Three shotguns (and a look at a fourth)

…which will do almost everything.

First, a magnum on the French Darne sliding-breech action. A little expensive to shoot, and a bit “kicky”, but able to take everything up to the largest birds.

Second, a Stephen Grant Best London pigeon gun, with a sidelever action and rebounding hammers in the last stage of hammer evolution. It was made in 1879 and is in nearly mint– NOT restored!–condition (perhaps hidden away after someone died)?) This is a heavy gun with long chambers and is able to shoot modern ammo, despite myths about the weakness of Damascus. It is my sit-down dove gun and swings beautifully with its heavy and rather odd original 31″ barrels (I checked this detail with Atkin, Grant and Lang, who still have all the records and will back it up.)

Finally, what until recently was my hill quail and walking gun: a 16-gauge Manufrance Ideal, light enough to carry, stout enough to shoot at anything at reasonable distances.

Since I am less mobile and broker than ever, I sometimes think I should get brave and sell some or all of them, and buy something like Andrew Campbell’s “Sidley”, actually made by Webley and Scott. It’s a 20-bore that weighs only 5 pounds even though it has 30″ barrels, and is proofed for 7/8 of an ounce of shot. Its light weight would be easy for me to carry, even when I’m walking badly, and the long barrels would still smooth my swing. It really is a beauty — no engraving, nothing superfluous, just what Tom McGuane called, describing an elegant skiff, “a simple linear gesture”.

7 thoughts on “Three shotguns (and a look at a fourth)”

  1. You have great taste in shotguns, Mr. Bodio.
    I have long been fascinated by The Darne, perhaps since a close friend bought a neglected 12 bore at a garage sale for $75.00 (originally priced at $100.00!).
    I hope you have MANY more seasons to enjoy your "friends".

  2. Steve,

    You should let go of that Grant when they pry it from your cold, dead hands. How heavy is the Manufrance- that much more than a light twenty? Not that Andrew's Sidley isn't a lovely piece.

  3. Hi Steve

    Great pics – but best to settle on one gun, which you can actually use, and use nothing else – that way – improvement!!.
    I am lucky to have a "mini armoury" too, but now I(almost) solely use my light, 20G Bruchet Darne , Damon Petrick O/U, that Herve made for me 8 yrs ago now – never look back…………….

    Good luck with the hunt!


  4. MDMNM: ditto (at least to the Grant comment)… a truly lovely gun worth keeping at all costs. My gun is freakishly light — arguably too light for most folks to shoot well (myself included)although it does conform to the 'rule of 96'.

    There's probably a good flyrod analogy, but I deliberately don't go near fly-fishing for fear of another obsession.


  5. Steve, get in touch with the They would like to list some of your guns you have for sale on their classified list. Ray Podrier (sp) is the one to contact.

    Kitty Carroll

  6. Thanks, Kitty. If I sold I probably will have a line waiting- but you can give Ray Poudrier (right spelling I think) my email "ebodio-at-gilanet-dot-com" if you want. I am aware of (and like) the Vintagers!


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