For most of the 20th century, Abercrombie & Fitch was the most famous name in American sporting goods. From a retail store on NYC’s Madison Avenue, and through catalogs sent out across North American, A&F sold everything from firearms to fishing lures.
In 1938, the first spread of their Rifle-Shotgun catalog opened with the following copy:
“In our opinion the Francotte, famous Belgian gun adapted by us to the American Sportsman and improved over a period of 50 years, represents real gun value second to none. It is, in fact, an imported hand made gun at an American price.”
Three pages of Francottes followed: From the top of the line Eagle Grade Hammerless Ejector No. 45 Quality to the Knockabout Ejector. All these guns featured Siemen-Martin ‘Special’ fluid steel barrels and could be ordered with Greener-crossbolts or doll’s head extensions. They were made made on what A&F called a “Francotte lock action”, said to be an improvement on Anson & Deeley-type boxlock action, and featured Francotte-patent ejectors.
Price wise, Francottes weren’t cheap. But they weren’t super expensive, either. At a time when a Parker Quality A-1 Special Quality with ejectors was $890, a Parker Quality B.H.E. was $375 and a Fox X.E. was $165, Francotte’s Eagle Grade Hammerless Ejector No. 45 Quality was $550. Their most affordable double — the Francotte Knockabout Ejector — was $175. In between were models like the No. 30 Quality (30E) at $400 and a No. 20 Quality (20E) at $275.
Compared to their American competitors, all these Francotte’s were built on superior designs, featured better finishing and proper scaling, and were more aesthetically pleasing overall. If you had stopped into A&F’s Madison Avenue store and placed a Parker, Fox, and Francotte side by side, it would have been plain to you which one was superior.
Francotte (Abercrombie & Fitch) “30E” 28 gauge SXS Shotgun: Francotte Pre-war (Abercrombie & Fitch) SXS Shotgun. Side plated 28 GA. Ejectors, side clips, 26 inch BBL, Full and Full, Double triggers, 14 1/2 inch pull to horn butt plate with Abercrombie and Fitch Leather case. Bores like new. Price: $17,995
FRANCOTTE MODEL “20E” DOUBLE 20 GAUGE SIDE-BY-SIDE SHOTGUN RETAILED BY ABERCROMBIE & FITCH: 28″ barrels choked R: .009″ L: .030″. Engraved sideplate action with auto ejectors, side clips, hiddend third bite (crossbolt with rib extension), double triggers, top lever. Checkered splinter forend and semi-pistol grip buttstock. Stock measurements: Comb: 1 1/2″ Heel: 2 1/2″ LOP: 14 1/4″ to a horn buttplate. Weight 5lbs 13oz. In beautiful original condition retaining nearly all of the casehardened finish on the action and sideplates. Trigger guard and top lever have all of the high polish charcoal blue remaining. Barrels showing 98% original blue with the maker’s and A&F’s names engraved on top. “A FRANCOTTE MAKER” and patent info on the left sideplate at the bottom. Excellent wood and checkering. 1949 mfg. Price: $8,750
EARLY FRANCOTTE 12 GAUGE DOUBLE EJECTOR GUN: 26″ damascus steel barrels, auto ejecgtors, beautiful scroll engraved sideplates and relief engraved fences. Double triggers, top lever, double underlocking lugs with Greener type third bite. Bores measure .729″ both barrels with walls over .030″ Chokes: R: .003″ L: .033″ Weight: 6lbs 7oz. Stock measures Comb: 1 1/2″ Heel: 2″ LOP: 14 1/2″ over a thin English hardrubber pad. The barrels retain all of the beautiful damascus pattern, The action showing lovely subdued case colors. Mint bores, excellent checkering and varnish. This would make a perfect bird gun. Price: $5,950