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First Pheasant with an L.C. Smith Shotgun

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December 31, 2012

First Pheasant with an L.C. Smith Shotgun

By Phil Bourjaily

Earlier this season I got to shoot a wild pheasant with a 16 gauge L.C. Smith shotgun made in 1936. That was a first for me. I have shot birds with Parkers and Foxes but never a Smith.
 
The gun in this picture traveled a long way from the factory in New York to the field in Iowa where I shot the bird with it. It belongs to Rehan Nana, who works in Pheasant Forever’s marketing department. Nana is Pakistani on his father’s side; his uncle Rohil, a hunter in Pakistan, owned the gun. The uncle sent the gun from Pakistan (who knows how it got there) to Nana’s father when he moved to Kansas City in the 1970s and began hunting pheasants and quail.
 
When Nana and I swapped guns—he wanted to shoot my Ruger Gold Label—I found that, unlike many old American doubles, this Smith was neither stocked with way too much drop nor did it weigh too much. Somewhere along the line someone put a straight grip stock with modern dimensions on it.

Smiths came in standard and featherweight models. This is a featherweight, meaning it has 16 gauge barrels on a 20-gauge frame. I would guess its weight is a little over six pounds. It was an absolute delight to carry and point a unique piece of American shotgunning history; to hunt with it and have it shoot straight when I needed it to.

The L.C. Smith was made from the 1880s through WWII, and was America’s only homegrown sidelock. Sidelock actions* are normally found on the very best and costliest of British and European doubles. Although there were some gorgeous high-grade Smiths built, most were field grade guns like this one, and they found their way into the hands of regular guys.
 
*All the parts of the lock are attached to the sideplates on the receiver where they can be quickly removed and repaired in the field if need be.

 

Comments (13)

Top Rated
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from deadeyedick wrote 1 year 16 weeks ago

Yeah, Phil, hunting with one of those fine shotguns from a bygone era is truly something to cherish. There are undoubtaly a ton of memories associated with that fine LC Smith. I have two shotguns that would be in the realm of the elite. A lefever, and a remington. i got the the LeFever at an estate sale some years ago. It was still in the original velvet lined, leather case for 100.00 the Remington was my first "real" shotgun. I don't use them much these days but every once in a while I will take them out to the trap field or carry one of them on a quail hunt (we have our own land and raise our own birds) It really is a treat to carry them and make new memories

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mark-1 wrote 1 year 16 weeks ago

Many Smith’s in Upstate New York. Made here. I was surprised the regard these shotguns [even field models] had out West. If memory serves correctly L.C. Smiths I’ve seen are either field models or very high end custom jobs with very little in between. High end L.C. Smiths are fine shotguns IMHO.

I believe if your shotgun was returned to USA from a British “Possession”, it was restocked to British birdgun tastes. The fact you say this 16-ga is on a 20-ga frame underscores my belief. The Smith’s I’ve handled always have too much drop for my taste and style.

Whatever. Enjoy the gun, Phil!!!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from drobe2 wrote 1 year 16 weeks ago

I've never shot a double barrel shotgun before. I'd really like to try it sometime.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ralph the Rifleman wrote 1 year 16 weeks ago

LC Smiths are nice shooters; I have shot a field grade sweet 16 with 30in full chokes. I am a fan of the screw in chokes. It seems a lot of the early manufactured doubles were all FULL CHOKES for some reason?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Big Bob W wrote 1 year 15 weeks ago

Love my LC field grade 16. I call it the wand because of how nice it swings and points. It is my upland gun of choice and it had a nice year in the dove fields during the early season. Hunting in SE Arizona is really bad for quail this year. I have only gone out twice and found birds once. A small covey of scalies that my old English Pointer (16 on Jan 10, 2013) and my chocolate lab managed to find and hold in gun range. Fired four shots, three birds. Kate had five awesome points and Roux made three nice retrieves. Just enough birds for dinner and a great day. I'm done with that covey until next season. Hopefully three or four pairs will survive and it will be bigger next year. The snow yesterday was nice, four inches and gone by noon. Could use that every week or two until March and then a good Monsoon and maybe the birds will recover. This drought sucks.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ITHACASXS wrote 1 year 15 weeks ago

Hey there Mr. Phil B., Ralph the Rifleman is asking why many older doubles were choked full/full. I have a few and I believe I know the reason, but this good question could be answered better by you or another expert. My L.C. 32'' barreled Long Range is far too tight for what I like to do, but I love it just the same.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from duckcreekdick wrote 1 year 15 weeks ago

I, too, have an L.C. Smith 16 ga. on a FW frame in Field Grade. It is choked tighter than I would like but I hesitate to alter things. I did, however, lengthen the chambers and forcing cones, since these early guns typically have shorter chambers. I love the way those L.C.'s snap shut.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Evan Delp wrote 1 year 15 weeks ago

Does anyone know anything about Fulton shotguns? I have one that was my great grandfathers and I'm guessing it is from the 1930's and can't seem to find much about them.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mark-1 wrote 1 year 15 weeks ago

Believe Fulton Shotguns were part of Hunter Arms Co. Different animals from L.C. Smith. I can't accurately recall specifics. Maybe Phil can fill in the gaps. I believe Hunter Arms came into existence during WWI. There are Baker shotguns and these are sidelocks USA shotguns. Baker became L.C. Smith and Ithaca. Somehow Lefever comes into the picture during this period. Bakers I've seen are as flossy as Parkers and high grade Ithaca's and Smith's.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from haverodwilltravel wrote 1 year 15 weeks ago

About 90% of my upland shooting is with a SXS. I have a nice collection of sxs shotguns that I've collected over the years.
I'm not even sure if I shoot better with one, it just feels right when a Setter is on point and a woodcock heads through the alders.
It's a wooden baseball bat, a quality bamboo fly rod,a waxed cotton jacket,a Dunhill pipe, a poker game in camp, a good scotch, a George "Bird" Evans book, a Bogdan reel, a Randall knife, etc.... Sure those things have modern counterparts and some days the counterparts are even more practical....but they don't have the "patina". Sometimes in the most elegantly commonly penned hunting literature (bird hunting)...soul and feel are as important as the shot.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from rock rat wrote 1 year 15 weeks ago

I've got my grandpa's 12 gage field grade, seems to feel more handy than most guns, I keep it behind the door for zombies. I looked it up once, made in the 20s as I remember.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from BarkeyVA wrote 1 year 15 weeks ago

I killed the first pheasant I shot at with my dad's 16 ga. Springfield-Stevens No.215 SxS hammer gun while hunting in North-Central Kansas last year. Dad bought it new for $15.00 at a local hardware store in the early 1930's. Dad, who is now 95, told me it was the only gun he ever got his limit of quail and a pheasant on the same day. Dad sold it to a friend in 1949 who apparently never hunted with it. Instead, he cut off the barrels to 20" to shoot rats at the local grain elevator where he worked. A couple of years before dad's friend died, I asked him about dad's old Stevens sxs. He said he still had it, and I mentioned that if he ever wanted to sell it, I'd like to buy it. Dad's friend would not sell it to me. Instead, he gave it to me! I got 3 pheasants with it that day in Kansas, which likely were the first upland game taken with it in over 60 years.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from pa pheasantman wrote 1 year 12 weeks ago

It is a great thrill to hunt with one of the "American classic doubles". I am fortunate to own two"Elsies" and two Parker Trojans. I like them both but I favor Parkers especially the 16ga. version. In any event those older classic doubles were the height of american craftsmanship even in the lower grades.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from deadeyedick wrote 1 year 16 weeks ago

Yeah, Phil, hunting with one of those fine shotguns from a bygone era is truly something to cherish. There are undoubtaly a ton of memories associated with that fine LC Smith. I have two shotguns that would be in the realm of the elite. A lefever, and a remington. i got the the LeFever at an estate sale some years ago. It was still in the original velvet lined, leather case for 100.00 the Remington was my first "real" shotgun. I don't use them much these days but every once in a while I will take them out to the trap field or carry one of them on a quail hunt (we have our own land and raise our own birds) It really is a treat to carry them and make new memories

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from drobe2 wrote 1 year 16 weeks ago

I've never shot a double barrel shotgun before. I'd really like to try it sometime.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mark-1 wrote 1 year 15 weeks ago

Believe Fulton Shotguns were part of Hunter Arms Co. Different animals from L.C. Smith. I can't accurately recall specifics. Maybe Phil can fill in the gaps. I believe Hunter Arms came into existence during WWI. There are Baker shotguns and these are sidelocks USA shotguns. Baker became L.C. Smith and Ithaca. Somehow Lefever comes into the picture during this period. Bakers I've seen are as flossy as Parkers and high grade Ithaca's and Smith's.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from haverodwilltravel wrote 1 year 15 weeks ago

About 90% of my upland shooting is with a SXS. I have a nice collection of sxs shotguns that I've collected over the years.
I'm not even sure if I shoot better with one, it just feels right when a Setter is on point and a woodcock heads through the alders.
It's a wooden baseball bat, a quality bamboo fly rod,a waxed cotton jacket,a Dunhill pipe, a poker game in camp, a good scotch, a George "Bird" Evans book, a Bogdan reel, a Randall knife, etc.... Sure those things have modern counterparts and some days the counterparts are even more practical....but they don't have the "patina". Sometimes in the most elegantly commonly penned hunting literature (bird hunting)...soul and feel are as important as the shot.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mark-1 wrote 1 year 16 weeks ago

Many Smith’s in Upstate New York. Made here. I was surprised the regard these shotguns [even field models] had out West. If memory serves correctly L.C. Smiths I’ve seen are either field models or very high end custom jobs with very little in between. High end L.C. Smiths are fine shotguns IMHO.

I believe if your shotgun was returned to USA from a British “Possession”, it was restocked to British birdgun tastes. The fact you say this 16-ga is on a 20-ga frame underscores my belief. The Smith’s I’ve handled always have too much drop for my taste and style.

Whatever. Enjoy the gun, Phil!!!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ralph the Rifleman wrote 1 year 16 weeks ago

LC Smiths are nice shooters; I have shot a field grade sweet 16 with 30in full chokes. I am a fan of the screw in chokes. It seems a lot of the early manufactured doubles were all FULL CHOKES for some reason?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Big Bob W wrote 1 year 15 weeks ago

Love my LC field grade 16. I call it the wand because of how nice it swings and points. It is my upland gun of choice and it had a nice year in the dove fields during the early season. Hunting in SE Arizona is really bad for quail this year. I have only gone out twice and found birds once. A small covey of scalies that my old English Pointer (16 on Jan 10, 2013) and my chocolate lab managed to find and hold in gun range. Fired four shots, three birds. Kate had five awesome points and Roux made three nice retrieves. Just enough birds for dinner and a great day. I'm done with that covey until next season. Hopefully three or four pairs will survive and it will be bigger next year. The snow yesterday was nice, four inches and gone by noon. Could use that every week or two until March and then a good Monsoon and maybe the birds will recover. This drought sucks.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ITHACASXS wrote 1 year 15 weeks ago

Hey there Mr. Phil B., Ralph the Rifleman is asking why many older doubles were choked full/full. I have a few and I believe I know the reason, but this good question could be answered better by you or another expert. My L.C. 32'' barreled Long Range is far too tight for what I like to do, but I love it just the same.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from duckcreekdick wrote 1 year 15 weeks ago

I, too, have an L.C. Smith 16 ga. on a FW frame in Field Grade. It is choked tighter than I would like but I hesitate to alter things. I did, however, lengthen the chambers and forcing cones, since these early guns typically have shorter chambers. I love the way those L.C.'s snap shut.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Evan Delp wrote 1 year 15 weeks ago

Does anyone know anything about Fulton shotguns? I have one that was my great grandfathers and I'm guessing it is from the 1930's and can't seem to find much about them.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from rock rat wrote 1 year 15 weeks ago

I've got my grandpa's 12 gage field grade, seems to feel more handy than most guns, I keep it behind the door for zombies. I looked it up once, made in the 20s as I remember.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from BarkeyVA wrote 1 year 15 weeks ago

I killed the first pheasant I shot at with my dad's 16 ga. Springfield-Stevens No.215 SxS hammer gun while hunting in North-Central Kansas last year. Dad bought it new for $15.00 at a local hardware store in the early 1930's. Dad, who is now 95, told me it was the only gun he ever got his limit of quail and a pheasant on the same day. Dad sold it to a friend in 1949 who apparently never hunted with it. Instead, he cut off the barrels to 20" to shoot rats at the local grain elevator where he worked. A couple of years before dad's friend died, I asked him about dad's old Stevens sxs. He said he still had it, and I mentioned that if he ever wanted to sell it, I'd like to buy it. Dad's friend would not sell it to me. Instead, he gave it to me! I got 3 pheasants with it that day in Kansas, which likely were the first upland game taken with it in over 60 years.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from pa pheasantman wrote 1 year 12 weeks ago

It is a great thrill to hunt with one of the "American classic doubles". I am fortunate to own two"Elsies" and two Parker Trojans. I like them both but I favor Parkers especially the 16ga. version. In any event those older classic doubles were the height of american craftsmanship even in the lower grades.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

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