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J. Woodward & Sons 12g Patent Top Lever Hammerless Ejector Sidelock

Serial Number 5290



The late 1880’s was a transition period for J. Woodward & Sons’ hammerless gun from “The Automatic”, the lever cocking hammerless gun first patented by James Woodward in 1876. The gun featured here, No. 5290, was completed in 1898 and represents the later rendition of “The Automatic” that eventually led to the Woodward Side-by-Side of the 20th Century. Officially, this particular model was referred to by the company at the time as a “Woodward’s Patent Hammerless Top Lever Snap Action Ejector Gun”. This is a bar-action sidelock action cocked by the fall of the barrels. The action has the characteristic oversized gold lined tumblers protruding through the lockplates, the expertly filed arcaded fences, and Woodward’s distinctive “fishtail” shaped safety button. The action has disc-set strikers, automatic safety, and two triggers. The whole of the action and furniture is engraved in a traditional small scroll surrounding the Maker’s name along the bottom edge of the lockplate. The word “SAFE” is inlaid in gold. “The Automatic” is stamped on the standing breech and “J. Woodward & Sons” is stamped on the water table.  

The 30” chopper lump barrels are made of “Sir Joseph Whitworth Fluid Steel” as marked on the top rib and bottom of each tube with a smooth, concave top rib. Originally proofed between 1896 to 1904, the gun still has its original 2 ½" chambers and the barrels were re-proofed in Birmingham in 2000 with min. Wall thickness in both barrels .025” or better. Barrels were originally ordered with slightly more choke in the right barrel than the left, as they sit today measuring .015” in the right barrel and .006” in the left.  

This gun is stocked to the fences with its original stock that has traditional drop points, a straight hand, and a 14 ½” LOP over the original checkered horn butt plate. The stock oval is blank. 

The splinter forend incorporates an Anson pushrod release and Perke’s ejector box.  

The gun weighs 6 lbs. 12 oz.  

Overall, the gun remains excellent. Barrels have had a re-black and have excellent bores and chambers as re-proofed. The stock is original but has refinished at some stage but remains excellent with just a few handling marks here or there. 

The action body retains traces of color hardening but is mostly a muddled gray now. Engraving remains sharp. 

Barrels are tight on face, ejectors are strong and well timed.  

Gun is complete in a makers case and what appears to be a contemporary trade label that represents Woodward’s first and oldest era. Also included are an oil pot and snap caps marked J. Woodward & Sons with various other accoutrements. 

A nice representative Woodward of this era, of which, specimens of this condition are become harder and harder to find. 


Location US
Make J. Woodward & Sons
Calibre/Gauge 12g
Action Sidelock
Triggers 2
Ejectors Automatic
Barrel Length 30"
Rib Smooth
Chamber 2 1/2"
Choke Right .012"
Stock Straight
LOP 14 1/2"
Weight 6lbs 12oz
Case Maker's Leather