The King of Pigeon Guns: a 12 gauge Woodward O/U…

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

Yesterday I wrote about the 20 gauge Woodward coming up in Julia’s fall 2012 auction. Today we’re going to talk about the 12 gauge Woodward that’s in the same sale.

This 12 gauge is an killer double, and in capable hands, it would be an absolute hammer in the pigeon rings. Made in 1927 for Florida real estate mogul Wade Harley, this O/U must have won its owner plenty money. One of its coolest features is unusual forend. It features a series of finger grooves, original to the gun and added by Woodward in London, designed to keep a shooter’s fore hand in a consistent position, shot after shot.

Check out all that original color case harding, too. From muzzle to butt, it’s just a plain awesome O/U.


Finger grooves in the forend of the 12 gauge Woodward O/U
Finger grooves in the forend of the 12 gauge Woodward O/U

SN 6798. (1927) Cal. 12 ga. 2-3/4″ Chambers. 30″ Demi-bloc bbls mounted with matted, flat, ventilated rib fitted with two red target beads, are engraved “James Woodward & Sons. 64. St. James’s Street. London. England.” on left side of top bbl. Right side of top bbl and bottom bbl flat are stamped with SN and London nitro proofs for 2-3/4″ chambers and the 1 1/4oz load. Bottom bbl is fitted with an extra loop, uncut for latch, to aid in recoil absorption. Robust, case hardened, deeply filed detonating, low profile action features automatic “T-safety” (SAFE inlaid in gold), double triggers, and gold line tumbler end cocking indicators. Action and lockplates are engraved in superb Woodward style with very finely cut small scrollwork with rose bouquet highlights. “J. Woodward & Sons” is roll scroll flanked at front of each lockplate. “Woodward’s” “Patent” “Under & Over” is on bottom. Scroll engraved trigger guard extends to grip cap with SN at grip. Robust, nicely marbled, and lightly figured Circassian walnut full capped pistol grip buttstock measures 14-7/8″ over leather-faced rounded Silver type pad, and features hard rubber grip cap, drop points, point pattern checkering with mullered borders, and a gold oval on bottom engraved “P”. Matching, one piece, 11″ long, semi-beavertail, ejector forend has finger grooves carved into sides to match the shooter’s hand with cutout areas stippled. (This feature is specified in factory records.)

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

Bore diameter: top -.730, bottom -.730. Bore restrictions: top -.033, bottom -.023. Wall thickness: top -.023, bottom -.024. Drop at heel: 2-3/8″, drop at comb: 1-7/16″. Weight: 8 lbs. 6 oz, LOP 14-7/8″. Included with gun are Abercrombie & Fitch hang tag and white bag containing A & F marked envelope with case keys, and wax paper wrapped pair of strikers, automatic safety slide and spring, and action rod. Woodward’s are well known for best quality guns and produced the O/U from 1913-1948, when Charles Woodward retired and sold the firm to Tom Purdey. From this point onwards, the Woodward gun replaced the old Edwinson Green based Purdey O/U and has been the gun offered by the firm from 1950 to the present. If you can’t beat ’em… buy ’em!

PROVENANCE: Factory records indicate that the gun was made in 1927 for Mr. Wade Harley. Wade was a prominent real estate developer who made a “fortune” in Florida’s real estate boom of the late 1920’s.

CONDITION: Excellent. Bbls retain essentially all of what appears to be orig blue, but is possibly an old London quality re-black. Action retains 50 – 60% orig case hardening color, fading on bottom, and silvered on beads and bolsters. Lockplates retain nearly all of their orig vivid color. Top lever and trigger guard retain 85 – 90% of their orig charcoal blue. Thumbpiece is slightly silvered, blue on trigger guard is thinning on grip. Buttstock retains nearly all of a glossy oil finish, most likely redone.  Edges are slightly rounded, some finish in checkering, wood well above metal. There is an incipient 3/8″ crack behind left lockplate, and a minor stress crack behind right. These hairlines are typical and should pose no repair problems. Forend finish appears to be original, with slight wear to checkering. Bores are excellent, bright and shiny throughout, with no visible imperfections. Action is tight. Bbls are on face. Bottom ejector will not trip (broken spring). Tag is good. Safety parts are fine.Some minor repairs will make this rare Pigeon gun the “Lord of the Ring”. 4-46136 MGM156 (30,000-45,000)



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