Daniel Myron Lefever was one of the geniuses of American gunmaking. Judging by the number of partnerships and businesses he formed in his career, he must have been mercurial, too.
From 1857 to his death in 1906, he worked for himself, and with others. By himself and with others, he built all sorts of firearms–including the one you see here. It comes from DM’s final venture: The D. M. Lefever, Sons & Company, which he formed with his sons in 1902.
Morphy Auctions is auctioning of this double tomorrow. If you like it, get on it now.
D.M. Lefever & Sons Grade 8E SxS Shotgun (12 Bore): This early high quality Lefever was built using a scalloped boxlock, Greener crossbolt. Barrels were made of Krupp fluid steel, not Damascus, and features a solid matted rib with twin beads. Double triggers, beautiful dark grain hand checkered English type rear sight with Monte Carlo comb, finely checkered side panels, owner’s plaque in stock, and an early Upland Game red waffle recoil pad. Stamped on bottom of frame “D.M. Lefever Sons & Company Pat’d 1902 Not connected with Lefever Arms Company”.
Bores are clean and shiny. Barrels retain approximately 70% original blue starting to thin and patina, with age freckling on the right barrel extending 10″ from breech. Forearm is finely checkered with ebony tip. The frame exhibits delicate scroll engraving with setter on right side and mallard on left. The wood is in beautiful condition, has been freshened up at one time, with a couple minor dings. Lock-up is perfect with no wiggle with forearm off. Trigger guard is basically gun metal grey. Nice traces of case colors on both sides of frame. Lovely old high grade Lefever.
Serial Number: 1331
Barrel Length: 30″
Length Of Pull: 15″
Drop at Comb: 1-3/4″
Drop at Heel: 2″
Internal Bore Diameters: .744″
Barrel Wall Thickness: Left – .045″, Right – .055″
Chokes: Both Barrels – Modified
Weight8 lbs. – 2 oz.
Here’s a real rare double. It’s an 8g Sneider made in the 1880s. When this SxS was built, it was one of the finest hammerless shotguns being made in America — and one of the most innovative.
E & C Sneider was founded by Charles Edward Sneider. He learned his trade in Europe and by 1859 he was in Baltimore working for Thomas Poultney & David B. Trimble. By 1865, Sneider was on his own, working in Baltimore from a shop on 66 S Sharp St. In 1874 his sons — Charles Lewis & Charles William — were working with him. Charles William filed the patent that created this shotgun in 1880.
This patent cocked on the fall of the barrels and the locks used coiled springs, which were thought to be more reliable than leaf springs. It also featured a unique trigger safety which used a serrated dial on the toplever to engage a rod pointing up from the top of the action. When this dial was pushed forward, it pressed down on this rod and freed the trigger sear for firing.
Sneider built several grades of shotguns on this patent. The top grades (like the one shown here), locked up with a sliding bolt which engaged a bite in the rear barrel lump and top extension. They also featured compensating hinge pin which could be adjusted for wear and a unique sliding barrel stop which kept the barrels from wearing on the hinge pin when the gun was opened.
Eight gauges like this were popular up and down the Eastern seaboard. They were far too expensive to buy and be used as “market guns” by commercial hunters. Instead, sportsmen used them to pass shoot ducks, geese & swans.
Here’s more info on this 8g.
This is a very rare Baltimore made, Antique Sneider 8 gauge shotgun. E &C. Sneider guns where made in Baltimore MD in the 19th century. This one being a high grade 8ga is extremely rare. This gun is well made, heavy and large. The Damascus barrels are 36″ long. They are solid and I see no dents. There is still some Damascus color and swirl. There are some dark spots in the bores, but overall they are clean and shiny. The action is tight. The firing pins look good and overall the gun is in fine functional condition. The engraving is very nice, as you can see. The wood is a high grade and in very good condition. The buttplate is original and nice, but does show a slight gap between the stock. The forend is in fine shape, but it could be a little tighter to the barrels. This is a large and heavy shot gun, weighing 14.6 lbs. A really fine piece for any antique gun collection.
Considering that 8 gauge ammo is almost impossible to find, and that hunting with an 8 gauge shotguns is illegal in most states, I think this side-by-side is as far from sensible as a double barrel can be. Maybe that’s why I keep wishing I had bought it. Pic courtesy of Lewis Drake & Associates.
As the 19th century ended, the shooting world was winding up 100 years of change. In 1800, muzzle loading flintlocks had ruled the field. Then in 1839, percussion guns took over, followed by breech loaders and then centerfire hammerguns. By 1885, these hammerguns were out and self-cocking, hammerless doubles were in.
While the new hammerless guns had their benefits, hammerguns had two advantages that were tough to beat. First, exposed hammers make it easy to see if a gun is cocked and ready to fire. Second, cocked hammers can be dropped, decocking the gun and returning it to a “safe” state.
So some people raised on hammerguns must have looked at the new, “hammerless” models with suspicion. To overcome their apprehensions, some makers added cocked indicators to their hammerless guns. A few makers even came up with ways to uncock there guns. But, W. & C. Scott may be the only maker to ever come up with a way to do it all, and you can see their solution in this gun. This is the gun and it’s an 8 gauge that Scott called THE COMBINATION. Lewis Drake had this gun a while ago. Like a lot of his stuff, this gun looks like it was in very original condition.
Eight gauge L.C. Smiths are rare double barrel shotguns. I don’t know the exact figures on how many were made, but I bet it’s under 50 all together. These side by sides were made as waterfowlers, hunting that can be hard on guns, so mot of the one I’ve seen have been in fair condition. This one at in Julia’s upcoming auction is pretty typical. The one pictured below is not.
That gun is a Gr. 4 (1 of 2 made). It has 32″ barrels and it’s nearly-new, original condition. Spectacular. Best of all, a place called Laughlin Auctions in Edinburg, VA, is auctioning it off this weekend. So if you have to have it, go for it. Be prepared to go deep, though. This gun is attracting a lot of serious attention. I wouldn’t be surprised if it went for $25,000+. There’s been a lot of discussion about this gun. Click here for the thread.
I’ve been on a big-bore kick for a little while now, and seeing a couple 4 gauge and 8 gauge double-barrel shotguns at the Southern has fed this obsession of mine. While I’m not sure what I would do with one, I’m beginning to think that I can’t live without an 8 gauge side by side, or maybe even a double 4.
If I win the lottery any time soon, it looks like I can place an order for a new, hammerless sidelock 4 gauge double barrel. Watson Bros. in London is making them. Take a look at this video to see more about these massive guns.
This 8-gauge L.C. Smith side-by-side, double barrel shotgun is on Gunbroker right now. The seller says it has 32″ barrels. From the pics, it looks like it might be a No. 1 grade.
L.C. Smith made very few 8 gauges – estimates vary from 30-35. From what I’ve been able to find out, they made them from about 1895-1898 and every one was hammerless. This guy here has several 8-gauge L.C. Smiths, at least two in No. 2 grades.
Of all the major American makers, Parker made the most 8 gauges – hammerless and hammerguns- and Lefever made the fewest. Baker made a few, and Colt made at least one. A.H. Fox never made any.
Eight gauges used to be very popular for wildfowl. They pushed a ton of lead and this made them ideal for swatting flocks of birds at a time – just what a market hunter on the Chesapeake Bay wanted to do. Eight-gauge shotguns were outlawed for use on waterfowl in the US in the early 20th century.
BTW: if you have an 8 gauge double, or you know of any out there, please let me know. I’m interested in purchasing one and will pay a finder’s fee for a nice one.