Oct 1 marked the opening of grouse & woodcock season in Maine, and Lexi and I have made it the past two weekends. We’ve had little luck, though.
On the first weekend, we hit a cover in the afternoon, after I spent the AM at Poulin’s and Julia’s, checking out the guns in their fall auctions. Poulins and Julia’s hold two major firearms auctions a years — one in the spring and one in the fall. I make a point of checking them both out, if only to see some of the spectacular doubles they’re selling.
Poulin’s sale had a couple doubles that caught that interested me. This 12g, J. Funken sidelock was good quality, and the finished looked pretty original to me. But while it was a nice gun, it didn’t WOW.
I thought this 12g Westley Richards droplock was sleeper. The gun was rebarrelled by Westley in the 50’s, and both tubes were in as-new shape (minus some of original blueing). The stock was a little messed with, but not in a bad way. Add a Silver’s pad, and it would be good to go.
Interestingly, the patent Westley based this gun’s single trigger on was developed and filed by an American: A.E. Lard. It’s a complicated design, but Westley built them with top-quality components, construction and fittings. This made them reliable and subsequently, very popular. L.C. Smith used a similar Lard-patent for their Hunter One single triggers, but failed to apply the same quality control. That’s one reason the Hunter Ones can be such PITA.
Over at Julia’s, a few guns caught my eye. If I were going to the UK to shoot high pheasants, I would have bought these Browning B25s. They’re rugged, reliable, good looking, and heavy enough to suck up a day’s worth of 1 1/4oz loads. These guns hammered down for $8000 against a reserve of $12,500 — so they didn’t sell. Has they hit $12,500, they still would have been a good deal. They’re a lot of quality for the money. To see just how much, compare them to this next pair of guns.
This OU is a titanium Fabbri, a double that’s supposed to b the pinnacle of modern gunmaking. Even though this one waspretty much new and probably cost the original owner $150,000+, bidding on it topped put at $80,000 against a reserve of $100,000.
I have mixed feeling about Fabbris. To me, they’re sort of like the new James Bond movies: I want to love them, but every time I see them I’m disappointed. According to this piece in The Field, Fabbris use advanced steel and building techniques to construct their guns. While I’m glad someone in the gun trade is doing this kind of stuff, I wonder if its unnecessary. After all, we’re talking about shotguns, not fighter jets. Perazzi’s and Krieghoffs don’t use super high-tech steels and advanced construction techniques, and their guns have withstood hundred-of-thousands of rounds and won enough Olympic medals to decorate the Christmas tree in Times Square. I imagine Fabbri does it for the same reason their customers buy these OUs: Because they can.
Now for a couple doubles that didn’t disappoint. The first one was this monster 4-bore Holland & Holland double rifle which hammered down for $130,000 ($149,500 with the premium). The second was this .577 Holland & Holland Double Rifle. It brought $115,000 with the juice.
In these two side-by-sides, you could see the evolution of the really big bore. The 4-bore was built in 1884 and at that time it was one the biggest rifles you could buy. The .577 was from 1928. It pushed a 750 grain bullet with 90 grains of cordite — ka BOOM. Both guns were made for Indian princes. Judging by the guns’ conditions, the princes didn’t take these doubles out very much.