I’ve seen a lot of Browning BSS shotguns. A LOT. But this is the first 20g Grade II I’ve ever come across. It looks like it would be a great all-around upland gun.
Browning introduced the standard BSS (Browning Side by Side) in 1971 and built them until 1987. In ’78, the company introduced the Grade IIs. All these guns were made in Japan by Miroku, some were also assembled there while others were put together in South Korea.
Twelve-gauge, L.C. Smith No. 2s are not hard guns find– unless you’re looking for an example with the kind of condition you see here. Hunter Arms made 10,815 of them from 1890-1914, and according to the L.C. Smith Collector’s site, they turned out the one you see here in 1899.
Yeah, 1899. That’s before Ford introduced it’s first car and before most people in the US had electricity.
No. 2s weren’t fancy guns, and most of the one you see today are pretty banged up. This one looks like it has barely been used, and except for the pad and maybe a light refinish to the back of the buttstock, I’m thinking it’s all original. So take a long look at it, because doing so is almost like taking a trip back in time.
L.C. SMITH No. 2 12 GAUGE HAMMERLESS SXS SHOTGUN: A beautiful high condition early L.C. Smith SxS. 12 ga with 2-3/4″ chambers. Serial range of 103k making it built in about 1898-1900. Early characteristics including the early style sideplate, rectangular safety window and dogs head on the forearm. High condition with beautiful blue bbls that are just as nice on the inside. Frame has all case colors remaining. Most are very vivid. Grade 2 bird engravings on the sidelocks. Wood is exceptional and has the very thin wrist with pistol grip knob. LOP 14″ from the added white line recoil pad. Fine early shotgun! Price:$4,875.
The Manufrance Ideal is an odd double. With its unique underlever opening/cocking lever, sleek, light weight, rounded action, and retractable sling, it’s sort of the Citroën of side by sides. But even though it’s peculiar, the Ideal is also one of handiest upland shotguns ever.
Manufacture d’ Armes de Saint Etienne introduced the Ideal in 1887 and they made them into ’60s. The company built around 79,000 of them, but few of these doubles were imported into the US. Many of the ones we see here were brought in one at a time by Americans who picked them up overseas. Few of those are are nice Grade 2 20 gauges like the one below:
Here’s more about it from the seller:
MANUFRANCE IDEAL GRADE 2 RARE 20 GAUGE: Hate to use the term rare or unique but have to on this Manufrance Ideal grade 2 20 gauge. I have researched on line and have not found but one grade 2 in 12 gauge and it was not in nice condition. This grade 2 still has a lot of case coloring, the bluing is probably 95 %. The LOP is 13 7/8 to end of bone butt plate DOC is 1 ½ and DOH is 3”. The choke is cylinder & .028 full and wieghs a nice 5# 14oz with a swamp rib or Churchill rib.. The stock may need to be redone but really high grade French Walnut. You can see in one of the picture the 2 screws need to be redone as someone did not know how to use a screw driver. The stock has a built in retractable sling. Price: 4450.00 OBO
If classic American doubles are your thing, here are two nice ones to check out. This first shotgun is a 12 gauge L.C. Smith No. 2. According the L.C. Smith Collector’s Association, “The No. 2 grade was nicely finished and engraved… and was said to be “just the kind for rough usage.” The Hunter Arms Company made 10,814 of them in 12 gauge, and the twelves are very common on the used market.
I’ve owned a few No. 2s over the years — a 12 gauge and two or three 16s. They were all solid, reliable shotguns. I still own one of the 16s — a real early one that’s a nice grouse gun. There’s another No. 2 that I’ve always wanted: a 16 gauge with a straight grip and double triggers. If you have one and you want to sell, drop me note. I would love to buy it.
Here’s more about the one pictured:
LC Smith Grade 2 – 12 GAUGE with ejectors and chain damascus barrels: Nicely figured stock with sharp checkering. Gun is tight on face. Ejectors are perfectly timed. Three position safety. Bores are excellent with right at .732 and 22/1000 choke (Imp Mod) and left at 31/1000 choke (full). Barrel length is 30″. Chambers are 2 3/4″. Weight of gun is 7 LBS 1/2 OZ. LOP – 14″. Drop at Heel – 2 3/8″. Price: $2,200
The next double is a 20g Ithaca Flues Grade 3. The Ithaca Flues was one of the country’s most popular doubles. But even though the company made 223,000 of them from 1908 to 1926, they didn’t make a whole lot of 20 gauge. They made even fewer of them in Grade 3 with 30′ barrels, so it’s safe to say that this is one very rare American side-by-side:
Fantastic Ithaca Flues 20 gauge Grade 3E — 30″ barrels: Rare gun, with ejectors. Beautiful original condition, tight as the day it was built. 80% original color, 95% barrel blue and varnish. Full figured wood with perfect original butt place. Splinter forend with push-button release. Long, 30” barrels. Perfect upland gun. 14 ¼” x 1 ¾” X 2 7/8”. Price: $5,500.00
I’m drawn to impractical things like hammer guns, black-powder shotgun shells, and doubles with damascus barrels. It’s also why I like Ithaca’s Flues side-by-sides, particularly this 16 gauge, Grade 2E (already sold, btw).
Even though Ithaca’s Flues was never America’s sexiest shotgun, it was one of the country’s most popular. From when it was introduced in 1908 to 1926 when it was replaced by the NID, Ithaca made 223,000 of these shotguns. (Parker made 95,000 side-by-sides in the same period.)
An American gunsmith named Emil Flues came up with the design and Ithaca turned it into a simple, reliable double available at a price point well below other quality shotguns available at the time. Here’s a bit more about the gun from Michae; McIntosh’s book Best Guns (you can read more here in Michael’s book Best Guns).
Today, the Flues is one of the more affordable of the classic American doubles. There are a lot of them out there–especially 12 gauge Field models–and most of them are available for short money. The smaller gauges —16g, 20g & 28g— are also common, but the prices climb as the bore size shrinks. There are also a number of grade above Field, and as you go up in these, the price you’ll pay follows.