You may never see a Woodward like this again….

Woodward_20g_Rounded ActionWow! Here’s unusual double barrel shotgun: a 20g James Woodward & Son, London, Round Body Under & Over. Lewis Drake & Associates has it on their site. Guns like this are they reason why Drake has a reputation for stocking some the finest doubles available anywhere.

This Woodward has 26″ bbls, a straight grip, and it was made in 1935. To get another look at it’s round action, check out this image.

While 20g Woodwards are hard find, Round Bodies like this are almost unheard of. I believe Christie’s auctioned off a few of them 5-6 years ago as part of Sir Joseph Nickerson’s collection. Woodward also made at least one 16g O/U Round Body. There’s a great color picture of it on Plate 15 of Boothroyd’s The British Over-And-Under Shotgun. I’m not sure if they made any more.

Check out this image to see how a Round Body compares to a standard “square frame” WoodwaStandard Woodward 20g O/Urd 20g O/U. This one is coming up at Julia’s in October 2008 (lots more great guns). It features 2 sets of bbls: 28″ and 32″.

In 1909, Boss & Co introduced their famous over-under-shotgun. James Woodward & Son followed up with their “Under and Over” gun in 1913. They ceased in 1948 when Purdey bought them out. Overall, they couldn’t have made more than 1,000 of them – probably a lot less.

Of those, most were 12gs – the UK’s favorite gauge for breechloading shotguns. Woodward also made O/Us in 16s, 20s, and at least one in .410 ( auctioned off for $200,000 in 1999). They may have some 28g O/Us, but I’ve never seen one.

Like all British bests, Woodward O/Us were expensive. In 1929, Abercrombie & Fitch charged $1,100 for a new Woodward O/U. At the same time, a new Purdey SxS cost $965 and a Parker CHE went for $245. In 1932, Ford’s new V-8 Cabriolet cost $610.

When they were first introduced, a lot of shooters were skeptical about O/U shotguns. Because of this, Woodward went out of their way to sell this gun. Below is the lengthy description Woodward gave their O/U gun in an old catalog. It covered 6 pages while the writeup for their standard SxS was just 2 pages long.

Woodward’s Patent “Under & Over” or Vertical Barrel Gun

The idea of building a gun with superimposed barrels instead of in the usual horizontal manner is not new, as it was employed to a certain extent in muzzle-loading days. We think, however, that we can claim to have made the first hammerless ejector gun on this principle as our initial attempt in this direction was made in 1908. The method of jointing the barrels to the action was on similar lines to the ordinary pattern gun: that is to say, the lugs or steels were placed underneath the barrels, the usual type of bolt securing the barrels to the action. We found, however, that this system was not satisfactory as the action had to be much deeper than usual to accommodate the barrels, the result being that the gun had a rather clumsy appearance.

We therefore made experiments with a view to placing the lugs at the side of the barrels instead of underneath them, but the chief objection was the difficulty of preventing the barrels from working loose in the action. This difficulty, however, was entirely overcome by a system of interlocking the barrels into the action which we designed and patented in 1913. From the first the gun was a conspicuous success, as extensive trials soon proved that the jointing is actually stronger than that of the ordinary pattern gun owing to it having two solid joint pins and a double acting bolt on each side of the barrels, coupled with the interlocking device which makes the barrels and action practically solid when the breech is closed.

Nearly all other makers of vertical barrel guns are designed with the lumps underneath the barrels (in exactly the same manner as our original “Under and Over” gun which we made in 1908) but in our opinion this system is totally wrong, as apart from the gun’s bad appearance the breech has to be opened much wider for loading than our gun and the bolt has to be placed so low down in the action to engage with the lumps that a top fastening is necessary, which interferes with quick loading.

The ejectors on our “Under and Over” gun are fitted with flat mainsprings instead of the coil springs fitted on all other makes of vertical barrel guns. The advantage of the flat spring is that it retains its strength indefinitely and does not require frequent renewal as do coil springs. The Woodward “Under and Over” gun has long passed the experimental stage, and since 1918 we have been continuously at work on orders, not only for this country but for America where the demand is increasing every year. We have introduced many detail improvements from time to time, and we now manufacture this gun confident that it will give the same service and reliability as the ordinary pattern gun.

Our “Under and Over” gun will be found to effect a considerable improvement in one’s shooting, its advantages over the ordinary pattern gun being that it provides very much quicker alignment, reduces recoil, and the shooter never loses sight of an overhead bird. Also, the gun feels considerably lighter in handling than what is actually scales, owing to its perfect balance and even distribution of weight.

We build this gun in 12, 16, and 20 gauge with any length barrel desired. Our 20-gauge “Under and Over” is greatly fancied by American sportsman, who usually order it with 28-inch barrels and chambered for the 2 3/4-inch cartridge. With 7/8-oz. of shot we can guarantee patterns of 190 to 200 pellets in a 30-inch circle at 40 yards, which makes this gun an extremely efficient weapon for all kinds of shooting.

We have always made a specialty of Ladies’ Guns and our “Under and Over” 16-bore will be found an ideal gun for a lade, especially for those susceptible to recoil.

20g Round Body image copyright Lewis Drake & Associates.

Regular square image copyright Julia Auctions.

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