Make: This shotgun was made by the Hunter Arms Co.
Model: L. C. Smith Ideal Grade
Serial Number: FEW 84683
Year of Manufacture: 1925 (Pg. 207 of “L.C. Smith Shotguns” by Brophy)
Gauge: 20 GA with 2 ¾” Chambers
Action Type: Top Lever Opening Sidelock Double Barreled Shotgun
Markings: The top of the left barrel is marked “HUNTER ARMS CO. INC. M’F’R’S FULTON, N.Y., U.S.A.”. The top of the right barrel is marked “L.C. SMITH IDEAL GRADE”. The flats on the bottoms of the barrels are both marked “NP” and with a boxed “MAP Co”. The left flat is also marked “FEW 84683” and “I”. The undersides of the barrels in front of the flats are marked “LONDON STEEL”. The top of the forend iron is marked “FEW / 84683” and “PAT’D MAY 28, 1901”. The right water table is marked “FEW 84683 / I”. The sideplates are marked “L.C. SMITH” at their front and are engraved with an oak leaf motif, which continues on the sides of the frame and the trigger guard. The lower tang is marked “FWE84863’.
Barrel Length: The barrels are 30” in length and have a full length rib down the center.
Choke: The left barrel measures 0.620” at the muzzle which corresponds to CYLINDER choke and the right barrel measures 0,625” which corresponds to SKEET.
Sights / Optics: This shotgun is mounted a steel bead that has a red plastic insert in its rear face. The sight is screwed into the rib near the muzzle. The rib is serrated and slightly dished to reduce glare and allow the eye to focus on the front sight. The rear of the rib has two drilled and tapped holes for mounting a scope.
Stock Configuration & Condition: The stocks are checkered walnut with a pistol grip that has a black hard rubber grip cap. The forend has an ebony wedge inlet into its tip The gun comes with a modern lace-on red leather butt pad, but we removed it so we could describe what was under it. The stock was cut to a 12 ¾” LOP to the forward trigger and then two spacers were added, one dark spacer about ½” thick and a light colored soft wood spacer about 5/8” thick. The wood under the butt pad is very light in comparison to the rest of the stock. Please see our pictures. There are remnants of a lacquer finish in the protected areas of the buttstock. The finish has bubbled just behind the checkering on the left side of the buttstock, and on both side of the upper and lower tangs – we suspect the wood came in contact with a harsh solvent like brake cleaner. Otherwise, the buttstock shows only a few light marks on its sides and belly and a few small dings in the front of the grip. The forend is dark with oil staining and shows bubbling along its top edges, a ding in its underside and a few light marks. There is also a hairline crack in the underside at the rear of the forend. The checkering shows moderate wear without mars. The butt pad attached, the LOP measures 14 ½” from the front of the forward trigger and 13 9/16” from the front of the rear trigger to the back of the leather pad. The pad shows a few compression marks on its sides and a scuff mark on its rear face. The stitching holding the rear face to the rest of the pad has come loose at the heel. The pad is in about Very Good condition. The stocks rate in about Good overall condition.
Type of Finish: The barrels and trigger guard are blued and the receiver and upper tang are case colored.
Finish Originality: All Original
Bore Condition: The bores are bright and without erosion. There are, however, light scratches at the muzzle left from when the chokes were opened.
Overall Condition: This shotgun retains about 67% of its metal finish. The barrels show surface loss at the muzzles with several light handling marks scattered over their length. The rear half of the barrels shows light surface frosting with pinprick surface erosion on the right barrel and a few small spots of solid erosion on the left barrel. There are also a few light marks on the edges of the top rib. There are spots of surface frosting on the sides of the receiver which is turning into a thick plum colored patina on the sideplates and the underside of the receiver. The trigger guard shows a small ding, light marks and light surface frosting while the lower tang shows pinprick surface erosion. The screw heads are disfigured and the markings are clear. Overall, this shotgun rates in about Very Good condition but most Smith collectors would probably rate it Good based on the amount of case coloring remaining.
Mechanics: The action functions correctly. The safety comes on automatically when the lever is moved to the right to open the action. We have not fired this shotgun. As with all used firearms, a thorough cleaning may be necessary to meet your maintenance standards.
Box, Paperwork & Accessories: None
Our Assessment: The history of the L.C. Smith firearms is quite interesting. L. C. Smith formed a partnership with L. H. Smith and W.H. Baker to manufacture a three-barrel gun in 1879. L. C. Smith took over the company in 1880 and in 1884 began manufacturing hammer shotguns. Smith became interested in a new-fangled invention called the typewriter, and sold the company in 1888 to John Hunter. Smith went on to form the Smith-Corona company and became a world leader in the manufacture of typewriters. The L. C. Smith shotguns manufactured by Hunter Arms went on to become some of the highest quality shotguns made in the United States. When Marlin bought the Hunter Arms Co. in 1945, they began manufacturing the same guns under the L. C. Smith Gun Company title. A fire caused destruction of most of the manufacturing capability in 1949 and in 1950, the factory was closed. This is a L. C. Smith Ideal Grade shotgun made by Hunter Arms. It is engraved with an oak leaf motif on the receiver and trigger guard, has 30” barrels and is chambered in 20 gauge. We are not sure what the original chokes were, but they have been opened up to Skeet on the right barrel and cylinder choke on the left. The shotgun is in about Very Good condition (per NRA standards, but there is only about 25% finish remaining on the receiver, and most Smith collectors would probably call this Good) with about 67% of its finish remaining. The barrel shows surface loss at the muzzles with several light handling marks scattered over their finish. The rear half of the barrels shows light surface frosting, and scattered spots of solid erosion and pinprick surface erosion. The receiver shows spots of surface frosting which is turning into a thick plum colored patina on the sideplates and the underside of the receiver. The stocks show oil staining around the receiver and there are bubbles in the finish along the top edges of the forend, around the upper and lower tangs, and behind the checkering on the left side of the buttstock – we think this was caused by a harsh chemical such as brake cleaner. There are a few marks in the wood with a short hairline crack at the back of the forend. The stock was previously cut to a 12 ¾” LOP to the forward trigger and then two spacers were added: one made from dark wood that is about ½” think and another from soft, light wood that is about 5/8” thick. A rather ugly red leather buttpad was added to cover the modifications and the wood under the pad is much lighter in color than the rest of the stock. The bores are bright without erosion but show scratches at the muzzle where the chokes were enlarged. There were also two holes drilled and tapped into the rear of the barrel rib for mounting a scope or other sight. With the modifications to the stock and the drilled holes in the barrel rib, we doubt that the collectors are going to show a lot of interest in this shotgun. But, someone may have an original stock lying around that they can use to restore it. The shotgun can be used as-is for grouse, quail and other upland birds. This finely made shotgun is probably going to last for another 90 years, and give some family several generations of shooting enjoyment.