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.
There’s a list of things I like to see when I look at doubles. This James Purdey double rifle checks all my boxes: It’s vintage; it’s gorgeous; it’s by a famous maker, it’s top quality; it’s in great orginal condition; and it’s cased and comes with most, if not all, its original accessories.
Unfortunately, other than stare at it, I have no idea what I would do with it. Why? Because of its only flaw: It’s a 28-bore rifle. This means it has rifled barrels, but shoots a 28g shell (probably 2 1/2″) loaded with a lead slug. While this load would be fine for whitetails, getting the ammo would be a PITA.
Even if you could get it or wanted to do through the trouble or loading up your own, getting the rifle to regulate and shoot right could be just a difficult. A .450 BPE like this is more practical and, in a most ways, just plain better.
Lot 535: Rare, Very Fine Cased Engraved J. Purdey 28 Bore Back Action Rotary Underlever Hammer Double Rifle with Accessories: The makers have kindly confirmed that this rifle was completed on October 2nd 1867 for Viscount Downe of the 2nd Lite Guards, as a center fire double hammer rifle in 28 bore with 30 inch Damascus barrels. Only 327 hammer double rifles were manufactured by Purdey in 1880-1900 per page 200 of “Purdey: Gun & Rifle Makers, The Definitive History” by Dallas. A rather similarly laid out pinfire double rifle is pictured in plate 36. The rifle has the matching serial number on the bottom of the barrels, the forearm hardware, and the lever. The barrel rib has a bead blade front sight and four leaf rear sight (three folding leaves) with platinum sight lines and is signed “J. PURDEY 314 1/2 OXFORD STREET LONDON” on top ahead of the rear sight. The barrel flats have standard London black powder proof marks, and the water table has London view marks. The non-rebounding floating back action locks are signed “PURDEY” in small letters, and “PATENT” is marked on the upper tang. The checkered buttplate is marked “CHARGE/3 DMS No. 6 POWDER” at the heel. The action, locks, and furniture have fine English scrollwork engraving. The action has carved percussion fences, the pistol grip trigger guard acts as the rotary underlever, and the locks each have blued sliding safety catches. The well figured stock and forearm are checkered, and the length of pull is 14 3/8 inches. The initial escutcheon on the bottom of the buttstock is inscribed with a coronet and monogram. It comes in a factory oak case with a trade label with hand marked loading information and a second handwritten label indicating where powder could be purchased in Calcutta and Bombay indicating this rifle was likely taken to India at some point. The case contains a variety of equipment for loading and maintenance.
Condition: Very fine with 90% brown finish and distinct Damascus twist patterns along the barrel group which has some soft spots and small patches of minor surface oxidation, 75% plus original case colors with particularly vibrant colors in the protected areas, some mottled patina, and crisp engraving and marking; remnants of original bright blue finish on the heel of the buttplate and gray and brown patina on the balance, and general minor marks and scratches throughout. The wood is also very fine and has crisp checkering, some minor edge wear (including some small chips on the forearm), light pressure marks and scratches, and smooth oiled finish. Mechanically excellent. The case and accessories are fine with mild storage wear.
Joseph Manton was one of the finest gunmakers of the 19th century and one of the most influential gunmakers in British history. His work set the standard and the course for the 180+ years of Best quality gunmaking that came after him.
A handful of men who worked for Manton– including James Purdey, Thomas Boss and William Greener–followed his standards and founded some of the most important makers in the British gun trade.
Unfortunately, other than its name and the traditions it carries on, the double you see here has no connection Joseph Manton or to the Manton family. Instead, it was made in the 1980s by a team of British craftsmen, one of whom owned the rights to the name Joseph Manton.
Regardless, it’s not the name on the gun that matters, but rather skill that went into building it. And from what I can see, a tremendous amount of skill went into building this side-by-side.
Joseph Manton London 28 gauge, Sidelock, Shotgun, Purdey Action, 28″ barrels: 2-3/4″ chambers, auto-ejectors, choked tight improved cylinder and modified (.009/.016). London proof 1986. Narrow tapered raised game rib. Built on a finely scaled Purdey-type self-opening action. Extensively engraved with a bold foliate scroll and vibrant case color hardened finish. Single trigger, auto-safe. Straight hand stock of classic French walnut with contrasting grain and black and gold fiddleback measures 14-1/8″ to a checkered butt, splinter forend. The diminutive size is reflected as this little gun tips the scale at a mere 5 lbs, 3 oz. The 28″ barrels give this gun a forward bias and truly lively feel in the hand! Simply outstanding! Cased in lightweight leather trunk case. Price:$57,000
I don’t need any more hammerguns…I don’t need any more hammerguns …I don’t need any more hammerguns…
I need to keep saying this to myself every time I look at this SxS.
W. & C. Scotts I are some my favorite doubles–especially old and original ones like this. It’s on Gunbroker.com now and the listing ends 12/20/2015 @ 7:50:00 PM ET.
This 12 gauge was made in the 1880s, and it was a medium-grade shotgun in its day. But look at the quality — from the metal-to-metal fit on the locks & action to the colors. And check out how the stock is shaped up. The checkering is nice, too. Then there’s that deep, inky blue on the triggerguard. You can almost dive into it and swim around. Not even Purdey or Hartmann & Weiss does that kind of blueing today and those guns are $125,000+.
Ughh. I don’t need any more hammerguns…I don’t need any more hammerguns …I don’t need any more hammerguns…
Antique WC SCOTT HAMMER DAMASCUS SHOTGUN Very Nice: This auction features the pictured Antique W.C. Scott 12 Gauge Shotgun with exposed hammers and Damascus Barrels. This gun has been in storage for about 40 years and still has some dried grease that needs to be removed. A real Barn Find! This gun is tight and has good bores with a little minor pitting. The barrels measure 31 and 1/8 inches with very tight FULL CHOKES. The length of pull is 14 and 1/8 inches. Note all the remaining original Case colors!
“To meet the demand for a moderately priced skeet and upland game double gun we have produced the famous Fox-Sterlingworth gun in this new straight grip model with 26″ barrels bored: right skeet, cylinder, left quarter choke. This is a standard stock model possessing the features of skeet boring and stock design heretofore available only in custom-built guns.”
I owned one of these in 20g, and it was decent little double. This one would make a great all around upland gun.
12g Fox Sterlingworth Skeet & Upland Game Gun: Barrels are 26” long with skeet / ¼ choke, solid rib, and good bores. Break open double barrel shotgun. Metal retains most of its original blue and casehardened finish, Checkered walnut wood with period recoil pad. Extractors and double triggers. Mfg 1935 to 1945 SN: 160260 Condition: Very Good.
Tom Davis is a great writer, and always check out anything I come across from him. This piece from the Sporting Classics Daily blog is a good example of why he’s worth reading. It’s short, and in very few word Davis touches hits on why we fall in love with bird dogs. Do yourself a favor and click through to read the entire piece.
“I picked him up at the condo he’d rented on the Lake Michigan beachfront. It was more like March than May, a raw wind blowing off the lake, scudding clouds that spat occasional volleys of needle-sharp rain. He wanted to see my dogs run.
“Jesus, Dad,” I said, scowling at his low-cut tennis shoes. “We’re going to be in woodcock cover. Where the hell are your boots?…”
Even though Miroku is one of the world’s oldest and largest gunmakers, we don’t hear much about them here in the States. For years, they’ve made side-by-sides and O/Us for other companies, including Charles Daly and Browning. At the same time, Miroku was also making shotguns under their own name. The double you see here is one of those guns. This looks like a Japanese version of a Webley & Scott M700 — and a heck of deal.
BC Miroku Model M SXS 12 Gauge 2 3/4″: BC Miroku side by side double shotgun. Very Good condition with minimal wear on the stock and barrel. Color case hardening is 80-85% as seen in the photos. Barrels are smooth and bright with some very light marks on the outside finish. Action locks up tight as a tick. Price: $650
-Caliper measures end of barrel diameters at .680 for left and .710 for right. Patterning it seems to be true full and modified.
-Miroku plastic butt plate
Most of us train our pointers to find game and then point it until we arrive to flush and shoot the birds. But in Finland, some pointing dogs are trained to something even cooler: They’re trained to point Capercaillie, and then on command return to their human companions and guide their two-legged friends back to the bird.
Learn the how’s and why’s of them doing it by checking out this post from Craig Koshyk’s Pointing Dog Blog. And be sure to check out the videos. The last one is amazing. Versatility Part 1: Reporting From Finland…
“In the gundog world, the term ‘versatile’ is pretty versatile. In the UK, France, Italy and other European countries, it means a dog that hunts, points and retrieves. In North America, according to NAVHDA, it means a dog that hunts, points, retrieves and tracks on land and water. In Germany and countries to the east, it means a dog that hunts, points, tracks, drives, bays, flushes, kills vermin and protects the house and home.
But even as broad as those definitions are, they still don’t cover the full spectrum of how versatile dogs are actually used by hunters in each region. So in this next series of posts, I would like to explore some of the more interesting and unusual ways that versatile dogs are used in different parts of the world. Today’s post will look at something called “reporting” done by Finnish hunters, field trialers and their dogs in the vast forests of Finland…”
Read the entire piece now. Discover more about “reporting” and see a great video that shows how Finnish hunters this technique to their advantage.
BTW: be sure to check out Craig’s book Pointing Dogs, Volume One: The Continentals, the most thorough and authoritative work available on the history of continental Europe’s pointing breeds. If you love hunting dogs, it’s a book you must have.
The title “gunmaker” has always had always had a broad definition, especially here in America. Some of our gunmakers did make shotguns and rifles from scratch (or mostly from scratch). But others bought parts from overseas and then assembled, stocked, and finished off the firearm over here.
Many more American “gunmakers” were retailers who had their firearms built in their name by real gunmakers in the UK and Europe. Charles Daly is the most famous of these gunmaker-retailers, and until around World War II, side-by-sides carrying his name were made in Germany. From the looks of the shotgun you see here, William Donn was following a similar business model.
William Donn was gunsmith/gunmaker who worked in the Peoria to Chicago area from around 1870-1910. For while he has was partners with his brother, John. Later in his career he was on his own. Sometimes during in this second phase he imported this shotgun from the UK.
This side-by-side was made by Thomas Kilby of Thomas Kilby & Son, Steelhouse Lane, Birmingham, England, Kilby was a famous British barrel maker, and it looks like he also supplied finished SxS shotguns to retailers in the United States. While most ofhte work looks British, I’m not sure if Kilby also had the stock carved. He may have, or Donn may have had it done over here. Regardless, it’s a beautiful shotgun, and one I would love to call my own.
In 1918, the US Federal Government made it illegal for anyone to use an eight gauge shotgun to hunt waterfowl and other federally-listed migratory game birds. Later, many states restricted hunting shotguns to 10 gauge and smaller.
Of course, these laws didn’t apply in Europe, and it’s still legal in many areas there to hunt ducks, geese, and other waterfowl with the really big bores.
This 8-gauge shotgun was made for that kind of shooting. Judging by the looks of it, it looks like wasn’t used much at all. Here are the specs on it:
Caliber: 8 Gauge.
Chambers: Side X Side.
Metal Condition: Strong blue and case color.
Wood Condition: Excellent with crazing and flaking in the finish.
Bore Condition: Bright and shiny.
Barrels: 39+” Blue Acier steel.
Stock: Mid grade walnut with a checkered pistol grip.
Fore End: Semi splinter checkered walnut.
Butt Pad: Red rubber vent butt pad.
Weight: 13 Lbs 12 Oz.
I don’t follow Italian sidelock shotguns all that much. That being said, something tells me that this nearly-new Piotti that Cabela’s just listed must be a good deal. William Larkin Moore has a price of $36,600 for one of these brand new.
Here’s more on it from Cabela’s site: This beautiful lightweight gun has been very lightly fired, perhaps only once. The bores are bright and smooth. We wiped cosmoline off the muzzle and breechface. The action is fully engraved. The wood is very nice. It shows virtually no wear. The initial plate in the buttstock has been engraved with initials. It comes in a fitted hard case.
Checkered Straight English Style Extra Extra Fancy Walnut
Looking for a grouse gun? Take your pick. These two 20 gauges would be perfect in the uplands, and they’re are also excellent deals.
20 gauge Orvis/Beretta Uplander 686 Over & Under: the Beretta 686 O/U is one of the world’s greatest guns. This one is set up to be the holy grail of doubles for grouse & woodcock. Lightweight, with a nice straight grip, excellent dimensions, and perfect chokes, it’s all you could ask for. With the all black action, it’s a great looking double, too.
-14 1/2 LOP, 1 3/8 DAC, 2 1/8 DAH
-26 1/2 inch barrels, 2 3/4, IC/MOD
20 gauge Orvis/Arrieta Uplander Side-by-Side: Arrieta makes some of the finest side-by-side shotguns coming out of Spain. For the money, this one here is almost impossible to beat — especially when you consider how much a comparable new one costs today ($5,000+).
I’m not a big fan of gold on shotguns. Too little of it looks out of place and too much of it makes a double look like it was overhauled by Pimp My Ride. This 20 L.C. Smith Deluxe Grade comes to mind. Yeah – yuck.
But when gunmakers get it right, gold can actually make a double barrel more elegant and beautiful. That’s the case with this .410 Francotte sidelock that Steve Barnett has right now.
The gold on this shotgun makes a statement. But instead of screaming “Look at me and how expensive I am” it encourage you to admire the entire gun. There’s plenty to admire, too.
First, there’s the overall composition and execution of the inlays. Instead of looking superfluous, this gold work is part of the action’s sculpting, engraving and overall design. By varying the size, style, and positions of the birds, the engraver added depth and life to the work. This makes the inlays interesting and far more appealing. Instead of being stuck on top of the lockplates, these birds look like they’re alive and in flight.
I also like how the flashiness of the gold is restrained by dusky color-case hardening on the action (gold on a coin-finish is a bad idea). The bling that’s there actually enhances the blood-red hues and chocolate swirls of the French-walnut stock, making both more pronounced and stunning.
Along with its perfect adornment, this .410 Francotte is also beautifully made. Check out how well the forend iron fits against the barrels and action. Then look at those drop points and the shaping of the stock. Again, first quality work.
Mention gold inlays to me and I’m going to think “ostentatious”. There’s no way around it. On a gun, gold is always flashy and almost never necessary. It’s only there to call attention to itself. How it calls attention to itself, and the impression it leaves, are what’s important. In the case of this .410 Francotte, the impression leaves me, well, impressed.
A new feature. Each day I’m going to post the top new double-barrel shotguns and side-by-sides from GunsInternational.com. I hope this makes it easier for folks to find a nice gun. Just looking is always fun, too.
“David Douglas is an unbeliever, and an unapologetic heretic, at that. A builder, a bird hunter, a man in love with the South Carolina Lowcountry, he simply rejects the gospel widely held across the South that the age of wild bobwhite quail is past. That it is no longer feasible to have wild quail on private lands in numbers worth chasing with a bird dog and a scattergun. That farming changes, urbanization, increases in predator numbers, fire ants, pine plantations, and any of a litany of other modern quandaries have so diminished the prospects of Gentleman Bob that quail coveys and quail hunting and the sunrise whistles of a bobwhite brood are destined for relict status—available for occasional enjoyment, but nothing to fashion a farm, or a lifestyle, around” Read the rest of the article here.
According to the listing, the guns are in new, unfired condition. Even though the guns look well made and the engraving is very nice, the coin-finished action, single gold trigger, and beavertail forend all add up to an ugly mess. It’s no wonder the owner never used them — he probably couldn’t stand the sight of them.
From about 1870 to the late 1880s, “The Premier Gun” was W. & C. Scott’s finest double barrel shotgun. Offered first as a hammer gun, and then in hammerless models, The Premier Gun was made right up until World War II.
Today, these side-by-side shotguns pop up on the market on a regular basis. This Premier was just on Gunbroker.com. I’m surprised by how much this one brought. While it’ looking pretty original, it does look like it as cracked through the hand at one time. But I guess at least a couple guys didn’t consider this a problem.
This Scott did come with some interesting accessories – including a mainspring compressor (pic #15) and a replacement set of mainsprings (pic #16). The paper shells an custom case were pretty cool, too.
BTW: I’m interested in purchasing any W. & C. Scott shotguns. If you have one for sale, please let me know.
Leg o’Mutton gun cases go with American double barrels like peanut butter goes with honey. Shotgun retailers have been selling these cases for almost one hundred years. Most of the ones on the used market were made with a layer of fiberboard sandwiched between leather and felt. This fiberboard gives the cases their rigidity. Over time, this same fiberboard absorbs moisture, rots and collapses. Not good.
But not every maker used fiberboard. Some used molded leather. While this was a more expensive way to do it, the cases it produced were tougher and longer lasting. H.H. Heiser was a maker who used the all-leather construction technique. Today his cases are as prized as the old shotguns they were made to carry.
Heiser’s cases came in a variety of styles, each with their own finishes. I’ve picked up several of these cases over the years and I’m at the point now where I have a nice little collection of them. You can see them below.
BTW: two of these cases came from the same person: the plain-finished model and the carved model made for a single shotgun. The seller was a gentleman in Texas. I bought the carved case off from him a few years ago. He offered me the other case this summer, in remembrance of his father, who owned the case and enjoyed reading this blog.