L.C. Smith Ideal Grade (Restored)

posted on March 16, 2010
2010316153242-img_2111_2_fs.jpg

L.C. Smith has long reigned supreme as the only American-made hammerless sidelock. The company was started in 1884 by Lyman Cornelius Smith, and while his well-built side-by-sides attracted hunters, they failed to hold the attention of Smith, who became captivated by a new-fangled device that would become the Smith-Corona typewriter. In 1888, Smith sold his company to John Hunter, Sr.

From 1889 until 1943, the Hunter Arms Co. built some of America’s finest shotguns, ranging in “Qualities,” as the company called them, from 2 through 7 (or A to F and AA in subsequent catalogs) and priced from $55 up to $450. In 1913 the grading system changed to the names Field, Ideal, Olympic, Trap, Specialty, Eagle, Crown, Monogram, Premier and De Luxe. Although the guns differed externally, internally they were all mirror-polished and hand-fitted equally well.

The Hunter Arms Company went bankrupt in 1917 and was sold to the Simonds Saw & Steel family of Fitchburg, Mass., in 1920. Financial problems again led to the company’s failure in 1945. Hunter Arms was rescued by Marlin Firearms Co., which tried to keep America’s only sidelock alive through the years. Today the L.C. Smith sidelock is no more, and the current “sidelock” is actually a boxlock made overseas with false sideplates. But pre-1945 “Elsies” are highly coveted.

This 16-gauge Ideal Grade, the next step up from Field Grade, features factory oak leaf engraving. When found, it was a wall-hanger, unsafe to shoot, but still sold for $750 —indicative of the high esteem in which these guns are held. In a decision some might question, it was sent to Briley Mfg. (www.briley.com), where it was expertly restored to factory-new condition for a cost of $2,120. Were it all original, including a 33 percent premium for 16 gauge, according to the Blue Book of Gun Values it would be worth $3,105. But even with a 50 percent reduction for restoration, this classic has been gloriously brought back to life.

Gun: L.C. Smith Ideal Grade
Gauge: 16
Condition: NRA Antique Excellent (as restored)
Manufactured: 1927
Value: $1,550

Latest

Accurate Rifles Interesting Colonel Towsend Whelen
Accurate Rifles Interesting Colonel Towsend Whelen

"Only Accurate Rifles Are Interesting."

"The only limitation to skill in marksmanship is that imposed by the rifle and its ammunition." Col. Townsend Whelen

Preview: The Rifle 2 | Back To The Battlefield

Read stories from the theaters of World War II, bolstered by veterans of the “Greatest Generation.” 

Review: Heritage Mfg. Roscoe

Heritage Mfg. is known for its line of Old West-style firearms, but with its new Roscoe revolver, based on Taurus' Model 85, the brand steps into the world of old-school detective work.

New For 2024: Hi-Point Firearms YC380

Hi-Point Firearms is expanding its next-generation "YEET Cannon" line of firearms with YC380 chambered for .380 ACP.

Preview: Winchester Gun Cabinet 18

Steel cabinets like the Winchester Safes GC18 bridge the gap between old wooden gun cabinets that take only seconds for a motivated thief to break into and huge safes that require heavy equipment to move, while also being relatively economical.

The Armed Citizen® July 19, 2024

Read today's "The Armed Citizen" entry for real stories of law-abiding citizens, past and present, who used their firearms to save lives.

Interests



Get the best of American Rifleman delivered to your inbox.