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.