Straight shooter: 5 fascinating vintage firearm appraisals from our gun expert

Guns & ammo

Expert advice, appraisals and fascinating firearms stories

I’m having trouble finding any info on my gun (above). It has a Martini action, and written on the receiver is “W. Jefferey and Son 12 George St. Plymouth.” The barrel has a smooth bore, with no rifling, and a .45-70 shell fits perfectly in the chamber. It has a shotgun-style bead front sight, but no rear sight. The forestock does not match the buttstock. Anything you could tell me would be appreciated.

SCOTT MACDONALD

HUNTSVILLE, ONTARIO

If we had an award for the most unusual gun this issue, I think you’d get it! William Jeffery got into the gunmaking business in England around 1839. He moved to Plymouth, England, in 1849, and to the 12 George Street address around 1864. His son joined the firm in 1869 or so. Their guns were marked with the same address as yours, until the business relocated to another address in Plymouth in 1917 or 1918. It is not the same firm as W.J. Jeffery of London.

Your gun appears to have been built on a regular Martini action. It is doubtful it was intended to fire rifle cartridges, since it has no rifling in the bore and no rear sight or any provision for a rear sight. From your information and photos, I can’t say what cartridge it was intended to fire. It may be chambered for 32-gauge shotshells, or possibly the plan was to use handloaded shot charges in .45-70 cases.

If the gun you have was proved in England, there should be proof marks beneath the chamber of the barrel, covered by the forearm. These might provide an indication of what cartridge it was intended to use. If there are no proof marks, that indicates it was most likely rebarreled in Canada. At any rate, I recommend against firing it due to its age, and the lesser quality of the steel. It’s an interesting old gun—I’m glad you didn’t ask about its value because I wouldn’t know where to start!

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