Castle Gunmakers, Norham, Northumberland


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Castle Gunmakers, Norham, Northumberland

We are currently working on a pair of Best London Sidelock Guns, converting them from cross-over to conventional right-handed configuration. There are different stories behind cross-over shotgun conversions, but in this instance the story is as follows.

A regular customer of the shop came into see us last year with a lovely pair of cross-over Best London shotguns that had been in the family for many years. As there was no longer anyone in the family who needed such a pair, he had decided to sell them and buy a conventional pair to hand down to his son. Cross-over shotguns are not common and were often commissioned after both the World Wars, enabling a right handed man who had lost his right eye and found it impossible to change shoulder, to shoot using his left eye or vice versa. The stock and associated metal work would be made in such a way as to allow the gun to be mounted in the preferred shoulder with the barrels falling under the opposite eye – a complicated and very skilled process!

Planning cross-over shotgun conversions
Example of cross-over shotgun

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Cross-over shotgun stock

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Cross-over shotgun close-up

Customers for this type of gun are now few and far between and despite our best efforts we were unable to place them to the public or trade and the customer was left with a bit of a dilemma as he now had two unusable guns and was faced with spending a considerable sum purchasing an additional pair for his son.

Planning cross-over shotgun conversions

After examining the guns in great detail, and with some serious discussion, we suggested to the owner that we were confident we could convert these guns back to a normal configuration, enabling his Son to use his Grandfather’s guns in the field once again after many years languishing in the gun cabinet. Although a costly exercise, this would seem an ideal solution, preferable to buying new guns. The owner agreed and now we had to deliver! Much of the metal work would need to be straightened and modified and new stocks would have to be made.

Firstly we had to strip the guns completely and attend to the metal work. We straightened the lock plates by judicious use of heat and then carefully adjusted and refitted the lockwork to the plates. The Bridles and Tumblers were refitted along with the main springs and the bottom range and Trigger Plates were accurately straightened. Again, with careful use of heat, the top Tangs were set to the right handed cast compatible with the new stock measurements. The Top Levers then required reshaping and rebuilding as did the Trigger Guards which were  cut, welded and refinished to the appropriate angle for the stock measurements. This completed the first metalwork stage.

Shotgun actions and metal work
Actions and Metal work

Cross-over shotgun conversions
Actions and Metal work

We are now in the process of sourcing two suitable walnut blanks in preparation for making and fitting two new matching stocks.

Check out our shooting blog in the not too distant future for an update on this story and any other cross-over shotgun conversions.

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