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I was recently reading a book on fine shot guns at the gun club and they had a section on the LC Smith. The author said while the LC Smith was a fine American Shot Gun the side lock system was crude in comparison to the European models. Something about lacking a interruptor devise that stops the gun from going off if dropped.

I think the word crude was wrong maybe simplified would be better.

I have a 16 ga. field mfg. 1919 that I use occasionally to hunt with. The triggers are excellent and the safety works just fine.

Does anyone know about LC Smith's and have any comment. I think there were a fine shot gun and I believe the side lock made in America.
 

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Try the LC smith collectors Assoc. They may have some valuable input. I have two from my great grandfather (1920’s). I don’t shoot them much but shoot well
 

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very collectible, and i support the collectors guild by giving out their calendars as prizes at my shoots, but i never wanted one due to stories of cracks being prone in the side lock inlet areas.
since im a shooter and not a collector, it caused me to avoid them. i didnt want to ruin them. follow me?
 

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Smith locks did not have intercepting sears
Shotgunworld.com • Intercepting sears

Lots of information here
FAQ / Tech Library - L.C. Smith Collectors Association, Inc.

You might ask your local library to get you The Double Gun and Single Shot Journal, Vol. 25, Issue 2, 2014, The L.C. Smith "Farm Implement Grades" by Drew Hause and James Stubbendieck on p. 113.
The point is that most U.S. doubles were utility, "using" grade shotguns designed for hard use and to a price point that a farmer in Nebraska could afford.

That is not to say that some were not made to very high standards.
An A 2 Variation Four. Variation Four was introduced in 1904 and lasted until the A2 was discontinued in 1913. In 1908, the A2 was priced at $400 and the Parker AAHE was $425. $400 then is about $12,000 today.



1929 16g Premier (continuation of the Quality A3).



Lock thereof



BTW: Smith guns were not the only U.S. sidelock; also Baker, Crescent, Meriden Fire Arms and others less well known. Lefever and Tobin were hybrids.
US made Sidelock Shotguns - The DoubleGun BBS @ doublegunshop.com

BTW: when Ben Avery opens again I'll be shooting low gun recreational skeet with my 1906 No. O damascus barrel 16g Smith. 114 years and doing fine :)
 

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Ilshooter: please be aware that the chambers of Smith 16g guns were not lengthened from 2 9/16" to 2 3/4" until the late 30s.
20 gauge chambers were lengthened from 2 1/2" to 2 3/4" in 1936.

re: "Long Cracked" Smiths

Cracks at the apex of the lockplate inlet



start at the head of the stock which has relatively little wood surface area to absorb/transmit the recoil forces. The rotary bolt, the top lever spindle, the safety, and the cocking cams all require removal of wood.



Compare with the head of the stock of this Fox Sterlingworth boxlock




Oil soaking of the wood also contributes to the problem



The propensity for the head of the stock to crack could be considered a design flaw, but keep in mind that the gun design dates to 1883 and 1886. This issue can be rectified by glasbedding or cyanoacrylate impregnation of the wood.
 

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very collectible, and i support the collectors guild by giving out their calendars as prizes at my shoots, but i never wanted one due to stories of cracks being prone in the side lock inlet areas.
since im a shooter and not a collector, it caused me to avoid them. i didnt want to ruin them. follow me?
Bobski,

The stories of Elsie stock cracks are way overdone in my opinion. Yes, they can crack due to the side lock design, but my belief is that most of the cracking is done by shooting hot loads that were never intended for these guns (anything can break if it's abused). The pre-1913 Elsies had impeccable wood to metal fitting, especially in the higher grades, and from what I have seen it's not an issue if you use reasonable loads in a good condition gun.

As an example, the following are a few pics of my 1893 L.C. Smith A-1, there is not one crack and everything is original, the stock has never been glass bedded or reinforced (127 years and no cracks). And I shoot this gun a lot, I don't think twice about shooting a full 100 rounds of sporting clays with it in an afternoon, not a hiccup. I use a basic 1 oz. RST load and it's all good. You will not ruin these guns, they were made to shoot. I recommend you find a nice condition pre-1913 Elsie and then shoot away. Any questions, please let me know, Drew also knows a ton about these guns.

Thanks,
Bob

IMG_0431 copy.jpg
IMG_0441 copy.jpg
 

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When comparing L.C. Smith side lock design to London Best (Boss, Woodward, Purdey, H&H), "crude" is a proper description when making that comparison. When removing the locks and comparing one to another, even a novice can see very well how the L.C. locks compare to the best.
 

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im with drew on this crack matter.
 

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It is clearly inappropriate to compare British Best with Smith guns.
From the above linked Dewey Vicknair blog
"American doubles were like every American product, a consumer item, designed for maximum production output and to make maximum profit, at minimum cost. They were (and still are) items whose production was given over to machine-manufacture to the largest extent practicable at the time, with the minimum of hand work."

In the 1905 Sears catalog
Two Trigger Extractor Doubles
L.C. Smith
No. 00 (Armor Steel) - $25
No. 0 - $32.90
No. 1 - $42
Remington 1894 A grade - $30
Remington 1900 (Steel) - $21.50

In the 1906 Wm. Read & Sons catalog
“Highest Quality” Westley Richards with single trigger - $595
W.W. Greener “Imperial” - $500
W&C Scott “Premier” - $375
Purdey - 89 pounds 5 shillings sterling = about $446 (> 10X a No. 1 Smith)
Joseph Lang & Son “Highest Quality” sidelock ejector - 65 guineas
 

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Thanks for posting Mr. Vicknair's article, I had never seen that before. As most know, the English Best is an entirely different gun from an American double like the L.C. Smith, so it's really not a good comparison. As Drew stated, most of the American doubles where made in great quantities in lower field-utility grades. These guns where rugged for the most part and sold at a price point that most could afford. The designs where made to be tooled up for mass production in factories and assembled by workers who had not apprenticed with a fine gun maker for years. I do think the high grade American doubles (and SBT guns) are true works of art and national treasures. A little over patriotic, maybe, but that's good, we need a little more of that today. As Ithaca says.... Where's your gun made?

Were there flaws...yes, were they perfect...no, but a lot of the designs came from the late 1800's and early 1900's and many of the guns built on these designs, using the technologies of the time, are still in service today. There is nothing like a classic American double or single trap gun.

I think Alexander Brown, Uncle Dan and the other great American gun inventors of the period (including the crew at Ithaca) got a lot right... I rest my case.

Bob
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks Drew. I knew about the chambers being 2 9/16 on my gun. I think someone may have lengthen the chambers to 2 3/4. Is there a way I can tell if that has been done?
I have been using 2 9/16 RST Shells.
 

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There is an easy way to measure chamber length using a 3" x 5" index card, rolled lengthwise, and slid into the chamber. It will partially unroll and expand to the chamber diameter. Gently advance the card until it stops at the end of the chamber (where the forcing cone constriction starts), use a pencil to mark the card at the breech end of the barrel, and repeat the steps to see if it always comes to same spot. Then use a ruler to measure the length marked on the card.
The chamber must be clean, and it works best with a new 3” X 5” card.

If the chambers have been lengthened, it is critical that the end of the chamber wall thickness be measured.
 

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My first American Double was an "Elsie" standard frame back in the day; a gun show find @ 98% 30" full & fuller, Oh boy could it kill ducks with # 4 Bismuth and ink ball a Trap target. I have owned 21's, Parkers and Foxes while the beauty and feel of an "Elsie" is par done.
 

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June 22, 1895 Sporting Life
Page 23
"How the L. C. Smith Gun Came to be the Staple Article It Now Is In Sportsmen's Circles - History of Its Rise and Progress."

July 1912 Hunter-Trader-Trapper Shotgun Review - L.C. Smith
Hunter-trader-trapper
 

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The OP was inquiring if the L.C. Smith sidelock "was crude in comparison to the European models"? Price differential was not stated as a consideration. So, the answer is yes. Compare the L.C. lock to, say, a Chilton or Stanton lock, and even L.C. lovers would agree.
 

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How did we get from "European models" to British Best guns?
Birmingham and Liege produced 100s of thousands of utility grade shotguns, many for export to the U.S. and the world. They were also "crude" in comparison to a Purdey, and were not fitted with Stanton locks. And many are still provided service, as are Smith guns.

BTW: W.R. Crosby and Jack Fanning used Smiths as part of the victorious American team in the 1901 Anglo-American match. That in no way establishes the design, mechanical and aesthetic superiority of Smiths (or Parkers) to the guns used by the British competitors.
J.A.R. Elliott used a Winchester Repeating Shotgun (oh the shame) then went to Europe and won a bunch of francs at the Pigeon rings :)
1901 Match & Olympic Games
 

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Although the theme was intercepting sears, this is a Purdey head of a re-stock by C.J. Opacek. Very possibly requiring 10X the work of that on a No. OO Smith ;)

 

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For the 2 or 3 interested, another U.S. maker used a similar rotating cocking rod mechanism and crude lock



Meriden Fire Arms / A.J. Aubrey lock



Smith lock with hammer cocked

 
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