Charles Sneider is a name few people think of when they think of American shotgun makers. And for good reason.
Even though he was talented and inventive, Sneider’s business was tiny. Over the course of his career, he may have built 500 guns — and that’s probably a big stretch. Compare that to Parker Bros., who built 225,000+ shotguns while they around.
But the guns Sneider did build were highly regarded, especially by waterfowlers on the Chesapeake Bay. Sneider’s business was in Baltimore and he could smell the bay from his shop. Side-by-sides like the 8-gauge you see here didn’t have to go very far from his bench to get into some shooting.
Sneider started in the gun business as a ‘smith and moved on to converting muzzleloaders to breechloaders and then to building hammer guns. He got into hammerless-shotguns around 1879-1880 with his own, patented design. The gun you see here is built on that design. It’s a $300-grade, 8-gauge Sneider — the company’s top-of-the-line shotgun, and it appears to be in solid original condition.
In a time when earning $15 a week was killing it, three-hundred dollars was a lot of money to pay for a shotgun. So this SxS was certainly someone’s prized possession, and it looks like they took care of it.
Sneider’s design for his hammerless gun incorporated several interesting features, including a sliding locking bolt on the face of the action and a safety positioned on the top edge of the toplever. The locking bolt was a clever solution to a common problem. It stopped the barrels from opening too far and wearing on the hinge pin (which causes a gun to go “off the face”).
BTW: SxS 8-gauges like this are sometimes called “market guns”. They aren’t and they never were. Market guns were used by commercial waterfowlers, and guys in that business had better things to spend $300 than a gun.