If you’re a gun enthusiast, you might have come across an old double barrel shotgun and wondered about its history. Identifying an old double barrel shotgun can be a challenge, especially if you’re not familiar with the different types and models.
However, with a little bit of knowledge and research, you can learn how to identify old double barrel shotguns and uncover their unique characteristics.
First, it’s important to understand that there are different types of double barrel shotguns, including side-by-side, over-and-under, and single trigger vs. double trigger.
Each type has its own unique features and characteristics that can help you identify it. For example, side-by-side shotguns have two barrels that are positioned next to each other, while over-and-under shotguns have two barrels that are stacked on top of each other.
Additionally, you can identify an old double barrel shotgun by examining its markings, such as the manufacturer’s name, model number, and proof marks.[crp]
These markings can provide valuable information about the gun’s age, origin, and quality. By familiarizing yourself with the different types and markings of old double barrel shotguns, you can become a more knowledgeable collector and better appreciate the history and craftsmanship of these classic firearms.
History of Double Barrel Shotguns
Double barrel shotguns have been around for centuries, with the first known example dating back to the early 18th century.
Originally, these guns were muzzle-loaded, meaning that the gunpowder and shot had to be loaded into the barrel from the front of the gun. This was a slow and cumbersome process, but it was the only way to load a gun at the time.
Over time, double barrel shotguns evolved into breech-loading guns, which meant that the gunpowder and shot could be loaded into the gun from the rear. This made the loading process much faster and easier, and it also allowed for the use of more powerful ammunition.
Double barrel shotguns were popular among hunters, sportsmen, and military personnel, and they were used for a variety of purposes, including hunting, shooting competitions, and warfare.
They were also popular among wealthy individuals who enjoyed shooting as a hobby, and many of these guns were custom-made and highly ornate.
Types of Double Barrel Shotguns
When it comes to double barrel shotguns, there are several types to choose from. Each type has its own unique features and characteristics that make it stand out from the rest. In this section, we will discuss the different types of double barrel shotguns and what makes them special.
Sidelock Shotguns: These shotguns have their locks on the side of the receiver. They are known for their durability and reliability, making them a popular choice for hunting and shooting enthusiasts.
Boxlock Shotguns: These shotguns have their locks in a box-like structure on the receiver. They are known for their simplicity and affordability, making them a popular choice for beginners and casual shooters.
Hammer Shotguns: These shotguns have exposed hammers that strike the firing pins. They are known for their classic look and feel, making them a popular choice for collectors and enthusiasts.
Hammerless Shotguns: These shotguns have internal hammers that strike the firing pins. They are known for their sleek and modern design, making them a popular choice for competitive shooters.
Over-and-Under Shotguns: These shotguns have two barrels stacked on top of each other. They are known for their accuracy and precision, making them a popular choice for competitive shooting and hunting.
Side-by-Side Shotguns: These shotguns have two barrels side by side. They are known for their classic look and feel, making them a popular choice for collectors and enthusiasts.
Identifying Features of Old Double Barrel Shotguns
When it comes to identifying old double barrel shotguns, there are a few key features to look out for. By examining these features, we can determine the age, make, and model of the shotgun.
First, we should examine the barrel length. Old double barrel shotguns typically have shorter barrels than modern shotguns. The barrels were usually between 26 and 32 inches long.
However, there were some exceptions to this rule, so it is important to compare the barrel length to other features of the shotgun.
Next, we should examine the barrel type. Old double barrel shotguns typically have either Damascus or fluid steel barrels. Damascus barrels were made by twisting and welding thin strips of steel together.
Fluid steel barrels were made by hammering a solid piece of steel into shape. Damascus barrels have a distinctive pattern on the surface, while fluid steel barrels have a smooth surface.
Another important feature to examine is the action type. Old double barrel shotguns typically have either a boxlock or sidelock action.
Boxlock actions have the lockwork contained within the action body, while sidelock actions have the lockwork mounted on the side of the action. Sidelock actions are typically more expensive and are found on higher-end shotguns.
Finally, we should examine the engraving and other decorative features of the shotgun. Old double barrel shotguns were often highly decorated with intricate engravings, checkering, and other decorative features. These features can help us determine the make and model of the shotgun, as well as its age.
Determining the Age of a Double Barrel Shotgun
Identifying the age of a double barrel shotgun is essential for collectors, enthusiasts, and hunters. Although it can be challenging, there are several ways to determine the age of a shotgun. Here are some methods we use:
1. Proof Marks
One of the most reliable ways to determine the age of a double barrel shotgun is to look for proof marks. These marks are usually found on the barrel or action, and they indicate when and where the shotgun was proofed. Proof marks can provide valuable information about the shotgun’s age, manufacturer, and country of origin.
2. Barrel Length
The barrel length can also be an indicator of a shotgun’s age. Before the 1900s, shotguns typically had longer barrels, while after the 1900s, shorter barrels became more common. However, this method is not always accurate, as some manufacturers continued to produce longer barrels even after the 1900s.
3. Serial Numbers
Many manufacturers started using serial numbers to track their production in the late 1800s. If you can find the serial number on the shotgun, you can contact the manufacturer to determine the age of the shotgun. However, not all manufacturers used serial numbers, so this method may not always be reliable.
4. Features and Design
Shotguns have evolved over time, with changes in design, features, and materials. By examining the shotgun’s features and design, you can often determine its age.
For example, if the shotgun has a side lever, it is likely from the mid-1800s to early 1900s. If it has a top lever, it is likely from the late 1800s to early 1900s. Other features, such as the type of engraving or the shape of the stock, can also provide clues about the shotgun’s age.
By using these methods, we can determine the age of a double barrel shotgun with reasonable accuracy. However, it’s important to note that some shotguns may have been altered or repaired over the years, which can make it more challenging to determine their age. If you’re unsure about the age of a shotgun, it’s always best to consult with an expert before making any assumptions.
Identifying old double barrel shotguns can be a challenging task, but with the right knowledge and tools, it can be done. In this article, we have discussed several key factors to consider when identifying old double barrel shotguns.
We have learned that the most important factor is to determine the age of the shotgun. This can be done by examining the proof marks, serial numbers, and other identifying features. Weapon Specialist have also discussed the importance of examining the barrel length, choke, and gauge to determine the type of shotgun.
Additionally, we have discussed the importance of examining the stock and forend for any signs of wear or damage. We have also discussed the significance of examining the engraving and other decorative features of the shotgun.
Overall, identifying old double barrel shotguns requires a combination of knowledge, experience, and attention to detail. By following the guidelines outlined in this article, we can ensure that we are able to accurately identify and evaluate these beautiful and historic firearms.
Shelly Jark Drakny is a retired SF weapons sergeant (E-5 or above) with a military occupational specialty (MOS) code 18B. He served 24 years in the military, including assignments in SF, Infantry, and Special Forces.