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Hatfield Side by Side, 2-Barrel Set, NIB
Hatfield, Side by Side Uplander, 20G & 28G 2-Barrel Set, NIB
26-inch barrels with improved and modified chokes. LOP: 14 1/8"
Hatfield Shotgun Rated Real McCoy - Aug. 29th, 1987 (HISTORY OF HATFIELD, St. Joseph MO)
DE PERE, Wis. -- Doug Campbell's business is selling guns.
But begging and pleading won't get Campbell to part with the latest addition to his arsenal at The PX Sporting Goods. 'I sent in my check for this gun eight months ago and just received it,' he said, holding a sleek, lightweight 20-gauge double-barreled shotgun.
The big surprise is the traditional side-by-side double is made in the United States, not England where most fine doubles are manufactured.
The shotgun is called the Hatfield Uplander and is made in St. Joseph, Mo., by Hatfield Rifle Works, which has just six employees.
The shotgun is no joke; it's the real McCoy.
American gunmakers stopped producing quality doubles in the 1930s, with the exception of the Winchester 21 with a pricetag that starts at about $10,000.
As far as Campbell is concerned, Hatfield has a good a chance of capturing the heart of many upland game shooters looking for quality workmanship, just as the classic L.C. Smiths and Parkers did.
'Appearance-wise, it's got to be as nice as anything I've seen,' he said. 'I own an old Browning superposed that was made in the 1930s and it's probably the highest quality shotgun that I have that I use for birds. But this one is going to take that one's place for awhile.'
Hatfield Rifle Works started out in 1978 producing handmade, quality muzzle loading squirrel rifles with American tiger striped maple and Missouri black walnut stocks.
The Uplander has 26-inch barrels with improved and modified chokes and Campbell's gun has a serial number showing it is one of the first 46 the company made.
'I'm going to keep this one for personal use and a display model,' Campbell said, predicting the gun will win converts quickly with Wisconsin's grouse and woodcock hunters.
'I think in this particular area, there's a lot of people who like traditional guns. People are involved in mechanics and machinery, that sort of thing, and they appreciate high quality machinery and workmanship,' he said.
The guns are being produced in five grades, he said, varying in price from about $900 to $5,600.
Campbell ordered a standard grade model but the stock still was made from the highest quality curly maple available.
'The wood definitely is the first thing you notice. The thing just has a gorgeous stock,' he said. 'The wood to metal fit is nice and the checkering is well done.'
Ted Hatfield, 39, owner of the company who admitted in a telephone interview that he is a descendent of the feuding Hatfields, said he has long been a lover of fine doubles and decided to begin producing them because the Winchester 21 is out of the price range of most shooters.
'If the truth comes out, I am more of a bird shooter than I am a black powder shooter,' Hatfield said.
Hatfield said he owns L.C. Smiths and Parkers in his personal collection and was disappointed because American gunmakers were no longer producing quality doubles for hunters.
'The Golden Age died in the '30s; it was all over with,' he said. 'I always kind of dreamed of being able to make one again.'
He said the only complaint he ever had with American side-by-sides is they were 'always a little bit heavy and always a little clunky. The English side-by-sides have always been the ones by which everyone else is judged by and they are normally light and normally real slender through the wrist, so we wanted to do something along that line.'
Hatfield's company makes everything by hand, except for the barrels, which are handmade by a tiny shop in Italy that has only three employees.
Hatfield said Campbell's long wait for the gun was unusual because there were some initial mixups in serial numbers that caused the delay. He said it now takes the company about one month to finish a gun from start to finish.
'It's really amazing,' Hatfield said of the public's response. 'We're getting calls about every five minutes. I've had people send us cashiers checks, which I don't understand. I'd never do anything like that, send it to someone you don't know for something you've never seen. But I guess there is a bit of romance in us all.'
The demise of previous American double makers also doesn't worry Hatfield.
'I just love it because there isn't any competition,' he said. 'Whether we can fill the shoes of being the American classic shotgun builder or not, there isn't anyone else that's there.'