Here’s a cool video from one of the UK’s best-quality, boutique gunmakers: Smith & Torok. Check it out to see some classic, old-school gunmaking technques.
Here’s something you have to see: Customizing a Fox with English flair
It’s a story from Shooting Sportsman magazine about one of the craziest gun-making projects I’ve seen. It’s also a testament to just how talented its creator — Dewey Vicknair — is.
From the article: “This project started in much the same manner as most custom-gun commissions: an initial call from a client who wanted something unique, made to fit, lightweight and well proportioned. That last part is the main reason behind using a Fox as the starting point—because of the gun’s slender action bar and its almost perfect visual balance with the rest of the frame. The base for the project was a NIB-condition Utica-made Sterlingworth in 16 gauge…” Read more at Customizing a Fox with English flair.
To see more pics and learn more about everything Dewey did to this gun, check out this post on his blog: “Anglicizing” a Fox (#005)
According to the gunmaker’s website, the AYA No. 2 shotgun is “the pre-eminent “affordable” sidelock double gun, and the most famous model in the AYA line. Since its introduction in the late 1950s, tens of thousands of Nº 2’s have been sold in the United Kingdom, the United States, and everywhere that shooters value the superb balance and handling of a fine double gun.”
Fair enough, and pretty much in line with what I known about these Spanish sidelocks. The one you see here looks like a great deal. While it does have a slight issue (a crack in the stock, right behind the safety), but that should be easy to fix.
20 ga AYA No.2 SxS Sidelock Shotgun, 27″ barrels: Aguirre Y Aranzabal (AYA) No. 2 side-by-side shotgun in 20 gauge. 27″ barrel, 2 3/4″ chambers. Choked IC/Cyl. 14″ LOP. Good case coloring on single, select trigger. Metal retains a good amount of case coloring with moderate wear in the usual places. Wood is in good condition with scattered carry and safe marks. Very minimal crack behind top tang but it stops at the checkering. Bluing is in good shape with a few spots of bluing loss, see pics for details. This great little AYA will make for a wonderful quail or close-flushing hunting piece! Price: $2,695
The12g Boss OU see here is built on one of the most important shotgun designs of the 20th century. It’s also an absolute bargain.
The UK’s Gavin Gardiner is selling it in his Fine Modern & Vintage Sporting Guns Auction on 12 December 2018. Check out his video of it below to see just how nice it is.
Built on a design patented by Boss & Co in 1909, the Boss OU introduced the world to the low-profile OU. Up until 1909, breech-loading OUs had lumps on the bottom of the barrels like a side-by-side. This made them thick through the action and clunky looking.
Boss & Co go rid of lumps by mounting “trunions” on either side of barrels. This slimmed down the action, lightened the guns, and made Boss OUs look as sleek as their SxSs.
Today, most modern OUs owe a huge debt to Boss’s design, from a Beretta Silver Pigeon and a CSMC’s A10 to a Fabbri
Boss & Co is still in business and they’re still building their legendary OUs today. I think prices start at around $240,000. So if you can buy this gun for anything less than $100,000, you’re getting a fantastic deal.
LOT 332: BOSS & CO. A FINE 12-BORE SINGLE TRIGGER SIDELOCK EJECTOR OVER AND UNDER GUN, NO. 9990: 28-inch barrels with 2 3/4-inch chambers, about 1/4 and 1/2 choke borings, the frame, locks and top lever engraved with fine bouquet and scroll engraving and retaining almost all of its original hardening colour, the maker’s name signed within a scrolling banner, gold line cocking indicators, 14 1/2-inch well-figured stock and Boss half pistol grip, nitro proof, 7lb., in its maker’s lightweight case with canvas outer cover S2 The maker confirms that the gun was delivered in 1995. The gun remained in store with its maker for a number of years and remains virtually as new and unused.
People say the past is gone. But that’s not true, especially if you own this 16 bore Thomas Boss double-barrel percussion shotgun. It puts the past right in your hands.
Built around 1833, this shotgun may be the oldest Boss firearm in existence. And for a gun that old, it appears to be in excellent shape and pretty original. Pretty amazing.
Back when it was built, percussion shotguns were cutting edge and Manhattan barely existed as a city above 14th Street. This double would have been ordered by a wealthy gentleman with time on his hands.
Thomas Boss, the founder of Boss & Co, would have had his hands all over it, would have had his all over this gun as it was being made, fabricating and fitting some parts and inspecting everything to make sure it was top-notch. Just imagine him clicking the hammers into place and pulling the triggers–the same hammers and triggers your hands would touch if you owned this gun.
An ex-Manton worker, Thomas Boss was one of the gunmakers who made London famous for quality, elegant firearms. You can see how he did it when you look at this elegant and beautifully built double.
Lot 1027: THOMAS BOSS PERCUSSION SIDELOCK SXS SHOTGUN: Cal. 16 Ga. S# 118. Bbls. 27″. Color case hardened action & hammers. Blued furniture. Twist Steel bbls. Dbl. triggers. Rib wears inscription “T. BOSS No. 1 GROSVENOR STREET, NEW BOND STREET, LONDON”. Action wears elegant vine & leaf, early Boss style, engraving w/ beautifully engraved dolphin hammers. Top & bottom tangs are also ornately engraved. Ramrod stop indicates this is original bbl. length. Ramrod appears original. Bore diameter: right – .662″, left – .667″. Consignor states that this is the earliest known Boss gun.
CONDITION: locks retain substantial amounts of case color which appears original. Bbls. retain significant brown finish highlighting the Twist pattern. All markings regarding maker are crisp & legible. Locks are strong & crisp. The beautifully figured stock retains crisp flat top checkering w/ numerous scuff marks. The finish remains strong. Edges of forend show two sm. voids. Bores show light pitting. (01-14725/TB). ANTIQUE. Estimate: $800-1200.
Here’s the next video in the five-part series about Bill Blacker. As I mentioned last time, Blacker is one of the world’s top barrel makers. With a background that started at Holland & Holland’s and includes James Purdey & Sons and most of the UK’s leading gunmakers,
This short video is part 2 of 5. I posted the first one last week, and I’ll be sharing the rest over the next few weeks. Check out each for the chance to learn more about best-quality guns from one of the top craftsmen working in the trade today.
Bill Blacker is one of world’s top barrel makers. He apprenticed at Holland & Holland’s, spent time at James Purdey & Sons and has worked with most of the UK’s leading gunmakers.
This short video is part 1 of 5 I’ll be sharing over the next week. Each gives you a glimpse into Mr Blacker background and what it takes to build a set of barrels for a best-quality shotgun and double rifle.
Here’s an incredible over under. It’s an all original, nearly new Ogden Smiths & Hussey Imperial Ejector from around 1930. It’s in its original case and it comes with all its original accessories. Double triggers. Straight grip. All that color case hardening. Holy sh!t is right.
Ogden Smiths was a fishing tackle company at 62 St. James St. in London’s prestigious West End. In 1923, the company reformed with the addition of gunmaker Henry H. Hussey (son of famed gunmaker H.J. Hussey) to sell guns under the name Ogden Smiths & Hussey, Ltd. Even though this partnership lasted until 1933, very little is known about the guns they made. We do know that Hussey built firearms of different styles and qualities, including single-barrel trap guns, Anson & Deeley boxlocks and best-quality, SxSs.
This OU has 1925-1954 London proofmarks on it. It’s the second I’ve seen with the Ogden Smiths & Hussey name on it, and I think there are at least two more out there, including one that may be a 16 gauge.
All these OUs were probably built for Ogden Smiths & Hussey by the Hill family. Charles Hill was one of the creators of the James Woodward-patent Under & Over shotgun. After helping Woodward come up with the design for their famous shotgun, he built similar doubles for other gunmakers. When he died, the Hill family carried on this work and built OUs for firms like Henry Atkin, Churchill, and Ogden Smiths & Hussey.
BTW: If you have an Ogden Smiths & Hussey shotgun, case, accessories, or catalog, or if you know anything about the company, please drop me an email: Gregg@DogsandDoubles.com.
I would love to hear about them. And I would like to thank author John Newton for some of the information in this post.
Gunmaking, like any task, can be practiced at different levels. The folks building these inexpensive Dickinson SxSs and the ones building Dickson Round Actions are doing essentially the same thing, but with different amounts of time, skill, and precision.
Today, few people practice gunmaking at the absolute top level. David Dryhurst and Richard Tandy are two of them. In 1982 they became part owners of W.W. Greener, and since then they’ve gone on to build some of the finest doubles coming out of the UK — or anywhere else. You can find out more about their backgrounds and see some of their fabulous guns on this new website: W.W. Greener – The New Guns
Here’s an interesting image I came across online. It shows Westley Richard’s old London shop, located at 178 New Bond Street in the Mayfair area of the city’s West End – a super swanky part of town.
I’m not sure when Westley opened their shop at 178 New Bond Street, but according to the company’s website William Bishop — The Bishop of Bond Street — was acting as WR’s agent from 170 New Bond Street at early at 1815 — 3 years after the company’s founding.
Today, 178 New Bond Street is the flagship store for Boodles, a luxury jeweller with very “British” name.
Birmingham, England, used to be one of the world’s largest gunmaking towns. Thousands of people used to be employed by the trade there, and all kinds of makers had shops or factories in and around the city. William Ford was one of these makers.
William Ford rose to prominence in the late 1870s as a barrel maker, and by the 1880s he had his own shop/factory in Birmingham. I’m not sure when the side-by-side you see here was built, but judging by the fluid-steel bbls I’d say it was made in the early 20th century. From what I can see, this double looks like a good deals – if the gun is in proof and the bbl walls are sound (I like to see .o25″+ as a minimum in each tube). Be sure you find out before you close the deal.
Shotgun type: SxS
Grip: Straight Grip
Lop: 14 1/2 ”
Pad thickness: 0.5 ”
Type of butt: Leather Covered Pad
Drop comb: 1 3/8 ”
Drop heel: 2 1/4 ”
Cast amount: 3/16 ”
Weight: 6 lbs, 10 oz
Chamber: 2 3/4 ”
Length: 28 ”
Chokes: Skeet 1 and 2
Rib type: Concave
Manufactured in: England
Overall condition: Very Good
Stock condition: Very Good
Metal condition: Very Good
Stock: Original finish
Metal: Original finish
Type of Case: Leather Luggage Case
William & Son isn’t London’s most oldest or most famous gunmaker. But they are one of its best, and in this video you can see a bit of what goes into making one of their side-by-side shotguns.
Here’s a bit about these guns from the Chairman & Founder, William Asprey:
“..These are truly the ultimate in bespoke pieces and our London guns are considered to be some of the finest. While our craftsmanship and excellence in this field is second to none, our prices are better than many. Indeed, William & Son goes one better: it considers the whole experience that investing in a handcrafted shotgun entails and matches the customers commitment to an age old sport with our dedication to service. Our gunmaker, Paul West, is able to discuss the best gun for your needs, and meet any special requirements you may have.”
Vintage British boxlocks are some of the best deals in the gun world- especially ones like this 12g Anson & Deeley-style by W.J. Jeffrey.
W.J Jeffrey 12ga Ejector scolloped boxlock: Full courage scroll engraving with banner on each side, walnut stocks with English grip and leather covered pad wood has been refinished with hand rubbed oil, blank initial plate. LOP 15″ from front trigger original flat top checkering. Barrels 28″. Ejectors. Barrels have fresh re-black. R-.003 L-.029 choke. Clean non-original case with new non-original label. Price: $2,895
Someone needs to buy this great looking Scottish side-by-side right away. This gun was made for Charles Ingram Gunmakers, of Waterlook St. Glasgow– a business that began in 1835 — and it looks like it has a lot of original finish. I love the scroll engraving and the reddish cast of the wood, too. This SxS has post-1925 and post-1954 proof marks on it, so it has been reproofed. I would take a close look at the wall thicknesses and also check to see if the barrels have been reblued.
British boxlocks like this are some of the best deals in the vintage gun market, so I’m sure it will sell quickly.
|Stock:||Checkered Walnut With Sraight English Grip|
|Stock Dimensions:||15″ LOP|
|Fore End:||Checkered Walnut Fore End With Anson & Deeley Latch|
|Butt Pad:||Black Hard Rubber|
|Sights:||Brass Bead Front|
|Chokes:||Improved Cylinder (.008″) / Full (.040″)|
Own a best-quality British shotgun? Here’s the perfect place to store it. The rare James Woodward & Sons shotgun cases below are on Ebay now. Both are being offered at No Reserve.
Brady and other companies in the UK built cases like these for Woodward, Westley Richards, Purdey, and other makers. When a customer ordered a gun, the case was optional (so were the accessories). Most makers offered cases in different qualities. Oak & Leathers were the best, the most expensive, and the most durable. They were also the heaviest. The all-leather cases were rugged, but a bit smaller and several pounds lighter.
The cases you see here are in great shape, and because they include their original labels and some of their original Woodward accessories, both are incredible finds.
No — that’s not a typo, and the price shown is not missing a zero. Here’s is a 20 gauge James Woodward & Son sidelock side-by-side shotgun for just $3,000. But of course there’s a catch: this double barrel is missing its forend.
This gun was made around 1896. For some reason, it looks like it was proofed for nitro loads a few years later. James Woodward was in business from 1874 to 1948. In all, they made around 4500 or so guns — far fewer than Boss, Purdey, or Holland & Holland. Twenty-gauge, best-quality side-by-side Woodwards are rare. The last one I saw sold for a around $40,000, and a decent one could easily bring $50,000+ today.
Three thousand dollars isn’t a bad price for this one. Building a new forend will be expensive, but it is doable — especially if the barrels are sound and the rest of the gun is in good shape. But because the seller has listed the gun “as is,” you won’t know if restoring it is an option until after you own you own the gun. And if the barrels are bad, you’ll have spent $3000 on a paperweight, some firewood, and a fancy stake for a tomato plant.
So are you feeling lucky?
J. Woodward & Sons, English “Best Gun”, 20 gauge, 28 inch barrels: Being sold as a “parts gun” as it is missing a complete forend. Without the forend, it will not cock. Butt stock has been shortened and added to. Bore is shiny without evident pits. Right barrel on underside has small ding/dent, felt when running hand up and down. No evident pits on metal. Purdey and other English gun makers have been contacted for an appraisal as to restoring gun to shooting condition. Estimates have been as high as $31K. U.S gunmakers contacted have not been willing to undertake project. Gun closes tightly and is not loose in any part. Receiver metal has light patina. C&R/FFL needed. No sale to CA. Ask any and all questions. More photos can be asked for. Seller has given up hope of restoring as restoration cost may exceed value of finished gun.
George Gibbs is a gunmaker we don’t hear a lot about today. Even though he helped design one of the most successful hammerless shotguns of the 19th century, and his son partnered with William Metford to create one of the finest falling-block rifles of the 1870 and 1880s, you would be hard pressed to find a hunter or shooter who recognizes the firms name today. This is a shame, because many of the guns built by George Gibbs, Gunmakers are fantastic.
This George Gibbs .450 3 1/4″ Double Rifle is one example of just how nice a Gibbs can be. The pair of sidelock shotguns you see here are two more. Graham Mackinlay has these guns now. Made as a true pair of Best-quality side-by-sides, they’re in beautiful shape.
Pair of 12 gauge George Gibbs Sidelock Double Barrel Shotguns: These are ‘best’ grade sidelocks and have been in one family from new. Both guns retain a large amount of colour hardening. The actions and locks are engraved with incredibly fine acanthus scroll. They have 29″ steel barrels with fine sunken top ribs which read, ‘George Gibbs Bristol and 35 Savile Row, London W (barrels Sir Joseph Whitworth fluid pressed steel)’. The guns are in their original leather case with named accessories, striker pot and disc key. The highly figures stocks are 14 3/4″ with leather-covered pads. The barrels of these guns are in phenomenal condition and will last several generations. It’s rare to find some fine guns in this condition. Price: £ 25,000
When you think of “British” doubles, London and Birmingham are the cities that usually come to mind. Many of the UK’s top gunmakers worked in and around those cities for over two-hundred years. But top gunmakers were also located in other parts of the country for almost as long.
John Dickson & Son built their famous Round Action shotguns way up in Edinburgh, Scotland, while W.R. Pape built his doubles across the border in Newcastle Upon Tyne, England. South of Pape’s shop was another top British gunmaker — Thomas Horsley of York.
Thomas Horsley started his business around 1830 and his firm continued on until 1959. In 1862 & 1863, as breechloading guns were appearing on the the UK’s shooting scene, Horsley patented a unique pull-back, snap action. He also came up with a patent for retractable firing pins. The bar-in-wood double rifle you see here uses these patents.
Rifle generate far more pressure than shotguns, and this pressure stresses the gun’s action in extreme ways. This is why it’s unusual to see one built as a bar-in-wood. Compared to a standard bar-action shotgun, the actions on bar-in-woods are fairly slim. This means there’s less metal to take up the twisting and flexing that happens every time the gun is fired. Judging by the condition this one is in, I don’t think it was fired very much.
Thomas Horsley .450BPE Bar-in-Wood Hammer Double Rifle: Through innovation and superior craftsmanship, Thomas Horsley earned the name the “Purdey of York,” and this remarkable example demonstrates why. Incorporating his famous pull-back top lever locking system (patent 2410 of 1863) and distinctive retracting firing pins (patent 1138 of 1867). It is in all original exc-plus condition w/ bores As New. Difficult to come by from a most esteemed provincial maker. 27 3/4″ Bbls, 13 7/8″ London proof-marks. Including 20 rnds Bell brass. Price: $9,000
Here’s another nice double barrel shotgun coming up tomorrow, 3/8, @ Poulin’s auction. It’s a W. & C Scott, with a ton of original condition and — amazingly — its original hang tag and case. W. & C Scott was founded in 1840 by brothers William & Charles, and their company went on to become one of the most important gunmakers in the world. In 1897, the firm merged with P. Webley to form Webley & Scott. Up until around WW2, Webley & Scott was one of the largest gunmakers in the world.
The side-by-side Scott you see here was made around 1885. It’s a mid-grade gun. Mid- and lower-grade doubles were usually used hard, so it’s incredible to see all the original color-case hardening, bbl brown, and oil finish. on this one. The gun is beautifully made, too. Just take a look through the pics at the bottom of this post to see what I mean.
The fact that this gun also comes with its original, handwritten hang tag and case with the dealer’s label is another plus. The gun was retailed by William Read & Son, Washington St, Boston, and I can’t believe both those items have made it through the last 129 years.
W & C SCOTT SxS HAMMER SHOTGUN: Cal. 12 Ga., 2 1/2″. S# 36941. Bbls. 30″ Damascus steel. Fixed full & full chokes. Top rib marked “W&C Scott & Son. Makers & Patentees. London.” Case colored bar lock action with low style, rebounding circular hammers. Fine foliate scroll engraving featuring a swan on the left lock. Double triggers. Extractors. Splinter forend, with Scott-patent, pull down release lever. Round-knob stock of hand checkered fancy English walnut. LOP: 14 1/8″ over original checkered buttplate. DAC: 1 7/8″. DAH: 3 1/4″. Stock is cast off. Weight: 8 Lbs., 1 oz. Minimum wall thickness L. .040 & R. .040.
CONDITION: Bbls. retain 85% original brown finish having spots of light freckling & showing vivid Damascus pattern. Locks retain 90% original bright case colors with applied lacquer. Action retains 70% original bright case colors fading to patina in carry areas. Stock and forend have good original finish showing light wear with a few light marks & scratches. Very good, bright bores. UNATTACHED ACCESSORIES: original W.C. Scott & Son hang tag, numbered to gun, featuring original specifications. Upper right corner of tag missing. Original case with William Read & Sons trade label. Case in poor condition. ESTIMATE: $3000-4500
I often think of Birmingham and London as the centers of the UK’s double-barrel shotgun trade. Of course, both cities did make significant contributions to the history of gunmaking, but Edinburgh also played a important role.
James MacNaughton opened a shop in Edinburgh in 1864 and in 1879 he patented his triggerplate-action ‘Edinburgh Patent Hammerless Ejector’ — the world’s first “round action” design. You can read a bit more about him on this blog post from Castle Gunmakers: James MacNaughton’s “Edinburgh” Gun – the best ever?
MacNAUGHTON 303 NITRO ROUND ACTION TRIGGERPLATE DOUBLE RIFLE: DISTINCTIVE, ELEGANT & RARE, #2430, James MacNaughton & Sons, 36 Hanover Street, Edinburgh: A Distinctive, Elegant & Rare Hammerless Round Action Trigger Plate Double Rifle in .303 British Nitro Made in 1905 with 26″ Ejector barrels, The safety is a turning lever on the top strap, 1/4 rib with 1 standing & 1 folding rear sights, The 1/4 rib and front ramp in the pure MacNaughton round action style with split barrels from the rib to the front sight, Nitro Proved, Double triggers, No cheekpiece, Ideal for the right or left hand, No sling eyes, 14 5/8″ LOP over the original checkered butt, The proper and correct 303 weight of 8 lbs. 1 oz., 90% coverage of very nice period scroll and border engraving, Nice wood that remains stout with a lifetime of use left in both the butt and forend.
I feel this gun is totally original with the barrel blue still at 95%, it still has 40% original case colors and it remains super solid in every respect. Then to top all that off, the bores are excellent plus and look like new, if they were a 10 when it was new they now remain at a 9. A very solid double rifle that has a bunch of its mechanical life left in it. It has a spare set of 20 Bore 28″ ejector barrels that were fit to this gun by B.S.A. without any alteration to the original gun. They appear to have been fitted after 1925 based on the proof marks. The whole is cased in the original canvas trunk after the 20 Bore barrels were added and fits the two barrels. It has a very neat original MacNaughton trade label with the 36 Hanover address and not the former 26 Hanover address. It was possibly made for Mr. K. R. McAdams from Fredericton, New Brunswick as the trade label is marked accordingly.
This is special stuff from one of the most famous Edinburgh Gunmakers of the 19th century. James MacNaughton was the patentee of the first round action similar to Dickson’s own later design. His round action trigger plate lockwork was patent #2848 of 1879 which included a falling block as well as this SxS. This patent is certainly the forerunner of all the round actions that are still made to this day. The MacNaughton ejector system is patent 37759 of 1890. This classic MacNaughton system also carried a U. S. patent #264,723 of 1882. The firm became James MacNaughton & Sons at 36 Hanover in 1905, the address of this gun and remained there until 1940. Price: $31,000.00
Boston isn’t a city we think of as gun friendly. But in the 19th and early 20th century, it was home to a number of famous gunmakers, including William R. Schaefer.
Wm R. Schaefer started making percussion guns around 1853. By 1883, his sons had joined the business and they were making custom shotguns and rifles in Boston at 61 Elm Street (Elm Street was at the edge of Scollay Sq, near Faneuil Hall).
The Wm R. Schaefer boxlock you see here was probably made in the 1880s. It looks very “Westley Richards” to me, which isn’t surprising. Schaefer was an agent for Harrington & Richardson’s A&D hammerless guns. Here’s more about this double from the seller:
s/n 4170; brl length 30″; top break SxS; Good cond; checkered pistol grip, heavily engraved action, trigger guard, damascus brls, light rust at top front.