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Vintage and antique double barrel shotguns are quite valuable collectibles, but making distinctions between them and estimating their value can be difficult. Luckily, there’s plenty of resources out there and always room for improvement if you’re willing to put in a bit of time.

Double barrel shotguns were being made centuries back. However, they’ve only been modernized in the last two centuries. These antique and vintage items may vary greatly as they were made by different manufacturers from different areas around the world. Still, the origin of the shotgun shouldn’t change its value significantly.

Understanding the history of double-barrel shotguns is important in the evaluation of them, and is one of the reasons antique double barrel shotguns are still popular today, with avid buyers from around the globe looking for that perfect piece to add to their ever-growing collection.

If you need help identifying, valuing, or buying a double barrel shotgun that is more than 100 years old, continue reading this article to gain key information and learn more about these majestic weapons.

At the end of the article, there are also commonly asked questions about antique double barrel shotguns which will help you clear any remaining confusion. Read on!

Identifying Antique Double Barrel Shotguns

If the antique double barrel shotgun was maintained in a good condition, chances are that you’re going to be able to identify it easily. However, if the shotgun is too old, like before 1897, it may be more difficult to identify it as the numbers have often started fading or were removed as a result of theft or aging.

Even if the age of manufacture has faded, there may be other marks you can consider for identification, such as other numbers that mark the length and correspond only to certain manufacturers. These are often found along the side of the shotgun on to the barrels.

Additionally, there’s a possibility that the manufacturer’s name is visible. After identifying the manufacturer of the shotgun, all you have to do is search for the model in an antique product catalog, or a forum that specializes in shotgun identification.

It’s worth mentioning that for a lot of double barrel shotguns, the barrels are removable. There are numerous screws, and if the shotgun is older you’ll probably have an easier time removing the barrels.

The stamp or seal denoting the manufacturer, serial number and/or date of manufacture is often deeply etched into the shotgun, usually somewhere underneath it.

You may want to use a sharpie or a marker to dye the area to make the marks more visible. But that won’t be necessary unless the shotgun is heavily damaged or the marks are seriously faded.

Below is an example of a seal on a double barrel shotguns. This shotgun has the manufacturer’s name on one side, and the year of manufacturing on the other side. This information makes the shotgun easy to identify.

Identifying Antique Double Barrel Shotgun
Credit: @matt_s_schmidt

Unfortunately, given that double barrel shotguns were made in numerous countries and then exported to the USA, chances are that not all of them will state the manufacturer and serial number in the same way.  You should look for any kind of number that can give away information about the antique shotgun that you’re holding in your hands.

There are a few things that you can do once you’ve found some marks. You can look for the patterns on antique specialist forums, search by Google’s reverse image search, or go to the product catalog of different manufacturers and see which models are most similar.

Identifying Antique Double Barrel Shotgun 2
Credit: @enhanced_firearms

This can be tedious work and it may be easier to find an appraiser who will also be able to identify it, especially if they work with double barrel shotguns and know the market well.

Double Barrel Shotgun Manufacturers

As mentioned earlier, double barrel shotguns were manufactured all over the world and  exported their products to North America. The first double barrel shotgun was invented by John Gilleland in 1863, in an effort to make a gun that could successfully defend his community from invading armies.

He wanted to help people defend themselves from both short-range invaders and those who are far away, developing a portable canon consisting of two balls that are connected by a chain.

The double barrel shotgun has majorly changed since its invention. By the late 19th century various American companies were already making and distributing it. Many European manufacturers, especially those in Belgium and Great Britain, were also making them.

The shotguns made by different manufacturers were similar in many ways such as the actions, triggers, wood, and buttstocks being used. Nevertheless, they used different extractors and ejectors which changed the style of reloading on different shotguns. What was also different from manufacturer to  manufacturer were locks and how they were mounted.

American Manufacturers

There are more double barrel shotgun makers than you can count when it comes to American manufacturers. Nevertheless, these names echo the loudest when double barrel shotguns are being mentioned:

  • Fox – Their shotguns are considered more vintage than antique, as they were founded in 1906. The company built side-by-side double barrel shotguns throughout WW2. Their shotguns were made in 12, 16, and 20 gauge.
  • Parker Brothers – One of the most famous shotgun manufacturers started making double barrel shotguns in 1868. The company was acquired by Remington Arms in 1934.
  • Ithaca Gun Company – Most common double barrel shotguns (vintage and antique) are manufactured by Ithaca. These were considered one of the sturdiest and most durable double barrel shotguns. They produced shotguns until 1948 and started in 1883.
  • Smith – This company was making double barrel shotguns for mass production since 1881 in Syracuse, New York. They made shotguns until 1950.
  • Browning – Although Browning was making shotguns for the American marketplace, it’s worth noting that the Browning Superposed also made guns in Belgium.

UK Manufacturers

The UK and Europe didn’t have as many double barrel shotgun manufacturers as the USA. Still, there were over 100 British manufacturers who made tens of thousands of double barrel shotguns. Meet some of them below:

  • W. & C. Scott – If you’re looking for a vintage double barrel shotgun, there’s a chance it was made by this company. It was at its peak during World War II but continued making them following the war.
  • James Purdey & Sons – This is one of the most popular companies making firearms. Their guns and shotguns were of the finest quality, sought after around the world. It’s still in business and  known for making double barrel shotguns.
  • Westley Richards – This company is known for many popular shotguns, famed for actions with detachable locks.

European Manufacturers

Double barrel shotguns were finely made by different European manufacturers, with some of them still sought after today. You will notice the elegant and sophisticated manufacturing whether you’re buying from German, French, Belgian or Spanish companies. Here are some of the most known ones:

  • Verney Carron
  • Manufrance
  • Merkel
  • Springer
  • Heym
  • Ugartechea
  • Franchi
  • Abbiatico & Salvinelli
  • AYA
  • Guyout
  • Arrieta
  • Beretta

Valuing Antique Double Barrel Shotguns

If you know a thing or two about collecting double-barrel shotguns, then you know that the older it is, the more valuable it is. The condition it is in also plays a major role in evaluating the price of double-barrel shotguns.

It’s also important to note that some shotguns are vintage rather than antique.Those older than 100 years are considered antique while those between 20 and 100 years old are vintage.

Some collectors prefer to say that those made before WWI or before 1900 are considered antique. It all comes down to preference.

the best evaluation you can get is from a professional, whether online or in an antique shop that specializes in firearms. Chances are that local antique shops specializing in antique weapons will be more difficult to find.

There are plenty of options online, like different forums, websites specializing in firearms, as well as private antique dealers who offer their services online.

The last option is to value the double barrel shotgun yourself, and while it’s not easy, it’s not impossible.

How to Value Antique Double Barrel Shotgun on Your Own?

Even if you decide to value double shotguns on your own, we still advise referring to some forums for more information. Getting a second opinion is never a wrong decision to make. All you need is a camera and access to a few forums and you can easily get an evaluation for free.

These are the parameters you should use to evaluate your double barrel shotgun:

  • Chamber length – Older shotguns are equipped with shorter chambers which makes it impossible for modern shells to pass through. Chamber gauge is something you want to consider, especially when it comes to 16 and 20-gauge shotguns made in the early 1900s. Shorter ones might be more valuable.
  • Actions – You will need to check whether the actions feel loose – hold barrels tightly in order to feel that. If they feel loose, you’ll have to spend some time rejoining them, which also devalues the shotgun a bit.
  • Barrels – Over time, barrels lose on their quality and shine. If they make a bell-like ringing sound when flicked with a finger or a piece of metal, that means that they’re in a good condition. Lastly, barrels that don’t have any defects like bulges, scratches, and ripples are most valuable.
  • Stocks – The stocks made with oil-soaked wood tend to be darker compared to other kinds of wood. Stocks that haven’t cracked and are in generally good condition are more valuable.

Editor’s notes: If you have a sidelock shotgun, you will have to be careful, as their stocks may not be as sturdy and thick. These tend to crack and in older times, they’d get replaced. You will notice if the fore-end was replaced with some other kind of wood based on the transition quality and how different it is compared to the rest of the shotgun.

There are a few websites where you can try to evaluate the shotgun on your own, with the help of avid collectors like yourself. Try visiting these websites and forums and see how much help they can be.

Getting Your Antique Double Barrel Shotgun Evaluated Professionally

Why should you use a professional service to assist your valuing process? If you are inexperienced with valuing firearms, and the photos that you uploaded to various forums and other websites are not clear enough it can happen that you got your shotgun mis-valued. That’s why it’s a smart idea to seek professional help.

Most local antique stores should be able to evaluate your antique or vintage double barrel shotgun. What would be even better is if the antique worker has experience with evaluating double-barrel shotguns. Otherwise, you may consider reaching out to local hunters who have good knowledge about shotguns or are collectors themselves.

Keep in mind that the antique experts charge for appraisals and that they are likely to have a price catalog on their website.

Where to Buy Antique & Vintage Double Barrel Shotguns?

Buying antique double barrel shotguns is not as easy as buying other collectible items, simply because the weaponry is not so widely available online. For example, on Amazon, you won’t be able to find a wide choice of shotguns, especially antiques.

Instead, you’ll often find a replica or parts that were used in their manufacturing. A similar story applies to eBay and Etsy where you can find some parts, leather bags and similar items, but not shotguns themselves.

Instead, you’ll have to think bigger and search every corner of the internet until you find some smaller shop that will still ship to your address under the established policy and rules. The bad thing about shotguns not being available on these major websites is that it leaves room for being scammed and tricked.

If you’re careful when checking out listings and have some experience purchasing double-barrel shotguns, you should be fine.

Guns International – A Fine Selection of Vintage & Antique Double Barrel Shotguns

  • Price range: $200-$5,000

Guns International is a large shop-like forum website where collectors list their firearms finds and try to sell them for a good price, depending on the condition, popularity, and age of the firearms. They have a large selection of vintage and antique double-barrel shotguns which are available for a wide range of prices. You can find anything from the USA-made shotguns to Belgian-based manufacturers that shipped their shotguns to the USA.

Editor’s notes: The downside about this website is that it’s similar to public auctions, and the product catalog looks like a forum page which can make it difficult to navigate through.

IMA USA – Both Vintage & Antique Double Barrel Shotguns

  • Price range: $1995-$3000

IMA USA has a lot of different options for firearms, especially when it comes to vintage and antique finds. It may not have a great selection of antique double barrel options, but there are some quite valuable shotguns that you will want to look into.

Some of the finds are smaller USA-based manufacturers, while most other makers are from the UK or Belgium. Those were popular among Europeans during WW1 and WW2. A lot of people want to collect them regardless of the time they were made in, as long as they are in a good condition.

Editor’s notes: Unfortunately, the selection of double barrel shotguns is not so large as with some other sellers. The products are quick to go out of stock so make sure to keep an eye on the website to spot incoming finds. You can always reach out to the contact center and get notified when new collectibles arrive.

Gun Broker – Both Old & New Double Barrel Shotguns

  • Price range: $450-$4,799

It’s worth noting that Gun Broker features firearms of all kinds, starting from newer guns, to antique  double barrel shotguns. On this website, you can find a fine selection of vintage Ithaca shotguns that were quite popular at the time and also sturdy and powerful.

There are other companies that you can choose from. If you are looking for a particular model, it’s best to reach out to the sellers.

Editor’s notes: There are a lot of items on the website, but the navigation may appear a bit overwhelming at first.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Double Barrel Shotguns Worth Anything?

Surprisingly, double barrel shotguns can be worth a lot, especially because they made an important technological advancement in terms of weapon crafting. They’re sold for high amounts at auctions and are well sought after by collectors and hunters alike.

Are Double Barrel Shotguns Dangerous?

Antique double barrel shotguns were used during wars and other conflicts may have visible signs of age. You certainly shouldn’t use them on your own if you see that some part under the barrels is blown off or there are some other signs that the shotgun is damaged. Better let a hunter or an appraiser tell you whether it’s safe to use or not.

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