Well, yesterday things got a little more interesting. The same outfit posted the video above. Did they have a change of heart? Did the side-by-side deep state get to him? Or did they realize what I’ve always known: SxSs are just ‘friggin cool? Watch it find out.
I’ve been kicking around the upland world for a while. As my friends and covers get older, I wonder what will become of grouse and woodcock hunting. To keep it thriving, it’s important we to attract new voices and new perspectives. Both bring in new blood.
The book came out a few weeks ago, and if you’re into bird hunting, it’s a must-read. It features lots of cool, full-color pics, and 10 essays with titles like The Quickest Path to Losing Hunting Partners, The Golden Hour, and, my piece, For the Heart. Here’s an excerpt. To read the whole thing, you’ll have to buy the book.
For the Heart
“Love can be hard to understand, especially when it’s for anything other than babies, puppies, and ice cream. Of all the things I love about upland hunting—my Pointers flashing through the woods, the whirl of a flushing woodcock, the cidery smell of old apple trees—my lifelong affair with shotguns is the most difficult for me to comprehend.
I’m not from a family of hunters or shooters. My grandfather never killed a bird in his life. While my dad was a fisherman, he never even owned a gun or fired a rifle. And I didn’t grow up on a farm with cornfields or stands of Aspen outside my door. I grew up in Connecticut, down the street from a 7-Eleven and a strip mall anchored by a bar called the Amber Light Lounge & Cafe. But despite all this, bird hunting, and especially shotguns, have always been my thing…”
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.
My 15 minutes of fame are here — finally! Andrew Schatz over at www.ClaysandBirds.com interviewed me last Saturday.
Andrew’s a good guy (even though he runs Braccos -haha) and his podcast is worth subscribing to and checking out whenever possible. For this piece, Andrew and I talked a bit about where to find good vintage guns, what to look for when buying them and the #1 most important thing you must do before closing a deal.
PARKER DHE 16 GAUGE Double Barrel SxS Shotgun: #237XXX #1 FRAME ALMOST ALL OF THE ORIGINAL CASE COLORS 26″ IC AND FULL 2 3/4 DOUBLE TRIGGER EJECTORS SPLINTER FOREARM PISTOL GRIP SKELETON BUTT EXCELLENT CONDITION WITH LIGHT HANDLING MARKS AND LIGHT WEAR AT MUZZLE 6BS 13 OZ X 2 3/4 X 1 9/16 X 14 1/4. Price:$15,000
JP SAUER & SOHN – SUHL – MODEL XVIIE – MADE IN 1939 – 16 GAUGE WITH EJECTORS: Here is a special JP Sauer (Model XVIIE) in 16 gauge made in 1939. Elaborate scroll and game scene engraving. Scalloped frame. Well figured wood with diamond grip. Engraved heel and toe plates. Cocking indicators. Sideclips and arcaded fences. JP Sauer engraved on the barrel bands and heel plate. Top rib is engrved W. Eblen, Stuttgart (a high end gun retailer – Waffen Eblen). Special Krupp “3 ring steel”. Barrels are 27 3/4″. Right bore measures .664 with 20/1000 choke (Mod) while left bore measures .664 as well with 25/1000 choke (Full). Unengraved stock oval. Weight of gun is 6 LBS 7 1/8 OZ. Last image is a scan of the JP Sauer Catalogue from 1938. Shipping is $50. Stock dimensions: LOP – 14 5/8″, Drop at Comb – 1 1/2″, Drop at Heel – 2 1/2″. Price:$9,750
Ernst Kerner Suhl, Double 12ga., 29” Bohler barrels choked Full/Full: Double trigger Auto Ejector, sideclip 3rd fastener. Cheek piece, 14 ¾” LOP, 13 3/8” of wood, wood extension might be the original piece of wood put back on. Leave it as is or put a pad on and LOP would be normal. Scalloped frame, ebony inlayed diamonds behind panels in stock. Horn trigger guard. 100% engraved with setters and pheasants. Bottom of frame has hawk and quail scene, right side has foxes and ducks. 2” of breech engraving, intercepting sears, balance of frame is profusely chisel engraved with oak leaves that is done to a very high level. Virtually no use, in as found condition, super high grade gun of unbelievable quality. 6 lbs. 10 oz. 14 ¾” LOP – 13 3/8” of wood. Price:$4,995
About twenty-five years ago, the beginning of the double-gun renaissance began. The Double Gun Journal was a big part of this resurgence. So were Donald Dallas’s books on the famous London gunmakers.
Dallas published his first book — Boss & Co, Builders of Best Guns Only — in 1995. Books about James Purdey & Sons and Holland & Holland followed. While information about all these makers had already been published many times, Dallas’s books were these firms’s definitive histories. His original research corrected many errors and resulted in page after page of new information.
Dallas’s latest book — JOHN DICKSON & SON, THE ROUND ACTION GUNMAKER — does the same. With 352 pages and 447 photographs, this hefty, coffee-table size book tells two amazing stories: One is of John Dickson & Son; the other is of how much love the author has for this firm.
Dallas spent years researching and writing this book, and to get it into print he used his own funds. It is based on hundred of hours of original research, as well as on Dallas’s exclusive access to the maker’s archive and records. Along with the history of the company, readers will also find:
-Full color pictures of some of the finest Dickson firearms to ever be built.
-The ledgers of John Dickson & Son, with information on the 7,000 or so firearms the company built from 1840 – 2010.
-Production figures for Dicksons guns, rifles, and pistols.
-The patents of John Dickson & Son.
-The trade labels used by the company.
-A reprint of two John Dickson & Son catalogs, 1935 & 1962.
– The story of Charles Gordon, The mad Scottish gun Collector and Dickson patron.
Established in 1838 at 60 Princes Street, Edinburgh, the firm quickly gained a reputation for building very high quality guns and rifles, their two-groove percussion rifles achieving international acclaim. John Dickson (3) made the greatest contribution to the firm by patenting the round action gun in 1880 that instantly achived critical acclaim as a best gun utilising a trigger plate action. The beautiful and elegant three-barrelled gun followed in 1882 and by the time the ejector had been patented in 1887 the Dickson round action had been perfected. In 1923 John Dickson (3) retired and the business was sold. In 1928 the firm moved to 32 Hanover Street and in 1937 to 21 Frederick Street, the present day location of the firm.
This book goes into great detail on all the types of Dickson guns and rifles built and was written with the full permission of John Dickson & Son. 352 pages, 447 photographs.
I love history, and I’m read all sort of books on the history and evolution of shotguns and upland hunting. For a crash course in the subject, check out this piece: History of Shotgunning and Shooting. It’s from The Field magazine and it does a great job of outlining the backstory on doubles and shooting. It reveals a few surprises, too – like the breechloader shown from around 1537. I didn’t know breechloaders were being made that long ago.
Mark Murray -Flutter is senior curator, firearms at the Royal Armouries and Edward Impey is the director-general and master.
The history of the shotgun and shooting, from the reign of Henry VIII to 1800. How bird shooting went from its infancy to the eve of the sport we know today…
“The early history of the shotgun and shooting, before the invention of the breech-loading shotgun as we know it, was a greatly different business. From around 1500 to the eve of the great technical and sporting developments that made the shotgun what it is today, the history of the shotgun encompasses some fascinating historical pieces….”
I love vintage British shotguns – especially sidelocks. But even though I think they’re as good as guns get, they can have problems. One comes from their age. Because they’re old, people have had a lot of time to mess with them. That’s why so many Purdeys, Holland & Hollands, and other top-tier British shotguns around today are tired, shot out, and pretty much dead.
This pair of best-quality Henry Atkins was made around 1896, so they’re very vintage. What caught my eye is their new stocks and barrels, all made by Atkin, Grant & Lang in 1988. They make this pair of 119-old SxSs part vintage and part brand new.
Whoever had these guns rebarreled and restocked spent a lot of money. Today, a single set of new barrels by Atkin, Grant & Lang costs £8995. These guns have two new sets – so that’s £17990, or about $28,000. All new wood costs $10,000+ a gun and brings the costs to $48,000 in all.
When you see the asking price — just $24,000 — you understand why these Atkins such a steal.
ATKIN 12 SIDELOCK PAIR- NEW CHOPPER LUMP Bbls. in 1988 by the MAKER- NEW BUTTSTOCKS by the MAKER- ALL LONDON: #912 & 913, Henry Atkin (From Purdey’s) 6 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London, A Very Nice Pair of Bar Action Sidelock Ejector 12 Bore Game Guns, Both guns with modern and new 28″ Chopper Lump barrels installed and proved in London in 1988 when they operated as Atkin Grant & Lang & Co Ltd at 6 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London (The address on these barrels), Both barrels remain as new since 1988: The #1 gun London proved at 3 1/4 tons with 2 3/4″ chambers, #1 is .730 .008 & .020″ (Imp.Cyl. & Mod.), 2 3/4″ chambers: The #2 gun London proved at 3 1/4 tons with 2 3/4″ chambers, #2 is .730 .008 & .016″ (Imp.Cyl. & Mod.), 2 3/4″ chambers, Wall thickness all the way around at .032″, Both with new buttstocks with excellent internal inletting (I presume done in 1988 when the new barrels were added), Very nice wood with excellent color and contrast, The pair with Ejectors, Double triggers, Splinter forend with an Anson release, Straight hand stock and both 14 3/4 x 1 9/16 x 2 1/8″ over checkered butts, Both guns 6 lbs. 11 oz., Stanton & Son locks, 94% coverage of period scroll engraving, The action body’s still retain 15-20%
original case colors, The barrel blue at 97% on both, The buttstocks and forends remain at 94%, The checkering at 98%, Number 1 & 2 in Gold in 3 places, The engraving is very sharp & crisp and has never been brushed, All 4 barrels are almost as new inside & out, The pair is cased in what appears to be the original brass cornered trunk & now with the trade label from AG &L when the new barrels and new buttstocks were installed in 1988. Here is a very nice pair of guns with new modern Chopper Lump barrels & wood that will go a lifetime. These are a super pair of guns that are in much better condition than many of the vintage pairs offered on the market today. Price:$24,000
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.
Martin Willis is one America’s leading experts on antiques. His website the Antique Auction Forum is a great place to learn all about the business of buying, selling , and collecting them. Last weekend I sat down with Martin and talked about one of my favorite subjects — collecting antique shotguns.
You can listen to our discussion here. Our discussion covered everything from my favorites to the dark side of collecting – fakes and phonies – and how to protect yourself from them. I hope you enjoy it.
Micheal Yardley is well known shooter, shooting instructor, and sporting writer from the UK. For years, he has written a Shotgun Review article for the UK’s Shooting Gazette magazine, and in the course of his career he has tested and reviewed hundreds of shotguns.
That means a list of his favorite shotguns should be very authoritative. What does he like? And why does he like them? Read his article to find out. A few of the usual suspects are there, but some of his choices may surprise you.
“Some gun stand out when I am testing them. They look right, they feel right, and, most importantly, they shoot well. They achieve aesthetic harmony and get top marks for ‘usability’ too. It is amazing how many guns just do not meet the basic criteria (i.e. that they should look reasonable, feel comfortable, point and swing well, don’t recoil too much, and have controls which are easy to operate). It also odd just how many people struggle on with gun which are not helping them at all!….” Read all of it now.
I’m an on and off member of the NRA. While I’m 100% behind our 2nd amendment rights, I go back and forth on how the NRA forwards this agenda. I find many of the organization’s tactics distasteful and believe some are plain demagoguery that perpetuates lies.
That being said, I wonder where I would be without the NRA. Every cause has its zealots, and I know plenty of anti-gun people who are 100% irrational about firearms. They would love to “control” guns to the point where guys like me could never have them. I see the NRA as a buffer against this and believe that one extreme balances out the other.
“EARLIER this month, Mitt Romney delivered a speech at the annual National Rifle Association convention, calling for a president “who will stand up for the rights of hunters, sportsmen and those seeking to protect their homes and their families,” presumably with guns. I’d like to remind Mr. Romney that those are distinct groups. Too often — especially during an election year — hunters and N.R.A. members are lumped together as one and the same…”