Thursday, August 03, 2006

Gunblogging: French Design 2

As most readers probably know, I love French shotguns!

Perhaps even prettier than the Darne is the Manufrance Ideal (say "ee- day--ahl", not "eyedeel"). Round- actioned like the Scottish Dixons and McNaughtons which cost ten times more (though mechanically, because of their coil springs, more like the early side- lever Grants), light, strong, elegant, and ergonomic, they have some of the best lines nd handling characteristics in the world. They are sadly unappreciated here. When, a while ago, I was forced to sell a more expensive gun, I managed to get one "on the side" and still have money to pay bills, with the help of Kirby Hoyt at Vintage Doubles (a dealer whom I recommend without reservation).

It is a 16, the "ideal" ("eyedeel") gauge. See the clean lines?




It opens by squeezing an underlever-- extremely smooth and ergonomic.



And, being French, it has one innovation nobody else would think of: a sling that reels up and disappears into the stock.

50 comments:

JohnnyUK said...

I agree that the Manufrance Ideal is a fine looking and handling shotgun, with a typical French unusual style. My only problem is that many Southern European mass produced shotguns seem to be made for short , stocky , stubby fingered Southern Europeans!, so tall, "well built " N Americans and Northern Europeans have to have combs rasied, stocks extended, and rear triggers taken back to avoid low shooting , and bruised fingers!Steve , being of Italian extraction , has no such problems!!
The 16G is superb as a walked up weapon, delivering a powerful punch at a fleeing pheasant , but capable at 6lbs, of being carried all day.
I remember going into the marvellous Manufrance Headquarters Showroom in St Etienne in the late 1980's , and seeing all their "finished metal goods" ranging from bicycles to the finest handmade shotguns on display . Sadly shortly afterwards the Institution went bankrupt, despite the Unions campaign " Manufrance Doit Vivre!".The precurser of many other factories , now sadly fallen to foreign competition both in Europe and US.
How I wish that I had bought the exhibition grade 20G that I saw in the showroom, on sale at that time for less than $3000!.

JohnnyUK

Steve Bodio said...

Johnny!-- This comment didn't come up.

You are right about my build re French shotguns, though I still like them a bit longer in the stock than the French do. When I was in Provence everybody looked like me, and tourists would stop me on the street and ask directions in bad French. Of course my Alpine Italian granparents were from probably no more than 100 miles east...

Anonymous said...

I have and Ideal in 16 gauge,bought it
six years ago for u$s 50 dollars.

Can you shoot nowadays cartridges
with it.

I agree beautiful lines, and fine handling , is it a strong gun

Steve Bodio said...

Anonymous-- good deal!

If the barrels are steel amd not damascus (a more compliceted subject) you should be able to shoot modern cartridges, though for comfort's sake I would stick with light loads. The old French guns I have seen have 23/4- inch chambers like American guns rather than the common English 2 1/2- inch. They also have strong thick barrel walls.

Anonymous said...

How can an untrained eye spot if my shotgun has a damascus or a steel barrel....

What ìs the approximate value of this gun

Steve Bodio said...

Damascus shows a spiral pattern. It is said that some have been blued over but I have never seen this; even then it should probably show beneath the barrel.

VERY hard to estimate a gun's value without seeing as much as a photo-- condition and much else matters. But it should be in the area of perhaps $1500 for a plain grade. But it is hard to sell French guns in the US or UK.

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for your information, it is clearly not a damascus barrel then.

I was astounded at the aproximate price of 1.500.- maybe less since it is a plain grade.....


There was another shotgun for sale, for u$s 300.- 12 gauge T. Bland and Sons in excellent condition, but there were some problems with the ownership papers so it's standby

Anonymous said...

Gentlemen, Have a No6 Ideal double barrel. Can not find the date or serial number. Came out of France during WWII may have been built in 1940's or late 1930's, not sure. How can I determine the date? Would this information be under the stock? How do I get it valued?

Steve Bodio said...

Kirby at Vintage Doubles might be able to help.

Anonymous said...

To find out the production year of your Ideal N°6, please let me know the serial number (5 digit number). For sure, the production date is earlier than 1931 for which the reference has changed (for instance, the N°6 became N°326). If the part around the triggers (sorry , I don't know the exact term in english)is double ("lenses"), the production date is earlier than 1909. For the damascus steel, the production has ended around 1901/1902.
Concerning the chambers, the change from 65mm to 70mm was done in 1957/1958.
For the value, it's difficult to estimate a price. However, I bought mine in good shape two years ago for 1000EUR which was a good deal(1200 USD) and the aveage price in France for an "Ideal" is around 1500EUR to 10000 EUR for rare versions. Please note that Ideals here are searched. Anonymous has done a very very good deal to get one at 50 USD!!!

Eric

Steve Bodio said...

Eric- it is a No. 2R rather than 6, with a serial number of (only) 663.

Anonymous said...

Steve,

The 2R was produced from 1899 to 1924. "R" means reinforced, adapted for non smoking powder in opposition with damascus steel (which wad ended in 1909, I made a mistake) . In the barrel marking, you should see "Acier Hercule" with palms.The type 2 means the grade, from "0" or "1" (low end) up to "14" which was high end. The type numbering has changed in 1931 (for instance, a type "2" became type "302". The number of palms means the steel & finish grade (from 1 palm to 5). A 2R model should have two palms.
If the model is yours (on the photos), the production year is post 1909 (single part which surrounds the trigger instead of two).
The serial number should have 5 digits as the "Manufacture" put specific serial number for Ideal only from the production beginning in 1887 up to 1939. After WW2, the serial number order was common to all shotguns of the "Manufacture" (Robust, Simplex, Ideal and Robust-Ideal). Look to the barrels or the steel part (sorry I don't know the exact word) between the percutors, you should find also the serial number (mine is like this).
If you want to order some books, I can also recommand to order "Le Manufrance du Collectionneur" which lists all the shots guns made by manufrance from the beginning up to the end with all types.
I don't know if you are intersted but I look on a hunting web site in France (www.seasons.fr), a guy is selling more than 10 different Ideal which covers moreless all the types from 1500 EUR to 10 000 EUR.

Eric

Steve Bodio said...

Got it! That is indeed my shotgun there. Two palms, single part around the trigger, and a 5 digit number: 45899. It has 70 mm chambers.

Steve Bodio said...

Eric-- just looked at that ad-- what a collection! Wish I had a few more dollars right now...

Anonymous said...

Steve,

Your Ideal was build in 1923. The original chamber lenght was 65mm and bored at 70 mm afterwards.As a consequence, you should have the following markings on the barrel which indicates the pressure control.
The orginal marking should be "PT" with a crown above (for non smoking powder, "poudre pyroxylée" in french). If the chambers were re-bored in France, an additive marking which is "R" with a crown above (R for re-controlled).

Eric

Steve Bodio said...

Eric: all exactly as you say.

Anonymous said...

Steve need help with this french gun.

sn or model #4843
each barrel has two sets of branches with crowns then St. etienne 17.0
65 choke rectifie with A F
both have crown pt
double epreuve
crochets mono bloc
one barrel has the letter O the shape of a star and the letter A
grouped together
Written around the letters JS, aux arifs francaiscs
The only visable writting on the gun assembled is HELICE.
Please help thanks CHARLES

Anonymous said...

Charles,

That's quite difficult to find out the origin with the markings you are saying. However, I think that your gun is coming from a handmaker. Indeed, except industrial manufacturers or great handmakers in Saint Etienne, who are marking their products, handmaker didn't put their signature.
Concerning the markings:
17.0 is for a 16 gauge (diamter in mm)

plams with St Etienne is for the pressure control and the "PT" with crown is the pressure control for the "T" powder (smokeless powder)
"crocher monobloc" is descrobong the type of assembly of the barrels.
0*A should be signature of the barrel makers. Indeed, in Saint Etienne, hand makers are not making all the parts. You will find handmaker who are making the barrels (the most famous is Jean BREUIL, with the signature J*B on the barrels), the stoke, finishing the assembly....
The HELICE means the type of locking mechanism for for which the opening key on the top should have a kind of big disc shape.
without photo, that's all that I can say.

Eric

Ron Rihm said...

Hi Guys
I have been refered to you guys
by the guys on the leverguns forum.
I have one of these French guns..
Manufacture Francaise, D'armes & Cycles in De Saint Etienne,
France....Ideal model, 16 ga., side by side...retractable sling
Factory engraved... case hardened, and leather case etc..
I need someone to tell me where or who can tell me the value
of this gun... very slight handling marks on the wood...
and some of the bluing is worn right where your fingers contact
the barrel.. s# on receiver is 496xx..1924 I am told..I also think
its a grade 3A Can anyone help me out with this..here are some pics
[IMG]http://i97.photobucket.com/albums/l210/ronrihm/frenchshotgun005.jpg[/IMG]
[IMG]http://i97.photobucket.com/albums/l210/ronrihm/frenchshotgun004.jpg[/IMG]

Steve Bodio said...

Ron-- I can't seem to get the pics and it is hard to evaluate a gun without seeing it. But if it is in good condition it should be worth well over $2000. You might ask Kirby at Vintage Doubles (they have a site)-- that is where I got mine.

Ron Rihm said...

If you guys want to see pictures
of my Manufacture Francaise
D'armes Ideal you can see them on
doublegunshop.com under the first
forum...There pics on the original post and some more on page 4.
Let me know what you think of its value...
Thanks guys
Ronnie

Steve Bodio said...

Above $2000 these days, probably more in France-- they just aren't as popular in the US. Got one much like it.

chris said...

Can you tell me up until what date was the Ideal made without a safety catch. Thank you
Chris

Steve Bodio said...

I don't know--mine was made in 1923 and has one (beside the triggers).

chris said...

Thanks very much for your prompt reply. I'll check all the numbers and markings and get back to you tomorrow. Good guns.

chris said...

hi the writing and numbers on my ideal are as follows 55889 entireur poli en long groupment garauntie freuve ducannon 18.4 /18.6 pt normal on the barrels is a crown over pt 850kilo pression epruive de fussile cannon demibloc acier extra fabrication mechanique i hope this makes sence it is also marked no 1 i think one of a pair ihope you might be able to date it for me thank you chris.

Steve Bodio said...

Hi Chris-- Eric's info above is as much as I have. Maybe he'll check in again. Or try Kirby at Vintage-- link above.

chris said...

Hi, I made a youtube video about some of my old guns and part of it is about my french gun, I thought you might like to see it. I dated the gun as 1950-60 but I think I'm wrong and the gun is much older.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQt9Yju8GCY

Steve Bodio said...

Chris-- it looks exactly like my 1923 16 bore, except mine has a sliding safety button on each side of the trigger.

6dave0 said...

Wow the french doublebarrel shotgun looks exactly like mine! I've had it since a neighbor brought it back from WW-II and it hasen't been fired since. The leather strap is like new. Beautiful etchings on metal. Serial number is less than 300 on mine. My guess is it was made in the 30's. Am I reading correctly that the value is around $3000 us dollars?

Steve Bodio said...

Sounds about right. And it is OK to shoot it!

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Anonymous said...

very informative site.
i just found out about it from a military gun expert who identified an engraved gun stock in a lighter coloured walnut having the joined initials MF on the gunstock plate.the right side of the stock has a beautiful recessed engravin of a fling duck with engraved heralds on one side. if anyone wishes to inform themselves further i may be reached at auggiemll@hotmail.com.

Anonymous said...

I'm researching a gun that has been in the family since the late 1950's. The story goes that it was a 'War Trophy' brought out of France at the end of WWII and bought by my Dad after it had been reemed out to handle 2 3/4" shells. It is an O/U 12 gauge with the only outer markings being 'Paris Sport' in gold lettering on the bottom of the receiver. The forearm releases like most O/U's but it's not one piece. It's two piece. It is 12 gauge full over/full and once taking off the forearm I can read Jean Breuil, Canonnier, Sietienne. There are some proof marks that look like "Canion de Surette" and J&B, and some other marks that are too fine for me to tell. Also, it has factory sling mounts on both the front barrel and butt stock. The gun if VERY light compared to my Beretta Silver Pigeon 12 ga. I'd estimate it's a 6 1/2 lb. shotgun.

Overall condition of the gun is 'used'. Wood has some dents and dings, but it is very nice wood. Monte Carlo Stock and very slim fore-end. Metal finish is worn is some places. Any ideas or comments appreciated. I've decided to hang on to it but I would like to know a little more about the gun if possible.

Thanks in advance.

Steve Bodio said...

I'd like to see a photo or two to send to French friends-- email is ebodio at gilanet dot com.

That would be "Ste Etienne" I think-- French arms city.

Anonymous said...

Will do. Currently only have crappy Cell Phone camera and I don't think the resolution on that will be enough.

Thanks for the quick response!

Anonymous said...

I just purchased a beautiful french shotgun. Can you tell me anything about J. Chanut? The seller said it is ca. 1930.

Victoria

Anonymous said...

Hi

I am looking at a Manufrance 12 guage shotgun, I don't know anything about it at all, it says Fusil rapid Brevet S.G.D.G France et Etranger. Chrome lined. Where the trigger gaurd is there is a number 856c, it is manufrance saint etienne. There is a number just under the pump 129845 and another number inside the action at the beginning of the barrel x101219c. Other than this I have no idea what to look for or how old it is. Would you know anything about this gun or if there is a manual I can find somewhere?

Thank you very much

Steve Bodio said...

John Hill ("Johnny UK") says:
"Hi Steve

Don't know where to begin to look , I am afraid - maybe there's a Manufrance
owners website, but they ceased manufacturing in the 70's - like Darne,but
nobody took them up again ! Most were simple boxlocks, robust and
serviceable , but a few were made to a higher grade, like the Ideal . Maybe
a photo or two would help sort out the quality ?

Sorry that I cannot be any more help!

Sergio said...

Dear Sir,
I'm Sergio from Italy and I wander if You can give some help of finding which Ideal shotgun in 12 gauge i've been offered in these days.The receiver of this gun although well made and finished is not round as most of Ideal I saw.Actually it has long plates like most of side by side guns.On the bottom of the receiver is well marked IDEAL but it seems not printed as the others.Could it be an imitation? Do you have any knowledge of this kind of gun?
I could send You some Photo if I knew where to send them.
Thanks for your kind answer.
Sergio

Steve Bodio said...

Sergio-- send the photos to "ebodio at gilanet dot com"

Anonymous said...

Gents,
I'm new this game, I have a fire damaged shotgun with a J Breuil barrel. The maker's mark is two oak leaves next to a G. If you could educate me as to what a handmaker is and who his handmaker is, maybe even approx. value, I'd be ever so grateful...Frank

Anonymous said...

Gents,
I'm new this game, I have a fire damaged shotgun with a J Breuil barrel. The maker's mark is two oak leaves next to a G. If you could educate me as to what a handmaker is and who his handmaker is, maybe even approx. value, I'd be ever so grateful...Frank

Steve Bodio said...

Hi Steve

Sorry , no idea ! I have enough trouble sorting out Darnes !!

Best

John

Anonymous said...

My name John I have a 12ga side-by-side Manufrance robust no#222 manufactured sanit-Etienne france I have a missing forend.whair can I get parts for it?

Steve Bodio said...

As they are no longer made it may be difficult. You might ask Geoffrey Gournet who is gunsmith with knowledge of French guns.

Daniel Brothers said...

does anyone know anything about a side by side 12 ga shotgun that has Planson A Nancy on the bottom of the receiver and Canonnier A Sietienne engraved on the underside of the barrels...? dbrot7@cs.com

Anonymous said...

was curious about a old French sidexside I have... et cycles st Etienne on one side other has manufacture F_D armes
markings inside are: F with crown over
18.4
7.5
5822
and what appears to be a circular insignia of 2 cannons w/ arrow and 2 other items cant make out.
any help would be beneficial.

Steve Bodio said...

I can't tell much from that but the "Cycles" may mean it is a Manufrance, not an Ideal but a Robust. If you can email photos to my address "ebodio at gilanet dot com", I might be able to tell more

Marc Tison said...

I was given a St Etienne shotgun about 10 years ago as a gift.

The story behind this shotgun is it comes from arguably the largest private collection of guns in our country. The collector inherited the collection from a very wealthy family in the 50’s. He used to often visit the family as a small boy and lost himself in the collection, whilst the other children played in the garden.

At the time I took it to a French gunsmith to clean. He asked me what I intended doing with it because it was still in 100% good order. I said I was going to hunt guinea fowl. He freaked like the French can do sometimes and then said this gun should never be fired again and placed in a glass display box. I was taken aback and decided to leave it with the collector because he knew how to look after it.

The collector is now 86 and his entire collection has been sold to an international buyer and so this one piece was returned back to me. Knowing the collector this would not be a standard St Etienne and likely a special one. The following is inscribed:

Cannonerie Manufacture Francaise d'arme de St Etienne.

AC'ER HERCULE

18,41

8183

5 x Palm wreaths