W. W. Greener 12-bore boxlock ejector shotgun Barrel length: 30"; Chambers: 2 1/2"; Chokes: R 1/4 L Full; Material: steel; Rib: game; Locks: boxlock; Operating lever: top-lever/cross bolt; Stock length: 14 3/4; Grip type: straight; Weight: 7lb. SN64484.
This is a Facile Princeps-actioned Greener FH50 model, costing 50 guineas when new. It has forend-housed ejectors and a partially-engraved action and furniture. This model was built to 'best' quality on Greener's own boxlock design but with less engraving, thereby reducing the cost by 10 guineas from the 'best' Greener guns of the period. Its balance and handling qualities make it ideal as a high-bird gun, ideal for pheasant or duck shooting.
The 30" steel barrels are choked 1/4 and Full and the figured, 14 3/4" straight-hand stock is finished with a leather-covered pad.
Other Notes: While many people think of London as the source of 'best' guns, in fact, Birmingham was the center of the gunmaking industry and Birmingham firms and craftsmen were the patentees of most of the important improvements in shotgun design and manufacture in the 19th century. Of the Birmingham gunmakers, none stood taller than William Wellington Greener, not simply because of his prowess as a gunmaker, but because of his management, publicizing, drive and vision in developing his firm's reputation as being seen to be at the forefront of British gunmaking.
The second son of William Greener, a first-rate gunmaker in his own right, W. W. was trained as a barrelmaker and his success was remarkable considering he was almost blind. Following a difference of opinion, he set up a rival firm to that of his father and prospered as the breech-loader quickly eclipsed the muzzle loader. W. W. Greener published some very interesting and important books on gunmaking, including MODERN BREECH LOADERS 1871, MODERN SHOTGUNS and THE GUN AND ITS DEVELOPMENT.
W. W. Greener is perhaps most famous for the popularizing of 'choke bore' through his successes in 'Field Trials' of 1875 and subsequent similar trials sponsored by 'The Field'. He proved that 'choke bored' guns consistently shot closer than those with 'true cylinder' boring and he, more than anyone else, developed choke boring into a science.
Greener is also known for his development of alternative boxlock designs to the original Anson & Deeley, the most important being his 'Facile Princeps' and 'Unique' models. Greener had a huge gunmaking concern in Birmingham and was one of the few makers to manufacture his own barrels in their entirety (Damascus barrel production there ceased in 1906). His guns are of consistently uncompromising quality and while some may be more embellished than others, the basics are always there. Even the cheapest Greener gun is soundly jointed, has good wood-to-metal fit and quality barrels and locks.