By Bill Harriman is BASC's head of firearms and global gun authority
Thursday, 25 June 2009
Q) Can you provide any background on my late fathers Midland Gun Company single-barrelled 12-bore? The gun is serial number 9,374 and was bought at auction in 1938. It has a 36in barrel and 3in chamber, and is magnum-proofed for a 1½oz load. Though the ejector no longer functions correctly, it is still effective against the grey squirrels and pigeon that raid my orchard and garden. My father was Lijah James, the notorious poacher, as featured in More Tales of the Old Poachers, by John Humphreys.
A) Your late fathers gun is a Midland Gun Company Magnum Knockabout shotgun. It was a heavier version of the standard Knockabout gun, built with a weightier breech and designed to handle 3in cartridges. The barrel also had a raised rib and the company advertised it as a pigeon, duck, wildfowl or trap gun. It cost £4. 10s (£4.50) or £5 for the engraved version. The standard barrel was 34in, while 36in barrels like yours were made to order and cost five shillings (25p) more. Rubber recoil pads were 12/6 (63p) extra.
The Midland Gun Companys records no longer exist so I cant date your gun. However, the 1937 Midland catalogue describes it as a new line, so I guess it was introduced in the early 1930s and was probably almost new when your father bought it in 1938. There may be a small Birmingham date mark on the barrel. This is a cross with letters and numbers.
If you send a drawing to me c/o Shooting Times I may be able to give an exact date.
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