New shotguns I have encountered include the exciting new MX28B over/under (O/U) from Perazzi, Mossberg’s new reduced-recoil pump actions, and Beretta’s latest in its long-lived 680 series, now the 692. But first, for comparison, let’s examine an old English, 16 gauge side-by-side from Webley & Scott.

Webley & Scott
Webley & Scott is an old-time English maker, and I think the company sold guns from both Birmingham and London. Further, this company was known for making guns for some of the most well-known English manufacturers. In other words, companies would have Webley & Scott do most, sometimes all, of the work but then put their own name on the gun. Webley & Scott also made guns for the so-called trade—not for other gun makers per se but for businesses that simply sold guns and wanted their own name on the shotguns. Montgomery Ward and Sears are two American companies that did this. And I have a 12 gauge side-by-side with “H. Beesley, Loveday Street, Birmingham” stamped on the barrel, but experts have told me that they suspect Webley & Scott made this gun.

The point is that Webley & Scott made a heck of a lot of the old English side-by-sides. The one I’ve been putting through its paces has two sets of barrels. Also of interest is that many of the old English game guns had “¼” and “½” chokes, which on this side of the Atlantic translates to Improved Cylinder and Modified. The two barrels on this 16 gauge are choked pretty tight—Full and Full in the 30-inch barrels, and Modified and Full in the 28-inch set. So, in my mind, this brings up the question, “What did the original purchaser intend to hunt in England with those tightly choked barrels?” Another scenario that was played out a lot 100 years ago: Gentlemen headed to the far-flung regions of the British Empire had shotguns and rifles made for their long sojourns. Could this Webley & Scott have fallen into that category?

As with most English game guns, this one is fairly light at 6.63 pounds unloaded. All four barrel set weighs the same—2.81 pounds. Barrels on these kinds of game guns were always light like this. The fact that both barrel sets weigh the same means that the gun balances just about exactly the same no matter which barrels are affixed. The balance point
is right at the hinge…

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  • trw999

    I’d be really interested to know more about your H Beesley gun and have some information on the maker that you will find interesting! I know who made that gun and it was not W&S. Tim