Sidelock? Boxlock? See what sets them apart …

Boss & Co. 20 bore SLE ~ Simply outstanding! This is a chance to own the very best of the best real estate in the double gun world! Super investment
Boss & Co. 20 bore SLE ~ Simply outstanding! This is a chance to own the very best of the best real estate in the double gun world! Super investment

Boxlock and sidelock are the pointing and flushing dogs of SxS shotguns. Each has its merits, and it’s hard to say if one’s superior to the other.

Westley Richards 12 Bore S/S – BOXLOCK, EJECTORS WESTLEY SINGLE SELECTIVE TRIGGER, 28”, NICE!
Westley Richards 12 Bore S/S – BOXLOCK, EJECTORS WESTLEY SINGLE SELECTIVE TRIGGER, 28”, NICE!

To see what sets these guns apart, check out this page: The difference between a Boxlock and a Sidelock.

It’s from Boxall & Edmiston.

Anson & Deeley boxlock action, side by side shotgun, from Boxall & Edmiston
Anson & Deeley boxlock action, side by side shotgun, from Boxall & Edmiston

A decade ago or so, I met two Englishman at The Southern SxS: Peter Boxall, formerly a manufacturing director of Holland & Holland, and James Edmiston, former MD of the Sterling Armament Company. They had just launched a new shotgun company — Boxall & Edmiston — and their future looked bright.

Unfortunately, things didn’t work out. But as of today, their website is still up and it’s filled with tons of info about guns and gunmaking. You can find it if you go here Shotgun Anatomy tab.

On being a “best”, according to gunmaker Dewey Vicknair …

BOSS & CO, LONDON, BEST SXS 20 GAUGE SIDELOCK SHOTGUN
BOSS & CO, LONDON, BEST SXS 20 GAUGE SIDELOCK SHOTGUN

To a lot of people in the gun trade, “Best gun” is fighting words. Traditionally, it’s a handmade sidelock side-by-side shotgun or double rifle built to the highest standards by one of the major London makers like Holland & Holland or James Purdey & Sons.

JAMES PURDEY & SONS BEST PRE WAR PIGEON GUN 12 GAUGE
JAMES PURDEY & SONS BEST PRE WAR PIGEON GUN 12 GAUGE

But today, as some of these famous makers are relying more and more on CNC equipment to build their guns, is it fair to still call these “Best Guns”? And do they still justify their incredibly high prices? Find out what one person thinks.

Is That New “Best Gun” Really What You Think It Is? by Dewey Vicknair

“With the gun first created in “virtual reality” and so much less hand work involved, one does wonder why the price of a modern best is so high, especially considering that one of the biggest names in best gunmaking now makes guns “for stock”, presumably for the buyer who just can’t wait for a bespoke gun.  It might even be said that the buyer is paying for something that he is not receiving, because he believes that he is purchasing a handmade gun when in fact, that gun is mostly made on CNC machinery.”

Read Dewey’s entire piece now

Speaking of color-case hardening. What is it? How’s it done?

Last week I put up this post about re-coloring old doubles: Restore it or wreck it? Thoughts on making old guns look new again…

This week I realized something: A lot of folks may not know what color-case hardening or how old-school gunmakers did it (and do it). Fortunately there this video: A.A.Brown & Sons Processes – Colour Case Hardening (same as what you see above).

To learn more about what color-case hardening does and why gunmakers do it, read this article: Colour-case hardening: the last word in form.

A.A.Brown & Sons Processes - Colour Case Hardening
A.A.Brown & Sons Processes – Colour Case Hardening

Watch & learn: T. R. White Son & Co, Gunmakers …

Watch: T R White & Co Gunmakers, a film  by Matthew Jopling

For 30 years now, T. R. White Son & Co, Gunmakers has been building its reputation as one of Great Britain’s top gunmakers. a background that includes time spent at W. & C. Scott.

T R White & Co Gunmakers, a film by by Matthew Jopling
T. R. White & Co Gunmakers, a film by Matthew Jopling

Established in 1989 by Tony White, whose background includes time spent at W. & C. Scott, the business includes his son, Matthew White, and gun maker Edward Atkinson. Together, they build SxS and OUs, boxlocks and sidelocks. In this video, you can learn a bit more about what drives them to create such beautiful firearms. Watch: T R White & Co Gunmakers, a film  by Matthew Jopling

Boxlock by T. R. White Son & Co, Gunmakers
Boxlock by T. R. White Son & Co, Gunmakers

Brescia, Italy. Great place, great people, great guns…

Train station in Brescia, Italy
The train station in Brescia, Italy

Last week I flew into Milan, Italy, and traveled east to Brescia to visit Beretta and a few other gunmakers.

People in the Brescia region have been building guns for 400+ years. Today, the area is home to 100+ companies who build 40% of the sporting and hunting firearms sold around the world.

In 2016, these companies shipped 395,000 guns to the U.S. alone.

Beretta is the biggest and most famous of these companies. This year they’re introducing a fine new OU called the SL3. I talk more about this gun–and about the other gunmakers I visited–in future posts.

Learn more about gunmaking in the Brescia region.

Roman ruins in Brescia
Roman ruins in Brescia
Vineyards in front of the Castle of Brescia
Vineyards in front of the Castle of Brescia
Cool building in the old part of Brescia
Cool building in the old part of Brescia
Val Trompia, from a roofdeck at the Beretta factory
Val Trompia, from a roof deck at the Beretta factory
Dinner one night in Brescia
Dinner one night in Brescia
Mille Miglia Musem in Brescia
At the Mille Miglia Museum in Brescia

Sad new for gunmaking: Westley Richard’s Simon Clode passes away …

Simon Clode (right) with professional hunter Robin Hurt. Pic from The Explora.
Simon Clode (right) with professional hunter Robin Hurt. Pic from The Explora.

Wow – I can’t believe this: Westley Richard’s Simon Clode had passed away. My condolences to his family. You can read his obit on Westley Richard’s The Explora blog here.

I ran into Simon a few times, the last one at the 2016 Safari Club Show in Vegas. He was sort of the Steve Jobs of the British gun trade – a real visionary.

I have tremendous respect for what he accomplished. He built great guns and a great brand. He brought a new generation of craftsmen into the biz and gave work to the existing ones. He was also spread the word about British guns to shooters around the world.

From marketing to gun making, he knew what he was doing. People like him are rare. I hope Westley Richards has someone in line to take over with the same drive and feel for the future.

Two of the world’s greatest gunmakers…

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.

W.W. GREENER PREMIER SIDELOCK SXS DOUBLE BARREL 16 GAUGE SHOTGUN. BUILT BY DRYHURST & TANDY.
W.W. GREENER PREMIER SIDELOCK SXS DOUBLE BARREL 16 GAUGE SHOTGUN. BUILT BY DRYHURST & TANDY.

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

W.W. GREENER PREMIER SIDELOCK SXS DOUBLE BARREL 16 GAUGE SHOTGUN. BUILT BY DRYHURST & TANDY.
W.W. GREENER PREMIER SIDELOCK SXS DOUBLE BARREL 16 GAUGE SHOTGUN. BUILT BY DRYHURST & TANDY.
W.W. GREENER PREMIER SIDELOCK SXS DOUBLE BARREL 16 GAUGE SHOTGUN. BUILT BY DRYHURST & TANDY.
W.W. GREENER PREMIER SIDELOCK SXS DOUBLE BARREL 16 GAUGE SHOTGUN. BUILT BY DRYHURST & TANDY.
W.W. GREENER PREMIER SIDELOCK SXS DOUBLE BARREL 16 GAUGE SHOTGUN. BUILT BY DRYHURST & TANDY.
W.W. GREENER PREMIER SIDELOCK SXS DOUBLE BARREL 16 GAUGE SHOTGUN. BUILT BY DRYHURST & TANDY.
W.W. GREENER PREMIER SIDELOCK SXS DOUBLE BARREL 16 GAUGE SHOTGUN
W.W. GREENER PREMIER SIDELOCK SXS DOUBLE BARREL 16 GAUGE SHOTGUN
W.W. GREENER PREMIER SIDELOCK SXS DOUBLE BARREL 16 GAUGE SHOTGUN. BUILT BY DRYHURST & TANDY.
W.W. GREENER PREMIER SIDELOCK SXS DOUBLE BARREL 16 GAUGE SHOTGUN. BUILT BY DRYHURST & TANDY.
W.W. GREENER PREMIER SIDELOCK SXS DOUBLE BARREL 16 GAUGE SHOTGUN. BUILT BY DRYHURST & TANDY.
W.W. GREENER PREMIER SIDELOCK SXS DOUBLE BARREL 16 GAUGE SHOTGUN. BUILT BY DRYHURST & TANDY.

Best vs. Best: Comparing SxSs by Boss & Co. & J. Woodward & Sons…

12 gauge Boss & Co. SxS shotgun, late 1920s
12 gauge Boss & Co. SxS shotgun, late 1920s

In the world of fine shotguns, a Best-quality double is just that: The very best side-by-side or over-under a company could make (or in some cases, the best one they retailed). Best guns were top-of-the-line, and top gunmakers made their best guns in special ways. This was called the “House Style”, and it was applied to the entire gun, from the engraving pattern and the shaping to the action, metalwork, and stock.

The side-by-sides you see here are Best-guns by Boss & Co. and James Woodward & Sons. The Boss is 12g made the later 1920s. The Woodward is a 16g. I think it’s from the 1930s. Even though these doubles have a lot in common, they are very different guns. Look closely and you’ll see what sets them apart.

16g SXS, James Woodward & Sons
16g SXS, James Woodward & Sons
12 gauge Boss & Co. SxS shotgun, late 1920s
12 gauge Boss & Co. SxS shotgun, late 1920s
16g SXS, James Woodward & Sons
16g SXS, James Woodward & Sons
12 gauge Boss & Co. SxS shotgun, late 1920s
12 gauge Boss & Co. SxS shotgun, late 1920s
16g SXS, James Woodward & Sons
16g SXS, James Woodward & Sons
12 gauge Boss & Co. SxS shotgun, late 1920s
12 gauge Boss & Co. SxS shotgun, late 1920s
16g SXS, James Woodward & Sons
16g SXS, James Woodward & Sons
Top: 12g Boss & Co, Bottom: 16g J. Woodward & Sons
Top: 12g Boss & Co, Bottom: 16g J. Woodward & Sons
Top: 12g Boss & Co, Middle: 16g J. Woodward & Sons, Bottom: 20g Boss & Co.
Top: 12g Boss & Co, Middle: 16g J. Woodward & Sons, Bottom: 20g Boss & Co.

The best of the British gunmakers, by Douglas Tate…

Here’s a bit from an interesting article I found online. This piece ran in The Field and was written by Doug Tate, author of several great books on gunmakers and gunmaking.

Westley Richards Boxlock with Detachable Locks (Droplocks)
Westley Richards Boxlock with Detachable Locks (Droplocks)

British Gunmakers

The Field, Tuesday, 03 April 2012

British gunmakers are the blue bloods of the industry. Douglas Tate picks the best of British gunmakers

The beginning of the British gunmaker Westley Richards & Co story belongs to that classic British equation – a combination of skill and enterprise that characterises so much of the British Industrial Revolution. The early 19th century was a period of ferment when rank individualism, competition and disciplined industrial method all met together…

Read the entire piece now. Learn more about the history of British gunmaking, and find out which makers are Mr Tate’s favorite.

The cost of quality…

Stephen Coker & Co, Gun & Rifle Manufacturers
Stephen Coker & Co, Gun & Rifle Manufacturers

Time is our enemy. Second to second, minute to minute, it passes the same today as yesterday, last year, and a decade ago. That’s no the case with us. As time passes, we wear out and break down. The same is true with our shotguns.

When an old double needs work, getting it repaired right can be expensive – especially top-quality work on Best-quality guns. In this great blog post, Mike Rowe of Stephen Coker & Co talks about why the best quality pairs are expensive.

Workmanship and the Cost of Best-Quality Repairs, from Mike Rowe, Stephen Coker & Co.

“So it must be”. These words flowed from the prolific pen of William Wellington Greener, whilst writing his epic tome “The Gun, and Its Development”. He continued, “Unless attention be given to every piece, no matter how seemingly unimportant, the gun is not well made, and may fail just where least expected”. And so it goes with repairs.

I am often asked during the course of my work on Best Quality antique guns, to provide an estimate on the cost of certain repairs or the making of a replacement part. Unfortunately for owners of fine English guns, repairs are not inexpensive. And it was the same a hundred years or so ago, when the guns were made. Most of the time my replies are met with either a look of disbelief, or stunned silence…

Read the rest of Mike Rowe’s piece now.

 

Gunmaking & gundog training in the UK…

Here’s a nice video showing a bit about gunmakers Dickson & McNaughton and UK gundog training. It’s well produced and definitely worth a watch. Check it out now.

Gun Dog from Ella Nodwell on Vimeo.

A great video about James Purdey & Sons….

James Purdey & Sons is one of the world’s most famous gunmakers – and for good reason. They’ve been making some of the world’s finest rifles and shotguns for almost 200 years. This video is an interesting look inside the company. It’s good, but long (1 hour and 30 minutes). To make it easier to watch, here’s a cheat sheet of times & topics. The things I do for you!

00:00 – 10:00 – General History, with Richard Purdey
10:00 – 27:48 – Evolution of the Purdey Shotgun
27:49 – 32:40 – Inside the Purdey Factor – Barrel Making
32:41 – 39:20 – The Action
39:21 – 50:00 – The Locks
50:00 – 55:30 – The Triggers
55:30 – 1:11:12 – Stocking, unique jobs of Purdey Stockers
1:11:12 – 1:17:28 – Engraving
1:17:28 – 1:30:15 – Regulating & Finishing

Take a rare look inside the Birmingham proof house…

The “proofing” of individual firearms is something we’ve never really done here the US. But in the UK, Europe, and in other parts of the world, proofing is a process required by law and carried out by independent “proof houses”.

This video takes an interesting look at William Powell, and it worhships the usual gods of the English gunmaking: handfitting, bespoke ordering, tradition, cost, etc. Interesting stuff, but we’ve seen it all before.

The cool part is at 4:16-5:00 and 5:42-6:00. That’s where you get a glimpse of how the Birmingham proof house goes about proofing shotguns. I’ve never seen this recorded on video before, and it’s definitely worth checking out. I love that shot of the smoke puffing out after the testing of the bbls…

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