Most Unusual Over/Under Shotgun I’ve Seen at James D Julia

Is that perhaps too ambitious of a title? I really don’t have much I can say about this one – beyond it being made in Paris by Lefaucheux, I don’t know anything about it’s history or development. I do know that I have never seen another shotgun with this type of action, though…


  1. Ingenious to say the least! This type action should be at least as strong and probably much stronger that an break-barrel shotgun with the additional advancement of not having hinge pins to wear and loosen over time. It also looks like it could be easily converted to longer shells just by using the appropriate reamers. It should be at least as fast to reload as conventional side-by-side or stack-barrel shotguns of the day. Too bad they apparently never made it to market. My first question for alternative uses is to replace the old double-rifles for dangerous game. Imagine this thing in .600 Nitro Express! Also imagine the recoil!

    • I really like it that it seems possible to reload one barrel without having to open the action on the other. You could probably push in the breechblock with the next shell too to economise on the motion involved.

  2. Thanks for choosing too show that particular gun.

    That is an absolutely beautiful way to use a Peabody-Martini style bolt in a shotgun.

    Far more elegant than Greener’s conversion of the military action to a shotgun, by rotating the bore axis so it passes through the pivot point.

    The French do seem to have a liking for unusual actions,
    The Austrians and Germans come up with various multi barrel combinations of rifle and shotgun, and the Brits, Italians and Spaniards seem to stick to fairly conventional double barrel actions.

    but the French…

    Darne and Bretton both make lovely guns on very individualistic actions but the Lefaucheux is new to me.

  3. I’m finding two gunny Lefaucheux’s a pioneer of pinfire cartridges

    and a gentleman who appears to be his son, Eugenio Gabriel Lefaucheux. For whom two patents are listed, but unfortunately neither text nor even abstracts are available on espacenet.

  4. I don’t know much about this mechanism in particular but strange, or at least unusual side-by-side and over-and-under shotgun mechanism are quite common in France.

    They usually are collector pieces not produced anymore, except for very rich ball-trap shooters or hunters. Most of em are from 1850’s to 1920’s.

    There were many, many systems like this developpped in France at this time :
    hinged “uppper receiver” that flaps open to the top to expose the chambers,
    hinged barrel assembly that pivots to the side,
    dovetailed “uppper-receiver” that moves backward to extract, eject and expose the chambers,
    “bottom break-open”, where barrels flips as on usual shotguns but chambers downward and not upward as usual,

    They seemed to be pretty common at this time, as the double barrel shotgun (especially side-by-side) is the traditionnal “master piece” that an apprentice armorer must show to its teachers at the end of his armorer-school course. They can be any weapon but the side-by-side is the most common. It’s traditions : the apprentice, when awarded his diploma, buy his rifle back (which, otherwise, is the school’s ownership) and keeps it his whole life as a souvenir. If it wasn’t a “single shot per barrel” shotgun (French laws…), it risked to be classified as a “subject to prefectural authorisation” gun (French laws again…) and be impossible, or at least very hard, to possess by the newly diplomed armorer.
    As it needed to be a very special gun showing the talent of the student, every apprentice did everything to impress the jury, especially unusual functionning.

    My father possessed a classical hammerless side-by-side made as a master-piece by an apprentice who became master armorer thanks to it. The gun was given to my father juste before the death of this man as a thank-you-present for helping him. It is an exquisite shotgun, totally hand-forged, hand-assembled and hand-everything, very comfortable, handy and beautiful as words cannot express.

    After being awarded their diploma, the ex-apprentice new-armorer patented his design (if it was an original one) and produced it under his name as his own and exclusive shotgun mechanism.

    This tradition is still alive and, when I applied for the Fourneyron College of Armeville, St Etienne (which was unsuccessful because of my already too old age at this time… I was 20… It is a “lycée”, a school for 15 to 18 years old only. To enter it after this age you must use of diplomacy. And I don’t…), I met a student that aimed at creating a bullpup, single barrel shotgun which unlocked by using a large lever actuating a set of cams and clockwork mechanism. The barrel he was using at this time was a .222 civilian FAMAS barrel but the final piece was to be chambered in 12 gauge.

    • Sorry, I have a new “mechanical” keybord and not used to it. This is why they are many tripled letters of missing ones… I hope it is not to hard to read though.

    • Thank you for your post, it was interesting. It is nice to know that craftsmen of that caliber are still being trained.

      • My pleasure ! Unfortunately this kind of craftsmanship is slowly dying because of our government’s efforts to do so.
        The once great french tradition in gunmaking is now almost totally gone.

  5. This would make a good Drilling, i.e., a combination rifle/shotgun because 1) as pointed out by Tassiebush, the barrels can be loaded and unloaded independently, and 2) the barrels are headspaced independently, which should make the gun cheaper to build. (Well, =something= makes a good Drilling cost like the devil, and I suppose it must be all the finicky hand-fitting at the breech.) Now let’s imagine it with three barrels, say 12 ga., .308, and .22 lr. Fun!

    • That’s very enterprising of you! Interchanging barrels and breech-blocks for different cartridges could make for a customizable sporting gun cheaper than the AR-15 family or make for a special Police door opener that can reload one barrel without being vulnerable to a sudden melee ambush… Or am I wrong?

    • Ed I must admit I was totally thinking of combination guns using this concept too. A combination gun which lets the user operate either barrel as a decently fast single shot would be pretty nifty. I would certainly love a lightweight.223/410 combo with a .22lr chamber adapter to round out the versatility. Of course other chamberings would suit people depending on their location and intended use.

    • Ed I think the other outrageous cost factor for doubles and drillings is the work to regulate the barrels to hit at same point.

  6. Hello Ian

    Interesting post, as always.
    The business in operation at 37 Rue Villeneuve in Paris is called:
    Armurie de la Bourse, and is a long-established supplier for hunters and shooters in general.
    Their website is and is worth a look.
    No info on this particular shotgun, but you can imagine just how many kinds have been produced over the years.

  7. Hi Ian

    I checked and found that there is a gun shop at 37 Rue Villeneuve in Paris called Armurie de la Bourse which specializes in hunting guns and equipment.
    Based on the shotgun in your post it has been around a long time.
    Their website is and is worth checking out.

  8. A lot of those designs were because simpler/better designs were already patented by someone else who wouldn’t share or wanted too much money for a license. When the patents expired most of the odd workarounds went away as manufacturers adopted the previously-protected designs.

    WW Greener’s “The Gun and Its Development” credits Lefeuchaux with much of what became the standard break-action design common today.

  9. I was amazed at the price estimate, you can’t buy a boring new over and under for that. Did it have proof marks? could you tell if the chambers were 2.75″ or shorter?

  10. According to the listing it has some slight condition issues, which probably means the shotgun was actually used and that means that the design was practical in the field. Agree with nick, if that gun does not double the auction estimate then someone is getting a great bargain.

  11. The mechanism is very close to the Money-Walker variant of the Peabody, a rear-hinged dropping-front block with a rear lever that is a prolongation of the breechblock, lying atop the wrist of the stock on the regular top-feeding version. It first appeared about 1868, and this might have been “inspired” by it.

    Its exact niche is debatable. My first guess would be grouse, etc., but that front trigger firing both tubes, if not due to a worn sear, would seem a bit “unsporting” on upland game. It might, however, be allowable (if a bit odd) in trapshooting as a way of nailing doubles.

    And yes, a worn sear can do that. My mother as a girl had a “Sears-type” two-trigger 12 gauge double that, even when new, would fire both barrels if you tried to fire the left barrel first, due to a dodgy sear engagement on the right barrel. One time she needed to deal with a woodchuck that was making free with the truck garden, and told one of her sisters to get the double but only load the left barrel.

    Said sister (a real “rhymes with witch”) accordingly loaded both barrels, and when Mother squeezed the left trigger, she landed flat on her back.

    Her sister was jumping up and down and shrieking with laughter- very typical for her. (As the poor fool who married her ten years later found out the hard way.)

    On the plus side, the woodchuck was very thoroughly “suppressed”. A double load of No. 6 at five yards will do that.



    • In my teens I had a Spanish side by side 12 guage. that took to double discharging, due to a worn and probably soft sear.

      It had brutal enough felt recoil with one barrel, which is partly how I came to have it. The other reason was 30″ barrels and 3/4 and full choke, No one else wanted it, and no one else could hit with it. Any clay that was hit turned to dust.

      Fortunately I was wiry as a youngster, Thirty whatever years on and I now have much more upper body inertia, and an old neck injury – strangely enough from that gun…

      I’ve never had it to pieces to see what exactly the local gunmaker did to correct it. He was a tool maker and prototype engineer by training, so it’s probably somewhat more perfectionist than simply building up with weld and re filing.

    • Twelve guage certainly does get used for grouse, but the really keen grouse shots often prefer something smaller and lighter. A sixteen or twenty guage, and pick their shots carefully.

      I’ve done a couple of days of beating on a driven grouse shoot this year and one of the guns was using a 28 guage. I filled my pockets out of empties bin after the shoot, they’ll cut down to make plastic hulled .577 Snider (the relationship between shotgun and rifle case dimensions is interesting, .410 is close enough to the same head and body size as .303, the rimmed Mannlicher rounds and the .30-40 Krag, and .50 BMG is a rimless 12 guage head size).

      On the same estate, some of the pheasant days are .410 only!

      • If this “Peabody-type” double had been in 16 or 20 gauge, I’d have been strongly inclined to suspect it was intended as a “ladies’ gun”, especially with that removable buttstock. Compact, easily-toted guns were very much “the thing” for ladies back in the day. For instance, folding single-shot rifles and shotguns referred to as “jack-knife” guns, going right back to the percussion period.

        In 16 or 20, it would be even lighter and more graceful than it is. And as it is, it’s in the class of a Baby Bretton.



  12. Very interesting design. There’s probably no literature to go along with this gun, but maybe it would have instructed the user to pull the rear trigger first to prevent pulling both.

  13. The proper gentleman would hand it to his loader, who would use the levers while the shooter fired the second gun.

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