An International Shotgun
By Larry B. Schuknecht
This is a story of an unusual shotgun which recently came to light and illustrates how international the Arms Makers were in the 1880’s. It is a lever-action repeating 16 ga. shotgun designed by August Lefredius Larsen and Cals Erik Winteroos. They were both of Swedish descent, In the 1875 edition of Sveriges Olh Norges Stats Kalender we find an August Lefredius Larsen serving in the Trondhiemska Brigaden as a Sekund-Löjtnanter. There is a Swedish Genealogical record which lists a Hjalmer Ferdinand Winteroos (1832-1907) of Stockholm who may be a close relation to Clas.
There is a relationship between Larsen & Winteroos and Hans Larsen (1832-1907) who was one of Norway’s best known gun makers. Hans had a business in both Drammen and Oslo, Norway and in Liege, Belgium. In 1877 he established the Liege branch known as H. Larsen & Fils and also as Larsen’s Rifle Co. He specialized in single shot and repeating rifles with a side lever. One product was a lever action rifle with similarities to the Larsen & Winteroos action.
On Dec. 29, 1883 August L. Larsen & Clas E. Winteroos were issued a British patent no. 5935 for their lever action repeating design. On Oct. 23, 1884 they were issued a DRP (German Patent) no. 29234 for the same action. This was followed with a United States patent no. 334,244 on Jan. 12, 1886. Following is a Slider containing the United States Patent no. 334244.
To further confuse us, on July 18, 1883 the Larsen Rifle Co. (operated by Hans Larsen) was issued a British patent no. 3544 for a rifle butt stock which was partitioned to hold multiple rows of Cartridges which were fed one at a time into the receiver as needed. On Nov. 26, 1884 August Larsen was issued a DRP no. 29391 for basically the same design. Also U. S. patent no. 334,244 assigned to August Larsen and Clas Winteroos is witnessed by H. C. Larsen.
The mystery was cleared up when Bjørn Roald of Norway shared a page from the 1865 Census with Fredrik Franzén and I. It shows Hans Larsen aged 43 and his wife Karne Kirstine aged 55. They had two sons August L. aged 15 and Hans C. aged 12. It is now apparent that the Lever Action shotgun designed by August Larsen & Clas Winteroos was made in the shop of Hans Larsen.
By now I an sure you are asking what this has to do with German Gun collecting. Well in the mid 1880’s when Mauser was experiancing hard times they made 300 actions for Larsen. Possibly these actions were for the repeating shotgun. At least one of the complete Larsen & Winteroos shotguns was sold wholesale to Gustav Weidner in Plauen, Vogtland, Germany. Plaun is a town in Saxony near the Czech border. He was a Buchsenmachermeister at Fuerstenstr. 4 and opened his shop in 1864. He died in 1920. The shop was taken over by his grandson Theodore Haeselbarth in 1913 and Theodore died in 1931 at which time Gustav’s son in law took over.
The shotgun which is the subject of this story is a heavily engraved example with Gustav Weidner Plauen I.V. inlaid with Gold on the lever cover on the right side. It has a horn fore end cap and the butt stock has a cheek piece and a steel butt plate. The gun has Belgian Proof Marks and a Laminated half octagon and half round barrel which is marked on the side “MON POUR BALLE” or as we would say “not for ball”, The barrel measures 28 11/16 inches long and is 16 ga. It has a tubular magazine that holds four cartridges. There are no visible serial numbers anywhere on the gun.
The breech block contains a straight line firing pin powered by a spiral mainspring. The rear of the firing pin protrudes from the breech block with two tabs that may be pulled to engage an effective firing pin lock as a safety. The breech block is locked in a closed position by a hinged block similar in ways to what Andrew Burgess used in his designs. The action of moving the breech block is accomplished by a linkage on the outside of the receiver which is partially protected by a cover on the right side. Some authorities claim that John Browning’s model 1887 Winchester lever action was the first successful repeating shotgun but this design preceded the Winchester 1887 shotgun by at least three years of more.
This is truly an international product, designed by two men (one Nowegian and the other probably Swedish) in Belgium, built by a Norwegian firm in Liege with components made in Germany, and at least one of the products being sold to a dealer in Germany. Today at least three are known to survive, one in the United States, one in Sweden and one in Australia. The specimen in Sweden is a 16 ga. with a barrel 61 cm long with straight rifling.
I wish to thank Axel Eichendorff, Fredrik Franzén, Bjørn Roald, John Holland and Lars-Yngue Ekström for their help with the research for this story.