As we learned last week, there are two types of double barrel shotgun actions; the sidelock and the boxlock. Let’s take a closer look at the sidelock action.
A sidelock action hinged or break open gun has the lockwork (hammer, sear, mainspring, etc.) attached to a plate (plates on a double gun) that fits into the side of the action. The advantages of a sidelock over a boxlock are a theoretically stronger action because less metal is removed from the action bar. The lock plates provide greater surface for engraver’s art; trigger pulls are again theoretically more adjustable and also easier to adjust, and they are often made with secondary, or intercepting, safety sears; and some find the sidelock a more aesthetically pleasing gun. Most of the custom shotgun manufacturers usually reserve sidelocks for their better, more expensive grade of guns. This last might be the reason why most consider sidelocks superior to boxlock guns; after all, money talks.
One of the very practical advantages of a sidelock over the boxlock is the ability to make repairs to the action without the need to remove the butt stock. Only the plate containing the malfunctioning parts need be removed, saving time and effort.
Some of the world’s greatest guns and finest artwork can be found in the double guns of the London gun makers such as Purdy, Boss, and others. A recent check of prices at the Boss website showed SxS shotguns start at 67,950 pounds or about 106,700 US dollars. That’s for a low end gun. Of course in its 240 year history, Boss has made only a few thousand guns. Another search yielded a used Damascus barrel gun for $ 12,500, and a used matched set of 28 gauge round body guns for the bargain price of $250,000. Purdy guns rival Boss in quality and price. For instance, I found a richly engraved 4 gun set (12, 20, 28, and 410) at an advertised price of $450,000.
As a lover of fine doubles, I’m afraid my only hope of owning a Boss or Purdy is limited to pictures and wishes. Be safe and good shooting.