Reading between the lines…

Gun Auctions can be great place to buy double barrel shotguns — if you know what you’re doing. And I really mean “if”.

Auctioneers need to get as much as they can for every lot in their sale. Buyers need all the information they can get.  This sets up a sort of cat-and-mouse game. And while an auctioneer should tell the truth about a item (should), there are plenty ways to tell the truth without giving away a gun’s whole story.

W.W. Greener Hammer Double Barrel Shotgun
W.W. Greener Hammer Double Barrel Shotgun

This is what I mean. Check out this 12 gauge W.W. Greener hammergun. From the pics and information listed, I can see three issues with this gun. None of them are called out. Can you guess them?

The first is the butt stock. It looks refinished. Let’s check the condition report to see what it says:

“Very Fine. The barrels retain 70% of the damascus pattern with the balance a smooth brown patina. The action retains 70% original vivid case colors. The engraving is crisp. The wood is very fine with some minor handling marks and some scattered minor blemishes in the overall crisp checkering with minor chip missing from the forearm (right side). The case is good.”

Nothing about a refinish. Of course, there’s nothing about it being original either (even though the auction has “original vivid case colors”). This omission makes me think that the auctioneer believes the stock has been redone (very well, though).

Issue number two and three have to do with the barrels. First, there’s the length. The listing says they’re 27 3/4″ long. OK, but the barrels on vintage British shotguns are almost always 28″ or 30″. So what’s going on — have these been cut, or did the auctioneer make a mistake?

I sent some emails to find out. The auctioneer confirmed that the barrels were 27 3/4″ long; W.W. Greener confirmed that this length does not match what’s in their records. So it’s safe to say the barrels are cut.

Next, check out the browning on the barrels. Since the barrels have been cut, that brown is probably not original. If you take another look at the condition report you’ll see that the auctioneer doesn’t think the bbl’s finish is original, either. If he did, he would say so.

So that’s 3 issues. While they auctioneer doesn’t scream about them , I’m pretty certain he knows they’re all there.

BTW: The only way to know if the gun is really OK is to inspect yourself, or to hire someone to look it over for you.



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5 thoughts on “Reading between the lines…

  1. To be be fair, there really is no such thing as an English gun, if properly cared for in the English tradition, that hasn’t been refinished in some way. Barrels get rebrowned reblacked many times over its life, case colors re-laquered and the stock rubbed out as well. The killer for me is the cut barrels on this piece. Only in America do we care so much about original finish, which in a way is an oxymoron, if its been hunted with a lot, like its meant to be. It will have wear that should be looked after to protect it from the elements

  2. That’s why the best British guns are the ones that were made for Americans, shipped over here, and never messed with.

    I think reblack causes more harm than good. Every time they reblack the bbls, the file a little of the metal away. This just thins them out.

    Thanks for the response.


  3. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^Gregg, hard to argues with that assessment when you put it that way. I don’t like barrel re-blacking either

  4. I father has a side by side 12 G- Shot gun”Greener” “Forester Gun” with doth the hammers on the side and carving. condition is fair and in working condition, i would like to find more info on the Shot Gun. Please send me in the right direction.
    Thank you,
    Malcolm Casas

  5. Agree on the above from both Cliff & Gregg. With me, bore condition is my biggest fear. Without bore diameters, wall thicknesses and a good read on bore condition; i.e. pitting, etc. I won’t bid.

    Most auction houses include the glaring stuff in their descriptions, but now and again they’ll miss a serious issue. In one instance I was the successful bidder on a what appeared to be a near mint Colt 1878 10 ga. Upon delivery, everything was as described except for the “moon craters” on the Standing breech faces that were not described. These were not the gas-pitting rings commonly found around the striker pockets…These were huge erosions that rendered the gun inoperable.

    A serious disappointment, but after e-mailing pictures, the gun was sent back and I received a full refund including all shipping, so all was not lost – big hassle, but that’s what to expect when placing off-premises bids.

    So, get the facts, ask lots of questions and don’t participate with auction houses that are not willing to accommodate your requests.

    As for the Greener in this piece – cut barrels – deal killer for me!


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