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.