I’ll leave this slightly obsessive subject in a minute but somebody asked me in an email “what ARE the best?” and what my– I dunno, esthetic is; my Platonic ideal. I could never afford one and I doubt if my fans can make up a rich enough cartel to comp me one as a present, but the answer is easy– the Scottish (Edinburgh) “round” actions, not London famous names, not ostentatious engraving, but a minimalist provincial example of craft & design genius– stark, perfect, Tom McGuane’s “simple linear gesture”. I give you two examples: the starkest, leanest, possibly purest, an ancient McNaughton with wood extending to cover the metal, the “Bar in Wood” type: and the lean but more baroque example of turn of the last century pre- Great war indulgence, a rare– fewer than ten 3 barrels made? — Dickson in just that configuration– allegedly one like it, also in 16 gauge, was made for the legendary bird collector Walter Rothschild.
(My other favorites are the ’57 Chevy and the Citroen Traction Avant– but remember, I also love Winchester Model 12 pumps and Darnes).