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 are some items I just listed on Ebay. All have $1 starts, no reserves.
Made in the 1990s for a 20g Boss OU shotgun, possibly by Vincent Rickards.
Genuine “Lightweight Flat V.C Canvas Case”, superb original condition, made for a 12-gauge side-by-side shotgun, 28” barrel compartment.
Holds up to 500 12-gauge shotgun shells. Made for a British aristocrat.
Of all the famous London gunmakers, James Woodward & Sons is the most mysterious. Great examples of their doubles are hard to find. So is reliable information about the company.
We do know that James Woodward opened his business in 1874 and that his company was bought by James Purdey & Sons in 1948. In its 74 years, Woodward may have built around 4,500 guns or so — no one is sure about the exact number. The company introduced its famous Woodward over & under in 1913.
The James Woodward & Sons side-by-side you see here is one of the nicest Woodward SxSs I’ve seen on the market in years. It made around 1930, and according to the seller it’s in minty condition. It’s a big gun, and its weight, broad, file-cut rib, sideclips, and 2 3/4″ chambers make me thing it may have been made with live-pigeon shooting in mind.
The deep cut, arcaded fences on this gun are one of Woodward’s signature features. So is this gun’s T-shaped safety.
Read this article from Gray’s Sporting Journal to learn more about James Woodward & Sons: The enduring influence of the gunmaker’s gunmaker.
Go here to see from great OUs: James Woodward & Sons. A pair of 12g over and under guns.
JAMES WOODWARD BEST SXS 12 GAUGE: #6952, 30″ BARRELS, CHOKES .008″ AND .027″, CHAMBERS 2 3/4″, DOUBLE TRIGGER, EJECTOR, SPLINTER FOREARM, ENGLISH GRIP, MINT, MAKERS CASE, 7LBS 11 OZ, 2 1/4″ DAH, 1 1/2″ DAC, 14 3/4″ LOP. Price: $39,500
I love old Purdeys, and when I take a look at the one you see here, I remember why. When this side-by-side was made around 1869, centerfire, breechloading shotguns like it were the latest-and-greatest thing. Even though its Henry Jones Screw-Grip Action looks primitive to us today, it was cutting-edge back then.
But even though this Purdey was built with the latest features from its era, it retains the understated, elegant looks that had made James Purdey’s firearms famous and that would define them throughout the 1800s and up to today.
The back-action, island locks on this gun are one of the features that make it special. So is the engraving, probably cut by Purdey’s house engraver at that time: James Lucas. The chiseled fences are also nice, and so is the teardrop shape to the triggerguard. What a gun!
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.
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.
“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.”
Hartmann & Weiss 16 Bore O/U on the Boss System: Gun was ordered in ’04 and delivered to my client in 2015! It took eleven years to complete this beautiful example of H&W’s magnificent work. There are hardly enough adjectives to adequately describe this piece; except perhaps, that it is available for immediate delivery! Barrels 29 Inch with Solid Raised Rib, Chokes Light Mod & Mod. Bottom barrel marked 1/4 and 1/2., Engraving Fine English Style Scroll, Stock Best Grade Turkish Walnut, Butt: Checkered, L.O.P. 15 3/8″, Weigh t6 lbs. 8.5 oz, Stock Dimensions1 1/2 x 2 1/4 x 15 3/8 to ctr. of checkered butt. Cast: 1/4 off at heel – 3/8 off at toe. Price: $135,000
HOLLAND & HOLLAND ROYAL 10 BORE PARADOX DOUBLE RIFLE MADE FOR 1900 PARIS EXHIBITION: LETTER FROM HOLLAND IN THE PHOTOS, 27″ PARADOX BARRELS WITH GREAT BORES, WE HAVE LIVE ROUNDS AND DATA AVAILABLE, DOUBLE TRIGGERS, EXTRACTORS, SPLINTER FOREARM, PISTOL GRIP, MAKER’S CASE, UNTOUCHED GREAT ORIGINAL CONDITION, 13 LBS 8 OZ, 14 7/8″ LOP. Price: $59,500
Pre-War MERKEL 202E Over_Under highly engraved and optioned 20ga: 27″ barrels and according to Merkel Germany direct records, manufactured in 1944. A short look at this gun one realizes with the incredible detail and workmanship it absolutely could not be made today. The deep relief hand engraving is really unlike any other you will see in depth and detail. Ivory bead front sight, buffalo horn seamlessly blended in to form the rear trigger guard, and each and every exterior screw hand engraved-even the butt plate screws. Cocking Indicators, Greener crossbolt action, cross relief, Ejectors, with a 14 1/4″ LOP over a beautifully figured walnut stock, 5.9 lbs as shown. Price: $8930
Beretta ASEL 20 ga. O/UBeretta ASEL 20 ga. O/U: 26″ hand-filed vent rib barrels with double ivory beads are choked improved cylinder and full (.009/.024). This late 1950s Abercrombie & Fitch gun features hinged front double triggers, auto ejectors and auto safe. Fully engraved scallop-backed action, elegant special-order long forend, Prince of Wales grip. Nicely figured Tyrolean walnut stock measures 1-3/8″ comb, 2-3/8″ heel, 14-1/8″ LOP over the original wood butt. Made in the same workrooms as the SO guns, certainly the finest boxlock O/Us ever produced by Beretta. The diminutive frame, scaled to the gauge allows this little 20 to weigh a mere 5 lbs, 10 ozs. Honest example. Price: $6,750
Beretta BL4 (BL-4) – 28ga – 26 3/8” Barrels – Like New – ca. 1970 – Sk/Sk Chokes – 14 1/4” x 1 1/2” x 2 1/2” – 6 lbs – 99% Condition: Like New – ca. 1970 – Sk/Sk Chokes – 14 1/4” x 1 1/2” x 2 1/2” – 6 lbs – 99% Condition – Clean! Upland Bird Gun: Price: $3,995
Without a doubt, Boss & Co is one of the world’s top gunmakers. In this film you find out a bit more about why the company has succeeded for so long and why their guns are still prized by shooters around the world.
This nearly-new 12g sidelock shotgun is coming up in Poulin Auctions Spring 2019 sale, which starts 3/30. It’s a best-quality, British gun made around 1994, and it’s built on a Beesley action, just like a Purdey. Watch the video above to learn more about it.
LOT 1045: MAGNIFICENT HOLLOWAY & NAUGHTON BEST CASED TWO BARREL SET SIDELOCK SXS SHOTGUN: Both sets of bbls. are 12 Ga. w/ 2 3/4″ chambers. S# H&N 12-94. Bbl. 1) Length: 30″. Choke constrictions: .011″ right, & .021″ left. Bbl. 2) Length: 28″. Choke constrictions: .011″ right, .020″ left. A true Best Quality gun, this H&N is stocked to the fences with drop points. The firing pins are bushed. Exquisite Delahaut bouquet & scroll engraving decorates all of the action metal with carbona blue pins. A banner “HOLLOWAY & NAUGHTON” in gold with gold stripe cocking indicators provides a dramatic contrast against the elegant case colors. As the gun was made in 2006, it wears the vivid colors that made Ray St. Ledger a legend in the English gun trade.
Barrels are struck to perfection & finished with luscious rich blue that appears inches deep. No less impressive than the metal, mother nature’s most elegant marble cake walnut highlights the stock & forend. Smoky figure abounds throughout the auburn backgrounds with perfect layout for a gun of this quality. Both bbl. sets feature file cut concave game ribs with brass front beads. Both bbls. use the same forend. Both bbl. sets are chopper lump bbl. construction. Checkered walnut straight hand stock with checkered butt. Checkered splinter forend. Double triggers with front trigger articulated. Purdey style self opening action. Toeline of stock features nameplate marked “RDP”. DAC: 1 1/2″. DAH: 2 3/8″. LOP: 14 5/8″. Weight: 6.95 lbs. with 28″ barrels & 7.05 lbs. with 30″ barrels. UNATTACHED ACCESSORIES: maker’s very compact 2 barrel case replete with “Holloway & Naughton” marked nickel plated oil bottle & snap caps. The body of the snap caps & fitted turn screws feature off white synthetic bodies. Ebony & brass 2 piece cleaning rod. Key is included. CONDITION: all aspects near excellent with 28″ barrel set (left barrel) showing faint thinning of blue for the last 1/2″ to the muzzle. PROVENANCE: From the Robert Pettus Collection. ESTIMATE: $40,000-60,000.
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.
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.
If there were a Hall of Fame for sporting guns, this SxS would be in it.
It’s a 12 gauge James Purdey & Sons built in 1920 and upgraded with “Extra Finish” on the action and fences (or “detonating”, in Purdey lingo). The oak & leather case is lined in red velvet and it looks like all the original accessories are present.
It’s all original, pretty unmessed with, and one of finest doubles I’ve seen.
Over the last twenty years, double-gun collectors have had many of their greatest mysteries solved, like the story behind the Czar’s Parker and the whereabouts of Bo Whoop, Nash Buckingham’s famous Fox shotgun.
I don’t know how many guns Barré engraved for Purdey. The ones featured in the Shooting Sportsman article are in the Royal Gunroom at Sandringham. Other Barré-engraved Purdeys are in private collections, and every now and then, one pops up on the market, like the 12g hammer pigeon gun you see here.
This 12g Purdey with 32″ barrels was ordered in 1909 by King Alphonso XIII of Spain. According to Christie’s, Barré’s is mentioned as the engraver in the maker’s records.
James Woodward was one of the giants of British gunmaking. In 1872, he founded his firm–James Woodward & Sons. In 1948, after having built some of the finest doubles to ever come out of the UK, the company was sold to James Purdey & Sons. In the 76 years in between, Woodward built around 5000 guns. Even though the gun you see here is engraved Lang & Hussey, I’m almost certain it was made partly-or totally-by Mr. Woodward’s firm.
Why? Because it’s just too similar to one of Woodward’s most famous guns: the “Automatic”. It even has Woodward’s signature arcaded fences and T safety. And like all top-quality, hammerless Woodwards, it was made with Whitworth fluid-steel barrels.
The Woodward “Automatic” action was based on a design patented by J. Woodward and T. Southgate in 1876, and it cocks “automatically” when you open the gun by pushing forward on the lever wrapping over the triggerguard.
BTW: To learn more about James Woodward & Sons, check out James Woodward and the Vertical Double
LANG & HUSSEY UNDER-LEVER SIDELOCK NON-EJECTOR: Here is rare Lang & Hussey 12 gauge under-lever sidelock non-ejector, built in 1898. The receiver features beautiful border and acanthus scroll engraving, arcaded fences, side-clips, and gold-inlaid cocking indicators. The number “4” is inlaid in gold on rib and tang. The gun locks up tight, and has a doll’s head extension. The 30″ barrels have 2 1/2″ chambers and shiny bores, choked .040/.040. The rib is engraved: LANG & HUSSEY Ld. 102 NEW BOND STREET. LONDON. MADE OF SIR JOSEPH WHITWORTH’S FLUID PRESSED STEEL. The stock is very pretty French walnut, and has various dings and indentations, but is solid with no cracks. It measures 1 1/2″ x 2 1/8″ x 14 1/4″ over a vintage solid red pad. There is slight cast off. The gun weighs 7 lbs 3 oz. Price: $2,600
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.
James Purdey & Sons, London, 20 Gauge Sidelock Best Quality O/U Shotgun: Gun #26597. 28-inch Length of Barrel, 15-inch Length of Pull 1 7/16″ Drop at Comb, 2″ Drop at Heel. 6lbs 6oz. Manufacture’s case included Price: $69,500
BOSS & CO, LONDON, BEST SXS 20 GAUGE SIDELOCK SHOTGUN: 26 1/2″ BARRELS 006 AND 010 2 3/4 SINGLE TRIGGER EJECTORS SPLINTER FOREARM ENGLISH GRIP MAKERS CASE EXCELLENT ORIGINAL CONDITION 5LBS 4 OZ X 2 1 1/4″ x 1 1/2″ X 14″ LOP. Price: $59,500
SanGiorgio – Model Vega – High Quality Modern SxS Hammer Gun – Great for Clays: 1987 – Ameria SanGiorgio – Gardone V.T. – Vega – Hammer Gun– 12ga, 28” M / F, Extractors, Hand Filed Rib, Double Triggers – Front Trigger Articulated, Hand Detachable Locks, LOP 15-1/4″ to Factory Pad, Drop 1-3/8″ to 2-3/8″, Slight Cast Off, Weight 7 lbs. 12 oz. Excellent Condition: Very Tight. Price: $4975
Webley & Scott Ltd. ~ Side by Side ~ 12 Ga Side by Side Boxlock Shotgun: This Webley & Scott Ltd. 12 gauge shotgun S/N 1113XX was ordered and started October 12, 1926. It is a boxlock with crossbolt – Pigeon Grade No.300 gun fitted with an Anson forend. 2 3/4 ‘ chambers. 30 inch fixed choke barrels with a flat rib. This gun was first sold July 10, 1928. It is in very good condition and a great addition to anyone who might collect side by side shotguns. The preceding information was taken from a report presented by Gallyon & Sons Ltd. / U.K. dated July 31, 2008. Price: $2,999.99
Manufacturer: Made in England.
Caliber: 12 Ga.
Chambers: 2 3/4 inch.
Metal Condition: Very good with some minor surface handling marks. Trigger guard and bottom tang are discolored.
Wood Condition: Very good with light checkering wear and light handling marks.
Bore Condition: Both are very clean, bright and shiny.
Barrels: 30 inches with a solid knurled top rib.
Stock: Diamond checkered grip walnut round knob. Case colored receiver is lightly engraved with border and a little scroll.
LOP 14 1/2 inches. DAC 1 7/16 inch DAH 2 1/16 inch
Fore End: Diamond checkered grip walnut splinter.
Butt Pad: Horizontal grooved black metal. Has some light scratch/use marks.
Weight: 7 lbs. 8 oz.
Sights: Brass bead front.
Chokes: Fixed chokes. Right barrel is Modified. Left barrel is Full.
Extras: Comes with a Webley & Scott Ltd. hard locking case. The case is lined with green felt and has a Webley & Scott Ltd. information sign, two metal snap caps, a two-piece wooden cleaning rod with 4 cleaning attachments, a metal oil bottle, and a box of Farlo’s
Ithaca ~ N.I.D. ~ 20 Ga. ~ SxS ~ Double Barrel Shotgun: This is an Ithaca side by side 20 gauge shotgun manufactured in 1927 based on serial number. There is a dent in the left barrel and has been deemed safe to fire from a gunsmith. This is a great not-so-rare Ithaca that would look great in any collection. Price: $599.99
Caliber: 20 Ga
Chambers: 2 3/4
Metal Condition: Great for its age
Wood Condition: Good – Shows its age
Bore Condition: Bright and Shiny
Triggers: Double Trigger
Stock: Walnut with Checkering on Pistol Grip
OAL 42″, LOP 13.5
Fore End: Walnut with Checkering to Match
Butt Pad: Plastic Plate
Weight: 6 lbs.
Sights: Front Bead
Not all revolutions happen quickly. Some, like the way over-under shotguns overcame SxSs to dominate the world of doubles, took decades to happen.
In many ways, the over-under revolution began in 1909. That’s when Boss & Co introduced its OU. While Boss & Co didn’t invent these shotguns, they did perfect it.
Firearms with stacked barrels have been around for hundreds of years, and Merkel started building breechloading, centerfire OUs in the 1890s. But Boss was the first gunmaker to build an OU with the sleek looks and a dynamic feel that could compete with best-quality British side-by-sides.
To date, Boss has built 500+ OUs. It’s not that hard to find them on the used market. That is not the case with the Boss OU catalog you see here. This is the only copy of this 1930s-era catalog I’ve seen in two decades.
Check it out for a unique glimpse into how Boss sold their OU shotguns back in the day.
BTW: If you have one of these catalogs or any other Boss catalogs/promotional materials (or shotguns) you would like to sell, please drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you love fine shotguns, you need to make a pilgrimage to London. For 200+ years, it has been home to many of the world’s finest gunmakers.
This year, Delaney & Sons 2018 London Gunmaker’s Tour makes it easier than ever for you to visit London and experience all the fantastic shooting and gunmaking history located there.
To create the London Gunmakers Tour, Delaney & Sons joined with James Purdey & Sons’ Stephen Murray and put together an insider’s glimpse into this world.
This 7-day trip includes:
- Visits to seven of the world’s most famous gunmakers: James Purdey & Sons, Holland & Holland, William & Son, William Evans, Boss & Co, John Rigby & Co and Watson Brothers
- A visit to Wimbledon Commons, the birthplace of modern clay shooting
- A visit to West London Shooting School
- Exclusive access to the London Proof House and the British NRA Museum
- A visit to the Hurlingham Club, home of world-famous pigeon shoots in the 18th and early 19th century
- Accommodations, ground transportation, meals, and entry into all venues
- And much more…
The cost: Just $3,750 per person, double occupancy. Discover more about this trip to learn it’s such a great deal.
Centerfire, breechloading hammerguns were popular from about 1867-1890. But once makers like Westley Richards, W& C Scott, and James Purdey & Sons introduced reliable, easy-to-use hammerless design, hammerguns were pushed out in the door.
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.
Boss & Co is one of my favorite gunmakers–and for good reason. Not only have they made some of the most beautiful and finest shotguns and rifles ever, but during their Robertson era, they were also innovators. One of their greatest creations was the Boss single trigger, developed by Robertson in the 1890s.
To show off the effectiveness and reliability of his new singles triggers (and of his firm’s gunmaking skills), Robertson had Boss & Co build a couple 3-barreled SxSxS shotguns. Of the ones they made, this is the only one still around. Asking price: $333,333.00
The following is from an email Griffin & Howe sent me about it this gun:
“As a promotion for his single trigger, Robertson engineered among the most important shotguns to emerge from the Boss & Co. London workshop in the company’s 205-year history: the triple-barrel SxSxS that incorporated a single trigger. Although a marvel of ingenuity, the shotgun actually reveals the lengths that Robertson went in order to demonstrate the feasibility and safety of the single trigger to a skeptical marketplace.
Robertson certainly wasn’t the first gunmaker to experiment with a single trigger. Single-trigger sporting guns had been tinkered with by various gunmakers as far back as the late 17th century. An array of patents had been filed for them in England. Between 1893 and 1895, however, Robertson had applied for three single-trigger patents, each more sophisticated than the previous. By 1894, he had successfully demonstrated the single trigger on a side by side to the sporting press in London.
Still, Robertson must have felt that he needed to do more in order to validate his single trigger. Thus, over a two-year period, he set about building a 12-bore prototype, triple-barrel, SxSxS shotgun that relied on the single trigger.
Understandably, it is extremely difficult and expensive to make such a gun. Nonetheless, it was Robertson’s way of “cocking a snoot” at the London gun trade who had been trying to verbally undermine the flawless operation of the Boss single-trigger system.
The first SxSxS prototype of the Boss & Co. was a 12-bore built in 1898 with serial number 4605. Since it was never actually ordered, no reference appears in the Boss Order Ledgers. Number 4605 was subsequently sold to a Mr. Herbert Lawton on July 3, 1922 (24 years later). Mr. Roy Lyu, former General Manager of Boss & Co, Best Gunmakers, reports it was lost in a house fire while in the custody of Lawton.
On July 3, 1899 Boss & Co. was commissioned by Signor W. Baldi of Florence, Italy to build a 16 bore SxSxS shotgun that fired with the famous, patented single trigger design concomitant with the Boss & Co name. This gun was completed on June 21, 1901 bearing serial number 4690. The length of delivery time confirmed the complexity of the build process.
With the loss of number 4605, 4690 is the world’s only known enduring example. It has been entrusted to Griffin & Howe for sale, marking the first time the only 16-bore SxSxS has become generally available. The overall condition and considerable amount of case color remaining belies its 117 years of age. It is offered at $333,333.33.00
For more information, visit Griffin & Howe’s Three Barrel Boss page.
According to its name, a “Best” gun sounds like it should be the finest shotgun a gunmaker builds. But that’s not always the case. With some makers, there’s a grade above “Bests” — “Better Bests”, I guess.
Overall, guns with Extra Finish are built to the same level as the maker’s standard Best-quality guns (or maybe a bit better, in the case of this pair). But as you can see, their engraving is taken to the next level (here’s a standard Purdey).
These two may have been engraved by Ken Hunt (aka “The Godfather of Gun Engraving”), a British craftsman who worked at Purdey’s and learned his trade from Harry Kell. Along with the gorgeous engraving, the guns are beautifully made all around. Check out the metal-to-metal fit and the way the forend iron fits onto the action. Then look at those perfect drop points on the stock.
Does all this make them worth $125,000? Perhaps. Even with twice that much money, you would have a hard time duplicating the quality of these Purdeys today. Personally, I don’t think you could do it.
PURDEY BEST EXTRA FINISH SXS PAIR 12 GAUGE: THESE APPEAR TO BE KEN HUNT ENGRAVED #266XX BOTH GUNS ARE IDENTICAL AND HAVE BEEN USED ON ONE DRIVEN HUNT IN THE LATE 50S THESE CAME FROM ORIGINAL OWNER 28″ SELF OPENERS 008 AND 022 2 3/4 DOUBLE TRIGGER EJECTORS SPLINTER FOREARM ENGLISH GRIP CHECKERED BUTT MAKERS MOTOR CASE NEW CONDITION 6LBS 11 OZ X 2 1/8″ X 1 7/16″ X 14 1/4″. Price: $125,000