Blasts From the Past: FE Grade Fox

A rare 20-gauge shotgun

Fox 20-gauge FE
This Fox was the high seller at auction.From James D. Julia, Auctioneers

“The Finest Shotgun Ever Made in Philadelphia” is not a punchline but a description of the A.H. Fox, which was not only the best shotgun ever made in Philly, but according to many, the best double gun we ever managed to build in the U.S. Fox guns were simple, strong, and reliable. They were good-looking, and they hardly ever broke.

There are some famous Foxes out there: Teddy Roosevelt’s F grade gun that he took on his nine-month African safari, and Nash Buckingham’s Bo Whoop and Bo Whoop 2, to name three. Today’s gun is a beauty, a very rare (one of three) 20-gauge FE grade Foxes. FE was the highest grade production gun Fox made. This particular gun was made in 1926 for a man named Chester Snyder, whose name appears on the shield on the stock. Snyder is not famous for anything that I’m aware of other than owning an absolute peach of a Fox shotgun.

It has two gold dogs (pointers on one side, setters on the other) on both sides of the receiver, as well as gold stars on the hinge pin, and gold lightning bolts and bands on the barrels.

Fox FE Grade receiver
A closeup of the receiver.From James D. Julia, Auctioneers

A 20-gauge with 28-inch barrels and 2½ inch chambers, the gun weighs just 5 pounds 6 ounces, contradicting the notion that American doubles were always made much heavier and stouter than English and European guns. This one is a wand. Unfortunately—not that anyone is picking this up as a shooter—it’s one shortcoming are its stock dimensions. Like many American guns of its era, it has nearly 3 inches of drop at the heel and almost 1¾ inches at the comb, meaning when you mount this gun, you will be looking right at its beautifully engraved lever.

This gun sold earlier this year at the James D. Julia fall auction for $166,750, the highest-priced gun at the there. It was one of several guns comprising the Dana Tauber collection, which was recognized as the finest collection of the "finest gun ever made" ever.