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100th Anniversary L.L. Bean Merkel Shotguns Coming in January

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October 13, 2011

100th Anniversary L.L. Bean Merkel Shotguns Coming in January

By Phil Bourjaily

"You cannot expect success hunting deer or moose if your feet are not properly dressed. The Maine Hunting Shoe is designed by a hunter who has tramped the Maine woods for the last 18 years. We guarantee them to give perfect satisfaction in every way." That hunter was Leon Leonwood Bean, who invented the Maine Hunting Shoe (aka “Bean Boot”) in 1912 and sold them through the mail with an unconditional guarantee.

While I would question whether leather upper/rubber bottomed Maine Hunting shoes are the perfect moose and deer boot, they are great for fast-moving upland hunters, sort of like Converse Chuck Taylors for the outdoors. I have gone on to other boots, but for years I wore nothing else, and I still wear mine around town on rainy fall and spring days.

Of course, L.L. Bean became a mail order and retail giant, and this year the company celebrates its 100th anniversary. To mark the occasion the Maine retailer is selling a number of commemorative items, including a limited run of high grade Merkel doubles, both individual 20 gauge guns ($15,000) and four-gun small gauge sets ($75,000) featuring a 16, 20, 28 gauge and .410.

The guns are far beyond the price range of almost everyone who reads this blog, including myself. Even so, I appreciate Bean’s gesture of celebrating their 100th anniversary with products that reflect their bloodsporting roots, especially given the way brands such as Eddie Bauer and Abercrombie & Fitch no longer stand for what they once represented.*

We have covered Merkel shotguns in this space in the past, and the Bean guns are beautiful examples, with well-figured Turkish walnut stocks and skip-line checkering. The grayed sideplates are appropriately engraved with game scenes of grouse and woodcock. The guns even have a gold inlaid Maine Hunting Shoe on the bottom of the receiver.

The guns are a very limited, numbered run of twenty 20 gauges in five, four-gun sets. They go on sale at midnight, January 1, 2012. Perhaps Bean is hoping people will camp out in line to get them, although at $15,000 apiece it seems unlikely.

*That said, my favorite LL Bean product has nothing to do with hunting: the Wrinkle Resistant Classic Oxford Cloth Shirt. These shirts come out of the dryer looking freshly pressed, and I am convinced, would stay crisp in a hurricane. I have nine or ten in various solid colors, stripes and tattersalls.

Comments (25)

Top Rated
All Comments
from FOX wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

There’s a lot I could do with fifteen grand a gun isn’t one of them. Hell one semester at my college is twenty grand. But it's one of the most beautiful guns I’ve seen in a long time.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from MJC wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

For those that only know L.L.Bean by their mail order business, I should point out that they have never left their bloodsporting 'roots'.

If you head up to Freeport, ME, they will be happy to sell you a bow, gun or rod and have selection and service to rival any Cabela's store.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from nuclear_fisher wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

Abercrombie & Fitch don't make shotguns anymore?!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from vasportsman wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

Beautiful

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike Diehl wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

Beautiful shotguns, and you can count on Bean to have quality control foremost. Were I rich as a Lord I'd buy a set to collect.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike Diehl wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

Off topic: One summer working in the Black Range, NM, my tent was trashed completely by a ridiculous pre-storm wind, and some round tailed squirrels that ate through the side of my tent looking for toothpaste.

So I called Bean from a pay phone in Truth or Consequences. No catalog in hand and before the days of internet. I had three of their camping gear staff running all over trying to recommend which tent would be a more durable replacement for the one that the elements and rodents ate. They made a great recommendation and we handled it all over the phone.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Proverbs wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

Phil, you might be surprised at how quickly these will sell.

CDs are offering 1 percent interest with a minimum 12-month term. Stocks are no better than a casino slot machine. Treasury bills or municipal bonds? No thank you! Real estate? Not a chance in this market, especially with every government entity raising property taxes to make up for lost sales/income tax revenue.

These and other fine guns are a good place to put your money. Can you name something safer? Right now, I'd say guns are a better buy than gold.

+6 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jere Smith wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

Gold has been my friend for nearly 50 years, I started buying in 1959 in Germany and only stopped when it reacheds $500.00 I coin a month. Still have 90% of it.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clay Cooper wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

Wish I had a L.L. Bean in my neighbor hood. Have a "Lewis & Clark", talk about cheap Walmart products with a high price tag, they just changed the label.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from NHshtr wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

They sell good quality products and never questioned a return of mine if I had a problem.

One example: I had a pair of LLB branded waders that leaked after a few years, that I couldn't repair and they replaced them for no charge. I buy a lot of outdoor clothing and gear from them and I consider them to be one of the best retailers in the country.
(No, I don't work for them!)

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from hal herring wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

I'll second that, NHshtr. I've worn, worn through, worn out and replaced a lot of LL Bean gear- all of it top notch. I got my first Maine hunting boots for my tenth Christmas. My kids' modern LL bean snow boots are incredible- make the difference between being able to make big winter trips and staying home cooped up in the house- these boots climb, they keep them warm and dry, they aren't floppy, and you can walk all day in them- any parent in the big north needs to consider them. and no, I don't work for them either.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from aifozu wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog, I will keep visiting this blog very often.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from shane wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

Bean is nearly unparallelled in customer service and quality, as you can see from the above posts. I concur.

I still wear 2 different flannel shirts of late 1970's vintage by them. The top of the collar isn't even worn.

They don't kid around. Their stuff is of the finest construction and always worth every penny. It lasts and lasts and lasts...

With that said, I wish they would sell the OUs and SxSs they used to have. I think they were made by Caesar Guerini and AyA. They were very reasonably priced and had great, classic looks.

These are a little over the top, but on the other hand, Merkels are already extremely expensive in the first place, and will last longer than you or your progeny.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from shane wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

As far as keeping with the bloodsports, they still provide shooting courses and put the hunting gear in the same catalogs and stores as the yuppie stuff.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from JohnR wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

Sigh! Beautiful shotguns.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from wgiles wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

My Maine Hunting Shoes are nearly fifty years old and are still in good shape. I don't wear them very often anymore, but I wouldn't part with them.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

Started out wearing LLBean hunting shoes...Bean was the first to marry the rubber bottoms with the leather top boots, his cornerstone product. I use to send them back to Freeport and have them re-soled. And is LL BEAN big? They have an exit in their name to get off the freeway. And let me get ahead of a question that will be raised..."Is my Mossberg as good as this Merkel?" You can bet there will not be any left soon after they issue these guns.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Urbane_Redneck wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

Tis a shame that Parker, Lefever, AH Fox, LC Smith, etal aren't around to celebrate Bean's anniversary.

Merkel makes a fine gun but, I believe CSM Fox or Model 21 guns, would have been more appropriate.

Just my $0.02

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Anhinga wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

I agree with you Urbane_ Redneck. Why not a "made-in-the-US" firearm. CSMC would seem an excellent choice. Maybe CSMC wouldn't negotiate a deal to suite the Bean folks, or just wasn't interested in such a small "lot". Anyone from Bean monitoring this blog? A response would be interesting.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike Diehl wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

Yer right about Bean's return policy. I returned a pair of boots I spent $90 on in 1989 and in 1990 the stitching had popped out. The only comment I had was "you don't need to return the mud with the boots." We all knew it for humor when the clerk said it.

I suppose they looked around to see who could make a shotgun that they'd be willing to brand. Connecticut Shotgun maybe. Ruger makes nice O/Us but not really in the same grade as those Merkels. Obviously Bean is aiming at a higher end market with this particular shotgun. Connecticut Shotgun now owns and makes the Fox brand side by sides. From most accounts they are pretty darned nice. Might be more expensive than those Merkels.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from ishawooa wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

There used to be a Merkel dealer here in Cody allowing me to handle and wish for one of these wonderful guns. Phil I really enjoyed your brief hunt with the vintage Parker in this week's TV show. I found one about 20 years ago with two sets of barrels in a velvet lined leather case. It was special made for a fellow that I can find no history on but who obviously had very good taste in double guns. 95% gun, paid $800 for the whole deal which was the price asked by the owner. A close friend admired the Parker very much so I sold it to him for $800 and he still has it. I don't think he has ever shot it.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from korn wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

Wait a minute. Let's do the math. The guns are $15,000 each. A four-pack is $75,000. Where did the other $15,000 go? ($15,000x4= $60,000).

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tim Platt wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

I have owned a lot of L.L. Bean items. They all were ridiculously expensive, but they worked better than any other. I believe they do justice to the saying that you get what you pay for.

If someone feels generous enough to let me try some of theirs out I will let them know about these shotguns.

They are pretty.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from chaslee wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

I think when I started hunting the LL Bean company was the one you wished you had the money to buy from. Not 100 years ago but 45. I think they have gone way down hill since then catering to the urban mountain man. I will wear that shotgun out if they send me one. Its sweet, but an old grouse/woodcock/squirrel hunter can't afford it.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Steve G wrote 2 years 8 weeks ago

I had to laugh when you said your favorite LL.Bean products are the Oxford shirts. Yesterday I was in Freeport to purchase a new supply of Oxfords for work,not expecting to stumble across the 100th Anniversary shot gun set. Which is why I came to this sight. I couldn't remember who produced the guns. Thanks for your help. By the way, the leather cases for these guns are also a work of art. Have to keep my Red Label.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from Proverbs wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

Phil, you might be surprised at how quickly these will sell.

CDs are offering 1 percent interest with a minimum 12-month term. Stocks are no better than a casino slot machine. Treasury bills or municipal bonds? No thank you! Real estate? Not a chance in this market, especially with every government entity raising property taxes to make up for lost sales/income tax revenue.

These and other fine guns are a good place to put your money. Can you name something safer? Right now, I'd say guns are a better buy than gold.

+6 Good Comment? | | Report
from NHshtr wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

They sell good quality products and never questioned a return of mine if I had a problem.

One example: I had a pair of LLB branded waders that leaked after a few years, that I couldn't repair and they replaced them for no charge. I buy a lot of outdoor clothing and gear from them and I consider them to be one of the best retailers in the country.
(No, I don't work for them!)

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from hal herring wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

I'll second that, NHshtr. I've worn, worn through, worn out and replaced a lot of LL Bean gear- all of it top notch. I got my first Maine hunting boots for my tenth Christmas. My kids' modern LL bean snow boots are incredible- make the difference between being able to make big winter trips and staying home cooped up in the house- these boots climb, they keep them warm and dry, they aren't floppy, and you can walk all day in them- any parent in the big north needs to consider them. and no, I don't work for them either.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from MJC wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

For those that only know L.L.Bean by their mail order business, I should point out that they have never left their bloodsporting 'roots'.

If you head up to Freeport, ME, they will be happy to sell you a bow, gun or rod and have selection and service to rival any Cabela's store.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike Diehl wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

Beautiful shotguns, and you can count on Bean to have quality control foremost. Were I rich as a Lord I'd buy a set to collect.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike Diehl wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

Off topic: One summer working in the Black Range, NM, my tent was trashed completely by a ridiculous pre-storm wind, and some round tailed squirrels that ate through the side of my tent looking for toothpaste.

So I called Bean from a pay phone in Truth or Consequences. No catalog in hand and before the days of internet. I had three of their camping gear staff running all over trying to recommend which tent would be a more durable replacement for the one that the elements and rodents ate. They made a great recommendation and we handled it all over the phone.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from aifozu wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog, I will keep visiting this blog very often.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from shane wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

Bean is nearly unparallelled in customer service and quality, as you can see from the above posts. I concur.

I still wear 2 different flannel shirts of late 1970's vintage by them. The top of the collar isn't even worn.

They don't kid around. Their stuff is of the finest construction and always worth every penny. It lasts and lasts and lasts...

With that said, I wish they would sell the OUs and SxSs they used to have. I think they were made by Caesar Guerini and AyA. They were very reasonably priced and had great, classic looks.

These are a little over the top, but on the other hand, Merkels are already extremely expensive in the first place, and will last longer than you or your progeny.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Urbane_Redneck wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

Tis a shame that Parker, Lefever, AH Fox, LC Smith, etal aren't around to celebrate Bean's anniversary.

Merkel makes a fine gun but, I believe CSM Fox or Model 21 guns, would have been more appropriate.

Just my $0.02

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike Diehl wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

Yer right about Bean's return policy. I returned a pair of boots I spent $90 on in 1989 and in 1990 the stitching had popped out. The only comment I had was "you don't need to return the mud with the boots." We all knew it for humor when the clerk said it.

I suppose they looked around to see who could make a shotgun that they'd be willing to brand. Connecticut Shotgun maybe. Ruger makes nice O/Us but not really in the same grade as those Merkels. Obviously Bean is aiming at a higher end market with this particular shotgun. Connecticut Shotgun now owns and makes the Fox brand side by sides. From most accounts they are pretty darned nice. Might be more expensive than those Merkels.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from FOX wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

There’s a lot I could do with fifteen grand a gun isn’t one of them. Hell one semester at my college is twenty grand. But it's one of the most beautiful guns I’ve seen in a long time.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from nuclear_fisher wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

Abercrombie & Fitch don't make shotguns anymore?!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from vasportsman wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

Beautiful

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clay Cooper wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

Wish I had a L.L. Bean in my neighbor hood. Have a "Lewis & Clark", talk about cheap Walmart products with a high price tag, they just changed the label.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from shane wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

As far as keeping with the bloodsports, they still provide shooting courses and put the hunting gear in the same catalogs and stores as the yuppie stuff.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from JohnR wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

Sigh! Beautiful shotguns.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from wgiles wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

My Maine Hunting Shoes are nearly fifty years old and are still in good shape. I don't wear them very often anymore, but I wouldn't part with them.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

Started out wearing LLBean hunting shoes...Bean was the first to marry the rubber bottoms with the leather top boots, his cornerstone product. I use to send them back to Freeport and have them re-soled. And is LL BEAN big? They have an exit in their name to get off the freeway. And let me get ahead of a question that will be raised..."Is my Mossberg as good as this Merkel?" You can bet there will not be any left soon after they issue these guns.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Anhinga wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

I agree with you Urbane_ Redneck. Why not a "made-in-the-US" firearm. CSMC would seem an excellent choice. Maybe CSMC wouldn't negotiate a deal to suite the Bean folks, or just wasn't interested in such a small "lot". Anyone from Bean monitoring this blog? A response would be interesting.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jere Smith wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

Gold has been my friend for nearly 50 years, I started buying in 1959 in Germany and only stopped when it reacheds $500.00 I coin a month. Still have 90% of it.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ishawooa wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

There used to be a Merkel dealer here in Cody allowing me to handle and wish for one of these wonderful guns. Phil I really enjoyed your brief hunt with the vintage Parker in this week's TV show. I found one about 20 years ago with two sets of barrels in a velvet lined leather case. It was special made for a fellow that I can find no history on but who obviously had very good taste in double guns. 95% gun, paid $800 for the whole deal which was the price asked by the owner. A close friend admired the Parker very much so I sold it to him for $800 and he still has it. I don't think he has ever shot it.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from korn wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

Wait a minute. Let's do the math. The guns are $15,000 each. A four-pack is $75,000. Where did the other $15,000 go? ($15,000x4= $60,000).

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tim Platt wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

I have owned a lot of L.L. Bean items. They all were ridiculously expensive, but they worked better than any other. I believe they do justice to the saying that you get what you pay for.

If someone feels generous enough to let me try some of theirs out I will let them know about these shotguns.

They are pretty.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from chaslee wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

I think when I started hunting the LL Bean company was the one you wished you had the money to buy from. Not 100 years ago but 45. I think they have gone way down hill since then catering to the urban mountain man. I will wear that shotgun out if they send me one. Its sweet, but an old grouse/woodcock/squirrel hunter can't afford it.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Steve G wrote 2 years 8 weeks ago

I had to laugh when you said your favorite LL.Bean products are the Oxford shirts. Yesterday I was in Freeport to purchase a new supply of Oxfords for work,not expecting to stumble across the 100th Anniversary shot gun set. Which is why I came to this sight. I couldn't remember who produced the guns. Thanks for your help. By the way, the leather cases for these guns are also a work of art. Have to keep my Red Label.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

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