“Another bargain!!!” Those are the first two words of this article I wrote for Shooting Sportsman magazine: Boxlock Bargains: Why lightweight 12s are the kings of bird guns.
The 12 gauge you see here are perfect examples of what I was writing about. The Merkel OU weighs 6 lb., 5.2 oz., the Francotte side-by-side 6 lb., 1 oz. Both have ejectors, straight grips, double triggers, and old school styling; and their barrels have original 2 3/4″ chambers, excellent bore measurements, and plenty of wall thickness.
Both are on Gunbroker.com now. There’s no reserve on either one, so they offer you the chance to get a great bird gun — and a very high-quality shotgun — for little money.
As I wrote in my article for Shooting Sportsman, lightweight 12s have a number of advantages:
- There’s a range of ammo available for them, so you can modify your load to hunt anything from quail and woodcock to pheasant. Plus, when a vintage 12 gauge has original 2 3/4″ chambers it should be OK shooting any easy-to-find, major brand, low-brass12g game loads.
- They have adult-sized proportions, and they’re better balanced. Unlike smallbores, lightweight twelves don’t feel dainty or whippy, and their barrels aren’t swallowed up in your hands. All this makes them easier to control and shoot.
- People ignore them, favoring 20gs and 28gs instead (even though 12s are ballistically superior). This keeps demand — and prices — for lightweight twelve gauges foolishly low.
Merkel Brothers Lightweight 200E 70cm (27.5″) IC/C 12 GA, 1930. 6 lb., 5.2 oz. No reserve. See it on Gunbroker.com now.
Auguste Francotte Featherweight Boxlock 12 GA 28″ IM/M Double Barrel, 1928. 6 lb., 1 oz. No reserve. See it on Gunbroker.com now.
Merkel Brothers Lightweight 200E 27.5″ IC/C 12 GA, 1930. 6lbs, 5.2 oz: Merkel’s one of Europe’s most famous gunmakers, and one of the few old-school German gunmakers around today. Most collectors agree that the shotguns they made before World War Two — like this OU — are their highest quality and finest overall.
This is a model 200 with ejectors, so a 200E. It was made for the European market, and the barrels measure 70cm (27.5″), a common length for Continental shotguns. The barrels feature a full-length solid rib, and there are two white beads ahead of the toplever and on either side of the top rib. Technically, it’s not a boxlock. Instead, it’s built on a standard Merkel-style triggerplate action. But because it lacks sideplates, it has a similar look.
Auguste Francotte Featherweight Boxlock 12 GA 28″ IM/M Double Barrel. 1928. 6lbs, 1 oz: Another pre-war double from a famous European maker. This SxS is built on of the finest designs of all time — the Anson & Deeley boxlock action — and features ejectors. The action retails a ton of color-case hardening and has Woodward-style arcade fences, fine, hand-cut scroll engraving, and a Purdey-style hidden third bite. The gun has fantastic proportions and real sexy look to it.
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