I don’t know what to make of this great looking, 20g ‘Merkel’. It’s lot #2099 in Poulin Auctions Saturday, 12/12, sale.
The first time I saw this OU, I thought it was the real thing. But while it has all the features of the a genuine Merkel 304E — sidelocks, double Purdey-style bolts, double Kersten locks, scroll engraving, ejectors–and it has German nitro proofmarks, it’s actually a clone. A well-made clone, but still a clone.
So who made it? No idea. Did a couple Merkel’s gunmakers sneak parts out the door at lunch and build this gun at home? Maybe. Judging by the gun’s excellent proportions, the way the action is filed up, and great metal-to-metal fit, whoever built it knew what they were doing and probably. Germany was in tough shape after World War 2, and the people there did whatever possible to make money and survive.
If it were a real Merkel 304E, it would be worth $12,000+. Since it’s a clone, it will go for a less and give someone the opportunity to own a nice gun for a lot less money.
BTW: The pics here are a combo of images that I had of this gun and of the images Poulin Auctions posted on its site.
LOT 2099. 20-GAUGE POST WAR NON-MERKEL MFG COPY OF A 304E SIDELOCK: EJECTOR DOUBLE TRIGGER O/U GAME SHOTGUN IN HIGH ORIGINAL CONDITION. Cal. 20 Ga., 3″. S# 30645. Bbls. 27 7/8″ Demi-bloc are fitted with low narrow ventilated rib. Left side of top bbl. engraved “GEBRUDER MERKEL SUHL”. Breech ends are engraved w/ attractively cut, large shaded scroll. Sides bottom bbl. are stamped w/ postwar German nitro proofs for 3″ chambers, choke information & S#. No date mark is found. Case hardened, double Kersten O/U, sidelock, action w/ double underbites & Purdey locking bolt features non-auto safety, raised rib tumbler end cocking indicators & double triggers (front articulated). Action is engraved w/ near full coverage, lightly & attractively cut, large shaded scroll within geometric & sm. scroll borders. Bottom of action engraved “GEBRUDER MERKEL” (there is no “GM” logo on breech face). Single beaded blued steel trigger guard engraved to match w/ S# on tang. Nicely streaked European walnut capped pistol grip buttstock measures 15″ over red “Old English” pad. Stock features semi-diamond hand, drop points, & closely spaced point pattern checkering w/ mullered borders. Grip cap is horn, deeply embossed w/ portrait of a “Green Man”. Matching 3-piece slim forend has Deeley release. MEASUREMENTS: BBLS Bottom: Dia – .608. Restriction – .010 (light mod.). Top: Dia. .610. Restriction -.004 (IC). Wall Thickness – Bottom .045. Top .044. STOCK – DAH – 2 3/16″. DAC – 1 5/8-“. Cast very slightly off. LOP – 15”. WEIGHT – 6 lb. 11 oz. CONDITION: very fine. Evidence of only very light field use. Bbls. retaining over 95% original blue w/ only a hint of silver on sharp edges. Action & locks retain over 95% of their original case hardening color w/ only a hint of silver & a few very light marks. Stocks retain nearly all of their original oil finish w/ some added oil on butt w/ installation of relatively new pad. Checkering very lightly worn. Bores are very fine. Action is tight. Bbls. are on face. Ejectors are slightly out of time. (20-3174/MGM). CURIO. ESTIMATE: $2,500-4,500.