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 Post subject: I am new and what is a good double?
PostPosted: Wed Sep 02, 2020 4:46 pm 
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Joined: Wed Sep 02, 2020 2:58 pm
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I am new here, but not to guns or shotguns. I'm 63 and decided I want a double gun. I have used my 870 for almost 40 years and love it. But now I have moved to a arid climate for my asthma and there is good bird hunting here.

I have had Stevens Fox SXS and Stevens and other cheaper guns back when they were still new on the shelf. The reason I never kept them is it seems one barrel would always shoot way off and basicly I had a single shot. I am not a collector, I'm a hunter, but I like good quality guns. There is a local guy that has a Hunter Arms 12 ga. 30" barrel and not molested and in 85% condition. He wants $600 for it. I know Hunter Arms was made for LC Smith. Is this a good price and no I don't know the choke of the bores, but I can fix that easily. I am a hobbist gunsmith. What are other brands of well made shotguns and what can I expect to pay for them.
John




Last edited by jpickar on Thu Sep 03, 2020 5:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: I am new and what is a good double?
PostPosted: Wed Sep 02, 2020 6:45 pm 
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jpickar wrote:
There is a local guy that has a Hunter Arms 12 ga. 30" barrel and not molested and in 85% condition. He wants $600 for it. I know Hunter Arms was made for Parker. Is this a good price and no I don't know the choke of the bores, but I can fix that easily. I am a hobbist gunsmith. What are other brands of well made shotguns and what can I expect to pay for them.
John



I believe Hunter made L.C. Smith, not Parker. A 30 inch barrel gun is likely mod/full or full/full. And early 20th century chokes are TIGHT, regardless of how they're marked. Make sure it doesn't have Damascus barrels. Also, I recommend you pay somebody to open the chokes who isn't learning to do the job on your gun (that means don't DIY).

L.C. Smiths are good. Another one to look at is the Fox Sterlingworth.


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 Post subject: Re: I am new and what is a good double?
PostPosted: Wed Sep 02, 2020 8:55 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2020 6:27 pm
Posts: 31
If $600 is your budget I would look at a new CZ bobwhite. Stock will most likely fit better and you start out with screw in chokes. My 28ga is very pleasant to shoot and tips the scale at 6lbs


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 Post subject: Re: I am new and what is a good double?
PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2020 2:09 pm 
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Joined: Sat Feb 16, 2019 3:03 pm
Posts: 184
I agree the CZ Bobwhite is a good option as a starter SxS in that price range. However, since the OP posted in the Classic Shotgun forum, it appears he is interested in a classic SxS.
Yes, Hunter Arms produced the L C Smiths. The best options for an older American classic would be the Smiths, Foxes, Parkers and Ithacas. The higher grade guns and smaller gauges will be pricey. The low grade 12 gauge guns can be had for reasonable prices. Those would be the L C Smith Field Grade, the Fox Sterlingworth, the Parker Trojan and the Ithaca Lefever Nitro Special. These models are basically the same mechanically as the higher grade models without the fancy wood and engraving. 12 gauge Sterlingworths and Trojans in good shape can be had in the $800/1000 range. 12 gauge L C Smiths Field and Nitro Specials can be had in the $500/700 range. All these models are readily available on the used gun market.


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 Post subject: Re: I am new and what is a good double?
PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2020 3:01 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jun 15, 2004 11:55 am
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Location: Hemingway, S.C. 29554
I was looking at guns international recently. All the LC Smith guns below 800 bucks seemed to have something wrong with them. All the guns mentioned above are good but the reason for the field grade Smiths being more reasonable is simply that there are so many of them. They are not attractive to collectors. I have 5 Elsies, 1 20 ga., 3 in 12 ga., & a 10 ga.. I also have a CZ Bobwhite in 20 ga.. It is not uncommon for a SXS shotgun to not print both barrels to the same POI but you are exceptionally unlucky to get stuck with two of them! I have owned several Stevens & a Stevens Fox. I still own a 311 Stevens 20 ga. & I have not seen that. I think condition is more important than brand with older guns. I also like the German guns like Sig Sauer & Merkel. The Bobwhite is not a Elsey but it's new. I like mine! Personally, I don't like messing with original chokes. You can remove some but you will still have 30" barrels. There is one company that sells spreader loads & you can load your own if you want to go to the trouble. Also, you might find that you like that gun & chokes if you wind up shooting farther out than you expected. Not to mention that if you pattern different loads, you might find that some pattern more open than others & you can pick the one best for the situation.


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 Post subject: Re: I am new and what is a good double?
PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2020 6:10 pm 
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Joined: Wed Sep 02, 2020 2:58 pm
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Thanks for the replies. My budget is not $600. I guess I didn't say that right. $600 is what the guy wants for the Hunter Arms. Lots of good info here to digest. But getting back to my original question. Is $600 a fair price for a hunter Arms 12 ga in 85% condition? IS the hunter arms a good shotgun?

I have also found a CZ classic hammer gun with the screw in chokes which would be real nice!
I'm not a fan of hammer guns, but at $800 in like new condition. I think that is a good price.

I have a Remington 1889 hammer gun in 10ga that belonged to my wifes great great uncle. I made some chamber inserts for it and shoot 12ga. low brass in it. It shoots like a rifle at 40 yards. maybe a 8" pattern.


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 Post subject: Re: I am new and what is a good double?
PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2020 9:30 am 
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Joined: Sat Feb 16, 2019 3:03 pm
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jpickar,
You did not indicate what model the Hunter Arms gun is. One of the more common models is the Fulton. $600 seems to be in the ballpark range for one in the condition you indicate. Go online and compare the gun you are interested in and prices for other similar Hunter Arms guns. I have seen Fulton model asking prices from $250 to $900 with most being in the $400 range.
If you are not set on an older classic SxS and willing to pay in the low 4 figure range, you may want to consider a more modern used SxS, The Spanish AYA and Ugartechea guns and Beretta Silver Hawks would be good options.These guns would have better choke options and better stock dimensions than the older guns. They have various models but some models can be had used in good condition in the $1500/1800 range with some nice ones going for even less.


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 Post subject: Re: I am new and what is a good double?
PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2020 10:43 am 
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Joined: Mon Dec 15, 2014 9:46 am
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Location: Nawth Bama
I think $600 is a good price for that gun.

Based on my experience with two Elsie's and one CZ, you won't go wrong with either.

And you sure make that arid climate sound appealing. Good hunting!

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 Post subject: Re: I am new and what is a good double?
PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2020 11:14 am 
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Joined: Tue Jun 15, 2004 11:55 am
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Location: Hemingway, S.C. 29554
Yea, Hunter arms also made the "FULTON" which is a box lock. If your gun is a sidelock, it is an LC Smith, if it is a boxlock, it is probably a Fulton. There is nothing wrong with the Fulton, it just doesn't have the mystique of some of the other vintage guns.
DoublesForever, educate me if you will, what are you talking about when you say more modern guns will have better stock dimensions? I am aware that some older guns have excessive drop but I own 6 Elsies, two are pre 1913 guns. A late 1960's Merkel sle, a Beretta model 410 sxs, a Savage 311 & the old model CV Bobwhite in addition to a DeHann SO & a Uggie. There is some difference in stock dimensions as one might expect but the sum total of the dimensions on individual guns give me guns that fit me essentially all the same. The only dimension I had to change on some of them was cast as I am left handed & some had right hand cast. I also had to reshape the stock on my other Beretta model 410 (not 410 ga., both 410's are 10 ga.) but didn't include it above because it didn't have an original stock. I am pretty average so most guns fit me pretty good with original stocks but I am sure you know a gun should always fit the shooter. Most factory stocks can be made to fit most shooters with minor adjustments & without major surgery. Consider yourself lucky if the factory stock is a perfect fit!


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 Post subject: Re: I am new and what is a good double?
PostPosted: Sat Sep 05, 2020 7:19 am 
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Joined: Sat Feb 16, 2019 3:03 pm
Posts: 184
geometric,
As you already stated, the major issue with older doubles' stocks is the excessive drop at heel. This causes fitting issues due to the stature of most of this era's shooters.


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 Post subject: Re: I am new and what is a good double?
PostPosted: Sat Sep 05, 2020 9:45 am 
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Joined: Wed Sep 02, 2020 2:58 pm
Posts: 10
It must be an LC Smith as it is a sidelock. The gun felt good when I pulled it up. I will have to go try it again. So much good info put out here. I thank all of you for this info.


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 Post subject: Re: I am new and what is a good double?
PostPosted: Sat Sep 05, 2020 10:02 am 
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Joined: Tue Jun 15, 2004 11:55 am
Posts: 5142
Location: Hemingway, S.C. 29554
You are right that some older doubles have excessive drop but I have found most of them have the same basic stock dimensions as more modern production guns & fit me essentially the same. You are correct in that it is something to be aware of when buying an older double. Pop bought a pre 1913 long range Elsie years ago that had an unusual stock with a lot of drop. When I inherited it years ago, I had it restocked. You could get a Smith restocked back then without mortgaging the farm. I shot the old stock fine but just didn't like it. It was not an original stock. The best fitting guns I have are Elsies with original stocks or replacements (exact copies) of the original stocks. Thank you for bringing this up!


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 Post subject: Re: I am new and what is a good double?
PostPosted: Sat Sep 05, 2020 12:24 pm 
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Joined: Sat Feb 16, 2019 3:03 pm
Posts: 184
jpickar,
If the gun is a Smith, it should have L C Smith printed on the sides of the receiver. Even if it is a Field Grade, $600 would be a good price if the condition is as you indicated. A Field Grade would have no engraving on the receiver;any engraving would be a higher grade. Check if there are any cracks in the wood of the stock behind the side locks metal. Smiths are known for having cracks in that area and would affect the value.


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 Post subject: Re: I am new and what is a good double?
PostPosted: Sat Sep 05, 2020 7:06 pm 
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Location: Hemingway, S.C. 29554
I do believe the LC Smith is the only American made SXS ever made that has side locks. I have a 12 ga., 30" field grade LC Smith in my hands as we speak. It has "LC SMITH" stamped on the bottom of both locks, under the receiver. It also has "LC SMITH FIELD GRADE" on the top of the right barrel, near the receiver & the left barrel is marked, "HUNTER ARMS CO., MF'RS, FULTON N.Y.. I paid $800 for it maybe 10 years ago, which was too much money as it had a bad butt stock. It cost me about $200 to $250 to get it restocked, which was a real trick as a LC Smith stock can easily run $2000. I bought a machine inletted stock for about $100 bucks. I was going to do the final inletting myself but when I found a gunsmith that said he would do it for me if I wasn't in a hurry, I jumped on it! He did a beautiful job, it looks great. There was other gun work on the same bill so I am not sure how much was the Smith but I got a deal, anyway you cut it! Stock fixers can work wonders but this one was gone! Epoxy glass bedding will fix most stock cracks at the head & some gunsmiths like penetrating epoxy. I was told by an expert LC Smith man that if you keep the stock screws (the ones that secure the butt stock to the action) tight, you will not have any trouble with the stock cracking. Yea, if the gun is in good shape, $600 is a deal! Good luck with it if you decide to buy it!


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 Post subject: Re: I am new and what is a good double?
PostPosted: Sat Sep 05, 2020 8:49 pm 
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Joined: Fri Mar 01, 2019 1:36 pm
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Location: Endless Mountains of PA
geometric/JPickar

There were a few other companies who made side lock double guns here in the USA besides L.C. Smith.
Baker and Crescent are just two of them. All the companies who made Hammer Guns here in the USA, made side lock guns. However L.C. Smith made America's Best side lock double guns.

If this gentlemen is picking up any grade of L.C. Smith double gun for $600.00 today, he is getting a good deal if the gun is in good shape. He should look the gun over and determine if the gun is in good shape before he purchases however. Many of the 12 gauge guns were made with 30" barrels and choked M/F. Use the RST and Poly SpredR's in them and they throw real nice patterns for bird hunting.

Definitely check the stock our for cracks around the side locks, many of these old guns were not taken care of properly, many are still in perfect shape also. Inspect the gun fully before you purchase. It's more than just the screws, proper care is a must for L.C. Smith shotgun, never over oil them. Use only Singer Sewing Machine oil & Break-Free on them and store them properly. The only L.C. Smith double gun I own that has a crack in the stock, is one another big man fell on while hunting, I traded him for the gun. Freddie Brunner fixed for me. Most all my L.C. Smith guns are pre 1913 double guns, I do have a couple made in the early 1920's also, non of my gun stocks are cracked.

Good luck with your purchase. If you need further information or advise drop me an email at [email protected]

Pine Creek/Dave
L.C. Smith Man

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 Post subject: Re: I am new and what is a good double?
PostPosted: Sat Sep 05, 2020 10:17 pm 
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Joined: Wed Sep 02, 2020 2:58 pm
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I went and looked at the gun today again. It is very nice. Two small spots of glas bedding on the front of the wood that meets the action on the bottom side. LC Smith side locks. No cracks. Everything is pretty nice. The drop in the butt stock seemed like a lot and not sure how well I would shoot it well because of that. There is a 26" barrel LC Smith also. But the stock has been cut. It is pretty nice as well, but it has been shot a little more and the locking lever goes past center just a little bit. He wants $600 for it too. I have not decided to buy the 30"er yet. The drop in the butt stock is my main concern.

Is is drop in the stock something I need to get use to? Thank you all for the input. I am learning a lot here.
John


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 Post subject: Re: I am new and what is a good double?
PostPosted: Sun Sep 06, 2020 1:05 pm 
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jpickar wrote:
I went and looked at the gun today again. It is very nice. Two small spots of glas bedding on the front of the wood that meets the action on the bottom side. LC Smith side locks. No cracks. Everything is pretty nice. The drop in the butt stock seemed like a lot and not sure how well I would shoot it well because of that. There is a 26" barrel LC Smith also. But the stock has been cut. It is pretty nice as well, but it has been shot a little more and the locking lever goes past center just a little bit. He wants $600 for it too. I have not decided to buy the 30"er yet. The drop in the butt stock is my main concern.

Is is drop in the stock something I need to get use to? Thank you all for the input. I am learning a lot here.
John


I don't compromise on the drop dimension when buying a gun. Cast and LOP are negotiable by stock bending or fitting a pad and spacers, but bending a stock for drop is a very iffy situation, especially if more than 1/8" is required. I was wanting a vintage A H Fox gun for years, but the excessive drop kept scaring me off. I finally found a 1939 A H Fox Special 16 ga that with a new recoil pad and an angled stock spacer fit me perfectly. It is a delightful old gun that I shoot well and it gets used quite regularly. Another option would be to have the gun restocked with the correct dimensions to fit you. I strongly recommend not trying to shoot a gun you know does not fit you. it likely will not be satisfactory in any way.

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 Post subject: Re: I am new and what is a good double?
PostPosted: Sun Sep 06, 2020 2:37 pm 
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Please spend some (or a lot) of time looking around here
https://lcsca.clubexpress.com/content.a ... b_id=43784

Also check out "What should I consider before buying a vintage L.C. Smith shotgun?" in the General Information FAQ here
https://lcsca.clubexpress.com/content.a ... b_id=43784

The standard post-1913 Smith stock dimensions were 14 1/4" LOP from the front trigger, 1 5/8" DAC, 2 3/4" DAH, with a positive/down pitch of about 2 1/2" for a 30" barrel gun.

The vast majority of No. 00 and Field grade guns were ordered in bulk by sporting goods and hardware stores with standard dimensions; special order dimensions were of course available

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 Post subject: Re: I am new and what is a good double?
PostPosted: Sun Sep 06, 2020 3:30 pm 
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Location: Hemingway, S.C. 29554
I have to agree with Riflemeister. The gun needs to fit you. I can only speculate as to how it may fit you. When you mount the gun in your normal fashion with your normal mount, if it fits, you should be looking down the centerline of the barrels & the gun should be pointed where you are looking. Some people advise closing your eyes when you mount the gun then open your eyes to see if you are looking where the gun is pointing. The best thing would be to consult a gun fitter but if you are like me and aren't particularly wealthy you wind up doing most things yourself. Most guns are stocked for the average shooter. I'm pretty average so I usually don't have to change much. If you require a stock that deviates a lot from average, you may not be able to find a gun that fits you. Most stocks can be made to fit most people & like Riflemister says, drop is probably the most important & also the toughest to change. It depends on how much change & how much you are willing to do. Like a lawyer friend use to tell me, "Don't holler before you hurt". First order of events is to figure out what you have or could have. The second, figure out what needs to change, if anything, & if you want to go to the trouble & expense. Drop at the comb is the most important dimension if you believe what Rollin Oswald says in his book "Stock Fitters Bible". There are several ways to change it. I have a double gun that didn't fit me because the comb was too high. I couldn't bend it because it is laminated. I figured, what have I got to lose buy trying to make it fit by removing wood? If I screw it up, I would just have to go to plan "B" & buy a machine inletted stock. The stock has a lot of wood. I was afraid it was going to look funny but it doesn't. I took more than 1/8 th. inch off the comb, mostly on the side & it worked very well. I am going to shoot it some & tweak the fit before I refinish it.
I see a post from Mr. Drew House came in while I was typing this. Drew is a good guy to listen to, I have learned a lot from him!


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 Post subject: Re: I am new and what is a good double?
PostPosted: Sun Sep 06, 2020 3:39 pm 
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Some of the early 20th century American doubles also had stocks with a pretty severe drop at the heel that will make you shoot under the target if you mounted the gun in a contemporary manner. They were meant to be shot with a semi erect head. One other often neglected and seldom mentioned American double is the Remington models 1894 and 1900. The 1900 could be had with fluid steel barrels and in my opinion is a very well built gun that you can shoot with modern ammunition. The best part is that they can be bought very reasonably because for some reason they get no respect.



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