Special Interests - Groups & Societies > Shotguns

Where did people buy coach guns from during the Wild West?

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Old Henry616:
I’ve read several various gun catalogues from the 1870s, 80s, and 90s, and while there are many different shotguns that are listed in them, practically all of the barrel lengths were either 28 or 30 inches. There were not barrel length that came even close as to what one would want for a coach gun. So where did people buy coach/short-barreled shotguns?

Dave T:
From my amature history studies short barreled shotguns weren't nearly as popular as Hollywood would have you believe. I've seen several pictures of possy members holding double barreled shotguns with what look to be 30" barrels, give or take a few inches.

As for a source in the late 19th Century for a so called "coach gun", I suspect any gunsmith worth his salt would be both willing and able to cut down your old hunting 10ga if you crossed his palm with enough hard cash.


Missouri Ruffian:
Not claiming anything historical.  Just an “observation.”  Maybe it was that those who bought from catalogs weren’t interested in short barrels. However those who were, i.e. Wells Fargo, bought special order in quantity?


Professor Marvel:
We can see from a FAQ on the actual Wells Fargo website, that the company (at a corporate level) did not purchase firearms enmass and distribute them. Rather, it was up to the local management to purchase any needed equipment locally and dispense as required.
Thus, we might see almost any model, any length shotgun actually being used, and very very few have actual verifiable provenance.

Two notable exceptions are this one


Used by and finally owned  by Hold The Fort Aaron Ross.

And these at the Cody museum

Most, if not all of the so called “wells Fargo” shotguns offered on the “usual” auctions and at gunshows are
Fakes manufactured by hopeful charletons. If is has a “Wells Fargo” badge nailed onto the stock, it is absolutely a fake.

Wells Fargo has a bit on their coaches



But they took down the FAQ pages :(

But thanks to the perspicacity of the interwebs we have FAQ#10 saved for posterity:


This is from Wells Fargo's website (https://www.wellsfargo.com/about/history/faqs).
10. How do I know if the Wells Fargo markings on an antique shotgun are real?
"Wells Fargo" marked shotguns have become a problem among collectors of antique firearms. In general, each town's Well Fargo Agent bought weapons from local stores carrying whatever was available — it was not a central headquarters function. Just as with companies today, Wells Fargo's offices did not keep outdated records. Therefore, there are no comprehensive lists of Wells Fargo firearms.

Additionally, in recent years, many people have added "Wells Fargo" to actual antique weapons. All of this makes it very difficult to know whether any shotgun currently for sale was or was not used by Wells Fargo, regardless of the markings. For further information, you may check the book by James Bartz, Company Property, (the Westbound Stage, 1993), for sale at http://www.westboundstage.com.


And our prior discussion here

And here is a REAL wells fargo strongbox

Major 2:
Quite some years ago, a buddy and I went to a Gun Show in Ft. Lauderdale as I recall.
Mostly, the Florida circuit shows are black guns and assorted Urban stealth kitsch.
But there are some dealers attending on occasion with cool stuff so ever so often we'd go.

One such was that Ft. Laud. show, we when on Saturday and saw the usual, amongst it all We saw a Wells Fargo sawed off.
I had read some time prior that many fakes were floating around, and I dismissed this offering as one.
 Steve and I moved on, having discussed that very likelihood.
However, Steve was intrigued, and he returned on Sunday to find the shotgun still there.
I don't recall, what the asking price was, but Steve decided to make a low-ball Sunday show closing offer.
He got the gun, a Lefever with brass WF plate for $130...
It was a pretty good condition box lock, no serial number probably turn of the century 12 Guage.
To this day, it hangs over a mantal in his home.
The WP plate is more that likely a drawer ID plate, but it's a topic of conversation at the occasional get togethers.


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