David’s Early Guns Series #4 — Lefever 12 Gauge Double Barrel By: David Freeman


Posted (8/16/2021)

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Lefever double barrel
Pop’s Lefever Double Barrel 12 Gauge

This shotgun sat in Pop’s bedroom corner beside his armoire. Pop was my mother’s father. I’m pretty sure he never hunted during my lifetime. Everybody owned guns and Pop’s were the double-barrel shotgun, a .22 rifle and a Colt New Model Service revolver. As a kid I had no idea about the historical significance of his guns nor their value. Pop died at age 67 the year I was a senior in high school. He had been a great friend to me, and a supplier of horses to my cousins and me. His loss was tough. I wasn’t around when any decisions were made about passing down his guns, but somehow I ended up with the shotgun. One of my cousins got the rifle and my only living first cousin has the pistol.

David’s Grandfather, “Pop”

This was a genuinely appreciated inheritance because I did a lot of bird hunting with my 16 gauge full choke Winchester Model 12 and the improved cylinder and modified choke barrels on the Lefever were much better suited for quail hunting. My uncle pointed out to me a problem with the Lefever’s choke, which was on the tang. If you weren’t very careful when pushing it on, it would go past the safe point to a position that would allow the gun to fire. Not only was I warned about that choke up front, I was reminded of it on every hunting trip where family was involved. Jeez, guys, I’ve got it!

To me the gun was just a gun to go hunting with until I got into the gun business and started inventorying and valuing my guns. Much of the bluing had worn off, leaving the finish shiny in places. The stock was scratched and gouged in various places. It certainly wasn’t a show piece, but it functioned fine and I managed to bring down a few birds with it on a regular basis. But there was something about the Lefever brand I learned from the Blue Book of Gun Values. The Lefever was the first commercially successful hammerless double barrel shotgun made in America. The company was in n Syracuse, NY from 1885 until 1916 when it was bought by the Ithaca Gun Company.

Lefever Made the First Hammerless Double Barrel Shotguns

According to what I could determine through visiting the Lefever Collector’s Association website, my gun was made in 1908 and is a C Grade gun. Values in Blue Book are quite high for some of these guns and not so high for others. Guns matching the description and condition of mine have consistently sold in excess of $5,000 so whoever decided I should get Pop’s old shotgun did right by me and probably didn’t know it. Most of those relatives are gone now, so there won’t ever be any arguments about it. I’ve just included a recommendation in my notes about the gun that whoever inherits it should have it appraised by a qualified appraiser if they decide to sell it.