What do you get when one of England’s most inventive gunsmiths takes on the O/U? The gun shown here – a Frederick Beesley “Shotover”.
In 1880, Frederick Beesley created the Beesley-Purdey Self Opener, one of England’s most successful shotgun actions- the Beesley-Purdey Self Opener. He invented the Shotover in 1913, four years after Boss & Co. created came out with their revolutionary over under. While the Shotover shares some similarities with Boss’s design, it’s really a much different gun. To learn about what makes it so special, check out this article by Morris L. Hallowell IV. I have a feeling the gun you see here is the same 12g featured in that piece.
FREDERICK BEESLEY SHOTOVER 12 GAUGE OVER UNDER: EXTREMELY RARE BRITISH OVER UNDER 30″ BARRELS 011 AND 020 2 3/4 SINGLE TRIGGER EJECTORS FIELD FOREARM PISTOL GRIP MAKERS CASE EXCELLENT ORIGINAL CONDITION WITH REBLACKED BARRELS AND VIVID ORIGINAL CASE COLORS 6LBS 14 OZ X 2 X 1 1/4 X 14 1/2. Price:$35,000.
Just like humans, double barrel shotguns have evolved tremendously through the years. The new side-by-sides and over/unders that we see today have benefited from decades of this refinements, and for every design that has made it into the 21st century, many more have have disappeared.
Frederick Beesley’s “Shotover” is one of the forefathers that went extinct. Very few of these over & under shotguns were made, so it’s nice to see this one at Lewis Drake & Associates.
Here’s bit about Beesley’s Shotover that I pinched from the web. I think this is from Diggory Hadoke’s informative and well researched book Vintage Guns for the Modern Shot:
The Beesley ‘Shotover’ Over & Under
Frederick Beesley, ‘Inventor to the London Trade’ and famed for his Purdey sidelock action was in business on his own account at the time that London makers were turning their attention to over & under shotguns. Typically, Beesley approached the task with ingenuity and originality. His o/u of 1912-13 was called the ‘Shotover’ and is unlike any other in that in order to obtain the best possible angle of strike for the ‘under’ barrel, he turned the lock which fired it upside down (sometimes this was the right lock, sometimes it was the left). This allowed the angle of strike to be horizontal on both barrels rather than having the sharply angled lower barrel striker of other designs. The mainspring is compressed when the gun is closed and the locks incorporate intercepting sears to prevent inadvertent discharge. Unusually, the assisted opening mechanism of the gun works only when the gun has been fired, which is actually when it is most required.
The forend cannot easily be removed as it is fixed to the barrels by a screw at the joint pin. Like the Boss, the ‘Shotover’ uses the bifurcated lump arrangement, which generally produces a shallower action. However, there are additional grips on the underside and a simplified Rigby-Bissel style top extension and vertical bolt. The overall effect is of a solid, large framed gun. However, in 12-bore it typically weighed a modest 6lb 10oz. Beesley also made the gun in 16-bore and, if a lightweight gun was required, as a 5lb 10oz 20-bore. It was fitted with V-spring, adapted Southgate-type, ejectors in the forend. Numerous, slight, variations are found in the ejector systems used from gun to gun, suggesting Beesley continued to refine the gun for some time after it went into production.
Though certainly well engineered (possibly over-engineered) and made in fine quality, the Beesley did not achieve the sales volumes of the Boss or Woodward designs and a side-by-side comparison shows why; it does not quite have their grace of line and proportion and, like the Purdey sextuple-grip gun, built a redundant degree of locking strength into the action, which must have made it very expensive to make. Few examples of ‘The Shotover’ survive and it was certainly only made in small numbers. Beesley died in 1928 and the ‘Shotover’ did not continue in production after World War 2.”