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#597349 05/27/21 09:45 AM
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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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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.


If we feed our faith our fears will starve, if we feed our fears our faith will starve.
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What Joe said..

I have several I'm bringing over hopefully in a few weeks.

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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 i.imgur.com]


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 i.imgur.com]

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 i.imgur.com]



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.


The only lessons in my life I truly did learn from where the ones I paid for!
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I’m trying to remember, but I don’t think I can say I’ve ever seen two broken guns with the same, exact issue, at the same time, except two 700s, that both suffered broken integral striker/tumblers. Was it a fluke? Well, maybe. It did change how I feel about that particular design, however. One of the reasons I choose to hunt with doubles was the quest for reliability. Integral strikers are not limited to 700s, either, by the way. It is a fairly involved repair to fix one. You can’t do it back at the truck.

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.

Other than that, decent guns, plenty for sale, at realistic prices.

Best,
Ted

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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

Best,
Ted

Says the guy who apparently has never met up w/ a stuck striker disc!

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Originally Posted by 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

Best,
Ted

Says the guy who apparently has never met up w/ a stuck striker disc!

I have not. I was told about a gun that the disc threads actually protruded past the threads in the breech face, and the tumbler beat the threads over with every pull of the trigger! But, my example does not have those issues. I should add that I would have discovered that before I took it afield, as well.

Keeping an eye on an integral tumbler/striker would be more challenging.

Best,
Ted

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Ted, out of a quarter million Parker’s that have integral strikers how many have you ever seen broken? I use Parker’s as an example because so many were made. A huge number of Birmingham guns have the same strikers and how many of those have you seen broke? Not to argue but curious. Every 100 + year old set disc striker I’ve ever seen has been stuck and even the best smith’s have had a devil of a time removing them.


If we feed our faith our fears will starve, if we feed our fears our faith will starve.
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I don’t know anyone who hunts with a Parker. Well, I did know one guy, but he died like 40 years ago.

I think I qualified it very well when I noted that a guy may never see a broken version of an integral tumbler/striker, but, it happens, and the OP seemed to be looking for points about reliability versus the Francottes he was somewhat familiar with. Should we acknowledge what we have seen when a guy asks specific questions on reliability about a particular gun, or, talk about Parker’s?

I’ve seen three broken English boxlock guns with that mechanism, two 700s and a Westley. Anecdotally, a few more from folk who had them fixed. Both of the Webley guns broke on opening day of pheasant season, finished the trip as single shots, and were “hors de combat” for the rest of the season. Neither repair was speedy, or cheap.

Yea, it happens.

If you discover you have a problem with a disc set striker on a hunting trip, that is really on you, isn’t it? Kinda like finding out your spare tire is flat, on a trip to Mexico.

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Ted

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Ted, I will grant the redundancy offered with separate strikers. Just have never had a need for them. But I always have a couple shotguns on a trip so guess that covers me. I do have a number of guns with disc set strikers and guess it’d be a good time to try to break them loose and make a spare set of strikers before they’re needed. Good point!


If we feed our faith our fears will starve, if we feed our fears our faith will starve.
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