Charles Boswell Gunmaker
In January 2004 I acquired the goodwill and record books of Charles Boswell Gunmaker with the explicit goal of using the best time-served craftsmen and materials to make Charles Boswell "Best London" shotguns again.
I am often asked why a bespoke “Best London” shotgun is so expensive -the simple answer is, it is more than a gun, it is a piece of art, functional art!
The Best Gun can be admired for its craftsmanship and superlative fit and finish, the beauty of its wood and intricate engraving. But first and foremost, it is a gun. Not any ordinary gun, but one built by hand, with time-proven methods perfected by craftsmen for over 150 years!
Twelve hundred hours of skilled hands removing everything of wood and steel that is superfluous to its purpose, so that all that remains is the "Best" Gun that can be made. The gun created is unique; there will never be another like it, and the hundreds of man hours give it an intrinsic liveliness and dynamic handling that a machine-made gun could never hope to match.
I thought it would be helpful for shotgun aficionados to understand the amount of time and skill that goes into making each and every Charles Boswell Shotgun. And, of course, the Boswells of today are made exactly as the original Boswells were made nearly 140 years ago.
The live pigeon gun was Charles Boswell's trademark gun, and there are many spectacular examples still put to good use today. It was Boswell's tradition of making superbly reliable, perfectly balanced, good-looking competition guns that made me decide to resurrect the name and to begin the manufacture of Boswell guns.
Today, the company Charles Boswell Gunmaker produces what I believe are some of the most exquisite small-bore game guns and the finest bespoke competition shotguns available anywhere. Beyond the coincidence of having the same initials as Charles Boswell, we both strive for the same high level of individual fit and unparalleled craftsmanship. We would hope that Mr. Boswell would approve of the new editions and the continuation of his gunmaking tradition.
Taking the first step in that direction, at the 2005 Concours d’Excellence of Fine Guns, the "People's Choice" winner was the Charles Boswell 28-gauge over-and-under. With pinless round action, sidelock ejector, 29-inch demi block barrels, choked modified and improved modified, weighing 5lb and l2oz, it featured full, deep relief Scroll engraving.
Our Boswells continue to receive accolades from the media and owners thanks to the diligence and skill of the craftsmen who make up the Boswell family.
Making a Charles Boswell Best Gun; Step by Step
To produce a Best London Shotgun takes approximately 1,200 hours of hands-on work by time-served craftsmen
Stage One: Action, Locks and Barrels - 480 Hours
- Machine Action Body - Make Locks - Make and Join Barrel Tubes
- File Action - Time Ejectors
- Submit to Definitive London Proof
Richard Barnes, formerly of James Purdey and Son, Boss & Co and Holland & Holland specializes in filing distinctive action shapes for his select clients, including Charles Boswell.
Mark Sullivan started his apprenticeship with Holland & Holland as an actioner and ejector worker. After leaving the factory, he now oversees a specialized team of outworkers that makes guns for Asprey, William and Son and other “Best London" makers.
THE BARREL MAKER:
Mick Kelly started his apprenticeship as a barrel maker with James Purdey and Sons before leaving to become the ‘Barrel Maker of Choice' to the World's finest gunmakers.
STAGE TWO: STOCKING - 180 HOURS
- Strike Up Furniture and Iron Work - Head Up Stock and Forend
- Make Stock to Client's Dimensions
Stephane Dupille served his apprenticeship in France before coming to London where he has quickly become the stocker of choice for many of the best gunmakers and collectors.
Bobby Smith started out with an apprenticeship at James Purdey and Son, became a topstocker for them and is now considered one of the premiere stockers to the London Gun trade.
Andy Marshall served his apprenticeship with James Purdey and Son, and is an accomplished stocker working to a superlative standard.
Stage Three: Engraving - 240 Hours
- Dress Off Screws and Pins - Polish for Engraving - Engrave
Keith Thomas started out with an apprenticeship at Holland & Holland in 1964 and, as a fully accomplished hand engraver, stayed with them for 11 years. He then moved to the country and started working freelance for the "Best" gun makers in London, Birmingham and Germany, including Boss & Co, W. W. Greener, Hartmann & Weiss, Asprey, Peter V. Nelson, Watson Bros., A. A. Brown and others. Over the years, he has extended his work to include the patterns and house styles of many different makers from the past to the present day.
Dave Tallet needs little introduction; both he and his sons started out with apprenticeships at James Purdey and Son and between them have engraved guns for the majority of the London Gun trade
Diego Bonzi, the master engraver of Il Bulino Italy, has created some of the most fantastic game scenes and deep double relief scroll designs, but his specialty is fantasy engraving.
Stage Four: Finishing - 300 Hours
- Colour Case Harden - Regulate - Fully Finish to Include Case and Accessories
Dave Sinnerton in recent years has been making guns under his own name, but he originally trained at James Purdey and Son and is regarded as perhaps the premier finisher to the British Gun Trade.
Gerry Swanson trained with James Purdey and Son as a finisher, spent many years with Rigby and is a superlative craftsman.
Richard St. Ledger needs little introduction, and the firm of Ray St. Ledger, rightly famous for their colour case hardening, is acknowledged as the finest in the world for this work.
Ian Tomlin, is the Owner and Director of TEG (Traditional English Gun Cases), is widely acknowledged as the premier maker of the finest traditional cases and accessories - the only choice for a case in which to properly present a ‘Best Gun' to its new owner.
To Order Your Charles Boswell Shotgun or Rifle:
Charles Boswell shotguns are available in both side-by-side and over-and-under configurations, in any gauge and double rifles are available in all calibers. Prices start at $85,500
For more information about the Charles Boswell Best Guns, please visit our Gun Sales page.
The Charles Boswell Gunmaker Record Books
Information on the history of Charles Boswell Shotguns and Rifles is contained in the Record Books.
If you own a Charles Boswell and wish to have some information about your gun, send a check for $50.00 to C. B. Gunmakers, c/o Chris Batha, 43 Pinckney Colony Road, Okatie, SC 29909-4100, and you will receive a copy of the page from the original records showing the details of your shotgun or rifle.
Note: Some of the pages of The Original Records are missing –
if your gun is not listed, your money will be refunded.