Here’s a fact: when it comes to best-quality British doubles, a lot of the ones made after Word War II were lousy guns. Embarrassing. Purdey, Boss, Holland — they all made clunkers then, especially from 1950-1970. For a bunch of reasons, this was not their best period.
Many of their very best guns were made before World War I. Less expensive labor, high demand, experienced craftsman–they had it all back then. And you can see it in the guns.
An unmessed with Holland & Holland Royal from around 1905 has “it”– that edge that puts it over the top. The same is true with Purdeys and Bosses from this period. They’re just finer, crisper guns, with a touch more of everything in them. Double barrel shotguns from this period are so nice that it’s easy to believe that their quality will never be met again. As for surpassing it, dream on. It would be easier to find a live Dodo bird.
At least that’s what I used to think. Then a friend of mine called me. His new 28 gauge Hartmann & Weiss over and under had just arrived. He asked me over to see it. Fantastic. Take a look at the pics and I’m sure you’ll agree.
I’m sure any London gunmaker from back before World War I would have been proud to call this gun their own. Actually, it probably would make them jealous, or even mad. After all, no one likes being beaten.