Parker Brothers Shotguns, Part One

Among the most classic of American-made shotguns, Parker Brothers guns are premium shotguns that can be had for a reasonable price… if you know what to look for.

by Paul Mazan

From 1868 until 1934 when Remington took control of the company, and then until 1938 when the last Parkers were made by Remington, one of the world’s finest shotguns was made in the USA.

Having gotten a taste for gun making during the Civil War for the Union, Connecticut entrepreneur Charles Parker decided to go into the gun making business. His goal wasn’t just to make another shotgun but to make the best shotgun in the world. The fact that he succeeded is born out by the price a Parker Brothers gun still demands today. It was never a gun made and priced for the average guy. It was always a luxury item, even in the lowest grades.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the story is that every gun was handmade. Every part was forged in house, filed, and hand fitted to the gun it would become part of. There was no automated assembly line and no concern for interchangeability of parts. When you bought a Parker, you bought an individual work of art. From the very first step in the process when the work order came down to the factory, parts for the gun were handpicked and would stay with that gun until it was complete. For example, for each size of receiver the workman had to choose barrel blanks and a buttstock within a certain weight range to ensure that the gun would balance perfectly when finished. The parts, once chosen, were numbered and stayed with the gun through each step of its assembly. From the barrel shop to the stock shop everything traveled together.

Under the skin, all Parkers were made exactly the same way. From the economy model…

Read more in the January 2019 issue.

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