Blasts from the Past: American Gun Company 12-Gauge Shotgun

This week's vintage shotgun might not be worth much, but it has a neat history

American Gun Co. 12-gauge shotgun
An American Gun Company 12-gauge shotgun From Henry

Some Blast from the Past entries are not so much entries as they are cries for help. Today we have one such example.

Henry writes: “Here is my American Gun Co. 12 gauge shotgun. It has 2 ¾-inch chambers, and cylinder chokes, I think. I would appreciate any information you may have.”

This one is a Crescent Arms Model O. It might actually have 2 ½-inch chambers; a lot of these guns did. “American Gun Company” was a name used by Crescent Arms of Norwich, Conn., on its trade brand name guns, which were produced for many different retailers (as in somewhere from 175 to 450 depending on which expert you believe) under many names from 1888 to 1931. Crescent would produce orders for as few as 12 guns, apparently, if the customer would pay for a die to have its business name stamped on the receiver. Otherwise, you could order guns marked “American Gun Company” until shortly after WWI, at which point they were stamped “Crescent Arms.” Unfortunately, Crescent’s records were a victim of the war effort, having been donated to a paper drive sometime during World War II.

Wholesaler/Distributor H&D Folsom bought Crescent in 1892, and owned it until 1931. During that time the company produced about 2 million guns, including 630,000 of the Model O hammer doubles like Henry’s. The hammer guns were made from 1897 to 1931. A few of the earliest ones had twist barrels, but most were made of fluid steel. The company was acquired by Savage/Stevens and eventually dissolved.

American Gun Co. 12-gauge shotgun
Guns marked as made by American Gun Company were produced until shortly after World War I. From Henry

Crescent Arms guns were solid, but very cheap. Perhaps to reassure a skeptical buying public, the company adopted one of the least catchy, most tepid slogans ever, from 1918 to 1931: “ Crescent Guns are Good Guns.”

Thanks for sending those pictures, Henry. Your gun is not worth much money but it is a very interesting piece of history. Please keep the gun pictures coming to