Boss & Co builds fantastic doubles. But some of their guns are peculiar–like the SxS you see here. With double beads on the action, banner-style engraving, and lovely patina, it’s one of the nicest pre-WW1 Boss side-by-sides I’ve seen. But it does have a quirk.
Compare its forend to the forend on other Boss SxSs (like this one) and you’ll see it: The missing diamond-shaped medallion in the center of the checkering. That medallion seats the screw going up through the forend, and into the iron. Some makers don’t use a connection like this to pull these pieces together. But every other Boss I’ve ever seen does — except this one. So what’s up?
I have no idea. Does this shotgun have standard Boss ejectors? Yup. Is everything else about the forend the same as on other Boss SxSs from the same period? Yup, again. Is the forend wood thinner than on other Boss SxSs? Nope. Could the gun have been ordered this way? Perhaps — but unlikely. I can’t imagine a customer specifying a detail like that. They would have to be a bigger doublegun dork than I am.
So what could I be? Perhaps it was just what gunmaker had available at the moment, or perhaps he wanted to try something else out. Or maybe the piece was lost and the foreman say “Make it right or you’re not getting paid” to the guy who messed up. We’ll never know.
What we do know is that it’s beautiful. I wish it were mine.
BTW: Just to set things straight, I think this gun is 100% right. I’ve had it in my hands, and it’s great.
“Buy the gun, not the name” – that’s a bit of wisdom firearm collectors toss around all the time. It’s good advice, too. There are lots of big-name shotguns out there in lousy condition. When you’re buying, it’s easy to be blinded by a famous name — like James Purdey & Sons — and overlook the problems a gun has.
It’s also easy to overlook great guns built by lesser known makers, especially if you haven’t developed an eye for quality. Because the shotgun shown here was built by an unknown Belgian maker, many people would pass by it without giving it a second look. But quality wise, it’s just a notch below a British best and probably better than the finest Spanish stuff. Price wise, it’s costs 1/3 to 1/4 of what you would pay for nice 20 gauge by Holland & Holland or Boss.
Here’s more about this double from the seller:
Belgian Best 20 gauge Sidelock Ejector SxS Shotgun: A spectacular 20ga sidelock ejector gun great engraving the gun was built in the late 50s on a Francotte action fit and finish as good as Holland or Purdey for a lot less 27 1/2 in barrels all the original blue articulated front trigger 14in LOP double trigger splinter checkered butt. Couldn’t replace for twice the price. Price:$12,500.
Vintage, Field-grade doubles are not the kind of guns you usually come across today in minty, all original condition. As you can imagine, most of the guns were bought to be used, and they saw many, many days in hard hunting.
That’s what makes this 12g L.C. Smith Field so unique. Made in 1936 – well into the Great Depression, six years before we would enter World War II – it’s basically brand new.
A couple things about its original finish impress me: the boldness of the color-case hardening and the finish on the wood. The price is very fair, too.
L. C. SMITH, HUNTER ARMS, FIELD GRADE 12 GAUGE: 28″ BARRELS, IC & MOD., 100% BLUE, 2 3/4″ CHAMBERS, PERFECT BORES. FEATHERWEIGHT FRAME, 100% BOLD VIVID CASE COLOR. PISTOL GRIP STOCK, SPLINTER FOREARM, ORIGINAL BUTTPLATE AND GRIP CAP, 100% VARNISH, UNTURNED SCREWS, 1 1/2″ X 2 3/4″ X 14″, WEIGHS 6# 14 OZ. ABSOLUTELY 100% ORIGINAL FINISH ON ALL SURFACES. NO BLEMISHES OF ANY KIND, ANYWHERE. MADE IN 1936. Price:$1,850.00
Fox’s Cs were mid-grade shotguns, a little fancy and sort of affordable. Finding one in 20 gauge is not an easy feat, and I bet this one will well above the estimate. Here are the full details on this SxS from the auctioneer:
Lot 174: A.H. Fox CE Grade 20 GA Double Barrel Shotgun: Serial #: 202315. Manufactured date: 1910. Barrel length: 26″. Chamber length: 2-1/2″. Choke dimension: M & IC. Length of pull: 14″. Drop on the heel: 2-1/2″. Drop on the toe: 1-1/2″. Excellent shiny bores with a few frecklings of rust on barrels. Receiver shows trace of case coloring. Exceptional example of an “Ansley Fox” made in Philadelphia. Chromux fluid compressed steel. Barrels not factory length. Originality: 95%.
Condition (Fine). Estimate: $2,500-$4,000
Here they are, my five favorite doubles that popped up last week on Gunsinternational.com…
-W & C Scott Kinmount in 20 Gauge : a lot of gun for the money. Kinmounts were made between 1980-1985. This 20 gauge has 2 ¾” chambers, a straight grip, ejectors, modern dimensions (14″ LOP, 2 1/8″ DAH, 1 1/2″ DAC) and it’s cased. Fairly priced, but try and beat them down a bit (why not?)
–Boss & Co., side-by-side, 12g : A real nice double, made in the late ‘20s. 29” bbls, 6lb 8 oz , decent dimensions (2 1/4 X 1 3/8 X 14 1/8), in its original case. Expensive, but quality like this is worth it. Go ahead, blow the kids’s college fund.
James Julia’s annual fall firearms auction is on October 1st & 2nd this year. As always, the sale is full of nice double barrel shotguns. This 20 gauge James Purdey side-by-side is one of the nicest by far. Just check out the condition — all original and almost brand new. On top of that, it was made by the hands of Ben Delay and J Aldous, two of the finest craftsmen this famous London maker has ever had. That makes this more than just a nice shotgun, it makes it a link to a part of this gunmaker’s most cherished past.
Here’s the complete listing on the gun from Julia’s website:
SN 26697. (1957) Cal. 20 ga. 2-3/4″ Chambers. 26″ Chopper lump bbls with flat, narrow, matted game rib, are engraved “J. Purdey & Sons Audley House. South Audley Street. London. England.” on tops. Bbl flats are stamped with post 1954 London nitro proofs for 2-3/4″ – 3 1/4 ton – 1oz shells. Bottoms of bbls are stamped with SN. Barrel maker’s initials “J.A” (J Aldous) are on bottom of left bbl. Tube nos. 65905 and 65906 are on loop. Case hardened, Beesley patent, self-opening, sidelock action features non-automatic safety (SAFE inlaid in gold), bushed strikers, raised rib tumbler end cocking indicators, and Purdey non-selective single trigger. Action is beautifully engraved with best quality, house style, small scroll with rose bouquet highlights. “J. Purdey & Sons.” is on the bottom of each lockplate and action, which is also engraved “London England”. Scroll engraved small bow trigger guard extends to composition grip cap. SN is at grip. Nicely marbled, dark European walnut full pistol grip buttstock measures 14-5/16″ over checkered wood butt with classic scroll engraved heel and toe plates added by A & F at customer’s request. Stock also features well executed drop points, point pattern checkering with mullered borders and a gold oval on toe line engraved with a very fine rendition of flying woodcock surmounted by “Pierce”. Matching splinter ejector forend has Anson release. Actioner’s initials, “B.D” (Ben Delay) are on iron. Messrs Delay and Aldous were two of Purdey’s most skilled craftsmen of the day. Their talents are on display with this gun.
Bore diameter: left -.615, right -.615. Bore restrictions: left -.024, right -.004. Wall thickness: left -.031, right -.030. Drop at heel: 2-5/8″, drop at comb: 1-7/16″. Weight: 5 lbs. 14 oz, LOP 14-5/16″. High quality oak and leather case with brass corners and central medallion is embossed “Pierce” on top. Case is lined with burgundy cloth with gold embossed black leather label on lid, and contains an assembly of unmarked accessories incl. a pair of turnscrews and striker key with black handles, bone striker bottle with spare strikers, 2-pc brass and rosewood cleaning rod with mops and brushes, broken case extractor, black Morocco wallet with pull-through cleaning equipment, brown leather wallet with action cleaning brushes, Purdey marked square oil bottle and snap caps, as well as 1929 edition instruction manual entitled “Purdey Guns”, and the key.
PROVENANCE: Factory records indicate that it was completed for A & F in Oct. 1957. A & F records indicate it was sold to Grant Pierce in 1957. All other specs match except weight, which was originally 5 # 15-1/2 oz. (Most likely gun was ordered for “stock” with very long unfinished butt to be completed to customers specifications at A & F.)
CONDITION: Exceptionally fine, retaining nearly all of its orig finishes on wood and metal. Bbls are slightly silvered at muzzles with a few inconsequential marks. Action is very slightly silvered on beads and fences, and retains nearly all of its orig varnish. Hinge pin retains a considerable amount of its orig fire blue, as does safety button. Trigger guard bow and thumbpiece of top lever are slightly silvered. Stocks have some minor marks. Bores are excellent, bright and shiny throughout, with no visible imperfections. Ejectors are perfectly timed. Trigger works flawlessly. Case leather is very fine with a number of slight bumps and rubs. Straps and handle are very fine, as is interior cloth, with some slight soiling and compressions. Accessories are excellent. An investment quality, beautifully balanced, lightweight upland gun, barreled and actioned by two of Purdeys long time employees, both were building Purdey guns during the halcyon days of the 1930’s. 4-46132 MGM157 (35,000-55,000)
Sixteen gauge A.H. Fox Sterlingworth double barrel shotguns are not hard to find — unless you’re looking for one with 30″ barrels AND ejectors. I’m not sure how many Fox made in this configuration, but the number has to be darn small. That makes this one coming up to auction at the end of June is a pretty rare side by side.
Even though the buttstock looks messed up, the rest of the gun appears original and sound. If you’re looking to restock a Fox to fit you, or for a platform to build a totally custom gun, this one could be a great starting point. According to the auctioneer, the gun is tight and the action, blueing, and metal work is all original. They also told me that there are no dents, dings, or bulges in the barrels (just some corrosion that should clean up).
The James D. Julia Auction Company started their spring 2009 firearms auction yesterday, 3/16. Even though the economy stinks, there’s still money out there for good double barrel shotguns.
Several nice Parkers brought big money, although many of them missed their pre-sale estimates. This nice 20g A-1 Special with 32″ bbls hammered down at $95,000 (plus a 15% buyer’s premium). That’s a lot, but quite a bit below the auctioneer’s $120,000 – $150,000 estimate. While the gun is one of just a few 20g A-1 Specials Parker made, it had been “restored” some (reblued barrels, refinished wood) and that hurt it’s value.
This Parker AAHE 20g was another nice gun that went for big money, but failed to reach its low end estimate. The bidding on this one ended at $55,000, just under the pre-sale estimate of $60,000 – $90,000. The bbl and wood on this one had also been refinished – something the big spenders do not like to see.
One nice Parker that did beat its low-end estimate was was this very cool 28g CHE . This gun went to a buyer for $48,000 against an estimate of $30,000 – $60,000. Why did it do well? On top of being a small bore with very unique monte-carlo-style straight gripped stock, it’s excellent original condition. Almost all of the original barrel blue and color case hardening are present and the wood looks right too. And when it comes to guns, condition is king. Auction after auction has proven that buyers will pay a fat premium for it.
That being said, this Parker GHE 28g went for $48,000, just shy of it’s low-end estimate of $50,000. This gun was in fantastic, all original condition – pretty much new all around with all its blueing, color-case hardening, and wood finish – and it had great wood and a solid provenance. Even though it’s a gun I would give my pinkies to own, I think there’s a simple reason it failed to blast past the estimate: the estimate was just too high. Prices for nice Parkers have skyrocket over the last few years. In the case of this gun, I think the auctioneer was bit too hopeful of what this gun was worth today.
On the more affordable side, a few nice Parkers did sell for under $5,000. This damascus-barreled 12g GH went for $2,750 – not a bad price considering all the original condition it had. A gun like this would be a nice place for a new Parker fan to start building a collection.
Julia’s auction continues today, with lots of Colts and other stuff coming up. I’ll report back soon with info on other American doubles along with info on some British stuff, including a Rigby .450 double rifle and beautiful set of Purdey percussion guns.
As always, if you have any questions or comments, let me know.
Cabelas Gun Library just posted this real nice Lefever EE 12 gauge double barrel shotgun on their site. It has 28″ damascus bbls, ejectors, lots of color and nice pistol grip stock. Even though it has the condition to be a collector’s piece, it’s stock dimensions would also make it a good shooter : 14.24″ LOP, 2.25″ D @ Heel. Cabelas is asking $4,000 for this gun.
E-grades are Lefever’s middle quality guns. Above them are the Thousand-Dollar Grades, Optimuses, AAs, As, Bs, Cs, and Ds. The grades below E-grade Lefevers are Fs, Gs, Hs, DSs (Durston Specials) & Is.
The E grades were introduced in 1883 and Lefever made around 11,000 of them, mostly in 12 gauge. They were also offered in 8, 10, 14, 16, & 20 gauges. E-grade’s guns came with three types of barrels: laminated steel, Damascus, and Krupp fluid steel.
If $4,000 is too much for you $2,999, Cabelas has a few other E-grade Lefevers in stock. This one is $3,399 and it has damascus bbls and ejectors (even though they don’t mention the ejectors in the listing). At $2,999, this EE is a later gun with a lot less color. It does have a straight-gripped stock – something I prefer on my guns.
Over the past year I’ve come across some nice L.C. Smith double-barrel shotguns. LC Smith made hammerless shotguns from 1886 -1950 and again from 1968-1971. I’ve pulled together this little study to show the stock styles a customer could order these guns. The guns below were all made before 1913.
Of all the classic American shotguns, LCs come in right after Lefevers for me. L.C. Smiths were the only sidelock side-by-side shotguns mass produced in US. These “sidelocks” give the guns a sleek, graceful look through the action and into the stock. The sidelocks also leave a lot room for engraving. LC Smiths feature some great engraving – but that’s a subject for another post. So lets get to the stocks.
LC Smith stocks came in a variety of styles – pistol grips, an English-style straight grip, a round-knob, half-pistol grip, and in Monte-Carlo styles with straight and pistol grips. This first gun is a 12g LC Smith grade 2 with a straight, or English style, stock.
Check out the wood on that gun! That yellowish tone and swirly figure look like Turkish walnut (a.k.a. Circassian walnut) to me. Whatever it is, its awfully nice for a Grade 2, a gun that LC Smith claimed was “just the kind for rough usage.”
On this gun, Look at how thick and meaty the stock’s comb and face are. This gun has 30″ bbls and is heavy – around 7 3/4 lbs. It also has a pretty high stock and very tight chokes (Full & Fuller). It wouldn’t surprise me if it made for competition shooting, maybe live pigeons.
These next LCs is also Grade 2 – a 12g with a rounded grip. LC Smith called this style a half pistol grip. The comb on this stock is also real meaty. Its nose it pretty thick, too (the stock’s nose is the place where the comb rises up from the hand, or right behind where your thumb would sit).
The wood on this one is pretty. I like the red tone it has. It looks like a piece of French Walnut.
In the pre-1913 guns, Grade 2s were fourth up from the bottom (OO grades) and considered nice, but not special. They were comparable in price to a Parker GH, a B-grade Fox or an F- or E-grade Lefever.
This next LC has a full pistol grip. This gun is a 12g Grade 4. In 1912 this grade retailed for $127 and a Grade 2 without ejectors went cost $70. This full pistol grip is the one I see the most often. On pre-1913 Smiths, the grip tends to be very laid back and open. I find them very comfortable to carry and shoot. They ‘re nice, looking, too.
For more on the history of LC Smith side by sides , check out LCSmith.org. This is the official site of the LC Smith Collector’s Association and it’s loaded with info about these double-barrel shotguns. The pics of the catalog cover and the straight-grip 2E come courtesy of them. The other pics are from Cabela’s and Kevin’s Guns.
This gun threw me when I first saw it. It was completed in 1912, so it’s almost 100 years old and it looks like it was made yesterday. Just look at all that color – 100% – and hardly any fading at all. And then there’s the amazing condition of the wood/checkering and the uniformity of the blueing on the barrels. There’ s almost no wear – anywhere. This old side-by-side has barely been used.