Sunday, 9 October 2011


The second gun of a true matched pair of shotguns bears numbers that are immediately consecutive with the first gun and the guns should be the same in terms of overall configuration. A 'composed pair' is any other brace of guns that are used as a practical pair and they might have slight differences. Double-gunning requires special considerations, including, importantly, safety considerations.

The following useful points come from
the BASC Guide to Shooting Game (Swan Hill Press, 2007), by Michael Yardley:

 1)The loader stands to the right rear of the shooter (assuming a gun firing off the right shoulder).
2) The fired gun is handed back with the right hand (the loader taking it with his left a few inches forward of the action body), over the right shoulder.
3) The fresh gun is taken by the shooter with the left hand, palm facing upwards to receive the gun. The shooter's eyes, meantime, keep looking forward towards the birds.
4) The safety catch must be on when the gun is passed back to the loader; the shooter's trigger finger must be off the trigger and the hand firmly wrapped around the grip behind the bow of the trigger guard.
5) Gun muzzles are held safely up as they pass from hand to hand.
6) When he is opening the returned gun, the loader must make sure that the muzzles are pointed safely, too. When he loads and closes the gun, the muzzles should be directed towards the ground (noting the potential danger to his own and other shooters). There is never a need for the loader to have his fingers near the trigger or touching the trigger guard.
7) The shooter should pass his gun back when
a single shot has been fired if no other shot is immediately anticipated, with safety reapplied.

The picture is of a true matched pair of vintage Boss guns.


  1. Gunmaking terms are interesting & many of the more technical ones have their roots in parts of guns which don't really exist in a modern gun (by modern I mean post 1880's or so).

    British & American terms for the same 'bit' can vary widely & this applies to a degree even when describing a pair of guns. This is to be expected as the name for a particular part of a shotgun can vary even between makers in London.

    To call a pair of identical guns (built at the same time) a 'matched pair' is more of an American use of the term – the traditional British term for such guns would be merely a 'pair' as it's implicitly assumed that they would be identical.

    British – 'Pair'
    Two identical guns built at the same time with consecutive serial numbers.

    British – 'Matched Pair'
    Two identical guns built at different times with the later one built to match the first one. Generally they'd have non-consecutive serial numbers.

    British – 'Composed Pair'
    Two totally unrelated but similar guns brought together to form a pair (perhaps with subsequent work done to one or other to enhance the similarity).

    As with so many aspects of the language though the American form has crept in & confused the issue although admittidly the term 'matched pair' conveys what a true 'pair' is better than what I consider the correct term does – hence I suppose it's increasing dominance (even in parts of the British trade).

    Anyway a lovely pair of Boss. Mine come from Mr P rather than Mr B; built in mid 1882 they are still going strong.

    Did you know there's been a move to get the 'Gunmaking Quarter' in Birmingham renamed after a local church (perhaps St Mary's) as the local vicar, some new residents & some (new?) councillors thought the historic name of the quarter which helped to put the city on the map may be associated with 'gun-crime'. There's been a protest against the change but it was looking like the new name would be adopted. I'll hazard a guess at what you are thinking & I quite agree (but done without lubricant)!

  2. Thanks for the comment, Russell. You are quite right about the proper meaning of 'matched pair' - with one being made later, with non-consecutive serial numbers.

    It is quite astonishing what can be found in good auction houses. I guess thin barrels and sleeving are the biggest potential pit-falls of vintage guns but the auction houses seem to be honest about this. There have been some good articles in The Field about value for money, concerning: vintage big-name Best guns; vintage lesser name Best guns and modern guns that are less than 'Best'. You are lucky to have a pair of Purdey's from 1882.

    I didn't know about the proposed name change for the Birmingham gun district - but nothing surprises me anymore. Too much PCism and too many softies in control. They need to be slammed. I'd leave out the lubricant too and spin them around on roughened broom-handles: Ooh! Ooh! Ooh!

  3. This is just one link picked at random.

    The reaction in the sporting press was very critical.


  4. Russell - thanks for the link. It is outrageous that a trade which brought so much prosperity and renown to Birmingham is now being treated as a quasi-criminal activity!

    Returning to your good points on nomenclature: a 'garniture' does not seem to involve any confusion, as they are surely a trio all made and numbered together. I revisited the final corrected proofs of my Book III on all this and am relieved to see that I decided not to venture far into 'pairs' and 'garnitures' because, as a Lite-Bite intoduction to the subject, anyone about to venture into double and triple-gunning, would hardly need to read my chapter on shooting and guns!