How do you make three great sporting adventures more exiting and memorable? You complete them in a single day. That’s what Delaney & Sons’ 2022 Macnab Challenge gives you the chance to do.
Based out of Amhuinnsuidhe Castle on the the Isle of Lewis and Harris in Scotland’s Hebrides island, Delaney & Sons’ 2022 Macnab Challenge is a unique way for you to experience the ultimate in traditional British country sports–and the sporting trip of a lifetime.
Delaney & Sons has been hosting American shooters in the UK, Spain, and Morocco for years now. In this video, you can see why their trips have such a hit. If you’ve ever wanted to shoot overseas, their fully-outfitted adventures are a great introduction to authentic British shooting.
Last spring Caeser Guerini sent me one of these shotguns in 20 gauge to look over and bang some rounds through. It was a great gun and a blast to shoot. Here’s what impressed me most about it:
5 things to love about the FABARM Autumn SxS:
1. IT’S EASY ON THE EYES
My FABARM Autumn was a great double to admire with a rounded, color-case hardened action, some interesting scroll engraving, and nicely figured, oil-finished wood, While it had a vintage vibe to it, its clean, pinless action gave it a sleek, modern look.
2. IT’S BUILT TO SHOOT TONS OF ROUNDS AND KEEP GOING
On the outside, the FABARM Autumn looks like an old-school, Anson & Deeley style boxlock shotgun. But it’s not.
Instead, the gun mounts the lockwork on its triggerplate and uses sliding rods to cock the hammers.
Then there’s the real interesting part of the FABARM Autumn: its quad-lug system.
These 4 lumps are designed to increase the longevity of the barrel/action connection and help you deliver quicker, more accurate second shots. How?
Even though we worship SxSs like Parkers and Purdeys, those guns, and others like them, have their weaknesses. One’s the way the barrels mount on the action.
These shotguns connect to the action with two lumps. The front lump has the hook. This catches the hingepin. The rear lump has a bite. This receives a sliding bolt that comes in from the back to lock down the barrels (most British and European SxSs also have a bite on the front lump, but it doesn’t always do much to secure the bbls).
When you fire a SxS, the barrels twist horizontally and flex vertically, trying to pivot on the hinge pin. Even though the bolt, bites and action secure the barrels and resist this twisting and flexing, these forces pulls you off your target. And over time, they cause wear which can lead to a SxS’s barrels going off face and become loose on the action.
The FABARM Autumn quad-lump design displaces this twisting and flexing over more surface area. This helps cut down on wear and increases the longevity of the barrel/action connection.
The quad-lug system also stabilizes the barrels and cuts down on horizontal flexing. This is an idea borrowed from competitive pigeon shooting and the thinking is that it helps you deliver a quicker, more accurate shot with the left barrel.
3. IT FEELS GREAT
A few years ago I shot a 12g Purdey Trigger Plate OU. It was big gun that came in at just over 8 lbs, but it had a lively feel that belied its weight and encouraged me to shoot it all day.
A few months later I was I hunting with a new 20g Italian OU. It was a field gun, and even though it weighed 6 3/4 lbs, it felt heavy and dead, like a target gun. I wanted to get rid of it as soon as possible.
I thought about those guns the first time I shot the 20g FABARM Autumn. How would it feel — dead or alive?
My gun had 28″ barrels and weighed 6 lbs, 6 oz. — a good weight for an all-around bird gun. But it also pistol grip stock and a beavertail forend. Those said “target” to me — and had me worried.
After a lot of clays and a flat of 2 3/4″, 7/8 oz loads (which were a PITA to find), I had my answer: alive and very lively.
Like that big Purdey OU, the FABARM Autumn snapped to my shoulder and and picked up the clays with little effort. The more I shot it, the more I wanted to shoot it. I think its lightweight barrels were a big reason for this, but not the only one.
I liked the pistol-grip, beavertail forend setup, too. They gave me a lot to hold onto and more control over the gun more. This made the gun easier to mount and move to target.
The selective single trigger was crisp and with just a of whisker play in it on second shots. And even though I pulled it as fast as I could and tried to make it fail, it fired round after round without a problem.
4. IT’S ALL YOU NEED FOR UPLAND HUNTING
With 3″ chambers, choke tubes and barrels/choke tubes that are steel-shot safe, the 20g FABARM Autumn I had could handle all the bird hunting I did (or hoped to do).
If you’re an upland hunter, it could do the same for you.
5. IT’S BACKED BY A 5-YEAR WARRANTY
I’ve had old guns, older guns, and really old guns. They can be a PITA to maintain and repair. So I appreciate new, trouble-free new SxSs and OUs.
But of course, things do break. When they do, it’s good to know the gun is backed by a warranty, especially one with repair centers in the US.
The seller’s calling this side-by-side a No. 2, which AYA says is its “affordable sidelock double gun”. To me, it looks like a great grouse gun. It has a longish length of pull (14 3/4″) and it weighs just 5lbs 13oz. If I were bidding on it, I would ask for some more pics and info on it — specifically, I would want to see the proof marks, and I would want to know if the gun is tight, on the face and fully functional. I would also want to know if there are any issues with the barrels (bulges, dents, repairs).
I would ask about seller’s inspection/return policy, too. Sellers should give you 3 days to inspect a gun and allow you to return it within that timeframe if it has issues.
Back in the day, L.C. Smith was one of America’s most successful gunmakers. According to this timeline from the L.C. Smith Collector’s Club, the first “L.C. Smith” SxS shotguns appeared in 1884. The company went out of business in 1950. The name was revived in 1969 and retired for good in 1971. In that time, LC Smith built 250,000+ guns in several configurations and grades (learn more about them here).
The 16g you see here is a Field grade, the most basic SxS Smith offered from 1912-1950.
The Field-grade Smiths came in 10g, 12g, 16g, 20g, and .410. Regular and Featherweight (FW) models were offered. LC Smith built around 199,384 of them — 38,678 in 16-gauge alone.
If I had a $1 for every time someone said to me “I would like find a nice, original Fox Sterlingworth”, I’d have enough money to buy nice, original 16g Sterlie you see here.
It’s on Gunbroker.com now and the online auction ends 2/21/2021 @ 8:33 PM.
While Fox Sterlingworths are far from rare (more than 150,000 were built), ones in solid, original condition are hard to find, especially in 16 gauge.
A. H. Fox Sterlingworth 16 ga SxS Shotgun: This is a A.H. Fox Sterlingworth 16 ga and this gun is a jewel. Weighing in at 6 lbs (feels like a lot less) the LOP is 14 1/“ DOC 2” and DAH is “3 this little gun comes up like a dream! It has on little tiny chip on the edge of the forearm but other than that this is a super ALL ORIGINAL gun. The case color is 95% and the wood 85+ Only bc of the chip. The barrels are 28” imp modified/ Full.
Nice grouse gun, nice price. That’s what I thought of when I saw this 20g Orvis Arrieta Uplander. New England Custom Gun in Claremont, NH, has it, and this true sidelock shotgun looks fairly priced at $2,795.
I remember seeing these shotguns in Orvis’s catalogs years ago. Their no-frills looks just feels right for upland hunting in New England. They’re basically 557’s with a plain, blacked finish, which I prefer over the engraving and color-case hardening Arrieta applies to their other guns.
As I’ve said before, the Fox Sterlingworth is the gateway drug for a lot of people who become addicted to vintage shotguns. These side-by-sides were rugged, reliable, and great deals when they were introduced and they still are today — especially when they’re in this kind of condition.
Even though there are lots of 12g Sterlingworths on the market today, few of them are as nice, or as unique, as the one you see here.
This is a 12-gauge Fox Sterlingworth Deluxe Brush with automatic ejectors and it appears to be in excellent original condition.
Back in the day, standard Sterlingworths came in four models: Trap (32″ bbls), Standard (30″ bbls), Field (28″ bbls) and Brush (26″ bbs). “Brush” guns were the lightest Sterlingworths available and they came standard with the most open chokes (Cylinder & Mod). I’ve always thought of them as the perfect Sterlingworths for upland hunting, especially if you’re into grouse and woodcock.
In addition, because this one is a “Deluxe” model Sterlingworth, this gun came with twin ivory beads and an original pad. Automatic ejectors were added as another feature.
More info about this one from the seller: My personal benchmark gun. Decided after it being in the safe for several years that someone else needs to own it. Will start it out here for a week and see what happens. Specs are 26″ barrels choked .013 and .020 and bores of .729 per my Skeets, and 2 3/4″ chambers and ejectors. LOP to end of wood 13 1/4″. To end of Antiflinch Pad 14 1/4″. DAC 1 5/8″, DAH 2 7/8″. Weight and this is downright lovely is 6 lb 9 oz. A 12 bore made for bird hunting as they say. Serial Number. is 122114. Call this my benchmark gun because the case colors are just about mint. Slight fading on the underside, but they are all there. Blueing is 100 percent except for some small spot right around the top rib where Dan Rossiter from Custom Stocks and Steel, believed there may have been a bit oil or whatever missed when the factory did the barrels. Gun has been apart one time and that was by Dan when he checked the internals. He added the Antiflinch pad (forgot what was on it). Bought this at a small in Va from a collector. Gun’s bores were covered in cosmoline and per the house the gun had not been fired for over 50 years (who knows). Wasn’t fired much if at all. Some flaking on the finish in spots. I’ve done nothing to the gun and its time to move it on. Serial Number: 122114, Barrel Length: 26″, Chambers: 2 3/4″, Ejectors: Yes, Condition: Excellent, Metal Condition: Excellent, Wood Condition: Small bit of flaking, Bore Condition: Mint, Gauge: 12, Butt Pad: Jostam Anti flinch, Weight: 6 lb 9 oz, Choke Left: Mod, Choke Right: IC. PS. This is a Savage marked gun with all the best Philly Fox features. Also had twin Ivory beads (front and rear).
Bob Foshay passed away last week. He was as a Master MaineGuide, a lover ofbird dogs, and my friend. I’ll miss him.
I think the first time we hunted together was in October 2006. Bob took me to classic grouse and woodcock covers — old apple orchards, dairy pastures reclaimed by alders, poplar stands blocked off by rock walls — and to unlikely spots like stands of pines and pockets of young maples. The first lesson Bob taught me was that those kinds of unlikely covers could hold birds.
Bob also taught me about bird dogs. He was one of the first guys in New England to hunt with a field-bred English Cocker (named Trigger), and at one time he ran and field-trialed a lemon-and-white Pointer. By the time I was hunting with him, he had moved on to an English Setter and GSPs. Bob taught me the merits of the different breeds and what mattered when looking for a pup.
I had my pointer Puck back then, and Bob loved to watch bolt through the woods and spring over fallen logs. “She does everything with gusto!” he said — and he was right.
The first video below is from October of 2012. That may have been the last season I hunted with Bob. I helped him sell off his shotgun & dog training gear when retired from guiding and bird hunting. I also helped him find a new home for his last bird dog, a close-hunting little GSP named Nellie. I tried to take him out a few years later so he could watch my pointers run, but it never happened. I don’t remember why.
“The primary reason I go (grouse hunting) is to get away from everything and to be in that moment. It’s really special to be 100% completely present and committed, and it probably talks a lot about the flushing dogs. You know, you’re not listening to a beeper or a bell in the distance waiting for it to stop, you’re 100% focused on what’s going on in front of you the entire time…”
If you like bird dogs and bird hunting, here’s a preview for a film. The film playing across the country this February. I’m going to see it on the 12th. Here’s more about it from the Project Upland site:
“Earlier this year, Project Upland Magazine in collaboration with Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, joined together to tell the story of our beloved #PublicGrouse. The idea was simple: capture the people, places, and birds that make the story of grouse and public lands in North America so important to us. We sought to celebrate the truth that without public lands we would not know any of the grouse species in the capacity we do. They are a part of our culture, the fabric of American grouse hunting…”
Cal Robinson is one of Maine’s great guides. In the summer, he chases striped bass along the coast. Come fall, he heads up to the Rangeley area where he sets his pointers loose and chases grouse and woodcock.
In the video above from Bird Dogs Afield, Cal explains the key mistakes most guys make when shooting ruffed grouse — and what you need to do to be a more effective shot.
The more I hear about temperatures rising across the globe, the more I worry about how these changes will impact the upland game birds we love to hunt. This piece fromProject Uplandtouches on how on what’s might happen to one species tosharp-tailed grouse. It’s worth checking — and keeping in mind when it’s to vote for local, state, and national politicians.
The author writes: “I reviewed several studies from prominent sharp-tailed grouse researchers and agency reports to get a clearer picture of this very real issue. I encourage you to keep an open mind and read through the whole article below before making any preliminary judgments.”
Here’s a great grouse gun, made even better by being a Ruffed Grouse Society 25h Anniversary model. While it has some dings and hunting use, it looks like it’s still in great shape and ready to be taken to your favorite cover.
It’s on Gunbroker.com now and this NO RESERVE listing end 3/22/2019 @ 2:46 PM.
Beretta 686 Silver Pigeon 20 GA NO RESERVE 26″ 3″ Ruffed Grouse Society 25th Anniversary—NO RESERVE—NO CC FEES—NUMBER 33 OF 100—Shotgun shows some signs of use. Stock and forearm have various marks. Blueing looks good, one small spot on roll stamp where it has light freckling (pictured) Blemishes in stock behind the receiver. Rib has a small “divet” half way down, however is not noticed when shouldered. Fixed Modified and Improved Cylinder barrels. Clean bores.
Here’s what I call a can’t-go-wrong double. It’s a Renato Gamba Principessa 28 gauge built on a rugged Anson & Deeley action. It weighs six pounds and it looks pretty much new. Price — a very reasonable $1599.
Renato Gamba is Italian maker better known in the US for their Daytona OU target guns than their SxS game guns. I’ve seen a few of their boxlock SxSs. Each one has been a nice double, and I’m sure this one would be a great upland gun.
I’m not used to nice accommodations, and on past hunting trips I’ve curled up with my Pointers to stay warm, eaten Beefaroni out of the can, and gagged while using outhouses ranker than rest-area porta pottys.
The North Maine Woods are 4-6 hours from Boston, 3Xs the size of Rhode Island, and more populated with moose than people. Once you’re in them, a dirt-road empire rolls out before you in every which way.. It’s lorded over by logging trucks, crisscrossed with brook trout streams, and spotted everywhere with grouse and woodcock cover.
Chandler Lake Camps is an outpost of comfort and graciousness amongst all of this. Built in 1902, it was an abandoned family retreat when current owners Jason and Sherry Bouchard bought in the ’90s. With hard work and grit, they rescued it from decades of neglect and turned it into one of Maine’s finest sporting camps.
For uplanders, Chandlers is a place to get into lots of birds, whether you do it by hiring one of the camp’s Registered Maine Guides or by grabbing a Delorme map book and asking Jason to highlight some likely looking spots like I did.
Lexi, Sky and I averaged 2-3 birds an hour — solid numbers considering it was our first time in the area. We hunted overgrown logging roads and shot into the woods to explore deep pockets of birdy-looking cover and the furthest cover we hit was only 15 miles away from the camp.
On top of great bird hunting, Chandler Lake Camps also has great accommodations. Guests are treated to their own hand-peeled, spruce log cabins, each with a wood stove, electric lights, complete indoor facilities and charging outlets for things like remote collars and GPSs.
Meals are served in the main lodge, and everyone eats together around a large, wooden table. Breakfast is to order, lunches packed for you, and dinner family style. There’s a different menu each night, and everything is homemade in the lodge’s kitchen–even the bread and bagels.
And while Chandler Lake Camps is far away from civilization, it does have internet connection to the outside world. So anyone who needs to stay in touch with home or work can check in.
Here’s one of the finest double-barrel shotguns you’re going to find. These Beretta 686s handle like OUs costing many times more. They’re also reliable, easy to fix, and with this kind of Onyx finish, just plain sexy. For grouse, woodcock, and quail, they’re just about ideal.
With two set of barrels, 26.5″ and 29.5″, and a price tag of just $1699.99, this one is extra special. That’s why I’m saying someone needs to buy this gun. If someone else doesn’t snatch it up soon, I just might be the one to do it.
Beretta 686 Onyx 20 Gauge Over Under 2 Barrel Set: This is a very nice Beretta 686 Onyx 2 barrel set. The pictured barrels are 26.5 inch matte black and the second set are 29.5 inch blue, both have vent ribs. The walnut stock and matching forearm are a nice grade of wood with a small hairline crack on the left side of the forearm. All in all a very nice shotgun at a very nice price. Price:$1699.99
Caliber: 20 Gauge.
Chambers: 2 3/4 and 3 inch Over/Under with ejectors.
Metal Condition: Excellent.
Wood Condition: Very good with a small crack on the left side of the forearm.
Bore Condition: All are bright and shiny.
Barrels: 26.5 inch matte black and the second set are 29.5 inch blue.
Triggers: Single silver color.
Stock: Nice mid-grade walut with a checkered pistol grip.
15 inch LOP
Fore End: Matching checkered walnut with finger grooves.
Butt Pad: Replacement black rubber butt pad.
Weight: 6 Lbs 3 Oz with the 26.5 inch barrels.
Sights: Vent ribs with single front beads.
Chokes: Screw in, comes with 9 total chokes.
Extras: Comes with the second barrel and extra chokes.
Dangerous Cow Publishing is an interesting outfit. It looks like they’re media/branding company committed to promoting hunting, conservation, and sustainable practices. They caught my eye because of the cool videos they produce and post online. The one you see here is a great example of their work. Check it out — if you’re into upland hunting, you’ll enjoy it. PARTRIDGE COUNTRY- A NORTHWOODS HUNTING VIDEO “Partridge Country is a cultural exploration of the traditions of Ruffed Grouse and Woodcock hunting in northern New England without the use of dogs.”
The second I saw this OU, I thought “buy it”. It’s easy to see why. Overall it looks pretty much new. On top of that, the color case hardening is gorgeous, the wood is understated but elegant, and the round-knob grip is very well done. And the gun grouse engraved on it and 29″ bbls – very cool. Honestly, if it’s as good as it looks, I don’t know how you could go wrong with this double.
John MacNab is (or was) a British company founded by gunsmith Patrick Keen. I’m not sure if they’re still around (or if he’s still in trade). A decade of so ago, MacNab was having OUs made for them in Italy by one of the Rizzinis and Sabatti. (Here’s a review of one of their sporting-clays models.)
Regardless of the maker, the MacNabs I’ve seen have been built on the same trigger-plate OU design used on almost all the lower-priced Italian over unders (except for Beretta). It’s a reliable design that has been around for decades. So for the most part it has had all the kinks worked out of it.