It has long been my desire to own a matched pair of shotguns (yea even unto consecutive serial numbers), and this little missive from Mr. Free Market pretty much encapsulates my feelings on the matter:

The problem is that this kind of thing is, as the Brit expression goes, beastly expensive, as evidenced by this offering (click to embiggen):

Now, while the list price ($13,500) for this delectable twosome from Arrieta is perilously close to nosebleed level for my Readers, it should be realized that <$7,000 per gun is not a bad price for a handmade (albeit secondhand) shotgun — in fact, it’s almost too  cheap.  Compare and contrast with this pair of the abovementioned William Evans’s own guns, at $16,000 (also secondhand):

…or even those of another Spanish gunmaker, Aguirre y Aranzabal at $26,000 (new):

Ummm where was I before I was so rudely interrupted by an attack of massive drooling?

Nope, it’s gone.  I’ll have to go in another direction.

Look, I know that one may question the perceived value of a matched pair of shotguns:  yes, it’s a Good Thing that if one is going to shoot them serially (e.g. on a high bird shoot somewhere in, say, Dorset) that the guns should feel the same when one brings them to shoulder, and the triggers should be identical.  But say, for the sake of argument, if one were to find two shotguns from the same manufacturer of identical chambering, such as these two L.C. Smith 20-ga beauties costing all together just over $4,100 :

…one has to query the value of the “paired” guns versus a couple thereof, assuming the condition is moot.  Of course, the latter are not going to look identical (as the pics above show), and of course there’s that serial number mismatch — but (comparing the two L.C. Smith guns to the Arrieta pair) is the pairing really worth an extra ten grand? And we will not even speak of the cost of a pair of matched Purdeys

Your thoughts in Comments.

Afterthought:  as it’s Saturday, I thought I’d just offer the several websites featuring this kind of gun, for your browsing pleasure:  William EvansSteve BarnettWilliam PurdeyJohn RigbyHolland & HollandM.W. Reynolds and of course Collectors.

Enjoy, or else feel free to curse me.


  1. A matched pair of quality shotguns is both an investment and a heritage item to be passed down the generations.

    Old Jungle Saying; “Quality will still be there long after the price is forgotten”.

    By all means, buy a workmanlike pair for regular use, but they will most likely fall by the wayside after a few years, whereas the matched pair will still be going strong in a century

  2. In order to really enjoy owning and shooting a matched pair, or better yet, a true pair of shotguns, which would be an incredible experience, one wold need a well trained loader by his side smoothly loading and handing each gun back so fast there might be a number of birds in the air falling one after another. I have read about the late Victorian shooting parties and what an experience that must have been with Lord Ripon and his friends.

  3. Hell yes it’s worth it. Can’t even believe YOU of all people are bringing this up.

    The finest thing I own is a Westley Richards droplock boxlock. It was made in 1913 and it looks and works as brand new. It will certainly outlive me. And honestly I look at it way more than i shoot it. It’s simply beautiful in a mechanical type of way. And that level of quality simply doesn’t exist anymore.

    A matched pair (or a single) of a fine English shotgun is the Ferrari of the gun world. And within reason, it’s actually something one could afford with some savings. (where the Ferrari really isn’t for most people).

    2 grand for a autoloader or 7 grand for a handmade Spanish side by side? We know which one will still be used and admired in 100 years.

    1. Clearly, you missed the part where I had to stop writing because of excessive drooling… if I had the funds, I would probably own more than one matched pair.
      And I’d go bird shooting with Mr. Free Market most of the fall, too.

    2. With regard to Westley Richards guns, I know the gentleman who owns the oldest surviving WR gun. Serial #4…and the first six were made as a batch. Around 1815.

      First punch line – he shoots it.

      Second punch line – and wins.

  4. Damn it, I’m trying to save up for a case of flintlock duelling pistols here.

    That being said, I suspect it’s like double rifles – which have enjoyed a bit of a renaissance in the last few decades. There are the “best guns”, sidelocks with lavish engraving…and working guns. Boxlocks that are mechanically superb, stocked to fit the buyer, but plain guns for the hunting field. And they are significantly cheaper.

  5. Many videos on YouTube. I’ve always liked this one.

    Holland and Holland.

    I am right there with Kim drooling over the sheer artistry and craftsmanship. My experience in the field with two-shooters is admittedly limited, both S/S and O/U. I have shot both and hit with both, but find I prefer single barrel platforms. Perhaps because I am primarily a rifleman. And, not saying that a foray into the field with Kim and Mr. Free Market wouldn’t change my mind.

    1. Just watched the YouTube video, thanks for providing the link. Now I know why hand-built guns cost so much. The workmanship is just incredible. It’s good to know that craftsmen and women, some noticeably young, are still here in England.

  6. I followed the links to the Purdey site and fell in love with this: A titanium chassis from pistol-grip to the fore-end! WANT IT.
    Matched pairs of shot-guns of the quality mentioned in the article are, indeed, things of beauty, but they are intended for use. If I could afford a matched pair of Purdeys, I would not hesitate in taking them into the field and using them as the makers intended. If I was rich enough to buy one pair, I’d be rich enough to buy a second pair. Imagine that.

Comments are closed.