James Woodward & Sons, 64 St James's Street, London
12 bore Back Action Hammergun
no. 3417

Year of manufacture: 1874-79

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Heritage Guns' Comment

Any gun by James Woodward is relatively rare and exclusive but his hammerguns are particularly rare and this fine example is possibly unique. Its uniqueness stems from a very unusual method of bolting the gun: a pair of bolts that hinge like a scissor, slotting into bites cut in the sides and rear of the elongated lump.
No doubt invented to get round the classic Purdey Bolt patent of 1863, this patent uses a huge area of the bite to achieve its lock-up, spreading the load over a much bigger area than a Purdey Bolt.
Also rather than use the long flat spring of the Purdey patent, it uses a shorter 'V' spring mounted in front of the trigger box. We can find no registered patent for this design.
The gun has considerable amounts of original hardening colour and this coupled with the sensitive restoration and unique mechanism makes it a very rare and collectable gun for any student of the top of the London guntrade.
Cased in a relined Oak & Leather case with reproduction label and some accessories.
Note: Due to the style of the barrel bolting, we would recommend that the user ensures that the underlever is fully home when loaded and that only light loads are used.



The action is of traditional design and features:
Considerable original hardening colour;
Double triggers;
Stanton rebounding, back action locks with high 'Hare's Ears' hammers;
Percussion fences;
Hold-open, snap under-lever, operating a pair of longitudinal bolts;
Cross bolt/Wedge forend fastening.
Engraving style Very Best Foliate Scroll. 'WOODWARD's PATENT' engraved on breech face
and under action bar. Barrels stamped 'J.W.& S.'.
Gun weight
Trigger pulls measure approximately: Front trigger 3 ¼ lbs Rear trigger 4 ¼ lbs
The Damascus barrels are 29" in length, chambered for 2 ¾" (70mm) cartridges and are of brazed 'dovetail' lump construction with soft soldered ribs.
Top rib is of the smooth, concave, game type.
Birmingham reproof for 70mm nitro powder cartridges in 2015.

Approximate barrel measurements at date of publication:

Nominal Proof Size
Bore Diameter 9" from Breech
Minimum Wall Thickness
Choke Constriction
Right Barrel
18.8mm (0.740")
0.019" @ 8" from muzzle

0.004" (Skeet)
Left Barrel
18.7mm (0.736")
0.021" @ 7" from muzzle

0.006" (Skeet)

The Straight Hand Stock and Splinter Forend are crafted from boldly figured walnut and the stock is lightly cast off for a right-handed shot, features a white metal oval engraved with 'JFM' in Gothic script and a finely engraved iron butt plate secured with engraved screws. The forend has an engraved steel tip.
There is evidence of some 'shakes' in the stock horns, being the separation of the grain along natural fault lines. However they have been stabilised with modern adhesives and although they may become more apparent over time, we do not believe they threaten the structural integrity of the stock. We would however recommend the use of light recoiling cartridges.

Boldly Figured Walnut Stock & Forend

The 19 lines per inch chequering has been freshened to its original pattern.

The stock is finished with a traditional linseed oil based preparation as used on best guns by one of the top English makers. This finish uses no grain fillers to achieve its deep, smooth lustre, only many hours of alternate build and flatting off of the surface.

Approximate stock measurements at date of publication:

Pull to Heel
Pull to Bump
Pull to Centre
Pull to Toe
14 3/8"
14 5/8"
14 1/2"
14 7/8"
Drop at Comb
Drop at Face
Drop at Heel
1 1/2"
1 3/4"
2 1/8"
Cast at Comb
Cast at Heel
1/8" (approximate)

For the purposes of these measurements, 'Drop at Face' is the 'drop' measurement taken on a line perpendicular to the
line joining the trigger and centre of the butt at approximately 8" from the trigger (front trigger on a double trigger gun).

Patents Exhibited include:
'Purdey Bolt' patent no. 1104 of 1863;
'Scott Spindle' patent no. 2752 of 1865;
Stanton's rebounding lock patent no. 367 of 1867;
Hackett's forend fastener patent no. 964 of 1878.