Fosbery’s Paradox, by Holland and Holland

This shotgun sold for $6,900 at Rock Island on November 30, 2018.

Lt. Col. George Fosbery was a British Army officer who was awarded the Victoria Cross for actions in India in 1863 – and that was not the only thing he did while stationed there. He also realized that there was an unmet demand for a sporting gun capable of firing both birdshot and solid ball with equal ease, for British officers interested in hunting in places where one might be equally likely to encounter fur or feather. And so he created the Paradox – basically the world’s first rifled shotgun choke. A wide pattern of rifling was engraved in the last 1.5 inches or so of a shotgun bore; enough to give a spin to solid projectiles to improve their accuracy, but not enough to severely disrupt the pattern of a load of birdshot. The result was a gun quite sufficient for either use, and Fosbery licensed his patent to Holland & Holland of London, who made beautiful guns with his Paradox name from 28ga up to 8ga.


  1. Not spin – just slow rotation(like in arrows, rockets, airgun pellets and other projectiles with their CG near tip).

  2. Encountering big game and birds together would usually call for the hunter and his gun bearer to keep watch at all times and keep all guns ready to shoot at a moment’s notice. You don’t bring birdshot into a rhino fight!

  3. Paradox style guns are popular in Russia as a way to side-step restrictions on owning rifles (full barrel rifling) which require additional licensing as well as having to have had a shotgun permit for at least 5 years prior to applying for the rifle permit.

  4. Off-topic question:

    Is it possible to craft a magazine-fed .410 lookalike of the Pattern 17 Enfield, complete with being a bolt-action weapon?

    • .410 bolt-action repeating shotgun is not uncommon in history of fire-arms, so if you search more deeply you might find more Pattern 17-like looking gun, but after quick search I found that Mossberg produced a lot of such guns, see photos:
      it looks that Mossberg 183 is readily available at used guns market and for me looks to be quite good option to be “mocked-up” to look like Pattern 17. First operation would be replacing wooden furniture with custom one – notice that Mossberg 183 already has semi-pistol grip stock, so comfortable holding should be provided without need of moving trigger/trigger guard. Then you should replace bolt handle, to handle of peculiar shape of Pattern 17. This might need some effort, as see element 23 at this drawing:
      this mean either crafting element 23 but with fancier handle or cutting off actual one and welding new one. Anyway notice bolt handle is leaning backward similar to Pattern 17, which again is welcoming feature as it should allow retain ergonomics unbroken. Finally, you might add front sights should at barrel end.

    • Start with a P14 rather than an m17.

      The case head dimensions of .303 and .410 are very close, and it was a frequent practice in Britain to bore out old .303 rifles to .410, especially between about 1920 when licensing was introduced for rifles, and 1968 when licencing was introduced to own a shotgun.

      Add to that, that there are a lot more opportunities to use a shotgun than there are to use a rifle in Britain.

      The extractor, ejector and bolt face are already correct for .410 on a P14.

      The magazine and feed ramp will probably need some work to get it to feed the almost cylindrical shotgun cartridges.

      A close look at a mossberg magazine would give you some indication of the directions to head in to get reliable feeding.

      You might even be lucky enough to find a P14 that has already been converted, though unfortunately the conversions I’ve seen have usually dispensed with the magazine and are single shot.

  5. Congratulations to whomever got a bargain priced big name London made side lock.

    That was a wonderful gun, thank you for sharing it with us.

    And once again, congratulations to whoever bought it for the probably less than a second hand Spanish sidelock sells for in Britain!

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