John Dickson & Sons is Scotland most famous gunmaker. Established in 1820, Dickson first made a name for itself in the 1840s with their fine “Improved Two Grooved Rifles”, a modified version of the British Army’s Brunswick rifle. Later in 1880, the company patented their famous Round Action trigger plate shotgun. In between, they built the 10 bore hammer gun you see.
This double was sold by Dickson in December, 1875, and it looks very original. As you can tell from the specs, it’s big, heavy gun, probably made for pigeon shooting or waterfowling. I would love to get my hands on it and find out how those 32″ barrels feel.
Here in America, bigger is better. 72″ big screen TVs? Awesome. Ford F350s? Love ’em. King Kong burgers? Yes, please! For shotgun shooters, magnum loads are right in line with this obsession. And when it comes to magnums, the 3 1/2″ 10 gauge is king.
The Western Cartridge Co. introduced the mag 10 in 1932. It was stuffed with 2 ounces of shot and it generated a brain-bruising amount of kick. To handle it, Ithaca developed the NID Magnum-Ten side by sides. These doubles came standard with 32″ bbls and they weighed 10-11 lbs+ plus. The first one was serial number 500,000. From 1932 -1942, Ithaca made 887 of them in all. Here’s a bit about them from Michael McIntosh’s book Best Guns:
Today, you can usually find a few Ithaca NID Magnum 10s on the market. They’re usually expensive, but that’s how it goes. Nice things are never cheap.
3 1/2″ MAGNUM, 32″ BARRELS, FULL AND FULL, EXCELLENT BLUE, MIRROR BORES. AUTOMATIC EJECTORS, NICELY ENGRAVED WITH GAME BIRDS, SCROLL, BORDERS AND STIPPLEWORK, SOME CASE COLOR, TOP LEVER TO THE RIGHT. MOST OF THE ORIGINAL BLUE ON TRIGGER GUARD. PISTOL GRIP STOCK, SPLINTER FOREARM, HIGHLY FIGURED WOOD WITH EXCELLENT CHECKERING AND FINISH. 1 1/2″ X 2 1/2″ X 14″, PACHMAYER PAD WITH SPACER, 11 POUNDS. SERIAL NUMBER OVER 500,000. ONLY 164 PRODUCED. CIRCA MID 1930’S. SCARCE GUN.
The 2 7/8″ 10 gauge is a load lost to time. Back in the late 19th century, it was the most popular load in this country and lots of American double barrel shotguns were made to shoot it. But as powders improved and shooting styles changes, more and more hunters swapped their 10s for 12s.
By the beginning of the 20th century, the 10g was pretty much obsolete. While a few were still made, it was a vanishing species. It would be revived a bit when 8 gauge shotguns were banned by the Feds and Ithaca introduced its 3 1/2″, 10g to fill the gap, but it would never reign supreme again.
Here’s a 10g L.C. Smith made towards the end of this gauge’s popularity. It’s a beautiful gun, and rare in a Gr. 3. The Gr. 3s were medium quality Smiths and the company made just 3,790 of them.