10 reasons why you SHOULD buy a side-by-side shotgun…

A few weeks ago I posted this video: Is there a “problem” with side-by-side shotguns? In it, he makes a lot of good points and points out some of the same trends and attitudes I see every day.

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.

10 reasons why you SHOULD buy a side-by-side shotgun...
10 reasons why you SHOULD buy a side-by-side shotgun…

Is there a “problem” with side-by-side shotguns?

Side-by-side or OU — which’s better? This debate that’s been going on for over 100 years now. In this video The Problem With Side by Side Shotguns, the folks at  The Gun Shop in Botley Mills, Hampshire, UK have their say on this issue.

They point some of the “problems” they see with SxS and also bring up some valid points on why these doubles are falling out of favor in the UK. Here’s a taste of what they have to say:

“They’re beautiful and anyone should be proud to own and use one. However, there are a few things to consider in the discussion of side by side vs over and under.”

The video makes several excellent points. Overall, I have to agree with him, and many of the trends he points out are also leading to the decline of the SxS over here.

The Problem With Side by Side Shotguns
The Problem With Side by Side Shotguns

For the heart, for Project Upland: A Bird Hunting Anthology, Vol 1…

Essential reading: Project Upland: A Bird Hunting Anthology, Volume 1, No. 1
Essential reading: Project Upland: A Bird Hunting Anthology, Volume 1, No. 1

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.

Through their videos, website, and now their first book, Project Upland offers readers and viewers fresh take on upland hunting, gun dogs, and fine shotguns. Last December, they approached me about writing an essay for their premier publication:  PROJECT UPLAND – THE BIRD HUNTING ANTHOLOGY – VOLUME 1.

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.

My essay in Project Upland: A Bird Hunting Anthology, Volume 1, No. 1
My essay in Project Upland: A Bird Hunting Anthology, Volume 1, No. 1

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…”

Me & my old Westley in Project Upland: A Bird Hunting Anthology, Volume 1, No. 1
Me & my old Westley in Project Upland: A Bird Hunting Anthology, Volume 1, No. 1

Meet one of the world’s best barrel makers…

Bill Blacker, London Barrel Maker. Pic from BillBlacker.co.uk
From BillBlacker.co.uk

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.

Hear my big mouth, now on on Clays & Birds …

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.

Take a listen. My interview starts at 25:00.

This week’s good guns: Powered by Gunsinternational.com

1992 - Armi F.lli Bertuzzi, Gardone, V. T. Italy - - Best Quality Sidelock Ejector - Game Gun - 16ga 2 Bbl Set
1992 – Armi F.lli Bertuzzi, Gardone, V. T. Italy – – Best Quality Sidelock Ejector – Game Gun – 16ga 2 Bbl Set

1992 – Armi F.lli Bertuzzi, Gardone, V. T. Italy – – Best Quality Sidelock Ejector – Game Gun – 16ga 2 Bbl Set: 28″ IC / M & 28″ M / F, Double Triggers, Bushed strikers, English Stock with Checkered Butt, LOP 14 3/8″, Drop 1-1/2″ to 2-3/8″, Weight 6 lbs. 4 oz. Condition is conservatively 98+%. Price: $27,500

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

PARKER DHE 16 GAUGE Double Barrel SxS Shotgun:
PARKER DHE 16 GAUGE Double Barrel SxS Shotgun:
JP SAUER & SOHN - SUHL - MODEL XVIIE - MADE IN 1939 - 16 GAUGE WITH EJECTORS
JP SAUER & SOHN – SUHL – MODEL XVIIE – MADE IN 1939 – 16 GAUGE WITH EJECTORS

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
Ernst Kerner Suhl, Double 12ga., 29” Bohler barrels choked Full/Full

Ernst Kerner Suhl, Double 12ga.,  29” Bohler barrels choked Full/FullDouble 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

WINCHESTER – Model 21 – 2-3/4, 12ga – 30″ IC / F – – RARE – Double Trigger – Ejectors – Splinter – 30 InchMod / Full (.010 / .034), Pistol Grip, Splinter Forearm, Double Triggers, Ejectors, Automatic Safety, LOP 14-1/4″, Drop 1-5/8″ to 2-5/8″, Weight 7 lbs. 4 oz. Excellent Condition. Appears to be original finishes – at about 92% overall. Bores are excellent. Price: $4,750

WINCHESTER - Model 21 - 2-3/4, 12ga - 30" IC / F - - RARE - Double Trigger - Ejectors - Splinter - 30 Inch
WINCHESTER – Model 21 – 2-3/4, 12ga – 30″ IC / F – – RARE – Double Trigger – Ejectors – Splinter – 30 Inch

Love Dicksons? This new book will be your bible…

JOHN DICKSON & SON, THE ROUND ACTION GUNMAKER, by Donald Dallas
JOHN DICKSON & SON, THE ROUND ACTION GUNMAKER, by Donald Dallas

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.

John Dickson & Son trade label, circa 1962. Pic courtesy Drake.net
John Dickson & Son trade label, circa 1962. Pic courtesy Drake.net.

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.

The price for all this is just £60 plus postage.

16g John Dickson & Son Round Action, ca 1962. Super rare, stunning original condition. Sold by Lewis Drake & Associates. Pic courtesy Drake.net
16g John Dickson & Son Round Action, ca 1962. Super rare, stunning original condition. Sold by Lewis Drake & Associates. Pic courtesy Drake.net.

JOHN DICKSON & SON, THE ROUND ACTION GUNMAKER: A stunning, detailed history of John Dickson & Son from 1794 to the present day.

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.

See you at the Southern SxS Spring Classic…

Southern SxS Spring Classic 2015
Southern SxS Spring Classic 2015

I’m going to be at the Southern SxS Spring Classic all day today. If you’re into doubles, it’s the place to be. There’s sure be stacks of great guns on hand, I’m looking forward to checking them out.

I’ll be at this event all day today. Look for me. I’ll be the guy drooling over all the great guns. Hope to see you there.I’ll post pics soon, so check back to see a few of them.

A short history of shotguns and shooting…

Breechloader, c1537. Image from The Field magazine.
Breechloader, c1537. Image from The Field magazine.

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.

History of Shotgunning and Shooting

By Mark Murray-Flutter and Edward Impey

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….”

Bargain bests: A nice pair of 12g sidelock Henry Atkin shotguns…

ATKIN 12 SIDELOCK PAIR- NEW CHOPPER LUMP Bbls. in 1988 by the MAKER
ATKIN 12 SIDELOCK PAIR- NEW CHOPPER LUMP Bbls. in 1988 by the MAKER

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
ATKIN 12 SIDELOCK PAIR- NEW CHOPPER LUMP Bbls. in 1988 by the MAKER

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%

ATKIN 12 SIDELOCK PAIR- NEW CHOPPER LUMP Bbls. in 1988 by the MAKER
ATKIN 12 SIDELOCK PAIR- NEW CHOPPER LUMP Bbls. in 1988 by the MAKER

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

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.

Buying and collecting antique shotguns: a discussion with Martin Willis..

Antique Auction Forum
Antique Auction Forum

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.

Daily Doubles, powered by Gunsinternational.com

1963 Browning Superposed Pointer Legiers RKLT

www.gunsinternational.com
www.gunsinternational.com

Price: $7,500.00

J ROBERTS LONDON PAIR ISLAND LOCK HAMMER GUNS
Price: $62,500.00

ALEX MARTIN BEST SLE SXS PAIR 12 GAUGE
Price: $25,000.00

J & W Tolley 12 Gauge Single Barrel 12 Gauge
Price: $3,800.00

Browning 20 Gauge 26 3/8″ Barrel – Marked as Abercrombie & Fitch
Price: $2,250.00

Arrieta Model 803 20 Gauge Hand Detachable Sidelock
Price: $5,500.00

Bertuzzi 12 Gauge Best Sidelock Matched Pair and Extra Barrles
Price: $52,000.00

PARKER GHE 16 GAUGE
Price: $6,950.00

Browning Superposed Grade III (Fighting Cocks) 20ga 2 barrel RKLT
Price: $18,900.00

Winchester Model 23 Classic 28ga, as new
Price: $4,850.00

PARKER VHE 16GA 28″
Price: $3,850.00

Ithaca NID 28ga. Field Grade – AS NEW, 1 OF 295 EVER MADE; RARE GUN!
Price: $4,950.00

Auguste Francotte Jubilee Model No. 14 12 gauge
Price: $2,999.99

The 10 Best Game Guns by Mike Yardley…

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.

Beretta 686 Silver Pigeon
Beretta 686 Silver Pigeon

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.

Who needs the NRA?

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.

NRA - good for hunting?
NRA - good for hunting?

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.

Of course, not all hunters agree with me. Lily Raff McCaulou is a hunter/fisherwoman who lives in Oregon. The New York Times published her piece “I Hunt, but the N.R.A. Isn’t for Me” in yesterday’s OP/Ed section. I suggest reading it.

“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…”

You can read the rest here.

BTW: Here’s interesting piece about the NRA from The Economist magazine: The NRA’s star may be on the wane

Three great doubles on the market right now….

Here are three great double barrel shotguns on the market right now. Today. As we speak.

12 gauge Heym Double Barrel Shotgun at Hallowell Co.
12 gauge Heym Double Barrel Shotgun at Hallowell Co.

First is this pair of 12g Boss side-by-sides at Lewis Drake’s. Boss & Co. made some of the finest doubles ever. This pair is a great example of just how beautiful they can be.

Second is  this Belgian 12 gauge boxlock ejector. In great shape, well made, in excellent condition — this is a TON of gun for the money.

Finally is this Fr. Wm. Heym ,Grade 4A Boxlock Ejector . This is just a pretty gun. From the French Walnut stock to the engraving, it’s all gorgeous.

 

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