Yes indeed, American makers did make their versions of "best" guns. But not very many, and not very many of those were used like "tools". Going by the Blue Book: Smith, 17 A-3's, 210 A-2's, 152 Monograms. Parker: 80 A-1 Special, 240 AAH, 300 AH.
Meanwhile, back in Old Blightly . . . the Brits were turning out far more "bests" (Boss, Purdey, Woodward, H&H, Churchill, Scott, etc). Boss ("makers of Best Guns only"), in contrast to the above numbers, turned out almost 5,000 guns between 1900-1970. And His Lordship and his loader(s) were regularly putting them through their paces on driven shoots. Not a lot of rough usage in terms of banging those guns around (although doubtful if the American owners of the above-named high $ guns banged them around much either), but maybe more shooting in one long weekend than the Yanks over the Pond would see in an entire season of hunting waterfowl and upland birds. None of those high $ guns from either place, I'd submit, were meant to be used like a farm tool. But in the UK, they were much more likely to be shot a whole bunch. And there are, relatively speaking, still a lot of them around, some of them still being shot a lot at driven birds. Likely being shot a good bit more than their rare (and collectible because they're rare) American cousins.
And on the other end of the price spectrum, your basic Brummie boxlock could stand up to a fair amount of use as well. And many of them are still being shot. In both cases--American and British--those that aren't being shot any more likely died more as a result of out and out abuse rather than overuse.
Last edited by L. Brown; 04/15/13 05:23 PM.