London’s oldest gunmaker, Boss & Co revealed its ‘1812’ Edition shotgun earlier this year after spending more than four years developing this innovative firearm; the first that is both truly for right-handed and left-handed shooters

This 12-bore hun has been entirely developed within its London factory and is delivered with a lever for the left side of the action and another for the right side of the action, meaning the gun can be changed and adapted for a left or a right-handed shooter. 

The bespoke gun takes Boss & Co’s iconic O/U shape, arguably the most copied in the world – and regularly praised for its elegance – and introduces a new purpose-built action, incorporating a side lever rather than a top lever.

Uniquely, another side lever for the opposite side of the gun is handmade and engraved at the same time to be included in the presentation case. This eliminates the challenge of a left-handed shooter inheriting his right-handed grandparent’s or parent’s guns and having to request a new lever be made and engraved. This also eliminates the possibility of the gun’s original engraver having since retired or passed on. 

What’s more, all top lever guns traditionally open one way (with very few exceptions made years ago specifically for left-handed shooters) and all previous side lever guns have had the lever mounted on the right side. That means there has never truly been a gun that works for both ‘lefties’ and for ’righties’. The ‘1812 Edition’ is finally that gun. 

Inspired decisions

Inspiration for this gun came four years ago as Boss & Co owner Arthur DeMoulas was shooting with a pair of vintage Boss & Co side-by-side side-levers and was struck by the ease-of-use and practicality of the layout in the field.

With the knowledge that Boss & Co had, 20 years ago, created a prototype O/U side-lever gun, Arthur communicated with one of the company’s most experienced gunmakers, John Varney, along with others in the business to progress the idea of a bespoke O/U side-lever gun.

Sadly, shortly after, John passed away following 42 years with Boss & Co, but his enthusiasm and technical knowledge were the catalyst for this new gun, which is dedicated to his memory.

Jason Craddock, who worked on the bench next to John for nearly 20 years, learned from his experience and became an integral part of the project, as the whole Boss & Co team took on the challenge of taking that first prototype gun, and making it truly great.

The result of their think-tank mentality – just as it has always been at Boss – was the world’s first truly ambidextrous shotgun, developed over four years with a purpose-built action and turned into a reality in nearly 2,000-man hours.

The process of turning the gun from concept into reality required a look back into Boss & Co’s past, during which the company had produced hundreds of side-lever guns but only on side-by-sides, with all the levers fitted on the right-hand-side.

The team drew inspiration from the elegant designs of these guns, replicating and modernising the side lever and shape for the ‘1812 Edition’. This delicate process of creation, with an entirely new type of gun, required the finesse and experience of every single craftsman at Boss & Co: stocker, actioner, barrel maker, engraver and finisher. 

Arthur explained: “As this project developed, one of our gunmakers, Jason, said: ‘Boss, guided by tradition, not bound by it’ and the 1812 Edition is the perfect example of that.

“It’s inspired by our past but it’s very functional and practical, and its ease-of-use in the field is now available to all shooters – regardless of which side they shoot on – in a way that no other gunmaker has done before.

“We’ve also found that, for female shooters, with slightly smaller hands, the side lever is an infinitely more practical solution. This is entirely a Boss & Co gun, marked out by its elegant shape and timeless design, and built by hand to the very highest standards by some of the most gifted craftsmen in the world. 

“We see this as a pivotal moment not just in our history, but in the history of gunmaking. Just as John Robertson revolutionised the world of firearms over 100 years ago during his time with Boss & Co, we believe the company and our talented gunmakers are doing something similar here, establishing Boss & Co’s name at the very top of the gunmaking world for decades or centuries to come.”

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