Condition, first. This gun looks well cared for, lightly used, and totally unmessed with. It has a lot of its original blueing and color-case hardening are still present. There’s even original finish on the lock pins The finish on the wood looks original, too, and no one has recut the checkering (thank god!).
After condition, this gun’s vintage adds to its value. It was made around 1924. Boss shotguns from the 1920’s and 1930’s tend to be this maker’s best examples. And the best guns always bring the biggest money.
This gun also has some special features. The length of its barrels (28″), the length of its stock (14″), and an original Boss single-trigger. Taken together, they make the gun appealing to modern shooters.
Even though it’s expensive, it’s cheap compared to what brand new 20g Boss SxSs cost now. One of those will run you around $130,000+.
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
Twelve gauge, BH-grade Parkers aren’t hard to find. Even though they were an expensive, custom ordered double, the company made 1,034 of them as hammerless side-by-sides.
But when you start adding in features like 32″ barrels, a single, selective trigger (introduced in 1921) and a vent rib, you’re talking about a very scarce Parker double barrel shotgun. Parker started delivering SxS shotguns with vent ribs around 1923, and they didn’t become popular options until 1926. In all, the company probably added this feature to fewer than 750 doubles.
PARKER BHE TRAP VENT RIB 12 GAUGE: #207XXX #1 FRAME 32″ VENT RIB FULL AND FULL 2 3/4 SINGLE SELECT TRIGGER EJECTORS BEAVER TAIL FOREARM ENGLISH GRIP EXCELLENT ORIGINAL CONDITION WITH CASE COLORS. 8LBS 7 OZ X. 2 1/4: X 1 7/8″ X 14 1/2″. Price: $18,500
Merry Christmas to everyone and your families. I hope you’re having a good great day. Here are a few of the things I was hoping Santa would bring me this year:
-More time to hunt
-More places to hunt
-More patience, so I can enjoy all of it.
Oh, and I thought this shotgun would be nice, too:
Boss & Co., London. Magnificent 12ga. OU game gun with rising-bite third-fastener and two original sets of barrels. Ordered from Boss in April, 1937. Rare Boss single-selective trigger. Automatic safety. Incredibly rare, hidden, rising-bite third-fastener. Interesting “finger rest” on right lock plate specified in the original order records. Flawless fit and finish with action and locks retaining most of the original hardening colors. Barrels, forend iron, and mounts retain most of their original brilliant black finish. Highly figured original straight-grip stock with checkered butt and splinter forend retain all the original finish. The whole set cased in original maker’s case with trade label and a complete complement of original Boss accessories just as it left the maker in 1937. Overall mechanically perfect, lightly used, and remaining in near-mint, original, condition throughout.
Browning BSS shotguns were made in that period when every American want short barrels. So 98% of the ones you see out there have 26″ barrels – especially the Sporters (the ones with straight stocks, rather than pistol grips). BSS are modern guns, and they’re made with moderns steel and meant to be used with modern ammo. So this one here is pretty worry free. The only thing you might want to do is open the chokes a bit for steel ammo. Other than that, it’s ready for the field, and just about anything that flies you way.
The Boss O/U is one of the world’s finest shotguns. It’s also one of the most revolutionary double barrels ever made. Patented in 1909, it was hardly the first shotgun made with stacked barrels. But Boss’s O/U was the first one able to compete with best-quality, London-made side by sides. To find out why, check out my post about the very first Boss O/U.
The Boss O/U you see here is from the 1930’s, a period when London gunmakers built some of the finest firearms ever made. It has superb 28″ barrels, top-notch Sumner engraving, beautifully detailing on the action, and the most desirable Boss-features — patent ejectors, patent single trigger AND an extremely rare rising-bite action.
Rigby & Co. was famous for using the Rigby-Bissell rising bite action on their finest rifles and shotguns. It’s an amazing piece of gunmaking and extremely difficult to build. In the late 1920s and into the ’30s, a version it made it onto a handful of Boss O/Us. No one is quite sure how (I have a theory).
SUBLIME “GOLDEN AGE” BOSS 20 BORE HEAVY PROOF SINGLE TRIGGER RISING BITE OVER-UNDER GAME GUN: SN 8482. (ca 1937) Cal. 20 ga. 2-3/4″ Chambers. 28″ Demi-bloc bbls with broad, flat, matted rib, fitted with two red beads, are engraved “Boss & Co, 41, Albemarle Street, Piccadilly, London. W.” and “Made in England” on either side of top bbl. Right side of top bbl and damascened bbl flat are stamped with London nitro proofs for 2-3/4″ chambers and 1 oz. of shot. Case hardened, uniquely Boss, O/U action is beautifully sculpted at breech ends of bbls, with well filed beads at bottom. Action features hidden rising bite third fastener, bushed strikers, automatic safety (SAFE inlaid in gold), gold band tumbler end cocking indicators, Chilton locks with intercepting sears, and Boss’s unique and excellent single trigger. Action is engraved with exceptionally well cut, small, shaded scroll with 14 rose bouquets, and additional roses front and rear of forend cut in bottom of action (by Sumner). “Boss & Co.” is on each lockplate. “Patent No 3307.1909” referring to the over – under system, is on each side of the action. “Boss’s Patent No 22894” is on trigger plate, referring to single trigger. Forend iron is engraved “Boss’s Patent No. 3308.1909″, referring to ejectors. Blued top lever and single beaded trigger guard, are also scroll engraved. SN is on trigger guard tang. Nicely streaked and well figured, dark, European walnut round knob, semi-pistol grip buttstock measures 14-1/2” over leather covered Silver pad, and features drop points, classic point pattern checkering with mullered borders, and a gold oval on toe line engraved “G. P.” Matching, small, one piece, Boss ejector forend has Anson type release. Bore diameter: top -.615, bottom -.615. Bore restrictions: top -.007 (IC), bottom -.013 (Mod). Wall thickness: top-.027, bottom -.029. Drop at heel: 2-3/8″, drop at comb: 1-7/16″. Weight: 6 lbs. 6 oz. LOP: 14-1/2″.
PROVENANCE: Abercrombie & Fitch green hang tag with specifications of this gun.
CONDITION: Excellent. Action retains 85 – 90% orig case hardening color, silvered on sharp edges and beads, thinning slightly around bottom, from normal carrying wear. Lockplates retain nearly all of their vivid orig color. Orig blue of forend iron/ ejector housings is at about 90%, thinned and browned around bottom. Top lever is silvered at thumbpiece. Trigger guard is silvered on bead. Tang has been re-darkened. Stocks retain most of what appears to be their orig rubbed oil finish, maintained over the years with some extra oil rubbed into butt, with a number of very light marks and scratches. Checkering is very fine, with slight wear, and is dark. Bores are excellent, bright and shiny throughout. Action is tight. Bbls are on face. Ejectors are excellent, and in time. Lock screws show some use. An exceptionally fine, and lightly used, svelte little gun, with barrels that measure perfectly. Twenty-gauge Boss O/Us with single triggers and rising-bite style actions are exceptionally rare and among the most desirable British shotguns ever made. Estimate: $50,000-$80,000
Boss O/Us are impressive shotguns. As one of the most influential designs in shotgun history, they’ve had an incredible impact on modern over unders. In fact, most of the O/Us made today owe a debt to this British design. But that’s not all that makes these O/Us special.
BossS over & unders are also beautifully made. John Robertson was a gunmaker and artists, and the sweeping lines of the stock, the exposed forend iron, and the unique sculpting on the action, make these guns in stunning. The experience and skills that they put into their doubles — especially the SxS and O/Us from 1920-1930s — represent the apex of the trade and are almost extinct today.
Boss made around 450 of their “Vertical Guns,” so handling and inspecting one is a memorable event for a shotgun fanatic like myself. Having the chance to do this with four of them, including two that have never been fired, is extraordinary. But that’s exactly what I had happen a couple Saturdays ago.
A friend of mine invited us over to view part of his collection. Along with a couple minty 12 gauges by Purdey & Woodward, he also showed us his Boss O/Us. At one point, we had Boss O/U in 16 gauge, 20 gauge, 28 gauge, and .410 lined up in front of us. That’s a once-in-a- lifetime site, and the I’m grateful for the chance to see it.
This little Boss was one of the highlights. Being a 20 gauge Boss O/U from the 1930s, it’s a rare shotgun. Add in the 28″ barrels, Boss single trigger, and Boss rising-bite style action and you have an insanely rare double. The fact that I had the chance to take a long, close look at it and raise it to my shoulder many times made the weekend incredibly special.
When it comes to duck hunting, pumps and autoloaders are the shotguns you’re most likely to share space with in a blind. If you do see a double, it’s probably an O/U working. So if you prefer side-bys-sides, you may think you don’t have any options.
Fortunately you do, and this Browning BSS is one of them. It’s also about as good a duck gun as you’ll ever find. With 28″ barrels, a reliable single trigger, and enough beef to soak up heavy rounds, it can deliver the medicine to just about anything you can decoy in.
Wondering about steel shot? Don’t worry. From what I’ve been told, the barrels on a Browning BSS should be fine with steel loads in the smaller shot sizes. Just be sure the chokes are open enough to handle it (I’ve been told that Modified is as tight as you should go).
James Woodward & Sons O/U are one of the finest double-barrel shotguns ever created. Patented in 1913, Woodward made his legendary O/U for 35 years — right up to his company’s end in 1948. In that time, he turned out just 225 of them. Just 41 of those O/Us were made in 16 gauges.
LOT 2163: VERY FINE 16 GA. WOODWARD OVER-UNDER SIDELOCK EJECTOR BOSS SINGLE TRIGGER GAME GUN: SN 6602. (ca 1921) Cal. 16 ga. 28″ Demi-block bbls with full length file cut solid rib, are engraved “James Woodward & Sons. 64. St. James’s Street. London. S. W.” and “Made of Sir Joseph Whitworth’s Fluid Pressed Steel” on either side of rib. Bbls are stamped with London nitro proofs for 1 oz of shot. Beautifully filed, case hardened, low profile action features typical Woodward automatic T-safety (SAFE inlaid in gold), bolstered sides, gold band tumbler end cocking indicators, and Boss non-selective single trigger.
The Woodward action is renown for its grace, and is the prime reason for Purdey’s acquiring Woodwards and the rights to this action, in 1948. All subsequent Purdey OU shotguns and rifles were built on this action. The action and sidelocks of this particular gun are engraved with exceptionally well cut, shaded, small scroll with rose bouquet highlights in Woodward house style. “J. Woodward & Sons” is in rolled scroll flanked device on front of each lockplate. Bottom of action is engraved “Woodward’s Patent Under & Over”. Some time after the initial making of this gun, probably 1950’s, it was fitted with Boss’ renown single trigger, with new trigger plate and small bow single beaded trigger guard installed. Gun is accompanied by Abercrombie & Fitch hang tag, filled in with specifications of this gun. The original notation of “double trigger” has “double” lined out and “single” written above.
Color hardening of trigger plate and bright blue of trigger guard are both vivid, and engraving, although the correct style, is by a different hand. Nicely figured, and beautifully marbled Circassian walnut straight grip buttstock measures 14-1/8″ over ribbed horn buttplate, and features drop points, diamond hand, classic point pattern checkering with mullered borders, and a silver oval on toe line engraved “P”. Matching one piece ejector forend has Anson release. Bore diameter: top -.663, bottom -.663. Bore restrictions: top -.023 (full), bottom -.013 (mod). Drop at heel: 2-7/16″, drop at comb: 1-7/16″. Weight: 6 lbs. 2 oz. LOP: 14-1/8″.
PROVENANCE: Factory letter giving the history of this gun as evidenced by a number of entries in the VL & D and A & F inventories, being first rec’d by VLD in March 1923, last sale was in 1956 to Grant Pierce.
CONDITION: Very fine. Bbls retain approx 95% of an old London quality re-black, silvered on sharp edges of bolsters, rib, and muzzles. Action retains 40 – 50% muted orig case hardening colors, vivid where protected, especially at top fence. Lockplates retain most of their muted orig colors. Orig color on trigger plate is near 100% and vivid. Top lever and forend iron retain most of their orig charcoal blue, with silvering at thumbpiece and rounded edges of iron, some loss due to flaking. Charcoal blue on trigger guard is near 100%. Screw slots show some use. Stocks retain most of their orig hand rubbed oil finish with numerous small marks and light scratches from normal handling and use. There are a few minor chips on left side forearm at juncture of iron. Checkering is slightly worn. Bores are excellent, bright and shiny throughout. Action has hint of vertical play and a glimmer of light visible on top bbl. Ejectors are in time. Trigger works. Hang tag shows some creases. A great handling, all time classic.