Merkel is not a gunmaker I associate with dynamic shotguns. Most of the Merkels I’ve seen have been stout O/Us with full pistol grips and robust forends. While these guns looked like they could chew through thousands of rounds without a glitch, they didn’t look like they would do it with any liveliness or grace.
That’s why this 20 gauge Merkel side-by-side that I saw at Julia’s on Saturday surprised me. It’s going to be sold tomorrow, 3/12, if you’re looking for a nice looking bird gun, it’s worth looking at and taking a shot on.
This Merkel was made in conjunction with L.L. Bean’s 100th anniversary, and I picked the gun I wasn’t expecting much. But I very impressed once I had the gun in my hands. This double has all the snap that I would expect to find in something British, and it was beautifully engraved and well finished. As the day went on and I looked at other doubles, I came back to this Merkel a few more times. I think this Merkel is one of the sleepers of the sale, and whoever gets it will get a nice shotgun — and probably a great deal.
Lot 2210: L.L. BEAN 100TH ANNIVERSARY PROTOTYPE MERKEL 147SL 20 GA. SIDELOCK EJECTOR SHOTGUN WITH CASE. SN 482432. Cal. 20 ga. 3″ Chambers. 28″ Shoe lump bbls with concave, matted game rib and crossbolt extension, are gold inlaid “L.L.Bean 002”. Two prototypes were manufactured. No. 001 was retained by the family. This gun(002)was the working prototype and has been handled, shot or positively reviewed by some of the most respected writers in the industry from Field & Stream, Shooting Sportsman, Upland Almanac, Sporting Classics and others. From an Upland Almanac review: “L.L.Bean should be very proud to put their name on this gun as it stands as a testament to their renowned quality, precision and well thought out products…a fantastic high quality shotgun that anyone would be product to own…the perfect shotgun to commemorate a century of excellence from this iconic company.”
It is now being offered by James D. Julia, Inc. with all proceeds going to National Wild Turkey Federation’s JAKES program to support getting more youth involved in the hunting and shooting sports. This will be the only L.L.Bean prototype that will ever be available to the public. Bbls are marked with Merkel’s address, grade and importer. Breech ends have 2-1/2″ triangles of well executed open shaded scroll. Bbl flats are stamped with German nitro proofs for 20 ga. 3″ chambers. Coin finished action with automatic safety, bushed strikers, raised rib tumbler end cocking indicators, detachable locks with H & H style takedown pin, side bolsters, and double triggers, is engraved with very fine scroll. Sideplates are semi-relief engraved, with well shaded sporting scenes of dogs and game birds; with pointer on point as trio of ruffed grouse explode from undergrowth on left lockplate; and a trio of woodcock are settling into alders on right. Top lever is gold inlaid “LL”.
Bottom of action is gold inlaid with “L.L.Bean, Inc.” and “100 Years” in scroll terminated ribands above and below gold inlaid rendition of the time honored and famous, rubber bottom and leather upper, Bean’s “Maine hunting shoe”, flanked by dates “1912” and “2012”. This fine engraving is the work of “B. Hafner” whose signature appears on bottom front of left lockplate. Nicely figured and smoky marbled European walnut straight grip buttstock measures 14-1/2″ over checkered wood butt, and features skip line point pattern checkering, as well as a vacant gold oval on toe line. Matching splinter ejector forend has Deeley release. Bore diameter: left-.625, right -.625. Bore restrictions: left -.014 (mod), right -.008 (IC). Wall thickness: left -.030, right -.031. Drop at heel: 2-1/2″, drop at comb: 1-7/16″. Weight: 6 lbs. 8 oz. LOP: 14-1/2″. High quality leather toe under case with stitched leather corners, has stitched on leather label embossed with the same treatment as bottom of action, depicting hunting shoe. Interior is lined in green felt with same label stitched in lid. Case contains cocobolo and brass two piece cleaning rod with mop, jag and brush in leather case, pair of snap caps, and a square plated oil bottle, along with an L.L.Bean wipe down cloth.
CONDITION: Excellent, near new, showing only some light, careful use, with a few almost invisible marks mostly on buttstock. Perfect bores, mechanically crisp. Ejectors are perfectly timed. Case is excellent, exterior showing some minor scuffs, straps and handle some use. Interior is excellent, as are accessories.