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To Mr. Brown's point about how English guns are actually used, from what I have both read and heard (first-hand), better English guns are generally well cared for between the seasons, but....they can get used very hard when pulled from their cases on and after "The Glorious 12th". Literally hundreds of rounds per season, perhaps thousands, in all kinds of weather that generally involves lots of moisture. The very engineering of these guns, and their metal and wood finishes, evolved specifically because of, and for, this type of use. Because of the initial quality of the manufacturing processes used to create them, and then the fastidious care they generally receive at the seasons end, they can last almost indefinitely. The point here is this: doubleguns can and do get used very hard on both sides of "the pond". If it's truly commendable that a gun of "agricultural simplicity" can be wrought that is both affordable and long-serving, then what is it when a gun that is highly-evolved and artfully crafted is doing the same thing? If, after a hundred years of service (or more?), and both types of weapons are still doing the jobs they were built to do, what is the difference between them? Which one has the greater claim to make?

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I have owned and shot several trap and skeet guns that would make the life of an English double seem easy by comparison. I used to put thousands of rounds thru an Ithaca SKB skeet gun year after year when I was shooting regularly and the only maintenence it received were regular cleanings. Ditto for a Browning O/U. Weather? How about below zero in the Winter to the 90s and humid in the Summer months. Rained on snowned on you name it.
So someone please tell me how these survived year after year without being returned to the manufacturer for service?
Jim

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Originally Posted By: JDW


I also don't believe that the shooting in England in the 1890's was for everyone, only the very wealthy could afford to shoot unless you were a guest. I believe most of the shotguns made were shipped elsewhere in Europe for other dignitaries.


Not wrong there JDW, I think it was King George V who wouldn┤t pay Boss prices ! He said, I quote from memory, "Boss, bloody good guns but too bloody expensive" !!

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May I please disabuse my good friendly Americans of the fact that any Victorian Englishman who shot was a titled heir to a fortune. Of course the newspapers, magazines and books of the period tended to concentrate on the glamorous end of the social spectrum. But that does not mean that plenty of ordinary folk didn't shoot; they did.

Then, as now, there were plenty of farmers shoots, rough shoots, wildfowling and one man with his gun and dog walking the hedgerows. These attracted not only those with money - the newly wealthy, professionals and so on, but also clerks, warehousemen and the like. Not un-naturally their guns tended to reflect their means. One only has to look at the gun catalogues of the time to see that gunsmiths offered weapons for all types of shooting and all pockets.

Furthermore it strikes me that, since the engineering tolerances used in the manufacture of guns have to be very fine, any sporting gun that is well cared for (regardless of whether it is given a regular service or not), should last several generations.

Tim

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Well, someone was buying a lot of Boss, Purdey, Woodward etc "bests". Not sure how many of them were going elsewhere in Europe for the nobility and other rich shooters. But in the 1890's, there wasn't the amount of driven shooting going on anywhere else as there was in the UK. And the other European gunmaking nations were also producing very fine doubles of their own.

Comparing purpose-built target guns (which the British also made) to the "game guns" used for driven shooting doesn't work. Your average British 12 bore game gun was lighter than virtually all American 12's. Typical weight would have been around 6 1/2#. The only British pair I've ever owned weighed 6 1/4 with 28" barrels. My current Lancaster SLE, also 28", hits that same weight. So it's not quite like putting thousands of rounds through your typical trap or skeet gun, which will usually weigh at least 1 1/2# more. In terms of shells fired, I've gone through close to a flat of shells for 3 days of driven shooting in Scotland. And back in "the day", the big shoots featured more birds than you'll typically see on your average commercial shoot today.

Also worth pointing out that not all the guns used for driven were bests, nor were all the shooters the super rich. My British pair were Army & Navy boxlocks made by Scott, ordered by a retired British brigadier (brigadier general). Nice guns, but they would not even have qualified as boxlock bests.

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I don't think much can compare to a British 'best' in terms of side by side shotguns. They are works of art and just ooze quality. Some Italian guns and other country's gun can compare in this day and age, but it really boils down to the fact that they are merely copies of what the English produced in the first place, at the turn of the century, which is the focus point of this thread. Just my humble opinion, though. So, maybe Diggory was correct in his assessment, but possibly he should have sugar coated it a bit for those of us Americans who are fond of our American guns and their heritage.


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So how well do the American built doubles sale in the international gun auctions? I mean other than Americans buying them who else buys them at the prices the English doubles command? That may determine who built the better double and I think it may be the English.

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Seems to me we're still talking about two different guns. The subject has moved over to discussing what is commonly referred to as a "best" gun, a title tradition has bestowed, rightly or wrongly, to a few London shops. In this category you'll hear little objection from me. However, in the context of a "best" gun for most American shooters around 1900, give or take a few years, the American guns stood the test of having to be all things to all masters quite well, better than almost all of the overseas competition. As I mentioned in an earlier post, this gun often had to get up way before dawn and work in the duck marshes then after a late breakfast be ready for a day's work in the grouse and woodcock covers. Or, if the dinner menu included rabbit then off to the farmyard. Come afternoon it might be laying across the lap of a hopeful hunter skillfully clucking to that gobbler coming through the timber. This is the gun we began talking about and the American makers responded, turning out hundreds of thousands that answered the call exceedingly well. The gun typically would sport thirty inch barrels, weigh somewhere around 7 to 7 3/4 lbs and have a stock selected for strength rather than glamour. And, lacking inherited wealth, the gun had to be affordable by the working man.

The American shotgun does not need to offer any apologies to anyone. For its time and purpose no gun ever built on this earth has ever done so well for so many.


It ain't whether you hit a bird that matters, it's the fun you have even if you don't.
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"The American shotgun does not need to offer any apologies to anyone."

I most would have to agree with that.


David


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Maybe a few apologies wink


Last edited by Drew Hause; 04/16/13 09:46 AM.
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