Outdoor Skills - Hunting Q&A

I've looked in every gun and trader's book I can find and can't run down any information about a Victor 12-gauge shotgun, made by the American Gun Co., out of New York, with numbers 437xxx on it. I'm not sure but the inside of the barrel looks like Damascus steel, though the barrel's stamped "forged steel." It's in near mint condition, and I was wondering if you could provide some idea when it was made and the value. --G.D.

"The American Gun Co. appears to be more of a distributing company rather than a manufacturer. Their guns were actually made by the Crescent Firearms Co. of Norwich, Connecticut, a well-known maker of low- to mid-priced shotguns that started operations in about 1892 and was eventually sold to the Stevens division of Savage in about 1930. Crescent, like many other manufacturers of ""affordable"" firearms, made a great many guns that were stamped with trade names for various hardware, sporting-goods, and mail-order retailers. Ned Schwing's Standard Catalog of Firearms (Krause Publications) lists well over 100 Crescent trade names, including Victor, made for Hibbard, Spencer, Bartlett & Co. of Chicago. Your barrels probably are forged, not Damascus. You shouldn't be able to tell if something's Damascus from the inside; instead of the typical spiral Damascus pattern, you're probably looking at tool marks that may have corroded slightly. It's hard to tell from your description exactly which model it is. The highest-price Crescent-manufactured guns go for $800 to $900 in good condition, but many models only go for $400 to $500. I'd suspect the latter in your case. "