Thursday, June 12, 2008

A fine Scottish gun

For some time I have been interested in the work of Scottish gun makers, Dickson and MacNaughton particularly. Both Dickson and MacNaughton were pioneers in developing a sophisticated action type - the 'round action' - also called the trigger plate action. John Dickson first began manufacture of these advanced arms in the 1880s, when Purdey's was still making hammer guns.

The Dickson round action guns have a very innovative design that attaches the lock parts and springs to the trigger plate, and uses arched springs as opposed to the 'V' springs traditionally favored by sidelock builders. The arched springs are less prone to breaking, but still offer fine, crisp trigger pulls. SInce all the action mechanisms are mounted to a single, unifying component, they are far less likely to get out of adjustment. Another innovation is the placement of the ejector hammers in the action bar, instead of the forend.  This also aids reliability, makes the action bar short and quite strong, and centralizes the weight of the gun well between the hands.

The Dickson gun shown above was made in Edinburgh and delivered to the new owner the day before grouse shooting season, in the year 1893. Originally built with 30" Damascus barrels, the gun was rebarreled by the makers in 1959 and fitted with a fine set of 27" compressed steel chopper lump barrels, bored 1/4 and 1/2 choke. It weighs 6 lbs., 3 ounces and is a lively gun to shoot.  The lovely French walnut is original to the gun, and wood like this is very hard to find now.


Andrew Campbell said...

Mike: there you go tugging my heartstrings again. Now you're going to tell me that you own this gun (and not tell me where you live). The Dickson guns are genuinely lovely -- I hope to own one even half-as-nice some day -- and as you illustrate so much more than just a conventional sidelock with the floorplate edges rounded off. The new Dickson & MacNaughton guns are still some of the most beautiful 'best guns' I've seen.

Mike Spies said...


Yes. I wanted a Dickson for some time and finally found a decent example that I was able to buy several years ago. They are sought after. A person with a name like yours would, I expect, appreciate such excellent workmanship. I have seen one Dickson with Celtic strap engraving, hmmmmm.

Andrew Campbell said...

Yeup... have seen a similarly engraved one myself. Very nice. The closest I am right now to owning a best Scottish gun is owning the case contents (ie. cleaning rods and brushes, snap caps, oil can) from a Thomas Mortimer.

Enjoy yours. I'm sure you earned it.