As I’ve said before, guys call me all the time about doubles. Most of them are looking for info on meat-and-potato, side-by-side shotguns: Parkers, L.C. Smiths, a Fox here and there. But every now and then I get call about something interesting…
The call I got about this gun was a lot more than interesting: It was un-friggin’-believable. A Boss Over & Under Double Rifle? Please. I thought the caller was joking – until he forwarded me the pics. Then I almost fainted. Stay tuned for more info…
The Inverness is the newest over-and-under being made by Connecticut Shotgun -one of the finest American gunmakers of all time. Since this double’s introduction in January, the Inverness has raised a lot questions. You can read some of them on this string over at the Shooting Sportsman’s board.
I wrote an article for the latest issue of Sporting Shot (pages 8-9) to clear up some of this confusion. The first draft of my piece went way back into the gun’s early history, but to streamline the article a lot of this back story was cut out. So here’s my first draft of the story so you can learn more about the origins of the Inverness:
Over the last couple months, shooters have been puzzled by a new double on the market. At the beginning of the year, the Connecticut Shotgun Manufacturing Company (CMSC) introduced the Inverness Round Body Over/Under shotgun. But what started out as excitement generated for this great looking shotgun turned into confusion for people around the country.
The trouble began with an email. On January 16, 2012, Anthony Galazan, President of the Connecticut Shotgun Manufacturing Company, sent out a message that greeted readers with “This Is An Advanced Announcement To All Our Loyal Customers!!” It went on to say “This is our most ambitious and exciting offer to date.”
The offer was for CSMC’s new Inverness Round Body Over/Under. Pictures showed a sleek, color-case hardened double with a single trigger, rose-and-scroll engraving, and a true Prince of Wales grip. At first glance, the gun looked like a McKay Brown, an $80,000 O/U. But the Inverness could be ordered for as little as $2,995—IF you ordered one right away.
The confusion came from the same source – CSMC –but two years earlier. In February 2010, B. Rizzini USA (a division of CSMC at the time) had released a round body over/under shotgun. The gun’s name? the Inverness. When CSMC’s January 2012 email went out, CSMC was still selling this B. Rizzini USA gun. One name, two guns, one company. Not good.
To sort this all out, let’s step all the way back to 1966. That’s when B. Rizzini started making O/Us in Italy. By 1990, these shotguns were being brought into the United States. In 2008 CSMC launched B. Rizzini USA and became the U.S. importers and distributors for B. Rizzini’s shotguns and rifles. The plan was for CSMC to sell some guns directly to customers while wholesaling others to dealers throughout the country.
In 2010, B. Rizzini USA introduced the Inverness round body over/unders. This gun was an existing B. Rizzini model, badged with a name owned by CSMC. The “Inverness” name was simply a way for CSMC to offer its own line of B. Rizzinis.
Now let’s jump forward a few years. CSMC and B. Rizzini end their joint venture; B. Rizzini USA comes to an end. CSMC decides to sell off the remaining Inverness-badged B. Rizzinis they have in stock. At the same time, they started developing a new O/U that they planned to make in their New Britain, CT, factory. This is when the new Inverness is born.
Like a lot of Italian O/Us, B. Rizzinis are made on a shallow, coil spring, triggerplate-style action with coil spring ejectors. Over the last 40+ years, this design has been tweaked and improved to the point where CSMC felt it was an excellent platform for the new gun they wanted to build: a reliable over/under that gave shooters the look and feel of a best-quality double at an affordable price.
“We’ve always been about giving folks good guns at affordable prices,” says Lou Frutuoso, CSMC’s Sales and Market Manager, “and when we wanted to make a new O/U, we looked at the Italian’s O/U-style action and realized it could be a great starting point for us.”
Drawing on the manufacturing skills they’ve refined from making RBLs and A-10s, CSMC created gave their new Inverness’s a list of upgraded features: A more sculpted, rounder action, a true Prince of Wales stock, bone-and-charcoal color case hardening, an extended top tang strap, steel-shot ready barrels, and a better-fitting, more durable forend. They also gave the shotgun a file-cut rib and fine rose-and-scroll engraving, along with more hand fitting and finer overall tolerances. After a prototype was built and tweaked, CSMC send out the January 16, 2012 email announcing their new gun.
Today the new CSMC Inverness is available in a single-triggered 20 gauge with either 28” or 30” barrels. For an additional charge, customers can add a leather covered pad, an extended trigger guard, and grades of walnut for the stock. Right now, delivery times for these guns are set for late 2012 and early 2013.
Firsts are something that the Connecticut Shotgun Manufacturing Company is used. Their best-quality A.Galazan shotguns are the first world-class doubles to be made in the America and the A-10s are the first mass-produced sidelock Over/Unders ever made in this country. With the introduction of their new Inverness line, CSMC has achieved another first. This time, it’s the first affordable, high-quality O/U that 100% made in the USA.
Parkers double barrel shotguns are probably the most popular, and most collectible, of the vintage America side by sides. Here’s a good look at one of the earliest Parker designs – the Under Lifter hammergun. I handled a number of under-lifter Parkers. They’re surprisingly easy to open/close.
To go along with post about gun fitting, I thought I would add this quick video about drop on a double-barrel shotgun. If you’ve ever wondered why drop matters and how to measure it, check it out. Very helpful.
If you shoot an over & under, you owe a debt to this double-barrel shotgun. It’s the first O/U built by Boss & Co. Completed in 1909, it was a turning point in shotgun design and one of the reasons O/Us are so popular today.
Shotguns with stacked barrels have been around since firearms were created. While they were never as popular as side-by-sides, lots of makers built right through the flintlock and percussion era. But once breechloading center fires took over around 1870s, stacking barrels presented a problem.
To be loaded, most breechloader need to pivot and open. This means they need a hinge. On a side-by-side, this hinge is created by a section of the front lump called the hook and a corresponding piece in the action called the cross or hinge pin.
When you use the same set up on an O/U, you increase the depth of the barrels and the action. The result is a big, bulky gun that lacks the trim, svelte proportions of a side by side. But when John Robertson’s O/U came along, he changed all that.
Robertson was the huge brain behind some of the most influential shotgun innovations ever created. Along with Henry Holland he created the Holland & Holland Royal shotguns. Later he came up with the Boss-patent ejectors and the Boss-patent single trigger. By the time he came out with this O/U, he had already taken over Boss & Co. and turned their shotguns into the finest doubles in the world.
Robertson’s over-and-under patent borrowed a simple idea from artillery technology. They’re called trunions, and they move the barrels pivot point from underneath the tubes to the sides. This solved the problem of lumps on the bottoms of the barrels and made the Robertson’s O/U almost as trim as a side by side.
Today, O/Us dominate the market for new doubles. Many of these guns, including all Italian O/Us, are made on designs influenced John Robertson Boss patent. His idea flipped the shotguns barrels, and shotgun shooting, on it’s side. The gun making world has been different ever since.
Rock gods live good lives, or at Eric Clapton does. Clapton is a big shooter and he has a passion/obsession for fine double-barrel shotguns. “It’s following the same pattern as when I collected guitars, cars and watches. I start out with a fairly broad spectrum, get obsessed and engulfed and finally narrow the collection down. I built a gunroom that can house a certain amount of guns and now I have to clear the decks for the new guns I have on order.”
Over the pass few years he has been selling off some of the side-by-sides and over/unders that he has acquired. Here are a couple that Gavin Gardiner had last year. I can’t imagine how much Eric sunk into refurbishing these guns. Even with their Rock-god provenance, they didn’t sell that well and I doubt he made his money back in the sale.
28-inch barrels with 2 3/4-inch chambers about 1/4 and 3/8 choke borings, short rib with top extension, the frame and locks with fine bouquet and scroll engraving and retaining some original hardening colour, gold lined cocking indicators, rolled edge trigger guard, 14 1/2-inch well figured replacement stock, 6lb. 5oz., recent nitro re-proof
The maker confirms that the gun was built in 1928 and that the gun was re-stocked and re-chambered by them in 2008 for the current owner. The gun has been maintained by the maker and no expense has been spared.
29-inch barrels, the No.1 with recent replacements by the maker with 2 3/4-inch chambers, the No.2 with the original Whitworth steel with 2 1/2-inch chambers, about improved cylinder and 1/4 choke borings, short ribs with top extensions, the frames, locks and gold numbered top levers with fine bouquet and scroll engraving and retaining traces of original hardening colour, gold lined cocking indicators, rolled edge trigger guards, 14 1/2-inch highly figured replacement stocks by the maker with half pistol grips, 6lb. 10oz., nitro proof, in their maker’s lightweight leather case
The maker confirms that the guns were built in 1927 and that the replacement barrels numbered 10308 were fitted in 2008. The guns were re-stocked at the same time for the current owner by the maker, and have been maintained by the maker with no expense spared.
30-inch replacement barrels by the maker with 2 3/4-inch chambers about 1/2 and 3/4 choke borings, short ribs and extensions, the frames, locks and gold numbered top levers with fine bouquet and scroll engraving and retaining some original hardening colour, the maker’s name signed within a scrolling banner, gold lined cocking indicators, rolled edge trigger guards, 14 1/2-inch well figured stocks with straight hands and recoil pads, 6lb. 13oz., nitro proof, in their maker’s lightweight leather case
The maker confirms that the guns were built in 1912 and that the replacement barrels (numbered 10243/4) were fitted by themselves in 2005. The guns have been maintained by the maker in recent years with no expense spared.