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Belgian SxS.

Q: I'm in a bit of a pickle here. Hopefully one of you knowledgeable folks over there at GUNS can help me. To my friends, I'm the guy that knows everything about guns. I've never claimed it, and I'm constantly having to deny it, but that goes to show you how much my friends know. As a result, every time they have a question where firearms are concerned, they come to me. Well, a friend of mine inherited a very old 12-gauge shotgun that he wants me to refinish. I explained three things to him. 1) That, due to the gun's apparent age and the fact that the barrels are rusted & pitted almost completely through and the action is loose to the point of flopping around, he could never safely shoot it. 2) The primary trigger is broken off. 3) I have absolutely no idea what it is.

Maybe you can help me figure it out. It's a side-by-side with 32" barrels, a shell extractor plate and brass-bead front sight. It has double triggers and functioning external hammers on a straight buttstock with three steel plates running from the grip area, up the tang and both sides under the hammers. The triggerguard runs about 12" from the receiver to the middle of the buttstock. The breech mechanism is operated by a long lever under the receiver (which swings to the right) that extends forward, toward the forestock/handguard would be, if it had one (this model appears never to have had one). The end of the breech lever also contacts and secures the barrel/take-down release lever, which swings to the left to release the barrel.

The only markings on this gun are on the barrels; on top of the Rib, are the words "Cast Steel." On the underside of the rib, the numbers "7706" and "8554." Under the right barrel; the markings; "18.2," and "MD." Under the left barrel is an Oval with these characters inside: "E" at the top, "LG" in the middle, and "*" at the bottom. Just above the oval, there is a "*" above the letter "D."

I appreciate any help you can give me in finding out what I've got here.

Brian J. Davlin via e-mail

A: It sounds like you have an inexpensive Belgian-made SxS. Underlevers went out of fashion by the end of the 1870s and this gun most likely dates from then. The lack of any engraving and the "Cast Steel" mark indicates that the gun was inexpensive, along with no identifying mark of the manufacturer. The moderate to higher grade guns of the era generally have Damascus barrels and some form of ornamentation. Most European-made guns were proved prior to sale or export and the mark can be used to identify the country of origin. The "E, LG and *" in an oval are Belgian proof marks and the "18.2" is the caliber listed in millimeters (.717", which is 12 gauge). You are correct in advising your friend not to shoot this gun. It is also questionable to try to restore the gun, since it is in such poor shape and you will very likely have to make the parts to repair it. The costs will far exceed the value of the piece, so go easy and just do enough to make it an attractive wall hanger.

--Jeff John
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Title Annotation:Questions & Answers
Author:John, Jeff
Publication:Guns Magazine
Date:Dec 1, 2004
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