Scottish shotguns review.
As such, it is easy for the casual buyer to forget about the Scottish makers, in spite of their history of innovation and quality.
Much like the English gunmakers, the number of active Scottish makers has dwindled alarmingly in the last 50 years.
Many great names have been kept alive through amalgamations, the likes of John Dickson & Son now incorporating James MacNaughton, Daniel Fraser, Alex Martin, Alex Henry and Thomas Mortimer, for example.
All these firms produced guns of an enviable style, which shot well and were extremely reliable.
The most famous Scottish guns are either the classic MacNaughton ?Edinburgh gun?, a remarkable bar-in-wood side-by-side gun, or the Dickson round action.
Both of these guns are still made today, on the market from £37,250 and £38,775 respectively.
If you get the chance to pick up either of these guns you should seriously consider buying one if the price is right.
Though you should be wary of anything available for under about £15,000.
Also consider guns by David McKay Brown for the very best in new hand-made Scottish guns.
The major gunmaking centres of Scotland were Edinburgh, Glasgow and Perth, though obviously there would have been numerous smaller firms all around the country.
Today there is a particular love of Scottish guns amongst foreign sportsmen, especially Americans.
Certainly we are all envious of having such remarkable, iconic sport, be that grouse shooting or red stag stalking, on your doorstep, and it seems this romantic notion is what particularly appeals.
Understandably, many foreign sporting visitors would prefer to support the local industry rather than fall back on the obvious selection of London guns.
Rifle manufacture has always been a major part of the Scottish trade, as you might expect.
There are few Scottish gunmakers producing hand-made rifles today, but those that do exist are in demand as a result.
Michael Lingard, for example, is a holder of a royal warrant, making rifles by appointment to HRH The Prince of Wales and produced a .243 rifle for Prince William.
He makes just five or six new rifles a year, and around four shotguns.
You will often see a very bold style of engraving on Scottish guns.
The so-called Celtic strap style has bold, thick lines and deep carving, and is very striking.
It will certainly not appeal to some, but if you?re buying a Scottish gun to be different it seems a shame to have standard London-style rose and scroll engraving!
The potential buyer should also be careful of new guns under the name of some of the older makers.
These guns are in fact Italian guns, some of which are finished in Scotland.
In fairness, all the makers are up front about this fact, and the guns themselves are very reliable and will shoot very well.
As ever, be sure you know what you are buying.
Scottish sidelocks are quite rare – Dicksons made one or two, based on the standard nine pin design.
Assuming these guns are in good condition, then they certainly offer good value for money.
As with English guns, often the price doesn?t reflect the quality of the gun due to the name engraved on it.
This means you can have lesser quality guns at an inflated price or better quality guns at an oddly low price.
Overall, however, a Scottish sidelock is likely to be a good amount cheaper than an English sidelock, but will be of just the same quality.
Alexander Martin boxlock shotgun
This is a good quality gun from a well-known Scottish maker. It features elegant foliate engraving, with good quality, well finished stock and fore-end.
An unusual feature of Alex Martin guns are the flared fences, which extend onto the barrels at the sides.
This creates a unique and pleasing effect.
This gun features a Prince of Wales grip and is quite weighty, the gun?s 30″ barrels bringing the weight forward in the hands.
It comes to the shoulder and shoots extremely well, and would be ideal for driven pheasant shooting.
Unusually, this gun has ?231 Eighth Avenue, East Calgary? engraved on the barrels.
The quick-witted amongst you will note that this is in Canada.
Though this famous gunmaker had branches in Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Stirling, with shooting grounds near Glasgow, it seems he wanted to spread his wings further.
The Merchants and Manufacturers Record of Calgary, Alberta, published in 1911 notes that in 1905 Alex Martin, ?maker of the celebrated Martin target and Lee-Metford rifles? moved to the city.
He was associated with A.A. Revine from Winnipeg and his brother, Fred R. Martin, who moved to the city from Edinburgh.
This gun is an attractive and unusual little piece of Scottish sporting history.
D.B. Crockart boxlock shotgun
This firm produced some very nice boxlock ejector guns, and this is a slightly heavier pigeon gun.
These guns would have been made for Crockarts in the trade using Holloway & Naughton or Webley & Scott actions, and then the firm would finish them themselves.
Guns of this type always prove very popular, as a heavier gun is ideal for absorbing recoil from the bigger cartridge loads necessary for targeting high pheasant.
The weight of the gun also allows for a good swing, and the fact that it is a side-by-side will mean the traditionalists amongst you will be happy to be seen in the field with it.
This type of gun would also be ideal for duck shooting, or indeed, the pigeon shooting for which it was made.
This particular gun was made around 1920 and is as good as any equivalent English gun in terms of finish.
The engraving is interesting, being mainly foliate but with an unusual pattern of repeating rectangles bordering all the metal parts, and even extending to the barrels at the action face.
Parts of the gun have a black tint to them, and decorative checkering on the wood in place of a full side plate is a nice touch.
The stock is extremely attractive, the unusual tight horizontal grain of the wood being particularly pleasing on the eye, with a lovely polished finish.
Dickson boxlock shotgun
Dickson were the first to make the boxlock really popular, creating very elegant guns.
Calling them a boxlock is actually a little misleading, because all the lockwork is intricately made and mounted on the trigger plate, like in a modern over-under.
The design is very strong and reliable, and the lock itself is fascinating to look at, with large curved springs inside.
For want of a better description, they look a bit like leaf springs and are difficult to make and fit.
This design does mean a lot of wood has to be removed from the stock, so be especially careful to look for any cracking there.
This design means Dickson guns tend to have very slender actions, and when combined with a rounding of the wood and metal to create the famous round action, makes for a beautiful gun.
All Dickson guns tend to handle extremely well thanks to the weight of the gun being between the hands.
You should be very careful of earlier guns because the ejector system can be problematic – much like any English gun of the same period.
Anything from the turn of the 20th century onwards should be fine, thanks to the new designs and improved manufacturing techniques used.
Watch out also for barrel thickness, as Dickson guns do tend to be a bit thinner than equivalent guns of the period.