 3 ton proof on each barrel. Choke IC/Mod. Barrels show 90% to 95% original blue with good sharp markings and edges with wall thickness measuring .35 right and .38 left. The action and lock plates retain 50% to 70% original case hardening. The stocks are very good plus with excellent wood to metal fit and crisp checkering. 14 ¼” LOP, 2 1/4” drop at the heel and 2” drop at the comb with slight cast off approximately ¼” at the toe and 5/8” at heel . The bore is bright. The case shows a red felt interior with some slight repairs in areas where rubbed but is in overall at least good to very good condition. Est.: $5000-$10,000

12 gauge Stephen Grant Double Barrel Shotgun with Sidelever, 1897
12 gauge Stephen Grant Double Barrel Shotgun with Sidelever, 1897
12 gauge Stephen Grant Double Barrel Shotgun with Sidelever, 1897
12 gauge Stephen Grant Double Barrel Shotgun with Sidelever, 1897
12 gauge Stephen Grant Double Barrel Shotgun with Sidelever, 1897
12 gauge Stephen Grant Double Barrel Shotgun with Sidelever, 1897

Auction alert: a super rare 12g Boss hammergun with ejectors…

12 gauge Boss hammer ejector double barrel shotgun
12 gauge Boss hammer ejector double barrel shotgun

Of the big three London makers, Boss has made the fewest guns – and probably the best. And of all the guns they’ve made to date (about 10,500), this hammergun may be one of the nicest:

Lot 1810: BOSS & CO.  AN EXCEPTIONALLY RARE 12-BORE SIDELEVER HAMMER EJECTOR GUN: Serial no. 4016,  30in. replacement nitro chopperlump barrels (by the makers, barrel number 5324), rib engraved ‘BOSS & CO. 73 ST. JAMES’S STREET. LONDON.’, and gold-inlaid ‘2’, 2 1/2in. chambers, bored approx. true cyl. and 1/2 choke, carved percussion fences, Perkes-patent ejector system, rebounding sidelocks, retaining very slight traces of original colour-hardening, 14 1/2in. highly-figured stock with engraved steel heel and toe plates, engraved Anson push rod fore-end release catch, weight 6lb. 10oz. £10,000-15,000

12 gauge Boss hammer ejector double barrel shotgun
12 gauge Boss hammer ejector double barrel shotgun

The Kings of Condition…

When it comes to collecting vintage shotgun, there are three things I focus on: condition, condition, & condition. Take a look at the hammer prices in an auction catalog and you’ll see why: original condition holds its value and sells, and I want to buy side-by-side shotguns that are going to be worth more in the future, not less.

Stephen Grant 12g Double Barrel Shotgun
Stephen Grant 12g Double Barrel Shotgun

With this in mind, here are a couple guns that really caught my eye last weekend at the Southern Side by Side. Both of these double barrel shotguns– a Charles Lancaster and a Stephen Grant–are awfully original (the buttstock on the Lancaster had been cut and the bbls on the Grant were rebrowned). But considering that both gun were made in the 1870s and the amount of original color, blueing, and wood finish they had, I still wanted both guns.

The Charles Lancaster is a very odd gun: a 16g with a sidelever. Charles Lancaster was actually Charles William Lancaster. His father had the same name and both of them were barrel men and gunmakers of the first order. Charles Lancaster, Sr., founded this firm of gun makers in 1826. He was located at 151 New Bond Street, London. His eldest son, Charles William Lancaster, joined him in about 1845. Both of them were well known for turning out fantastic guns and they were famous throughout England as barrel makers of the first order.

If there was one gun at the Southern that just stunk of class, the Stephen Grant was it. It is a quintessential British hammergun. This gun was made in 1877 and it has all the classic Grant features: including a sidelever and the Grant & Hodge’s Patent action. The gun also had toe and heel plates. It was fantastic.

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