Heritage Guns Update December 2017

Having not sent out an Update since September, I hope this finds you all well and enjoying the lead up to the Christmas holidays! The rampant commercialism nowadays is not to everyone’s taste and for myself I find the game shooting season, most of our deer being in season and the December gun auctions mitigate somewhat! And I have the Beinfeld Sporting Arms show to look forward to in January!

I am writing this in a Victorian terraced cottage in Eskdale Green, Cumbria where we have come to visit family and Chrissy’s childhood stamping ground, walk a little, eat rather too much, enjoy the scenery and celebrate the end of Chrissy’s chemo! I had been planning a day’s Red hind stalking in the fells around Thirlmere but issues with my back reared their ugly head again and it had to be cancelled. What a bore! (Stop press: since writing the above, I have ‘enjoyed’ an ambulance ride to Accident & Emergency at Whitehaven, copious ‘Gas & Air’ and a severe over-reaction to a morphine jab! But the back is a lot better for the painkillers!)

View of Great Gable and Yewbarrow fells from the road beside Wast Water. A glimmer of sun on the dusting of snow.

The drive up was done in fine, dry weather until we started the climb to Ulpha and descent into Eskdale when typical Lakeland weather enveloped us with sleet, rain, hail and snow. After which we enjoyed more of the above, interspersed with clear winter sunshine.

Tilly was of course quite at home regardless of the weather and begged to be allowed to ‘play’ with the sheep that are the ubiquitous part of the landscape. They get everywhere, including our ‘dog proof’ garden, and were found one morning feasting on the flower beds outside our front door!

Herdwick ewe in our ‘dog-proof’ Cumbrian garden!

My shooting season has started quietly with a couple of days out: the 1st courtesy of the local estate where Tilly and I go picking up and the other a generous gift from a very good friend with a birthday commitment! The latter was made even more special by being able to use my latest J Blanch and Son shotgun, a Baker patent sidelock ejector.

Back gun on the last drive of a wonderful day’s mixed pheasant and partridge.

This action design is often referred to as a ‘12/20’ although strictly speaking this was a model name used only by Lancaster and Grant.

J Blanch & Son 12b SLE, built on the ‘assisted opening’ Baker patent

Tilly has been picking up with me on a couple of local shoots recently and she is really starting to settle down into a good, shooting companion. I managed to stop her coursing the local hairs (well, most of the time!) and she has been showing off her excellent nose on some really tricky retrieves. Last Saturday, she performed brilliantly in a field of frosty rape which I think has got to be one of the most difficult mediums for a working dog, finding several well tucked in partridges.

Before we left home, I managed to get all the new stock guns off to their respective specialists: engravers, laser welder, barrel-smiths et al and looked forward to hitting the workshop floor running on my return. A couple of weeks on and most of the multitude of parts have returned leaving me with the joyful task of regulating six antique shotguns, colouring parts, browning Damascus and final stock finishing.

These guns are all destined for the Beinfeld Las Vegas show 19th-21st January and all being well, the stock list will include the following:

A lovely 12g 1890’s Underlever SLE by James Woodward and Sons, the ‘Automatic’ model. Complete with its original 29” chopperlump barrels and replacement 15” stock, this gun has been reproofed for 2 ¾” ammunition and is a real joy to handle;

Two 12g roundaction ejectors by John Dickson & Son: the first from 1898 with its original 29” Damascus barrels and highly figured replacement stock; the second early 1890’s, TIG sleeved 28” with beautiful, original French walnut stock. Both are 2 ¾” reproofed.

Next, a 410 hammergun ‘shot and tested’ by Stephen Grant & Son so, although undoubtedly bought in from the trade in its semi-finished form, definitely a step up in quality from some.

A 16g sidelever, single barrelled hammergun by J Blanch & Son with 30” x 2 ¾” Damascus barrel and drop-dead-gorgeous wood. This is one from my own small collection of guns by this iconic ‘maker which, after standing unused in my cabinet for some 6 years, really must find a new custodian.

And lastly, from the same source as above, a 12g backaction SLE by J Blanch & Son. 28” x 2 ¾” TIG sleeved barrels, 15” replacement stock make this a gun for a serious shooter, not a closet queen!

As full information, photos and prices become available I will post them on the web site and send out a brief Update to let you all know.

Also on display will be the most fabulous 12g Purdey Self Opener, the 11th ever made and exhibiting the most spectacular fences, cased in Oak & Leather; a Westley Richards Bar-in-Wood Hammergun, 12g x 28” x 2 ½” sleeved barrels and recent replacement stock and a Cashmore 12g BLNE Pigeon Gun.

Other guns from my US inventory will be arriving from Virginia where my good friend and colleague Bob Nay of MacNab Fine Firearms has been marketing them. Depending on interest, these may include:

Damascus 20g William Moore & Grey Hammergun;

20g Bales Sidelock Non-ejector, rebarrelled by Westley Richards;

Possible choice of two 12g H&H Royal SLE, one cased, one not;

12g Leech SLE, 28” x 2 ¾” rebarrelled by the makers;

12g Murcott Hammergun with 30” x 2 ¾” Damascus barrels;

12g TIG sleeved 28” x 2 ¾” Woodward Sidelever Hammergun.

One superb piece of news came through just before we left for Cumbria: one of my barrel specialists had just received 4 of my guns back from proof and they have all passed!! Both he and I were delighted and amazed: so many guns have been failing of late that getting 4 out of 4 is something of a breakthrough! Long may it continue. This group includes two H&H Royals, one a very early 2nd model with the classic bold foliate engraving of glorious quality and condition, and two Grants, one a RUL hammergun that needed the lumps resetting and the other a classic sidelever, backaction hammergun.

I have another 7 guns heading for proof as I write: a Harkom 20g hammergun, another 12g H&H Royal, 2 pairs of Woodward 12g SLE’S and a 16g Joseph Lang Hammergun.

Joining the queue shortly are a Purdey 12g Thumblever hammergun, William Powell 12g SLE with NON-FUNCTIONAL HAMMERS (how weird is that?!), an 1880’s Beesley 12g SLE, another 12g H&H Royal with original 30” barrels, an 1896 toplever Woodward 12g SLE, a WR Pape 12g 30” Damascus hammergun, 12g Purdey B Grade self-opening SLE from 1897 with lots of original colour, a Westley Richards BiW 12g hammergun with original 30” Damascus barrels, a 30” sidelever Stephen Grant hammergun and last but not least, a Boss & Co 12g sidelever SLE.

Well I think that just about wraps up my news for the time being. I look forward to seeing many of you at the Beinfeld January Las Vegas show (19th-21st January), swing by my booth and say hallo even if you are not looking for a new toy!

As mentioned above, I will be sending out brief Updates as I complete the new stock guns and upload their details. Please don’t request photos, prices et al before then as I sadly will have nothing to tell you before the guns are finished and catalogued online.

That just leaves it for me to wish you all an excellent Christmas and a very happy New Year.