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Unique Carved David McKay Brown Shotgun

If John Dickson is the first name to spring to the lips when Scottish guns are mentioned, that of David McKay Brown is not far behind. Dickson created his 'Round Action' in 1880 and in doing so, fixed a particular style of peculiarly Scottish gun design into the psyche of the British gun trade. For a century, the Dickson, trigger-plate, 'Round Action' was the archetypal Scottish gun.

David McKay Brown came to be working for Dickson, after completing his apprenticeship with Alex Martin, in the early 1960s, while earning his primary living as a deer stalker. He worked for Dickson full-time from 1964 and left in 1967. Over the next fifty years, David would do much to make the world think of his own name as readily as that of the original, whenever 'Round Action' was mentioned.

 

For the first decade of his self-employed life as gunmaker under his own banner, David made his own version of the Dickson 'Round Action'. However, by the 1980s, it was becoming apparent that over & under guns were gaining the bulk of market share and, if he were to future-proof his business, he needed to create his own, over & under version of the 'Round Action'. So, he did.

 

The gun he created drew on all his experience of the other over & under guns then on the market. He also appreciated the merits of the trigger plate design for use in over & under, enabling, as it does, a relatively shallow and graceful action and mechanical efficiency in both operational and production terms. David took visual cues from Boss and Woodward and mechanical ideas from Holland & Holland and Perazzi to create his own idea of a best modern over & under game gun. The prototype cost him a hundred and fifty thousand pounds to make but he then took to CNC and CAD technology to reduce the costs of production guns. The first one, sold in 1992, cost twenty-one thousand pounds. It was a twenty-bore engraved by Charles Lee.

It quickly proved popular and, with minor modifications early in the life of the model, it established itself as much as the Scottish over & under as the round action side-by-side had done for that configuration in the late 19th century.

The over and under gun illustrated here and completed in 2011 is a unique example of Mckay Browns work, taking engraving cues from a piece of iconic Scottish history. The Torrs Pony Cap was dug out of a peat bog near Castle Douglas in 1812, the same year Westley Richards was founded. It passed from antiquarian Joseph Train to Sir Walter Scott and was in his personal collection for many years. In 1867 it was identified as Iron Age Celtic in origin but its function was long debated.

It appears to date from the third Century B.C. and it was made as a decorative, horned, head cap for a pony. The engraving and inlay takes cues from British and European decoration of the time and it has been well used and carefully repaired during its working life. The horns re-engraved with foliate tendrils and feature duck's head terminals. Hidden within the tiny curls is a human face.

The scroll decoration on the bronze cap is foliate in the abstract, with naturalistic elements interspersed. Now residing in the National Museum of Scotland, the cap was the inspiration for McKay Brown's gun. He had the engravers at Creative Arts interpret the shapes and flowing lines of the cap decoration and incorporate them into the scheme of engraving for the new gun.

Stocked with McKay Brown's graceful version of a pistol-grip, the stock is fashioned from a beautifully figured piece of walnut, with nice straight grain through the grip and at the head, where round actions are the most vulnerable to damage.

Colour case-hardened with the word 'SAFE' engraved on the top-strap in Celtic style script acting as at the sole bright embellishment, the gun looks stylish and also makes bold statement of proud Scottish history - ancient and recent.

This unique and stunning gun will no doubt stand the test of time, maybe, just maybe, one day, unearthed to take its rightful place in a museum.

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