Sold For: $1,826.01
Make: E.M Grey & Co. of London
Model: Exposed Hammer Safari Express Model
Serial Number: 3241
Year of Manufacture: Approximately 1880, per Gavin Gardiner Limited’s evaluation. (in associate with Southeby’s)
Caliber: .500 Black Powder Express, the chamber is approximately 2 3/4″ from the front rim of the case to the breech face. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.500_Black_Powder_Express
Action Type: Side by Side, Dual Hammer, Top Break Double Rifle with Extractor
Markings: The top of the barrel set is marked “E.M. GRAY & CO” and “LONDON”. The underside flat is marked “500EX”, two small Birmingham proofs and the serial number is barely legible; the undersides of both barrels have crowned “B”. The lower tang is marked with the serial number, there is nice scroll engraving still seen briefly on the trigger guard, the hammer and receiver metal has fine scroll engraving as photographed.
Barrel Length: The barrels are approximately 29 1/4″ in length, with a solid tapered rib; the top is horizontally serrated for glare reduction.
Sights / Optics: The front sight is a blade, dovetailed onto the rib at the muzzles. The rear sight is a standing “U” notched base with “150” and a rear white line sighting reference; the base has another flip-up leaf for 250 meters.
Stock Configuration & Condition: The stocks are a two piece walnut set that has been sanded and re-varnished. The splinter forend has gaps in fit to the small nose piece and bracket lever, the checkering is cut nice and deep. There is a small crack forward of the bracket lever, a few mild marks are seen. The butt stock has a rounded pistol grip and fantastic burl to its grain. The right by the lock plate has chip losses, the stock shows scattered scrapes and small dings. We believe there is a thin surface crack on the right of the butt, at the pad and spacers, it could also be a deep scratch. Drop at comb is approximately 1 3/4″, drop at heel is approximately 2 3/8″, the stock is cast off for right handed shooters. The LOP measures 13 1/2″ from the front of the rear trigger and 14 1/4″ from the front of the forward trigger to the rear of the aftermarket red recoil pad; the butt stock looks to have been cut at the time of refurbishing. The stocks rate in about Good to Very Good overall condition as refinished.
Type of Finish: The barrel set is brown Damascus, the trigger guard, forend metal, hammers and top lever are blue, the receiver and lock plates were left in the white.
Finish Originality: This double rifle was refinished by “Karl the Gunsmith”, as supplied by our consignor.
Bore Condition: The bores are mid gray, the rifling is highly defined. There is mild erosion seen in both bores. The chambers have heavy reaming marks. We do not recommend firing this rifle until it is deemed capable to do so by a gunsmith.
Overall Condition: The Damascus barrel set still has a small amount of swirling visible under close inspection, it was re-browned, its overall form is still very beautiful. The rib has compression on the matted serrations, they were also sanded down with spots of erosion still visible, the frame and lock plates have sanding marks, the blued items have lost most of their engraved details, the lower tang has heavy sanding marks; there is erosion on and under the finish on areas of these items. The metal to metal fit is still pretty flush, please see our pictures for a better understanding of the condition. The screw head slots are strait. The markings are faded or missing. Overall, this rifle rates in about Good Plus to Very Good condition as refinished.
Mechanics: The action functions correctly. The triggers are a little stiff with a crisp break, the extractor functions properly and there is no play in the construction with the action open or closed. The rifle weighs 9lbs 11oz. We have not fired this rifle. As with all previously owned firearms, a thorough cleaning may be necessary to meet your maintenance standards.
Box, Paperwork & Accessories: The consignor included a copy of Karl the Gunsmith’s repair sheet explaining what was done to restore the rifle. A copy of Gavin Gardiner Limited’s confirmation of the rifle’s vintage and caliber, which we agree to be accurate given the proof marks.
Our Assessment: This double rifle is in .500 Black Powder Express, one huge honkin’ Safari round that could pretty much take anything down (including whoever was shooting it!). In the event the operator failed to kill a charging beast, there was one more shot that was sure to finish the task. This one was made by an E.M. Gray of London, bearing Birmingham proof marks, made in about 1880. At this time, Britain’s gun makers had created a tidal wave of interest towards exploring and killing every animal they saw, especially in the African plains and harsh tropical jungles. This double rifle was restored when it was imported to America by a Karl, who performed an overhaul. In its condition it will do great on display, you can still see some of the fine swirled Damascus in the barrel set. Please see our pictures and good luck.