See a forgotten American classic: 8 gauge Sneider SxS …

8-gauge Sneider, Baltimore, SxS Double Barrel Hammerless Shotgun, 1880
8-gauge Sneider, Baltimore, SxS Double Barrel Hammerless Shotgun, 1880

Charles Sneider is a name few people think of when they think of American shotgun makers. And for good reason.

Front cover of an original Clark & Sneider catalog
Front cover of an original Clark & Sneider catalog, 1880 or so. Charles Sneider joined with Duncan Clark for a while to form Clark & Sneider

Even though he was talented and inventive, Sneider’s business was tiny. Over the course of his career, he may have built 500 guns — and that’s probably a big stretch. Compare that to Parker Bros., who built 225,000+ shotguns while they around.

Page from Original Clark & Sneider catalog
Page from Original Clark & Sneider catalog, showing their new hammerless gun

But the guns Sneider did build were highly regarded, especially by waterfowlers on the Chesapeake Bay. Sneider’s business was in Baltimore and he could smell the bay from his shop. Side-by-sides like the 8-gauge you see here didn’t have to go very far from his bench to get into some shooting.

8-gauge Sneider, Baltimore, SxS Double Barrel Hammerless Shotgun, 1880
8-gauge Sneider, Baltimore, SxS Double Barrel Hammerless Shotgun, 1880

Sneider started in the gun business as a ‘smith and moved on to converting muzzleloaders to breechloaders and then to building hammer guns. He got into hammerless-shotguns around 1879-1880 with his own, patented design. The gun you see here is built on that design. It’s a $300-grade, 8-gauge Sneider — the company’s top-of-the-line shotgun, and it appears to be in solid original condition.

8-gauge Sneider, Baltimore, SxS Double Barrel Hammerless Shotgun, 1880
8-gauge Sneider, Baltimore, SxS Double Barrel Hammerless Shotgun, 1880

In a time when earning $15 a week was killing it, three-hundred dollars was a lot of money to pay for a shotgun. So this SxS was certainly someone’s prized possession, and it looks like they took care of it.

Schematics of the Sneider hammerless shotgun
Schematics of the Sneider hammerless shotgun

Sneider’s design for his hammerless gun incorporated several interesting features, including a sliding locking bolt on the face of the action and a safety positioned on the top edge of the toplever. The locking bolt was a clever solution to a common problem. It stopped the barrels from opening too far and wearing on the hinge pin (which causes a gun to go “off the face”).

8-gauge Sneider, Baltimore, SxS Double Barrel Hammerless Shotgun, 1880
8-gauge Sneider, Baltimore, SxS Double Barrel Hammerless Shotgun, 1880
8-gauge Sneider, Baltimore, SxS Double Barrel Hammerless Shotgun, 1880
8-gauge Sneider, Baltimore, SxS Double Barrel Hammerless Shotgun, 1880

BTW: SxS 8-gauges like this are sometimes called “market guns”. They aren’t and they never were. Market guns were used by commercial waterfowlers, and guys in that business had better things to spend $300 than a gun.

Auction alert: Rare Sneider 8 gauge hammerless sxs…

8 gauge Sneider Baltimore SxS Hammerless Shotgun
8 gauge Sneider Baltimore SxS Hammerless Shotgun

I’ve always been fascinated by 8 gauges. Back in the 19th and in the early 20th century, high-quality eights like the one you see here were used by sportsman to pass shoot ducks, geese & swans. Parker, L.C. Smith & Lefever all made eights. So did smaller American makers like Sneider.

This 8g Sneider was made in the 1880s. When this SxS was built, it was one of the finest hammerless shotguns being made in America — and one of the most innovative.

Charles Edward Sneider learned his trade in Europe and by 1859 he was in Baltimore working for Thomas Poultney & David B. Trimble. By 1865, Sneider was on his own, working in Baltimore from a shop on 66 S Sharp St. In 1874 his sons  — Charles Lewis & Charles William  — were working with him. Charles William filed the patent that created this shotgun in 1880.

8 gauge Sneider Baltimore SxS Hammerless Shotgun
8 gauge Sneider Baltimore SxS Hammerless Shotgun

This patent cocked on the fall of the barrels and the locks used coiled springs, which were thought to be more reliable than leaf springs.  Sneider built several grades of shotguns on this patent. The upper grades (like the one shown here), locked up with a sliding bolt which engaged a bite in the rear barrel lump and top extension. They also featured compensating hinge pin which could be adjusted for wear and a unique sliding barrel stop which kept the barrels from wearing on the hinge pin when the gun was opened.

Front cover of an original Clark & Sneider catalog
Front cover of an original Clark & Sneider catalog

This Sneider is on Gunbroker.com now and the auction ends 6/26/2016 9:00 PM.


Sneider Highgrade 8 GA. SxS
: barrel rib marked “Sneider’s Patent Baltimore MD” Sneider was America’s first true sidelock shotgun. 36″ fine damascus barrels. Nice shinny bore with very small area of light pitting. No dings dents or bulges in barrels. Gun locks up tight and solid. Receiver and trigger guard are beautifully engraved. Dog head on trigger guard. Marsh scene with water foul on side plates. Gun is serial numbered 610 on trigger guard and water table. Small chip at toe of butt plate only – not wood. Chip at end of right side of forearm. Weight 13lbs 14.1 oz. LOP 13 5/8″ & 12 5/8″. DAC 2 1/4″. DAH 3 5/8″

8 gauge Sneider Baltimore SxS Hammerless Shotgun
8 gauge Sneider Baltimore SxS Hammerless Shotgun
Page from Original Clark & Sneider catalog
Page from Original Clark & Sneider catalog
8 gauge Sneider Baltimore SxS Hammerless Shotgun
8 gauge Sneider Baltimore SxS Hammerless Shotgun
8 gauge Sneider Baltimore SxS Hammerless Shotgun
8 gauge Sneider Baltimore SxS Hammerless Shotgun
8 gauge Sneider Baltimore SxS Hammerless Shotgun
8 gauge Sneider Baltimore SxS Hammerless Shotgun
8 gauge Sneider Baltimore SxS Hammerless Shotgun
8 gauge Sneider Baltimore SxS Hammerless Shotgun
8 gauge Sneider Baltimore SxS Hammerless Shotgun
8 gauge Sneider Baltimore SxS Hammerless Shotgun

Another great 8 gauge, this one by E & C Sneider, Baltimore, MD …

Antique Sneider 8 gauge double barrel sxs shotgun
Antique Sneider 8 gauge double barrel sxs shotgun

Here’s a real rare double. It’s an 8g Sneider made in the 1880s. When this SxS was built, it was one of the finest hammerless shotguns being made in America — and one of the most innovative.

E & C Sneider was founded by  Charles Edward Sneider. He learned his trade in Europe and by 1859 he was in Baltimore working for Thomas Poultney & David B. Trimble. By 1865, Sneider was on his own, working in Baltimore from a shop on 66 S Sharp St. In 1874 his sons  — Charles Lewis & Charles William  — were working with him. Charles William filed the patent that created this shotgun in 1880.

This patent cocked on the fall of the barrels and the locks used coiled springs, which were thought to be more reliable than leaf springs. It also featured a unique trigger safety which used a serrated dial on the toplever to engage a rod pointing up from the top of the action. When this dial was pushed forward, it pressed down on this rod and freed the trigger sear for firing.

Antique Sneider 8 gauge double barrel sxs shotgun
Antique Sneider 8 gauge double barrel sxs shotgun

Sneider built several grades of shotguns on this patent. The top grades (like the one shown here), locked up with a sliding bolt which engaged a bite in the rear barrel lump and top extension. They also featured compensating hinge pin which could be adjusted for wear and a unique sliding barrel stop which kept the barrels from wearing on the hinge pin when the gun was opened.

Eight gauges like this were popular up and down the Eastern seaboard. They were far too expensive to buy and be used as “market guns” by commercial hunters. Instead, sportsmen used them to pass shoot ducks, geese & swans.

Here’s more info on this 8g.

C. W. Snieder patent of 1880 for a hammerless shotgun
C. W. Snieder patent of 1880 for a hammerless shotgun

This is a very rare Baltimore made, Antique Sneider 8 gauge shotgun. E &C. Sneider guns where made in Baltimore MD in the 19th century. This one being a high grade 8ga is extremely rare. This gun is well made, heavy and large. The Damascus barrels are 36″ long. They are solid and I see no dents. There is still some Damascus color and swirl. There are some dark spots in the bores, but overall they are clean and shiny. The action is tight. The firing pins look good and overall the gun is in fine functional condition. The engraving is very nice, as you can see. The wood is a high grade and in very good condition. The buttplate is original and nice, but does show a slight gap between the stock. The forend is in fine shape, but it could be a little tighter to the barrels. This is a large and heavy shot gun, weighing 14.6 lbs. A really fine piece for any antique gun collection.

 

Antique Sneider 8 gauge double barrel sxs shotgun
Antique Sneider 8 gauge double barrel sxs shotgun
Antique Sneider 8 gauge double barrel sxs shotgun
Antique Sneider 8 gauge double barrel sxs shotgun
Antique Sneider 8 gauge double barrel sxs shotgun
Antique Sneider 8 gauge double barrel sxs shotgun
Antique Sneider 8 gauge double barrel sxs shotgun
Antique Sneider 8 gauge double barrel sxs shotgun
Antique Sneider 8 gauge double barrel sxs shotgun
Antique Sneider 8 gauge double barrel sxs shotgun
Antique Sneider 8 gauge double barrel sxs shotgunAntique Sneider 8 gauge double barrel sxs shotgun
Antique Sneider 8 gauge double barrel sxs shotgun
Antique Sneider 8 gauge double barrel sxs shotgun
Antique Sneider 8 gauge double barrel sxs shotgun
Antique Sneider 8 gauge double barrel sxs shotgun
Antique Sneider 8 gauge double barrel sxs shotgun
Antique Sneider 8 gauge double barrel sxs shotgun
Antique Sneider 8 gauge double barrel sxs shotgun
Antique Sneider 8 gauge double barrel sxs shotgun
Antique Sneider 8 gauge double barrel sxs shotgun
Antique Sneider 8 gauge double barrel sxs shotgun
Antique Sneider 8 gauge double barrel sxs shotgun

Rare: a a 12g Sneider side-by-side hammerless shotgun…

12 gauge Sneider Hammerless Double Barrel Shotgun
12 gauge Sneider Hammerless Double Barrel Shotgun

It seems odd now, but 150 years ago the “hammerless” centerfire shotgun was a novel design. London’s Theophilus Murcott patented one in 1871, followed by Westley Richards in 1875.

Over here in the US, Daniel Myron Lefever patented his lever-cocking, hammerless design in 1878. Soon after him,  Charles Sneider came out with the design you see here.

12 gauge Sneider double barrel hammerless shotgun
12 gauge Sneider double barrel hammerless shotgun

Sneider was a gunmaker in Baltimore. He started out making hammer guns and then later in his career and introduced hammerless models like this one around 1879-1880. I’m not sure how many guns he made in all, but I’m sure the number is number a fewer than a thousand, and I bet the total number of hammerless models is no more than 200.

I’ve seen a couple hammerless Sneiders, and their quality and elegance impressed me. Take a look at the pics posted here to see what I mean.

12 gauge Sneider double barrel hammerless shotgun
12 gauge Sneider double barrel hammerless shotgun

 

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