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Original Post (Thread Starter)
#597349 05/27/2021 1:45 PM
by Little Creek
Little Creek
For those of you who have owned W & S shotguns, particularly model 700: How does the quality of the gun and reliability compare with a Francotte model 14 or 18? I know something about Francottes as I've owned three. Seem like there are a lot of Model 700's around in the $2000-$3000 price range...
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#597560 May 31st a 03:32 PM
by Brittany Man
Brittany Man
Originally Posted by Ted Schefelbein
You may never see a broken one, but, a disk set striker, with the tool and a spare striker, or a side lock, with either the side nail or the proper screwdriver, and a spare, will be back up and running when you get back to the truck. A 700, not so much


Says the guy who apparently has never met up w/ a stuck striker disc!
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#597351 May 27th a 03:00 PM
by Joe Wood
Joe Wood
Though I’ve never had experience with the Francottes I can tell you the Model 700 series are about as bullet proof as any SxS ever made. After the war, when the Model 700 series began, most of the workmen remaining in the Webley works were old hands at their jobs. I have found the gun’s construction to be very good and consistent. The barrels are accurately bored and choked and the striking and rust bluing excellent. And they are well actioned. The Southgate ejectors function perfectly and are well timed if old grease hasn’t clogged up something. Case hardening is of the bone type and is exceptionally well done. The wood is well inlet. Most of the 700’s I’ve owned have very plain stocks and the finishing leaves a lot to be desired with pores wide open and quickly oiled. However, the wood grain is well laid out for strength. The checkering is coarse. The action engraving is often plainly and quickly done. Before we jump to quick conclusions we need to remember the times these guns were constructed. After WW2 the market for new SxS guns was very slow and makers were struggling to produce by hand a product that could compete with machine made guns. It was a race they were doomed to come in seconded place. But they ran a good race and over nearly three decades produced a quality low priced gun for shooters. I love the guns for what they are: a hand made shotgun turned out in the old way that competes well with the machine made crap offered today.

Incidentally, later on they offered higher grades, the Model 701 and 702. Both had much better wood, checkering, finishing, and engraving. I have owned them all and think they are incredible values and great examples of the last of the Birmingham guns other than the bespoke products which are still produced by various makers. I think I remember that at the end of production in 1973 it was estimated the cost of manufacturing these higher grades to break even was close to £10,000.

Generally the condition of these guns on the market today are in very high original condition. At the time of their production the days of heavy usage had passed and only shot during the short seasons we have. And many seem to have been put in a closet until now. So basically they are as new.

Between W. C.Scott and Peter Webley (Webley & Scott) I’m betting that at least 80% of all English guns, whether Birmingham or London or the multitude of country makers, had some origin in the Webley plant. Many so called best guns were completely made and finished in the Webley factory and merely had the retailers name placed on the finished product. That’s one of the dirty little secrets of the English trade.
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#597588 Jun 1st a 01:24 AM
by Joe Wood
Joe Wood
Stan, mechanically the CNC guns offered today are far from “crap”. That was a poor choice of words—my bad. In many, many ways they are better mechanically than the best made long ago. But for someone like me who values the hand craftsmanship seen in our hundred or hundred fifty years ago guns they have what I call “soul”, something a machine can never impart to a product. I love the individuality of the old guns, few are identical and each small maker put his own twist on their work. I am just amazed at what a lifetime of using hand tools could accomplish! Yes, the old timers used what machines were available but have you seen the milling machines available in 1875? Crude would be a generous statement. The rest was simply files, chisels, rasps, etcetera, and skill. I will grant the incredible sophistication of machinery in producing our damascus barrels.
Just the rolling mills that were critical to producing the iron and steel were very advanced though powered by water or later steam.

I am rambling. Just give me a honest hand built gun and I’m happy though it has poor steel and welded barrels. Just like my flintlock guns....
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#597537 May 31st a 11:04 AM
by damascus
I would just like to add to Joe Wood's posting with a little further information about the 700 series that was given the name "the plain Jane" this was a perfect description of the 700. The gun had no frills it was down to earth basic with no disk set strikers, very little but quirky engraving though done by a man with a hand graver, and wood that would not look too much out of place in the firewood pile. With that said I do own two of these Birmingham offerings, one from may be the first of the factory,s output 1949, Plain Jane it really is, I did not purchase it from new and the case is another basic though sturdy, made by another bygone name "Brady" who had a reputation of well made value for money.

[Linked Image from]

Now at the tine this gun was built it was only intended only for the home market here in Brit Land, and I doubt that any of the first batch ever found their way to your side of the pond, though you never know because all the very early guns where built with 21/2 inch chambers as in the photograph. Now I have often looked at photographs of proof marks on this forum and find them difficult to read, it is amazing how a little Chalk or Flower tubed in to the marks make things stand out.

[Linked Image from]

The gun is the usual Brit size 12 bore twin trigger with improved cylinder right barrel and three quarter in the left. It balances a quarter of an inch forward of the hinge pin just giving that light barrel heavy swing, fourteen and a half inch length of pull with no but plate weighing in at a little over six pounds. At the time I purchased the gun it fitted me like a glove but tine age and weight the gun fit is now not so good though I still used it for long days of hedge walking up.

[Linked Image from]

My other is a Twin Barrel set from the 1952 with semi pistol grip and 2 3/4 chambers.
Now some other reasons why the guns are so reliable other than they where built entirely by hand that encompass the age old skills of Birmingham g unmaking. The entire 700 output of the factory was between 26000 to 28000 including all the variants and one known .410 that is roughly 800 to a 1000 guns a year so not mass production by today's standards.
Some of the main reasons besides craftsmanship that makes these guns so mechanically reliable was from the early days there was a lot of left over top quality steel left from WWII a lot of it came from your side of the pond that went in to the guns because at the time EN 8 was cheap,no frills box Lock design tried and tested south gate ejectors plain wood for the stocks, basic but quality hand finishing, Also there is not one internal part that a craftsman could not file up from a block of quality steel.
I would like to think that some person in fifty years time will be writing that the Webley & Scott 700 series is a gun that was not appreciated at the time but now very desirable.
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