If this were 2005, I would be scheming to buy this 16 gauge Lefever FE. I used to love Lefevers. Of all the American SxSs, they’re sleekest and best looking. They’re also unique designs — a taster of the fruit that fell from the brain of they’re creator, Daniel Myron Lefever.
D.M. Lefever was one of America’s most inventive gunmakers. Born in upstate New York in 1835, he opened his first gunshop in 1857. Over the next two decades, he formed partnerships with a number men — Ellis, Dangerfield, Barber & Nichols — and built a wide range of muzzle- and breech-loading firearms.
In 1880 he formed the Lefever Arms Co in Syracuse, NY. The company was only around until 1919, and they only built around 65,000 shotguns (Parker made 200,000+ SxSs, Ithaca made many, many more). I’m not sure how many of Lefever’s guns were 16s, but estimates say fewer than 15%.
The 16 gauge you here is an F grade with ejectors (the E in F-E). Lefevers came in range of grades (see more about them here), and the F was a lower middle, comparable to Parker GH or a Fox B. I’ve owned several 16g F-grade Lefevers. They were all nice guns, and I’ve been looking at this one again and again, wondering if needs to be in my safe.
BTW: If you have a Lefever and you would like to know more about it, I’m happy to help. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
LEFEVER SYRACUSE, FE GRADE, 16 GAUGE: ON A 20 GAUGE FRAME, 28″ DAMASCUS BARRELS, GOOD PATTERN. AUTOMATIC EJECTORS, MIRROR BRIGHT BORES, TWIN IVORY SIGHTS. LOTS OF LIGHT CASE COLOR, COCKING INDICATORS, EXCELLENT ENGRAVED SCREWS, MALLARD ON RIGHT LOCK, SNIPE ON LEFT PPLUS FINE SCROLL AND BORDERS. TOP LEVER TO THE RIGHT, TIGHT ON FACE. PISTOL GRIP STOCK, SPPLINTER FOREARM, VERY GOOD WOOD AND CHECKERING, 1 1/2″ X 2 1/2″ X 14″, SOLID SILVERS PAD. 6 1/2 POUNDS.Price:$3,500
Here’s a great looking American double that’s coming to auction tomorrow, 7/25 @ 9am EST. Morphy’s Auctions in Denver, PA, has the gun. From what I can see, it looks like a nice, old SXS. The only problem I can see is the bbls look like they may have been blued at one time – but I could be wrong.
Daniel Myron Lefever was a prolific American inventor and he patented the design this shotgun is built on in 1880.
12 gauge Lefever Arms Co Double Barrel SxS Shotgun: Serial # 26295 This early C grade reads Lefever Arms Company on the right barrel and Fine Damascus Steel on the left barrel. The 30″ barrels have 2 – 1/2″ chambers and a bore diameter of .742 on both tubes. With a choke constriction of .036 on each tube this makes it choked full and full. The highly engraved receiver has hunting scenes with a dog in a circle on both the right and left side plate. The gun features double triggers, automatic ejectors, cocking indicators, tear drop side panels and a checkered capped pistol grip. The highly figured walnut buttstock has a LOP of 14 – 1/4″ to a leather pad. A silver oval shaped inlay is located 5″ from the toe. With a little TLC this gun will be ready for the October woods.
Daniel Myron Lefever was one of America’s most inventive gunmakers. Born in upstate New York in 1835, he was apprenticed to a gunmaker in 1848 and opened his first gunshop in 1857. Over the next two decades, he formed partnerships with a number men — Ellis, Dangerfield, Barber & Nichols — and built a wide range of muzzle- and breech-loading firearms.
In 1878, DM created his first successful model of a hammerless side-by-side shotgun and a year later he struck out on his own to build it. This model would be tweaked and refined until around 1884 when it was replaced by the Lefever Arms Co. shotgun most people think of as the “True Lefever”.
In 1901, DM left Lefever Arms Co and started DM Lefever & Sons in Syracuse, NY. This company built D.M. Lefever’s new “Cross-Bolt” shotguns. The 12 gauge 7D you see here is one of those doubles.
Cross-Bolt Lefevers are sort of “True Lefever” hybrids. They use a similar hook to cock the locks. And like True Lefevers, they also use a grooved rib extension to lock to down the barrels. To this rib extension, DM added a Greener-style cross bolt. He then modified the internal lockwork so that it’s somewhat similar to an Anson & Deeley-style boxlock and did away with the sideplates see on his earlier designs.
FINE ALEXANDER HENRY BAR ACTION HAMMER DOUBLE RIFLE MADE FOR J. LISTER: SN 6687. (1893) Cal. .450 BPE. 28″ Fine Damascus bbls with full length file cut rib are engraved “Alexr Henry Edinburgh and London.” and “Maker to Their Royal Highness’ The Prince of Wales and Duke of Edinburgh” on uncut portion of rib in front of one standing, three folding leaf express rear sight. Bbl flats are stamped with London black powder proofs, SN, and “AH”. Case hardened Jones under lever action is fitted with unusual bar locks (most Henry rifles are fitted with back action locks). Locks have front sliding stalking safeties and round bodied serpentine hammers with dolphins heads and tall spurs. Action is engraved with well cut small intricate scroll. “Alexr Henry” is on each lockplate. Water table stamped with SN and “AH” has lightening cuts. Scroll engraved steel trigger guard has SN at grip.
Intricately marbled and lightly figured European walnut steel trap capped pistol grip buttstock measures 13-3/4″ over checkered wood butt with engraved steel heel and toe plates. A thin shadow line beaded cheekpiece is on left side, and point pattern checkering with mullered borders is at grip. Matching splinter forend has forward pivoting release. Drop at heel: approx 2-7/8″, drop at comb: approx 2″. Weight: 8 lbs 9 oz. LOP: 13-3/4″. PROVENANCE: Copies of factory ledger pages. Biographical info on Joseph Lister, founder of antiseptic surgery, for whom it appears this rifle was made. Richard Schreiber Collection. CONDITION: Excellent. Bbls retain approx 95% orig brown with excellent definition to pattern. Action and lockplates retain 80 – 90% orig case hardening color, silvered on tangs and slightly on beads and fences. Stocks retain most of their orig rubbed oil finish with a number of light marks, dents, and scratches, a bit dry on butt. Henry rifle bores are excellent, bright, sharp, and shiny throughout, with just a hint of frosting near breech end of left bbl. Action is tight. Locks are crisp. A beautiful Scottish rifle. Estimate: $5,000-$8,000
VERY FINE, SCARCE, ORIGINAL CONDITION LEFEVER EE: SN 48880. Cal. 12 ga. 2-3/4″ Chambers. 32″ Bbls with slightly raised, flat, matted rib mounted with two white beads, are engraved “KRUPP” and “FLUID STEEL” on tops. Krupp markings are also on bottoms of bbls. SN is on bottom left bbl. Typical late action with sideplates covering sears, features Lefever’s automatic safety (S engraved), cocking indicators, adjustable trigger pull, nickel-plated double triggers, and usual Lefever ejector system, ball and socket hinge, and cocking hook. Action and lockplates are engraved in typical “E” style with 30% coverage well cut scroll with geometric borders surrounding oval vignettes of nicely engraved dogs on lockplates; a pointer on left and setter on right. “Lefever” “Arms Co” is engraved on each lockplate. A duck is flushing from marsh on trigger guard bow. SN is at grip. Interesting, well marbled, stump grain European walnut straight grip buttstock measures 14-1/16″ over old, most likely original, Silver pad, with edges and face cleaned up. Standard point pattern checkering with line borders is at grip. A vacant silver oval is on toe line. Matching splinter forend has usual steel tip, steel escutcheon at
center, and usual friction release. Bore diameter: left -.731, right -.730. Bore restrictions: left -.038 (full), right -.040 (full). Minimum wall thickness: left -.032, right -.032. Drop at heel: 2-1/4″, drop at comb: 1-11/16″. Weight: 7 lbs 9 oz. LOP: 14-1/16″. CONDITION: Excellent. Bbls retain approx 60 – 70% orig blue, with some flecking and silvering on sharp edges. Bottom rib has an old striation/ scratch running from muzzle to 1″ in front of loop. Action retains approx 70% orig case hardening color, silvered from normal hand wear on fences, beads, and around bottom. Lockplates retain 80 – 90% orig case hardening color, right plate a bit less. There is about 20% color on trigger guard bow. Stocks retain most of their orig finish with butt slightly lightened after pad has been cleaned up. Checkering is lightly worn. Bores are very fine, lightly frosted. Action is tight. Bbls are on face. Ejectors are slightly out of time. There are a number of short stable cracks behind lockplates. A neat old gun with great dimensions. Estimate: $6,500-$9,500
FINE, AS FOUND, WILLIAM EVANS SIDELOCK EJECTOR GAME GUN WITH CASE: SN 10120. (Ca 1911)Cal. 12 ga. 2-1/2″ Chambers. 30″ Dovetailed steel bbls are engraved “William Evans (From Purdey’s) 63 Pall Mall. St. James’s, London.” on low, concave game rib. Bbl flats are damascened and stamped with London nitro proofs for 1-1/8 oz of shot. Bottoms of bbls are stamped with SN. Case hardened sidelock action is stocked to the fences and features automatic safety (SAFE inlaid in gold), double triggers, bushed strikers, and screw grip dolls head third fastener. Action and lockplates are engraved with bold, large, open, shaded scroll with acanthus highlights, and an attractive floral and scroll device on lockplates. Action beads are well filed and fences engraved with large shaded scroll somewhat deeper in relief than that on action. Scroll engraved steel trigger guard has relief SN on short tang. Well figured and lightly streaked, dark European walnut straight grip buttstock measures 14-3/8″ over checkered wood butt, and features drop points, diamond hand, classic point pattern checkering with mullered borders, and a vacant silver oval on toe line.
Matching splinter ejector forend has Anson release. Bore diameter: left-.731, right -.730. Bore restrictions: left -.019 (Mod), right -.011 (IC). Wall thickness: left -.033, right -.032. Drop at heel: 2-1/8″, drop at comb: 1-7/16″. Weight: 6 lbs. 12 oz. LOP: 14-3/8″. Maker’s leather case with brass corners is embossed “L. C. C.” and “JUNR” on lid, which also has remnants of numerous shipping labels. Interior is lined in scarlet cloth having gold embossed black Evans label on lid. CONDITION: Excellent, as found, retaining an exceptional amount of what appears to be its orig finish on wood and metal under more than a half century’s accumulation of wiped on oil and dust. Bbl blue appears to be smooth, with only a few rubs through. Case colors appear to be vivid, with silvering only on action beads and fences. Oil finish of stock shows slightly raised grain and a number of minor nicks and dents. Checkering is slightly worn and dirty. Bores are bright and shiny with a hint of frosting. Action is tight. Bbls are on face. Ejectors are slightly out of time. Case leather is dark, crazed, and with considerable amount of top grain lifted. Handle, straps, and retainers are missing. Interior cloth shows considerable insect damage, some mildew. Partitions are tight. Label is excellent. A solid, good handling gun in need of a judicious cleaning. Estimate: $8,000-$12,000
EXCEPTIONAL, NEAR NEW, MANY OPTION L. C. SMITH FIELD GRADE WITH HANG TAG AND BOX. SN FWS38768. Cal. 16 ga. 2-3/4″ Chambers. 28″ Bbls with raised, matted, single sighting plane rib, are marked “L.C. SMITH – 16 GA. – Field – FULTON, N.Y. U.S.A.” on top of right bbl. Bbl flats are stamped with Hunter proofs, SN, and “FIELD 2 3/4 IN CHAMBER”. Typical case hardened featherweight action features automatic safety and Hunter single selective trigger. “L.C. SMITH” is on each lockplate. Trigger blade, selector, and trigger guard are blued. Relatively plain American walnut capped pistol grip stock measures 14″ over ribbed composition buttplate. Flat top point pattern checkering with line borders is at grip. Matching schnabeled beavertail ejector forend has reinforcing bolt and secondary knurled release button in blued oval escutcheon. Drop at heel: 2-11/16″, drop at comb: 1-1/2″. Weight: 7 lbs 8 oz. LOP: 14″. Gun is accompanied by its orig yellow hang tag with
correct information penciled in. Brown corrugated cardboard shipping box printed “L.C. SMITH GUNS” on both sides, has blue and white Smith shipping label with destination penciled in, along with railway express label with cost of gun and shipping penciled in. Inner packing box with orig waxed wrappings inside is marked “16 Ga Field” on end. CONDITION: Truly exceptional, essentially as new, appears unfired, with a few very light scratches across rib at rear, and a few light marks in buttstock. Finish on grip cap lifted. There are also a few light marks on trigger guard bow. Bores are excellent. Trigger works. Left ejector is “live” and undoubtedly just a bit gummy from disuse. Hang tag is good, considerably creased and soiled, information legible. Box is fine, some tape lifting, labels lightly foxed and soiled. An unusual, investment quality L. C. Smith. Estimate: $4,000-$6,000
I’ve always thought Lefevers were the best-looking American doubles. With their sideplates, and slim proportions, they certainly are the most English looking. They tend to have the most “English” dimensions, too, and with it’s high, straight stock and long LOP, this one is a perfect example of what I mean. In its day, I bet this shotgun saw a lot of use on as a Pigeon gun. Today, it would be perfect on the clays course or for pheasants. And wherever you used it, it sure make a classy companion.
Lot: 2567 LEFEVER ARMS CO. EE GRADE SHOTGUN: Cal. 12 Ga., 2 5/8″. S# 45457. Bbl. 30″ Krupp fluid steel. Brass front bead. Compensated sidelock action with cocking indicators. Engraving features vignette of pointing dogs with highlights of arabesque. Double triggers. Ejectors. Splinter forend & straight hand stock of hand checkered fine thin shell walnut. Toe line has name shield. LOP: 14 1/2″ over added London style pad. DAC: 1 1/2″. DAH: 2 3/16″. Stock cast off. 7 lb 14.7 oz. Choke restrictions: right-.014, left-.050. CONDITION: bbls. retain 50% fading blue with spots of corrosion. Action has case colors in protected areas with balance fading to patina. Stocks have lightly worn finish with numerous scratches & handling marks. Bright bores. Right bbl. has evidence of raised dent 10 1/2″ from muzzle. Left bbl. has raised dent 12 1/2″ from muzzle. Estimate: $2500-3500.
Parker VH 12 ga, 28” barrels on a 1 ½ frame: Clean shiny bores, rib has two ivory beads. LOP is 14.25”to an original butt plate. The butt plate is in great condition and you can clearly see the detail of the wood cock the dog is holding in its mouth. Drop at the comb is 1.75” and drop at the heel is 2.75”. Bores are choked F/F. Has some original case coloring on the sides of the box lock action. The bluing is original and very good, but it is beginning to wear thin in a couple of areas. Wood is solid, no cracks or gouges and this is a very nice clean original Parker on a desirable frame size. SN is 2129XX, and the Parker Association says this gun will letter. Price: $1,800
12 ga Fox AE SxS, Factory straight grip, 30″ bbls: Case colors have faded. Barrels are smooth and shiny inside, single brass bead. The ribs are problem free and the wood is in very good condition too. The gun originally belonged to a man named George Eshias. I have been told that he was an Americana of Armenian heritage and that he was a famous hero in WW1 and that he fought with distinction in the US Army. I have not taken the time to confirm this, but his name has been engraved into the top of the left chamber . (Look at the photos) Hard to believe that his family let this heirloom go but life does get complicated at times. LOP is 14” and drop at the comb is 1.75, drop at the Heel is 3”. Barrels are choked F/F. Price:$2,600
Lefever FE 12 ga with 30” Damascus barrels and twin Ivory beads: Nice Silvers recoil pad and a LOP of 13.5”, Drop at comb of 2” and drop at heel of 3”. The ejectors work nicely and the gun locks up tightly. The bores are very good and this gun is ready for the field and some RST ammo!! It does have an old repair on the fingers by the triggers. The repair has been looked at by two different reputable gunsmiths and both independently agreed that the old repair is good and is nothing to worry about. Barrels are M/IM. Price: $1,700.00
The sixteen was never America’s favorite gauge Even though all our makers built 16s, the gauge that was most popular with us was the twelve. There’s a simple reason for this: versatility. Most American shooters were opportunistic. They shot everything from waterfowl to rabbits and upland game. A twelve could handle all this action.
But the sixteen always had lot of fans – and for good reason. For an upland game it’s hard to beat. Slightly larger than a standard 20, it handles a bit more lead if required. It’s also feel better in your hands (at least it does in mine).
Of all the America makers, Lefever made the fewest 16 gauge double barrels. Daniel Myron Lefever was one of the geniuses of American gunmaking. Born in 1835, he started making firearms under his own name in 1857. In 1880 he formed the Lefever Arms Co in Syracuse, NY. The company was only around until 1919, and in that time they only built around 65,000 shotguns. I’m not sure how many of these were 16s, but I bet the number is under 10%.
Lefever Sidelock 16 GA: 28″ damascus bbls, Full & Full chokes, double triggers, 14″ LOP, 6 1/4lbs. Metal has little finish remaining but bores remain excellent. Lockup is tight and solid. Wood has darkened with age and forend has a filler peice added. Sidelocks have cockimg indicators and mechanical function is excellent! Price: $1,199.99
Of all the classic American shotgun makers, the Lefever Arms Co. made the fewest dobules. From 1880 to 1919, the company turned out around 65,000 side by sides. Of these, 20 gauge Lefevers are on of the hardest gauges to find, and nice 20 gauge Lefevers like this with original 28″ barrels are super hard to come by.
If you really want one of these, you may to snatch it up. Even though the price is steep, the chances of you finding a better one are pretty slim.
20 gauge Lefever H grade side by side shotgun: Made in 1914, 28 inch barrels I/c & I/m the perfect combo. gun weight is a tad over 6 lbs 14 1/8 lenght of pull to makers pad,1 1/2 drop at the comb and 2 5/8 at heel,great shooting dimensions.All the bluing of the steel barrels, at least 80 percent of original case color and all the varnish with a few handling makes.Bottom of receiver and left side lock has a little specking show in picture along with trigger guard common of Lefevers.ALL original gun very hard to find in ANY condition.
Of the classic American side-by-side makers, the Lefever Arms Co. had one of the shortest runs. They were in business from just 1880-1919, and in that time they built around 65,000 shotguns. Most of these Lefevers were utility grades. So for a collector to see anything else today is a rare. That’s why this Lefever caught my eye:
This D was made around 1901-02. At that time, Lefevers came in 11 grades: Optimus, A.A., A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, and the Durston Special. That means this 12 gauge D would have been middle-grade shotgun: one step down from a C, one step up from an E. It was still expensive, though, ($125 with out ejectors, $140 with), but far cheaper than Lefever’s highest-grade shotgun: the $400 Optimus. (BTW: at the same time, a Winchester 1886 was $14.97 at Sears.)
The factory records for the Lefever Arms Co. are lost, so it’s impossible to say how many D grades were made. I’ve seen a couple over the last decade, so the overall numbers must have been pretty low. So if you’re a Lefever fan, or if you love vintage American side-by-sides, this is a shotgun you might want to pounce on right away. It could be a long time before another one comes your way.
Of all the major American shotgun makers, the Lefever Arms Co. turned out the fewest side-by-sides – right around 70,000 or so in all. The vast majority of these were 12 gauges, followed by 10. Lefever turned out far fewer double barrels in 16 & 20 gauge, and finally any of them today, in any grade, is hard to do.
That makes this little 16 gauge GE grade a scarce gun, and the fact that it appears to be in excellent condition makes it even scarcer. Made around 1901-1902, this guns appears to be awfully original. I love the damascus bbls, and the ejectors are a nice bonus. As another plus, this 16 gauge was built on a 20 gauge frame (the X X marks on the action denote this), so I’m sure it’s a real lively shotgun.
BTW: under no circumstances should you lengthen the chambers on this gun to 2 3/4″. DON’T DO IT.
With just a bit more finish than the F grade, and less detailing than upper grades like this B, Lefever’s E grade is where the styling is just right. In 1904 it cost $100 without ejectors, $115 with – expensive, but $300 cheaper than Lefever’s top gun – the Optimus.
BTW: If you have a 16 gauge Lefevers for sale, contact me right away. I’m interested in purchasing it.
Good news for gun nuts: Julia’s spring firearms auction is March 12 & 13. Like always, they’re selling some nice double barrel shotguns.
One of them is this Special Order Lefever. Judging by some of the peculiar Lefevers I’ve seen, customers could chinese-menu a shotgun from Uncle Dan, picking details from different grades, and creating unique guns that are hard to categorize.
Today, collector’s call these guns Special Orders. The only thing consistent about them is the quality that went into making them.
EXCEPTIONAL EARLY LEFEVER SPECIAL ORDER A-AA GAME GUN. SN 17776. Cal. 12 ga. 2-3/4″ Chambers. This obviously very high grade and early Lefever gun exhibits many of the qualities and engraving style of a gun of grade AA or higher, and has obviously been back to the factory a number of times to be fitted with some of the latest updates, which is not unusual for this highest quality American company.
30″ Dovetailed bbls with matted, concave game rib, are engraved “Whitworth” and “Fluid Steel” on tops. Bbls are fitted with early style ejector lugs. Lumps have been retrofit with typical Lefever in-frame ejector. Early ejector hammers mounted in forend have been retained to actuate extractors instead of the normal crescent shaped cam cocking hook as seen in late Lefevers.
Bottoms of bbls are stamped with SN on right, and the left with a second serial no. 16441. Action is fitted with typical ball and socket hinge joint, doll’s head extension and locking bolt with normal pivoting top lever, Lefever 3-position safety, with adjustable lock-out screw on tang, double checkered triggers, cocking hook without keel, and in-frame ejectors. Slots on water table which housed old cocking rods and ejector mechanism, have been neatly filled in. There are no grade markings on water table, which is stamped with SN. Lockplates have early style attached sears, cocking indicators and sear adjustment screws.
Action and lockplates are engraved with beautifully executed shaded scroll. Beads of action have floral engraving and a woodcock is on bottom. Fences have very well done raised carved fleur-de-lis with cloverleaf floral devices at either side, as is often found on AA and Optimus grade guns. Lockplates have rebated tails and with excellent, nicely shaded renditions of dogs, game, and hunters within ovals. A pointer is watching a grouse run away on left lockplate, and setter on point with hunter approaching in background is on right. “Lefever Arms Co” is in diagonal slashes across fronts of each lockplate. Trigger plate is engraved with patent dates, the latest being 1891
The quality of this engraving is beyond compare, out-classing anything found on guns by any other American maker. Trigger guard extends to horn grip cap with SN at tang. Bow is engraved with gold inlaid setter flanked by scroll. Very finely marbled and slightly figured European walnut full capped pistol grip buttstock measures 14″ over hard rubber buttplate with “L. A. Co.” logo. Stock features vacant gold shield on toe line, horn grip cap, arrowhead drop points, and 28 LPI point pattern checkering with 36 LPI fancy bordered flanking panels extending into buttstock. Matching splinter forend has push button release, button of which is inlaid in gold with intertwined monogram, “K I J”. Checkering mimics that of buttstock, except is more elaborate. Finely checkered flanking panels surround horn inlays at back and tip, as is found on other guns of the same period
Consignor reported this fine shotgun to the Lefever Arms Collectors Association. This guns history and comparison with another gun of similar grade, three numbers earlier, were written up in the newsletter in July/ August 2009 with heading of “The Hunter Family’s “Keeper””. Similarities and differences between these two guns are interesting to note. Bore diameter: left-.731, right -.731. Bore restrictions: left -.034, right -.009. Wall thickness: left -.029, right -.030. Drop at heel: 3-3/16″, drop at comb: 1-7/8″. Weight: 7 lbs. 11.5 oz. LOP 14″.
PROVENANCE: Lefever Arms Collectors Assn. Newsletter July August 2009. CONDITION: Fine. Bbls retain nearly all of a nice quality re-black. Action retains traces of orig case hardening color in protected areas, and is mostly a very pleasing mottled silver gray. Trigger guard is nearly all silver, but with some orig blue inside bow. Stocks retain most of an older varnish refinish. Checkering re-cut on butt, but is untouched on forend. Bores are excellent, bright and shiny, with one or 2 minor pings. Action is tight. Bbls are on face. Ejectors are slightly out of time. 4-44902 MGM19 (15,000-25,000)
The double barrel looks like it has a lot of original finish and color. In 20 gauge, and with 28″ barrels, it’s a hard gun to find. Too bad about all that drop in the stock, though. Unless you’re built like giraffe, or you have a fondness for missing, I don’t see how you would ever be happy with it.