Category Archive 'John Dickson'

08 Jun 2012

Rare Dickson Triple-Barrel Sold in December 2010

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The Scotsman, 28 December 2010, reported one very impressive result from Holt’s Auctioneers London Sale of December 16 instant.

A unique triple-barrelled shotgun made for a Scots aristocrat has been sold at auction for £43,000 [$66,000 at the time of the sale].

The shotgun – dubbed the “Holy Grail” – was made in April 1891 for John Adrian Louis Hope, 1st Marquess of Linlithgow and the seventh Earl of Hopetoun.

The three-barrelled ejector, 16-bore gun, with three triggers, was designed by renowned Edinburgh gun makers John Dickson & Son and is the only one of its kind. …

Holt’s founder, Nicholas Holt, said: “This is completely unique – the holy grail for any shotgun collector.

“The gun maker, which still exists in Edinburgh, looked back in their records and found this was the only single 16-bore, round action side by side by side ejector ever made. The mechanism was too complex to make more, but it still works fantastically well today and is capable of shooting three gamebirds with its three barrels.”

That is certainly an interesting gun, but it went, in my view, for a terrible amount of money all things considered. The auction catalogue description mentions a “slight crack at the hand” in the stock. It is nice to have three shots, but in return you get a gun weighing 7 lbs. when you could have a 16 gauge weighing 5 3/4 lb. (like my Greener). The gun is also chambered for old-fashioned 2 1/2″ 16 gauge shells, which until pretty recently had been neither loaded nor sold for decades in the United States.

The side-by-side configuration on this gun must surely be less handy than the alternative ways that the German gunmakers would arrange a drilling: either two barrels side-by-side atop one or two barrels over-and-under with the third to one side.

Why exactly three shots were wanted is unknown. It seems to me that a chap shooting driven grouse would be much better off with a better-balanced, better-handling pair of, or even one, 12 gauge gun. He’d have a better sight picture and a larger pattern.

Three shots are not essential in walking up shooting. If you can’t knock down the bird you just put up with two shots, you probably are not going to do it with three either.

The original owner was Governor-General of Australia, so perhaps there are particular circumstances hunting cockatoos or kangaroos, or in the event of convict rebellions, when a fellow simply has to have three quick shots.

Of course, in that event, he could purchase an American pump gun or semi-auto a lot cheaper.

On one strange and unique occasion, I actually personally scored a triple on ruffed grouse. I was just entering the end of patch of woods in Brush Valley, near Ringtown, Pennsylvania, which consisted of the remnant of an old orchard decayed and overgrown by surrounding forest, when I accidentally blundered into a ruffed grouse convention.

A grouse exploded from under my feet with my first step, and I fired and dropped him. I took another step, and a pair of grouse took flight on either side of me. I only had an open field of fire on the left hand bird, and I was again dead on target. When I moved forward to pick up the dead birds, more grouse exploded in all directions, and I managed to drop number three. Three was the daily bag limit, and I’d never taken the limit without reloading before. Grouse continued to launch from all around me as I recovered my birds. In those days, I was using a beat-up and downright elderly Remington Model 10 pump gun with a Full choke. I could not have done any better if I’d had that nice Dickson.

Hat tip to Vanderleun.


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