Burgess Folding Shotgun at RIA

Andrew Burgess was an extremely prolific gun designer who gets very little recognition today. One of has particularly interesting weapons was a pump-action, folding shotgun. Because Spencer already had a patent on the use of the forearm as the pump, Burgess designed his gun to use a sliding sleeve on the wrist of the stock as the pump handle. The guns were well made, and the company Burgess set up to manufacture them was bought out and shut down by Winchester to reduce competition with their 1893/1897 pump action shotgun. As a result not many were made, and very very few of the folding models. This one is in fantastic shape, and also comes with an excellent leather belt holster made for carrying it folded.


  1. With the enthusiasm for cowboy action shooting today, I’m somewhat surprised that no one has yet started making a reproduction of this one. After all, the Winchester M1887 lever-action shotgun and the 1893/97 slide action are being made in China specifically for that market.

    Maybe the Burgess is just a bit to complex to be made for a salable price these days?

    If someone did make one for under $500 retail, I’d be a customer.



    • Some of the Winchester M1887/China market is Australia as a way to get around a ban on pump and semi-auto shotguns attempting to ban repeating shotguns.

      I will also take a $500 replica.

  2. I don’t think it is any secret that I am partial to combat shotguns; I have seven smooth-bores and not one is fit to hunt ducks, rabbits or squirrels with. My preference is for 12ga. pumps. This one is now my fourth favorite and I have never even held one. My first pick is my 870 3” Mag. with a “State Police Only” folding stock and just-barely-legal barrel. Second is a 12ga Ithaca double-barrel Lock demonstrator factory-made “pistol” with 8” barrels that I donated to an area sheriff’s department when they got so “picky” about such things back in the late 1950s. Number three is another 870 2 ¾” with a 20 ¼” barrel and a 3-9 scope. It is an “entry Slug Gun” … one slug in each hinge, one in the lock and one kick. It works much better than a “ram” any day. That being said, the only question I would have with this one is the slide sleeve-to-action plate: it appears to have quite a bit of clearance between the slide plate and the action and if one just happened to get anything, even a twig, between these two members I would fear that my lethal tool would suddenly become a very short club instead … not an encouraging possibility at all. Other than this, I wish I had one anyway! And on a personal note, you folks, and especially eon, absolutely amaze me with your diverse expertise! VERY informative!

    • Well, Bill, this was intended as a police weapon in the city where the environment is usually twig-free. The Burgess could actually be quick-drawn from under a detective’s jacket, if I’m not mistaken, cool spin-click and all. That much bang on one’s person would quickly turn the tables on a knife-wielding mugger!

  3. Cherndog: you are right on the apparent quick-draw capabilities of the Burgess, but probably not quite as fast as the Ithaca from a shoulder holster or the 3″ Mag. 870 with the 13″ barrel it wore on drug busts … it being carried on a shoulder-strap under a regular jacket on these occasions. The only thing you had to do was swing it out and start shooting with the strap still over your shoulder. But it had to have a “finger-stop” between the magazine and the magazine cap so your hand did not slide off and into the line of fire. It was built for the use of and loaned to Chief Investigator Pete Tolar with the Catahoula Parish Sheriff’s Department and it was carried by him until he retired and returned it to me WITHOUT the “shortie” tube. None of this alters my admiration of Burgess or his shotgun … more than just passingly unique, that one! Most of the shotguns I have built, with the exception of the ones for myself, were for various law enforcement departments over the years. Most of those are still in use today.

  4. I have three Burgess slide action shotguns one of which is a folder. Of the three the folder is in the best condiditon but not as good as this one. The other 2 are long barreled sporting guns. Of the 3 I have only shot one of the long barreled guns. The shells are 2.5″ long. I have fired both black powder and low pressure smokless shells in them. The action takes some getting used to but once you do its quite fast. They were actually advertised as semi automatic as the gun is supposed to unlock on recoil and you just need to push it closed to complete the cycle. Also I read that the rifles were in 44/40 Winchester.

    I also would love to see someone make a quality replica of any style of Burgess shotgun.

    Ian your pronounciation of Burgess seems odd. By the way I love your website, its exceptional.

    • Since you actually have them and are familiar with them, I would like to ask a “tactical” question.

      Do the Burgess shotguns have disconnectors, or can they be fired like the Winchester M97 or the (original) Ithaca Model 37- both of which could be rapid-fired by simply holding the trigger back and working the pump? The hammer in each case would fall when the bolt went into lockup, resulting in a RoF that would do credit to most semi-autos.

      I won a few bets way back when using my father’s 26-inch Imp. Cyl. 1897 12-gauge on a trap range. Doubles were no problem. tThe semi-auto boys’ eyes tended to bug out, especially when I demonstrated how fast “Old ’97” could empty its magazine at “combat” range and never miss.

      BTW, said gun was ex-Ohio State Highway Patrol, had originally been a “Trench Gun”, but Father sent it back to Winchester to have the “duck” barrel fitted. And without getting the “trench” barrel and heat shield back, either.




      • I have been very gentle with my Burgess shotguns as they are collectors items and so have only done limited shooting of one gun. Inorder to get that gun working I had to have an ejector and hamer spring made for it. It still has a pistol grip with a piece missing. I have been attempting to make a replacement out of wood. The original was made of gutta percha. My goal is to have the worst of the 3 guns totally functional and use it occassionaly to shoot a round of sporting clays just to have done it. I am always on the look out for Burgess shotguns and parts. I would love the chance to just handle one of the rare rifles.

        I just checked out my folder and apparently it does not have a disconnector. However, just cycling it unloaded is awkward because of the necessity to push the action release with the back of the trigger finger especially with my small hands. Might be easier when feeding and firing live rounds.

        • Thank you. That’s one more example of a potential “very rapid fire” shotgun from the “Wild Bunch” era.

          I agree with you that such fine old weapons deserve to be treated with respect. That’s why modern reproductions are such a boon, and not just for exhibition shooting.



  5. I, too, have always loved the Burgess, particularly the folder. IIRC, Pat Garret had a Burgess shotgun with him when he was killed. I’m not sure if it was a folding model (don’t think so), but considering that he was shot in the head by a rifle from a fairly long distance, it didn’t do him much good. I’ve never handled or fired one, so I am curious as to how “natural” the action would be compared to a traditional slide-action. I grew up rabbit hunting with Model 12s in 20 and 28 gauge, and can make those (and my 97) spit lead like a BAR. My 97 Trench Gun is sitting by my desk right now (charged with low-recoil OO Buckshot) just in case.

    • I noticed that Ian had to half-open his hand to clear the stock comb; on the forearm slide action, your shooting hand never moves and your off hand just has to keep a firm grip on the forearm.

      This would tend to favor the “conventional” slide-action in fast, close-quarters work.

      I wonder how the old Spencer pump-action compared to the others?

      Hm. Spencer plus, say, a Colt 1878 Double Action Frontier in .45, vs. a Burgess and a S&W DA Frontier top-break .44. Now that would be an offbeat, but interesting, two-gun match.



  6. Interestingly, the Driggs-Schroeder mechanism, as the same vintage as the Burgess, used the same drop and rotate locking system on their Naval six-pounder guns.

  7. Fair warning: what follows are likely stupid questions stemming from my unfamiliarity with the particulars of firearms. I like learning about them, but am by no means well-versed, especially compared to this site’s users and staff. I would appreciate any responses.

    1. In WWII several nations had considered or produced folding or break-down weapons for paratroopers. Would a folding weapon that folds and locks together in this manner be feasible for this purpose?

    2. As mentioned in the video, there were rifle versions made. Were these able to be made folding? If not, why? (If it involves differences in expected pressure, which is my only thought, could I have some numbers regarding typical pressures of shotguns VS rifles and how much a system like this would be expected to handle safely? How significant would the changes to the design itself need to be to overcome these differences?)

    Thank you all for your time, and thanks to Ian and the rest of the site’s staff for the amazing weapons presented and discussed for us all.

1 Trackback / Pingback

  1. SayUncle » Gun Porn

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.