Very interesting antique shotgun

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Being the complete and certified gun nut that I am, few thing excite me more than coming across unique and exotic firearms, the more unique, exotic and arcane the better!

Sucang, a resident of Xinhua, Taiwan, sent me these photos of his antique shotgun. He was hoping some readers of the blog could identify it. I was very excited when I opened the attached photos, I had never seen a rifle or shotgun with an action like it.

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The shotgun is 170 cm (67″) in length and weighs 4.5 kg (10 lbs).

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The action.

I presume a percussion cap is inserted into the removable breech block (see below), then the striker is pull back to cock the action. Click the photos to expand them.

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Load information was been engraved onto the gun in English. Not necessarily when it was first made.

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Markings.

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I don’t know what that cartridge-esque thing is.

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One striker cocked.

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Breech Blocks removed.

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Sucang thought it could be from the 1600′s when the Dutch, who were fond of hunting, occupied Taiwan. This is not likely as the 17th century would place it squarely in matchlock territory and the striker design is quite advanced. I suggested mid 19th century. My buddy Mehul, who knows far more about classic firearms that I do, suggested early 20th.

Has anyone seen anything like it before?

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Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


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  • STW

    Check with the BBHC. A quote from their web site-

    The Cody Firearms Museum Staff gladly responds to queries for information on firearms and firearms-related items. While the staff strives to respond within a reasonable amount of time, they receive a large number of requests. Please be patient about receiving a response. The curatorial staff cannot resolve gunsmithing or highly technological queries, but they can assist you with general and historical information about firearms.

  • Sven Ortmann

    The trigger group and other metal parts look like 1840-1930 to me.

    I doubt that this has been produced after the civil war (communists vs. nationalists) started.

    Is it really that light with two barrels of that length?

  • Unllama

    Well, I don’t have an answer, but a couple notes..
    It’s kind of interesting from a linguistic/historical perspective.

    The inscription “Xinhua” appears to use a transliteration of a /Mandarin/ word with the Pinyin system. This is significant, as Mandarin is a relatively recent introduction to the island. Taiwan has traditionally spoken Taiwanese/Southern Min, and Taiwanese would have been the language spoken during the various short-lived European attempts at colonization.

    The Pinyin system is primarily used in China, and by some more heavily-Chinese communities in Taiwan in recent years (primarily in the north). Taiwan/Republic of China tended to use Wade-Giles romanization through 2008, when Chinese puppet Ma Ying-Jeou took over the presidency.

    For reference, the nationalists fled to Taiwan in 1949, and Pinyin was promulgated by the communists in the late 50′s.

    The font on the gun also strikes me as peculiar. The half-usage of serifs, the shape of the “a”, which isn’t seen that often in latin handwriting in Taiwan, and the “i” shape..

    Maybe the inscription is newer.

    I guess the last piece that I found interesting was the proof marks. They look kind of like Japanese arsenal marks, but don’t match any I know. There’s also no kana anywhere on the gun, which is uncharacteristic of anything that’s been through Japanese hands. I don’t think this gun was brought to Taiwan during the Japanese occupation (1895-1945).

    I don’t know what to think. Taiwan’s climate tends to accelerate aging on machinery, but this still looks pretty vintage. Based on the build, it looks 19th century to me. Maybe a Chinese nationalist clone, Khyber Pass style. Maybe made in Taiwan – regulations are so tight, I have no idea how this guy has it. But still, the “Xinhua” markings confound that interpretation.

  • Unllama

    I guess a question for Sucang is whether the “Xinhua” he says he’s from is 新化. That particular area was pretty much straight-up aboriginal before Han people and the VOC showed up.

  • Mu

    The “instructions” mention two different powders, one blackpowder, one “non-Rpowder” most likely non-smoking. This would put it past 1880s in age. The 20:61 might be a 20 gauge 2.4 inch length shotgun shell if there was such a thing.
    The cartridge-esque thing looks like an oiler with a knurled top.
    Would be interesting to see what the units on the weights given are, “K”.

  • Tim

    Probably hand made by a smith somewhere from the stampings. Somewhat elaborate but they appear hand done. Even the Xinhua or whatever markings on the top.

    I’d guess late 19th, early 20th as well. Although its black powder that was still common into the early 20th, especially in more remote areas. Plus, look at the bolt style breach covers. Looks like someone had at least seen a bolt action rifle and may have styled them after that.

  • Matt Groom

    The fact that it’s is written in English, and the fact that it describes the propellant as “Blackpowder” and not “Gunpowder” means it’s very late `9th or early 20th century. The bolt action breech block is fascinating. Perhaps it was chambered in some long obsolete and forgotten shotshell? It’s certainly one of the longest doubles I have ever seen! The barrels must be 40″!

    The elaborate engraving and the number of stamped markings suggest it was likely made for export, and/or an it was previously owned by an English speaker, who took the time to engrave it as well as record notes on it! It could have been made much later than we might expect, since Taiwan and China generally haven’t been on the cutting edge of firearms technology for about 1500 years. According to Free Translation.com, Xinhua means “information Conference spare parts”, so take from that what you will. Perhaps it means Interchangeable parts?

    It appears as if it may have been gold plated at one time, with most of the gold having been scrapped off! The cartridge thing appears to be an oiler. It’s facinating that they’re allowed to own guns in Taiwan! I hope someone else has some more insight as to this thing.

  • DaveP

    Chinese and Indian/Pakistani local-production guns and copy guns frequently have a bewildering variety of ‘proofmarks’ and English and other language markings, some of which may look as if they come form two or three different guns entirely.

    The reason for that is that they do: the craftsman who produces the guns may speak no English and be entirely innocent of standardized proofmarks; but the guns he’s seen that he liked had marks like thus-and-so, so he transfers them over- sometimes imperfectly.

    Maybe that could be part of the explanation for the markings you see. The ‘local information’ looks to be just that: a previous owner creating a permanent reminder for himself and doing a favor for any later owners.

  • http://booksbikesboomsticks.blogspot.com Tam

    Judging by the “greeking” (imitations of various foreign proofmarks and foreign inscriptions) it’s probably a village-blacksmith-made piece or at the very least was turned out by a small local village gunmaker that you’d never find in a catalog anyplace. The rib alone has crude reproductions of various Chinese and German arsenal and proof markings, as though the maker had handled Chinese Mausers before and seen the markings on them but didn’t quite know what they meant.

    Here’s a similar case, albeit with a revolver.

  • Johann Van De Leeuw

    COOOOL!!!!!

  • Vaarok

    The cartridge thing is a powdermeasure.

  • http://www.nitroexpress.com Mehul Kamdar

    Steve,

    Sorry to step in late, but Matt has the whole thing spot on. if the gun were really from the 1600s, it wouldn;t be marked “Black Powder” as there was nothing but black powder back then – until Vieille in France invented smokeless powder in the 1880s. Dave P is also right about the mis-spelled markings that come on guns from India-Pakistan-Afghanistan. And, finally, the shape of the stock, virtually confirms a 20th century date to me at least.

    When we talk of the 1600s, we are talking about the era of handgonnes and early matchlocks – certainly nothing as sophisticated as the breech design on this particular gun. I would love to see it at first hand, though, because of its uniqueness. Let me post pics of this and ask for opinions from some of the historical experts on the NE forums.

    Good hunting, my friend!

  • http://www.thefirearmblog.com Steve

    Thanks everyone for your help!

    Mehul, you are never to late, your comments are always appreciated!

  • sucang

    Thank you Steve.Thanks for all of you.This shotgun is rare that is Consensus.I will keep it well until someone buy it in high picece.

  • T. Lacy

    I’ve never seen anything like it…no manufacturer on it? It appears to be a one-off build by a talented smith.

  • unclero

    When I first looked at this, I tought: hey, that looks like an ‘eendenroer’ (a dutch style puntgun).

    But when I looked at the bolt mechanism and the engravings, I tought: that could be an Indian ‘walbus’ (not sure what the english word is, ‘castle rifle’ would come close) as well..

    My theory would be that it is a khyberpass ‘walbus’ eventually sold to a Chinese lord to be used in one of the many castles or fortresses at the time. When the government of the Chinese Democratic Republic moved to former Formosa, they simply took the gun along.

  • Ummon Zevenenveertig

    It’s a dutch gun called an “eendenroer”. They were used for duckhunting. The biggest of them were about 4 metres long and could fire 1,5 kilogram buckshot, for shooting a whole swarm of birds. The smaller ones were fired from the shoulder, the bigger ones were mounted on a boat’.