Great guns at Julia’s: James Woodward Over & Under shotguns…

20 gauge James Woodward & Sons Over/Under Double Barrel Shotgun
20 gauge James Woodward & Sons Over/Under Double Barrel Shotgun

The over-and-under shotguns made by James Woodward & Sons are some of the finest double barrels ever created. Introduced in 1913 and then significantly improved in 1921, the Woodward-patent O/U was offered right until the company was bought by Jame Purdey in 1948 and Woodward turned out right around 225 of them in all, with 118 in 12 gauge & 61 in 20 gauge.

Julia has two of these James Woodwards O/Us–a 12g & a 20g–in their upcoming fall 2012 firearms auction. Both of these are the fully improved, later models and they’re probably one of a kind.

20 gauge James Woodward & Sons Over/Under Double Barrel Shotgun
20 gauge James Woodward & Sons Over/Under Double Barrel Shotgun

The 20 gauge has two unique features that make it special: original 28″ barrels and an original Boss-patent single trigger. That combo makes it an exceptionally desirable shotgun.


20 gauge James Woodward & Sons Over/Under Double Barrel Shotgun
20 gauge James Woodward & Sons Over/Under Double Barrel Shotgun

SN 6950. (1931) Cal. 20 ga. 2-3/4″ Chambers. Desirable 28″ Demi-bloc bbls with solid, matted rib fitted with red beads, are engraved “James Woodward & Sons. 64. St. James’s Street. London. England.” on left side of top bbl. Right side is stamped with proofs, as is breech area of bottom bbl. Both are stamped with SN and London nitro proofs for 20 ga. 1 oz shot and 2-3/4″ chambers. Scaled down, beautifully sculpted, case hardened, low profile, sidelock action features automatic safety (SAFE inlaid in gold) with Woodward’s typical T-shaped safety slide, reinforcing bolsters, gold band tumbler end cocking indicators, and Boss single non-selective trigger (trigger plate engraved “Boss’s Patent No 22894”). The Boss trigger was the finest of its kind and coveted by London makers. Action and lockplates are engraved with exceptionally well cut small shaded scroll with floral bouquet highlights in “Best” London style. “J. Woodward & Sons.” is in roll scroll flanked oval device at front of each lockplate, and “Woodward’s” “Patent.” “Under & Over” on bottom of action. Small bow, single beaded, scroll engraved trigger guard has SN at tip of grip. Very fine, beautifully marbled, slightly stump figured Circassian walnut semi-pistol grip buttstock measures 14-5/8″ over checkered wood butt with scalloped steel engraved heel and toe plates, and features well shaped drop points and 26 LPI flat top point pattern checkering with mullered borders. A gold oval on toe line is engraved “G.P.” Matching single piece ejector forend has Anson release.

Bore diameter: top -.615, bottom -.615. Bore restrictions: top -.003, bottom -.003. Wall thickness: top -.022, bottom -.022. Drop at heel: 2-9/16″, drop at comb: 1-5/16″. Weight: 6 lbs. 2 oz, LOP 14-5/8″. Included with gun are an Abercrombie & Fitch hang tag with specifications, and plated striker bottle SNed to gun, containing a pair of spare strikers, and mainspring for right lock.

PROVENANCE: Factory records indicate that it was completed in 1931 for Dr. C. H. Ernlunds.

CONDITION: Very fine. Bbls retain nearly all of a very fine London quality re-black. Action retains a considerable amount of orig case hardening color in protected areas, but is mostly a bright hand worn silver. Lockplates retain 30 – 40% fading orig case hardening color, left lock being strongest. Top lever and safety retain most of their orig charcoal blue, trigger guard nearly all of a re-blue. Iron retains most of its orig blue. Screw slots show some use. Bores are excellent, bright and shiny throughout, with no visible imperfections. Action is tight. Bbls are on face. Ejectors are in perfect time. Trigger works flawlessly. Hang tag is very fine. Striker bottle is excellent. A fine small bore “Best” O/U, of a pattern still built today by James Purdey & Son, having scrapped all of their previous designs once they acquired Woodwards in 1948. 4-46137 MGM155 (35,000-55,000)


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