I achieved an unusual coup the other day; I paid off my gun dealer’s bill with an expensive gun, and got a better one for less money.

It is a Charlin, not a Darne. While they look superficially alike, the Charlin’s breech rolls on ball bearings and can be moved by two arthritic fingers, while the Darne’s powerful lockup needs a vigorous push. The difference is remarkable — peoples’ faces light up when they open and close the Charlin.

I included the detail on the barrel flats in hope that one of my readers might tell me more about this gun. It is said that rare books a bookdealer only gets to see once or twice in his life; the rest are uncommon. By this standard the Charlin is a rare gun. I’ve seen two and bought both. One was a plain grade 16 which my gunsmith accidentally sold. I know of one other that went up for sale at auction; the other was at James Julia in 2015. I don’t know if it made its reserve, but they were asking $50 – $80,000 for it! Of course it was covered with gold figures in Japanese style though it was made for an Indian maharajah, but it’s wood is not as nice as mine.

It is in nearly perfect condition except for the recoil pad which needs replacing. It is of extremely English style and dimensions: 26″, chambers 2 1/2″, 14 3/4″ LOP, 6 1/4 pounds, little drop; the barrels are charcoal gray rather than black. In the whimsical grading scheme which I’m told Charlin invented, it has four swallows indicating its rank. I haven’t the slightest idea what this means. Have at it!

15 thoughts on “Charlin”

  1. I think the company used different animals at different time. I have also seen hares. Four animals in your case swallows is their highest level of engraving.

    Larry Gavin

  2. Wow, those Darne pattern guns are always so pretty. The wood and metal just seem to flow so well. I hope you get many days afield with it.

  3. Nice gun, Steve. French (redundant ?) sliding breech guns are tougher than an old boot. With almost half the parts of a “tipping” gun in fastening, percussion, ejection and safety plus they never go “off face”, they can handle the new breed steel headed shells better than any repeater I own. The French copy no one and no one copies the French (well, hardly ever.) Gil

  4. I do wish the safety was not beyond my ability to reliably disengage at the moment when the dog calls upon me to join the dance.

  5. I can certainly understand your love if sliding breach shotguns, much like mine of Dickson round actions. This example appears to be a dandy. Find me a first edition of the original Good Guns and I’ll die a happy man.

  6. I came by one in a Pawnshop in Ukiah California..Traded a beat up Model 12 for it .Loved that gun,,,Where do they go? Must have traded or sold it some where along the way….

  7. I believe the Maharaja’s Charlin was at first a matched pair but they got split up a few years ago.
    Steve, I believe [but am no expert] that the little critters went from 2-8 animals and so yours is a midgrade at four. I’ve owned two Charlins, and while it’s hard to tell, yours looks to have the pointer or setter with birds scene which was on one of mine and was the typical motif for the midgrade Charlins. Mine had four hares.
    I didn’t mind selling that one but regretted selling the nice little 16 with the simple scroll engraving and only two hares. It had better wood and was just a prettier gun.
    Take care.

  8. I have what is either a 16 or 20 gauge Charlin side by side in excellent condition. believe to be from around 1912 era. (From 1 gun dealer) Looking to sell if anyone’s interested.


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