A couple great Greeners, both F25s side-by-sides in 28 gauge…

W.W. Greener Facile Princeps Actio
W.W. Greener’s Facile Princeps Action

W.W. Greener made some of my favorite shotguns — especially the doubles they made on their Facile Princeps boxlock. The Facile Princeps was patented in 1880, four years after Westley Richard’s famous Anson & Deeley patent boxlock. The designs are similar, so much that they sparked a lawsuit — a lawsuit which Greener won.

The Greeners you see here are both F25s – the lower end of the medium-grade Facile Princeps offered by the company. As you can see, the design of the this model changed a bit over time. That being said, they were always very well made doubles.

W. W. Greener FH25 in 28 gauge SxS Shotgun
W. W. Greener FH25 in 28 gauge SxS Shotgun

W. W. Greener F25 in 28 gauge SxS Shotgun: A rare gun with auto ejectors, 27″ barrels choked full & mod. LOP is 14 1/4″, English stock with well figured straight grip. 4-3/4 lbs. with checkered butt. Nice engraving with case. An unusual collector grade Greener. Price: $19,995

W.W. Greener F25 Facile Princeps 28 Ga. Double Gun: Serial #67177, 28 Bore, 27″ barrels with excellent, bright bores. This is a beautiful little gun built on Greener’s Facile Princeps non-ejecting boxlock action and exhibits almost no evidence of any past use. The ribbed barrels retain virtually all of the original blue with just a few hints of silvering at the muzzles and the frame, which is engraved with tasteful decorative flourishes and the “W.W. GREENER” ribands, retains a commensurate amount of the original vibrant color case-hardening (almost all of which remains on the breech faces attesting to the lack of use). Even the extractor still retains most of the original lustrous nitre bluing as does the Greener sliding safety on the left side of the wrist.

W.W. Greener FH25 Facile Princeps 28 Ga. Double Gun:
W.W. Greener FH25 Facile Princeps 28 Ga. Double Gun:

There is a small amount of silvering on the underside of the frame where it meets the forend and an unobtrusive and barely noticeable import mark on the water table. The checkered walnut forend and nicely figured semi-pistol grip buttstock have only some very minor handling marks and surface blemishes scattered about the original oil finish. The stock is proportioned for a lady or young adolescent and has a 13 1/2″ LOP with drops of 1 1/2″ and 2 3/8″ (small but not so small that the gun is unusable to longer armed individuals). About the only flaw worth mentioning is a slight proudness of the forend tip widow’s peak which would be very easy to rectify by a competent gunsmith. The gun is housed in its original Greener labeled, maroon baize-lined leather traveling case and comes complete with the original hang tag, Britannia metal oiler, a partial tube of Greener gun grease, various cleaning tools, and several gun rags.

W.W. Greener FH25 Facile Princeps 28 Ga. Double Gun:
W.W. Greener FH25 Facile Princeps 28 Ga. Double Gun

The case exterior is quite scuffed and the included original leather security straps are flaked and broken but the case itself is still robust and fully serviceable. This is an absolutely gorgeous little 28 bore British double in almost flawless original condition, complete with the original case and accessories, and would make a stellar gun either for woodcock in the fall or simply just to look at in the gunroom. FFL or C&R. Price: $15,995

W. W. Greener FH25 in 28 gauge SxS Shotgun
W. W. Greener FH25 in 28 gauge SxS Shotgun
W. W. Greener FH25 in 28 gauge SxS Shotgun
W. W. Greener FH25 in 28 gauge SxS Shotgun
W.W. Greener FH25 Facile Princeps 28 Ga. Double Gun:
W.W. Greener FH25 Facile Princeps 28 Ga. Double Gun:

It’s what you can’t see that counts…

A W.W. Greener with a straight grip and a top safety is one of the double-barrel shotguns on my current want list.  Nice Greeners are pretty easy to find. Greener made tons of guns, and many of them were imported into the US. Right now, there are at least a half dozen nice ones on the market, including these this one and this one.

W. W. GREENER  A 12-BORE 'GRADE FH50' FACILE PRINCEPS EJECTOR
W. W. GREENER A 12-BORE 'GRADE FH50' FACILE PRINCEPS EJECTOR

But almost all of Greener’s guns have side safeties. I HATE side safeties. They’re ugly and difficult to use, and I think they were more gimmick than innovation. Fortunately, down through the years many people have agreed with me. They ordered Greeners with top safeties and a few of these double-barrel shotguns hit the market each year.

This one at Holt’s 10/22  auction looked like a real nice example and possible addition. Here’s the it’s full description from the auctioneer:

W. W. GREENER: A 12-BORE ‘GRADE FH50’ FACILE PRINCEPS EJECTOR. 28in. nitro barrels, rib engraved ‘W. W. GREENER. MAKER. 40 PALL MALL. LONDON. S.W. WORKS. ST. MARY’S SQUARE. BIRMINGHAM’, 2 1/2in. chambers, bored approx. 1/4 and 3/4 choke, treble-grip action with slim side bolsters, top tang automatic safety with gold-inlaid ‘SAFE’ detail, fine acanthus scroll engraving, retaining some original colour-hardening and finish, 14 3/4in. well-figured stock including 1 1/8in. rubber recoil pad, weight 6lb. 7oz., in its lightweight green velvet-lined leather case with gold-tooled label and with large Greener oil bottle. Estimate £2,500-3,500

So far, so good. From what I could see, the gun looked nice: Twenty-eight inch barrels, nice long stock, decent weight, nitro proofed and in proof, in its original case. As I read all this, I was pretty sure my want list was going to get shorter. But buying out of the UK is a pain in the ass, especially at an auction, and I wanted to 175% sure that this Greener was worth the extra $$ and effort it would take to get it.

So I sent off these questions to the auctioneer:

-How original is this gun?
-What are the bore measurements?
-Are the barrels their original length?
-What are the barrel wall measurements?
-Are there any dents, ding, or bulges in the barrels?
-Is there any pitting in the barrels?
-Any rivelling in the bbls or other problems?
-Are there any repairs to the barrels?
-Are the barrels tight and on the face?
-Have the bbls been reblacked?
-Has anything on the gun been refinished, reblacked, recolored or reblued?
-Are there any cracks, splits, or repairs in the wood?
-Do all the serial #s match – action, triggerguard, forend, bbls?
-Does everything work properly – triggers, ejectors, top lever, safety, forend release, hammers, cocking, etc?
-Does it have a long triggerguard (like a straight-gripped gun should)?

I know it’s a lot, but I’ve learned to ask too many questions. This helps prevent surprises and expensive mistakes. Here are the answers I received back (I bolded the problem areas):

-The gun all appears to be original, possible later recoil pad

-The bore measurements are .735+ .735+ 23 21+

-The barrels appear to be the original length

-Some minor scratches to the bores, slight signs of minor rivelling

-No pits

-The gun does not appear to have been refinished

-No visible cracks to the woodwork

-All matching serial numbers

-All mechanisms appear to function correctly with the use of snap-caps

-The triggerguard is long, as it should be.

It’s interesting to see what the auctioneer did and didn’t say. I’m not sure what to make of discrepancies like his failure to mention if there are any dents, dings, or bulges in the barrels, or to tell me if the gun is tight and on the face.

I do know that this dream gun turns out to have mediocre barrels. Judging by so-so walls. enlarged bores and rivelling, I would say someone honed the tubes a bit. That’s sucks, and it makes the gun a pass for me.

The hunt for the perfect Greener continues.

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