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.
The Chesapeake Bay used to be one of the greatest places in the world to hunt waterfowl. Massive flocks of ducks, geese, and swans used to settle on its waters every fall, and as the birds passed through, hunters were waiting. These hunters used all sorts of firearms, and the more prosperous ones used fancy 8 gauges like the toplever, breechloading Alexander McComas you see here.
Alexander McComas was born on February 27, 1821 and he opened a shop on July 1843, at 51 South Calvert Street, Baltimore, MD. His first firearms were percussion guns, especially big bores for the local waterfowlers. By the time the breechloading era took over in the 1860s, McComas was well known up and down the eastern seaboard for his high quality firearms.
He was especially famous for his duck guns, and on these shotguns McComas preferred to use Jones-patent underlever actions. But as toplever actions started to appear in the 1870s, some shooters wanted them on their new duck guns. To meet this new market, McComas did what every smart business person does: He made what his customers wanted.
The toplever 8 gauge that you see here was probably “made” by Alexander McComas in the 1880s. I say “made” because I’m not sure how much of this shotgun was actually made in America. To my eye, a lot of this side-by-side looks German. I wonder if McComas ordered it complete from Europe, or sourced the barrels and action from the continent and then finished the shotgun in Maryland.
This kind of outsourcing was very popular in America at the time and a lot of the early side-by-side shotguns being “made” over here were actually built in England and throughout Europe.