Fashions come and go with most consumer goods and what is in favour one year is not always what sells in the next. Since Castle Gunmakers opened we have found that, year on year, there has been a fairly even balance between sales of over and unders compared with side by sides.
We have noticed a slight decrease in sales of Continental side by sides but an increase in the number of British boxlock and sidelock shotguns sold. What is quite surprising is that many friends and customers looking for a “traditional” shotgun always go straight for a side by side, assuming that the over and under configured gun is something quite new and modern. However the design of a gun with one barrel on top of another is by no means new. There were over and under wheelock guns and pistols in the 16th Century, flintlock pistols and shotguns in the 17th Century and numerous over and under guns in the percussion period of the 18th Century. With the exception of a few Continental examples and Greener’s “Wedge Fast” hammergun of 1873, the over and under conception seems to have missed the hammergun period of the 19th Century.
By the 1890’s the side by side hammerless ejector shotgun had been totally perfected and the British gun trade looked for something different with John Dickson of Edinburgh producing a side opening over and under in 1888. However it was another 21 years before Thomas Boss produced a design that we now recognise as a classic over and under.
Over the next few weeks we’ll be going into more depth about the evolution of the British over and under shotgun and the manufacturers involved.