Here’s a shotgun I’ve always wanted: a 16g Parker DH with a straight grip and damascus barrels. This one popped up on Gunsinternational.com on Tuesday. I must of spent half an hour looking it over, examining the pics, reading the description, and wondering if I had finally found one of my dream guns.
At first glance, this one looks like a decent, pretty original double. It’s old (#82,242 – 1895), and a bit tired, and I doubt the checkered side panels are original. But the rest of the gun looks solid. Unfortunately, it sounds like the barrels are in poor shape and off the face. Those are deal killers for me, especially on a gun that cost $2899 (I think that was the asking price). I decided to pass. But I guess those warts were fine with someone else. The gun was marked SOLD by the end of the day.
Parker introduced their DH (D – or Grade 3- and H for hammerless) shotguns in 1888 and these side-by-sides went on to be the company’s most popular line of “fine guns”. The company made 16,398 of them, and each one was custom ordered. According to The Parker Story, just 458 of those 16,398 DHs were 16 gauges with damascus barrels. Of those, maybe 10% were built with straight grips – and that’s a very optimistic maybe.
I saw a real nice 16g DHE with damascus barrels and a straight grip 3-4 years ago. The only problem was its 13 1/2″ LOP to a skeleton butt plate. Too short for me, and the gun was too much money to buy it and mess with. Oh well….
A lot of side-by-side fans don’t know this, but up until World War 2, the Ithaca Gun Co. was one of the most successful shotguns makers in the US , and probably in the world. The company made several different models of side-by-sides up until then, and the Flues was one of their most popular.
Introduced in 1908 and made until 1926 (when it was replaced by the NID)m Ithaca made 223,000+ Flues shotguns. Of those, the one you see here has to be one of the rarest. Not only is it a graded 20 gauge, but it also has ejectors, 30″ barrel, and a ton of original condition.
It’s up for auction now on Gunbroker.com and the listing ends on 11/12/2013 @ 12:34:10 PM ET. You probably won’t see another one like it again, so if you like it, bid on it now. Here’s more about it from the seller:
Ithaca Flues Grade 3E 20 gauge. A great example of early Ithaca engraving. Serial number has this gun being manufactured in 1920. 30″ barrels, 2 1/2″ chambers, ejectors and it’s choked tight mod/tight mod with FULLY TAPERED CHOKES FROM THE FACTORY!!! The right barrel measures .605 with a .17 (.588) constriction at choke. The left barrel measures .605 with a .16 (.589)constriction at choke. The wood has beautiful figure, the case color is approximately 70%-75% intact and the bluing is 97%. The LOP is 14 1/8″. Drop @ Comb is 1 1/2″ and drop @ heel is 2 3/4″.
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
L.C. Smith shotguns get bad raps. Cracked stocks – that’s the most common criticism you’ll here about them. Finicky single triggers – that’s the other complaint people bring up all the time. While there’s some truth to these charges, the really only apply the post-1913 LCs.
In the 1900 Hunter Arms / L.C. Smith catalog, the makers claimed that the No. 3 Grade’s “…Nitro Steel barrels is considered by many to be the finest medium-grade on the market,” and that “This grade always pleases as in it we give so much of value.” I don’t know about the Nitro Steel, but their statement about value is right on. Here’s the rest of the story on the one you see here:
LC SMITH GRADE 3 12 GAUGE EJECTOR GUN: FINE ORIGINAL CONDITION. 30″ FLUID STEEL BARRELS ARE CHOKED IMP MOD AND IMP MOD. 2 3/4″ CHAMBERS WITH EXCELLENT BRIGHT BORES. AUTOMATIC EJECTORS. SINGLE SELECTIVE TRIGGER. PISTOL GRIP STOCK. 14 1/8″ LENGTH OF PULL. WEIGHS 7 3/4POUNDS. SERIAL #208XXX. VERY NICE HIGH GRADE SMITH. INCLUDED IS ORIGINAL LEG O MUTTON CASE IN GOOD CONDITION. SHIP TO FFL OR C&R. Price: $2,295.00
The 2 7/8″ 10 gauge is a load lost to time. Back in the late 19th century, it was the most popular load in this country and lots of American double barrel shotguns were made to shoot it. But as powders improved and shooting styles changes, more and more hunters swapped their 10s for 12s.
By the beginning of the 20th century, the 10g was pretty much obsolete. While a few were still made, it was a vanishing species. It would be revived a bit when 8 gauge shotguns were banned by the Feds and Ithaca introduced its 3 1/2″, 10g to fill the gap, but it would never reign supreme again.
Here’s a 10g L.C. Smith made towards the end of this gauge’s popularity. It’s a beautiful gun, and rare in a Gr. 3. The Gr. 3s were medium quality Smiths and the company made just 3,790 of them.