Of the classic American side-by-side makers, the Lefever Arms Co. had one of the shortest runs. They were in business from just 1880-1919, and in that time they built around 65,000 shotguns. Most of these Lefevers were utility grades. So for a collector to see anything else today is a rare. That’s why this Lefever caught my eye:
Lefever D Grade Ser. No. 37976. 12 Ga.- 30″ Damascus barrels choked .015″ and .040″. Double triggers, ejectors and straight grip stock.
This D was made around 1901-02. At that time, Lefevers came in 11 grades: Optimus, A.A., A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, and the Durston Special. That means this 12 gauge D would have been middle-grade shotgun: one step down from a C, one step up from an E. It was still expensive, though, ($125 with out ejectors, $140 with), but far cheaper than Lefever’s highest-grade shotgun: the $400 Optimus. (BTW: at the same time, a Winchester 1886 was $14.97 at Sears.)
The factory records for the Lefever Arms Co. are lost, so it’s impossible to say how many D grades were made. I’ve seen a couple over the last decade, so the overall numbers must have been pretty low. So if you’re a Lefever fan, or if you love vintage American side-by-sides, this is a shotgun you might want to pounce on right away. It could be a long time before another one comes your way.