“Nowadays the shooter who has passed his physical zenith has a double
inducement for handing in his 30″ barrelled, full- weight, old thoroughbred, and going in for something lighter and faster- handling but in no significant degree inferior, ballistically. These old thoroughbreds are now fetching high prices– much more, in many cases, than they cost… True, the new gun may not be a best English side- lock, with all the refinements of the old, but it can be a thoroughly sound English box- lock…Meanwhile, the old thoroughbred could find a new, and perhaps younger, owner, and one better qualified to derive full pleasure from it”.
(From Gough Thomas, his Gun Book, back in 1969)
Last year I had more jokingly than not discussed trading one of my other guns for Andrew’s unique 20 bore when he visited with his dogs.
Though it was a theoretically “lesser” gun with plain surfaces and an obscure provincial name, it was obviously of good quality and had many bespoke traits– striking wood with a lot of cast off but no toe out like a ladies gun (good for my broad face), unusual chokes (IC and bigger- than- bore “bell” for you tecchies), and five pound weight with no metal missing– I believe it last passed proof in 2002. Its most remarkable trait was its 30″ barrels; despite its light weight it swung smoothly. Though the highest quality Spanish makers are now making similar guns, it is the only vintage* smallbore I have seen with STEEL 30- inchers, though I have seen a few Damascus examples.
Andrew offered back that he would consider the Grant and we both laughed, but when my Parkinson’s diagnosis suggested a very light gun I wrote to him– he really had the only strong candidate, and by pure luck I didn’t really have a lot of money in the Grant. In the end we put together a “proposal” with ammo, a case, tools, and more including some surprises from him and a Hungarian Mongol bow and more ammo from me, and made the deal. It is the perfect example of the quote above. Andrew’s gunsmith has revealed that my intuitions are right– the Grant is in nearly incredible condition, safe for modern ammo (knew that– have shot it for years), and never had the barrels honed out or thinned. While with the slip- on leather pad he provided the “Sidley” fits me perfectly (I’ll have a leather covered recoil pad installed after the season). I should add that all my shots are at close range.
He also sent me a CD of interior photos of the Grant including its Brazier locks— a possible paying article there! So Andrew gets a London gun at an age I never could– and I? Well, Johnny UK wrote me after I mailed its specs that it was doubtless made for an opinionated older man past his greatest strength but still enthusiastic, with good taste and a limited budget. I rest my case.
*Apparently– thanks to gun scholar Doug Tate– it is a W & C Scott (good) action, possibly made in the thirties but left “in the white” and finished in the fifties.