Antique Double Barrel Shotgun: Identifying, Valuing, and Buying

Vintage and antique double barrel shotguns are quite valuable collectibles, but making differences between them, as well as their evaluation can be quite difficult. For the person who wants to collect double barrel shotguns without knowing much, identifying and evaluating the recently discovered shotgun can be quite complicated. Luckily, there’s always room for improvement and learning new things.

Double barrel shotguns were being made centuries back. However, they’ve only been modernized in the last two centuries. That being said, the antiques you stumble upon now, as well as vintage double barrels started their manufacturing in the last two centuries.

It’s worth noting that they may have distinguishable differences 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 and origin of double-barrel shotguns is also important to evaluate them, and is exactly why the antique double barrel shotguns are still popular today, with avid buyers from around the globe looking for that perfect price that will add it to their ever-growing collection.

Nevertheless, there are many things that you have to consider, some that you probably didn’t even know that you should consider. But, don’t worry, we wrote this guide to introduce you to the history and culture of antique double barrel shotguns.

If you need help identifying, valuing, and want to buy a double barrel shotgun that is more than 100 years old, continue reading this article to get the right information and also learn more about these majestic weapons.

At the end of the article, there are also commonly asked questions about antique double barrel shotguns. That being said, if any confusion arose as you were reading the article, the FAQ section will help you clear any remaining confusion, read on!

Identifying Antique Double Barrel Shotgun

If the antique double barrel shotgun was treated 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 started fading or were removed as a result of theft and aging.

Nevertheless, even if the age of manufacturing has faded, chances are, that by the side of the shotgun, next to the barrels, there are other marks that you can consider for identification, such as other numbers that mark length and are corresponding only to certain manufacturers.

Additionally, next to the serial number that has faded, or on the other side of the shotgun, 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 the product catalog, or some 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 old, chances are, you’ll have an easier time removing the barrels.

When the stamp or seal is made, the metal is deeply etched into the shotgun, which means that underneath it, you may be able to uncover the manufacturer and serial number.

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

This is an example of the seal for 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 fairly 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 as it was done by some other manufacturers, which is why you should look for any kind of number that can give away information about the antique shotgun that you’re holding in your hands.

That being said, there are two things that you can do. One of them is to look for the patterns on different forums, or search by Google’s reverse image search, or go to the product catalog of different manufacturers and see which ones are a fit.

Identifying Antique Double Barrel Shotgun 2
Credit: @enhanced_firearms

You’ll agree with us, that this is tedious work and that you should probably see to find an appraiser who will also be able to identify it, especially if they worked with double barrel shotguns and know the market well.

Different Double Barrel Shotgun Manufacturers

As mentioned earlier, double barrel shotgun manufacturers were all over the world and they all exported their products to the North America. That being said, the first double barrel shotgun was invented by John Gilleland who invented it in 1863, in an effort to make a gun that can successfully defend his community from the invading armies from the North.

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

The double barrel shotgun has changed since its invention, and that majorly, but in the late 19th century various American manufacturers were already making and distributing it. The British and European manufacturers, especially those from Belgium were also making them.

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

Below is a list of double barrel shotgun manufacturers from the USA, UK, and Europe.

American Manufacturers

There are many double barrel shotgun makers than you can possibly count when it comes to American makers. Nevertheless, these names echo the loudest when double barrel shotguns are being mentioned. Those are as follows:

  • Fox – Their shotguns are considered more vintage than antique, as they were founded in 1906. Nevertheless, the company built side-by-side double barrel shotguns throughout the 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. However, the company was acquired by Remington Arms in 1934.
  • Ithaca Gun Company – Most of the common double barrel shotguns rated to be vintage and antique are manufactured by Ithaca, which was considered one of the sturdiest and most durable double barrel shotguns. They were making 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 were making 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.

The UK Manufacturers

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

  • & C. Scott – If you’re looking for a vintage double barrel shotgun, chances are that they were made by this company. It was at its peak during the World War but continued making them in the future.
  • 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 the business and they’re also known for making double barrel shotguns.
  • Westley Richards – This company is known for many popular shotguns, as well as making well-known actions with detachable locks.

European Manufacturers

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

Valuing double-barrel shotguns can be quite easy or quite difficult. 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, but also the condition is in plays a major role in evaluating the price of double-barrel shotguns.

It’s also important to note that some shotguns have only a vintage touch to them. To make a difference between vintage and antique, it’s just important to remember that those older than 100 years now are considered antique.

Nevertheless, some collectors prefer to say that those made before WWI or before the 1900th are considered antique. It all comes down to preference, but generally speaking, those older than 100 years are considered antique and are worth more in the process.

It’s worth mentioning that the best evaluation you can get is from a professional entity, whether it’s online or in an antique shop that specializes in firearms. Chances are that local antique shops will be more difficult to find, even more so, the person who specializes in evaluating those shotguns.

Nevertheless, 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.

Alternatively, these are the parameters you should use to evaluate your used double barrel shotgun:

  • Chamber length – Older shotguns are equipped with shorter chambers which makes modern shells impossible to pass through. Chamber gauge is something you want to consider, especially when it comes to those 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, but you need to 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. Additionally, if it makes a proper, bell-like ringing sound when flicked with a finger or a piece of metal, that means that they’re in a good condition. Lastly, the barrels that don’t have any defects like bulges, scratches, and ripples are most valuable.
  • Stocks – The stocks made with mushed and oil-soaked wood tend to be darker compared to another kind of wood. Stocks that haven’t cracked are in generally good condition.

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. Those at times tend to crack and in older times, they’d get replaced. You will notice if the forend 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 see to 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

Of course, if you are struggling with valuing your double barrel shotgun on your own, there are always professionals that can help you value it properly and get the best offer if you are going to sell them. Nevertheless, finding a good antique dealer that will evaluate shotguns is difficult.

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 misvalued. 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’d 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.

There are various websites where appraisers and antique store workers evaluate various collectibles. If they can evaluate double-barrel shotguns maybe it’d be worth visiting them. Some may not be available in your town so you should research the antique workers that work nearby.

Keep in mind that the antique workers charge appraising and that they likely have a price catalog set on their website. Some people think that these services are free just like on forums and blogs where people do it for fun. These do it for a living and will likely charge their service.

Where to Buy Antique & Vintage Double Barrel Shotgun?

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

Instead, occasionally, you’ll find a replica or some part that was used for their manufacturing. A similar story goes with eBay and Etsy, where you can find some parts, leather bags and saddlebags, and similar items, but not shotguns.

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 side about shotguns not being available on these major websites is that leave room for being scammed and tricked easier.

Nevertheless, granted you’re careful when bargaining and have some experience purchasing double-barrel shotguns, you should be more than 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 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 out to the USA.

Editor’s notes: The bad side about this website is that it’s a bit similar to auctions, and the product catalog rather 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 fire weapons, 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 Belgian. Those were popular among Europeans during World War and WW2. Still, a lot of people want to collect them regardless of the time they are 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 and see incoming finds. You can always reach out to the contact center and get notified when the 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 some newer guns, to antique shotguns and 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 made sturdy and powerful.

There are other companies that you can choose from, and about a particular model you are looking for, it’d be the 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 to navigate through.

Frequently Asked Questions

If there are some questions left unanswered in this article, try to look for the answer here.

Are Double Barrel Shotguns Any Worth?

Surprisingly, double barrel shotguns are very worth, especially because they made an important technological advancement in sense of weapon crafting. That being said, they’re sold for well high amounts at auctions and are well sought after by collectors and hunters alike.

Are Double Barrel Shotguns Dangerous?

Antique double barrel shotguns used at wars and other conflicts may have visible signs of age. However, 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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