Book Review: Paradox

I’m not normally all that interested in sporting double guns, but the name Fosbery perked up my ears when I heard about this book. Col. George Fosbery is best known (in some circles, anyway) for the Webley-Fosbery automatic revolver, but he had several other significant patents and inventions to his name. These include a pump-action shotgun with a 6-lug rotating bolt, a black powder breechloader intended for the British military, exploding bullets for hunting dangerous game and helping to determine range on the battlefield, several types of magazines for use with single-shot rifles, and of course the Paradox.

Fosbery was stationed for many years in India, and there was demand there for a double-barrel weapon that could fire both shot and slugs accurately. This was a problem because smoothbore guns were inaccurate with solid projectiles, and rifling would destroy the tight pattern of shot. Fosbery spent quite a lot of time and effort experimenting, and came up with a solution by rifling just the end of the barrel and using a specially sized projectile. The result was a weapon that could fire slugs with good effective accuracy out to 100 yards, and also patterned well with shot. He licensed it to Holland & Holland for production, and it became his most successful invention; made for black powder and smokeless, in sizes from 8 bore down to 28 bore, all manner of actions, and finishes from basic to exquisite.

This volume is the first of two, and as you see in the video it covers Fosbery’s life and the gun produced by Holland & Holland (the second volume will cover competitor’s designs, technical aspects of the Paradox, notable owners, and more). The book is currently not available on Amazon, but I’m including the product link anyway, as used copies may show up over time. For now, it can be purchased in the US from the publisher.


  1. I’ve never been able to work out how the paradox guns were supposed to work as shotguns. I mean, whether there’s rifling all the way along the barrel or just at the end, the shot is still going to get spun, isn’t it? Or could you unscrew the rifled-choke bit at the end?

  2. Fosberry, was not the inventer of the paradox, but Henri Pieper i Soerst in Germany, later Direktor at FN in belgum and owner of the Bayard firm also in Belgum.
    The paradox works well with shoot in mine the paradox barrel, is welle heawy do use as shootgun.To use it with bullits,in the smooth part of the barrel the bullit gets speed and inthe riled choke it gets spinnto stabiti and spin.
    Some firms ofer loose Paradox chokes, but most are made integral with the barrels.
    Peter Rasmussen in Denmark

  3. This kind of surprises me it ‘worked’. The reason for saying is that once a projectile (and I assume it was unjacketed lead slug) has most of its velocity in straight direction it will likely resist to being spun. As a result, as I imagine, there must be some shaved-of material from its circumference, which eventually hurts tightness of fit in addition of being slowed down by this ‘obstacle’. But at the end I take the report as it comes.

  4. The rifling at the end may affect the outermost ring of shot, but will have no effect on the inner shot. The outer most shot will touch the rifling and slow, but sufficient shot remains to give a good pattern.

    The rifling will have a tendency to tear up the outside of the slugs, but with low slug velocity and a long enough slug and choke, that will swage back onto the slug.

    An interesting capability. The Abrams tank (and the Rheinmetal gun used on it and the Leopard II) have a rifled lower third section of the barrel, and a smoothbore two thirds distal end. This allows the Abrams to shoot High Velocity fin stabilized Discarding Sabot like a smoothbore, and High Explosive Anti Tank like a rifled cannon. Unlike rifled cannon (which have high pressures all he way down the barrel) the Abrams and Leopard II don’t need gas diverters at the end.

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  1. The Webley-Fosbery or WTF is it? – You Will Shoot Your Eye Out

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