The Holland & Holland Royal is one of the all time great double barrel shotguns. Since its introduction in 1892, it has defined the sidelock ejector and become one of the most copied side-by-side ever.
This isn’t surprising. Since Holland started in 1835, they’ve always been innovative and prolific. Among some of their longer-lasting patents: Henry Holland and Thomas Woodward’s H&H-patent single trigger in 1897 and the quick-detaching sidelocks the company added in 1908. Then in 1922, H&H came out with their self-opening system (shown there on a Spanish sidelock).
I came across an interesting brochure from around 1922 that covers H&H’s then new self-opening system. Check out the pics to see for yourself just how H&H promoted this new feature for their famous guns. I’m not sure why H&H waited so long to come out with their own self-opening design, but I do know that calling a self-opening action “The Latest Development in the Art of Gunmaking” is very misleading.
Back in 1922, self-opening shotguns were far from new. Purdey’s Beesley-patent hammerless sidelocks and Dickson’s Round Actions were self openers and they had been around since the 1880s. However, these makers had never really promoted the self-opening feature of their guns. Self-opening was merely a by product of the unique ways these guns cocked their locks and ejectors. It was never big deal.
Anyway, take a look at the brochure. It is interesting.
BTW: you can read a bit about the history of Holland & Holland here, from a section of Best Guns, by Michael McIntosh.And this is Michael Yardley’s 11/2009 review of a H&H Royal from The Field.