View Full Version : Lefever Nitro Special

November 2, 2001, 09:09 AM
Anybody out there know anything good, bad or indifferent about the Lefever Nitro Special. A double barrel, apparently made for a few years in the mid-1900's?

Dave McC
November 2, 2001, 09:24 AM
"Uncle Dan" Lefevre was a pioneer in designing fine douyble barreled shotguns. He was not a good businessman, ran several firearms companies that failed, and I believe finished up designing some doubles for one of the bigger companies,maybe Ithaca.

The Nitro Special was a low end model but still a sound and serviceable shotgun, oft sought out by those folks looking for a good field SXS.

If it's in good shape, you'll probably like it a lot. Do yourself a big favor and have a good smith go over it before firing. If he OKs it for use, use lighter loads, no steel,slugs, etc. The smith should also check the chambers and see if they're short, many old shotguns have 2 1/2 or 2 9/16" chambers,and should not be used with ammo of longer nominal length.

Harley's forum may be a good place to post about this, the oldies experts hang out there.


November 2, 2001, 09:35 AM

I KNEW you'd be out there.

I'll try the Harley post.

The Lefever Nitro I'm interested in is at a reputable dealer. Is the gunsmith still a good idea?

The chamber is 2-3/4, double triggers (which I want), splinter foreend. Choked IC/F. 30" barrel.

In the Quertermous's book "Modern Guns" 12th edition, the Nitro is listed at $475 (very good) to $595 (excellent).

The condition of the gun I'm interested in is listed as 85% overall, 85% on the stock, 90% on the metal. Both stock and metal are listed as original. The seller is asking $350.

Seems to me there's a way to "sound" the metal on the barrels. No?

Maybe I should add that I've been looking at what seems to be a "guild" gun made in Suhl, Germany, for about the same price.
Also a sxs and also with 2-3/4. There is some scuffing inside the bbls and the front sight is broken off, but the actions seems tight and bores, other than the scuffing, look bright and shiny.

November 2, 2001, 10:01 AM
The nitro is a good stout gun made by Ithica well after they bought out Lefever,it is what is called a hardware gun, the low end of the gun markers line . The Nitros were made through the late 40's or so , as Dave said chamber length is a major concern when buying old doubles, it also depends on the gauge as they were standardized at different times.
As to price,it seems a bit high but if the gun is really clean and tight ,had good wood and fit I might be willing to go a little higher on price. The last one I owned was a 12gauge with 28" mod/full wood was 70% blueing 70% and case colors 30% I paid $200.

November 2, 2001, 10:21 AM

Thanks for the comparison number. This gun is chambered OK. I haven't seen it yet, but the photo shows it's a Plain Jane, to be sure, though that doesn't bother me as long as it's U.S. made and the metal is good and strong. The wood looks good, but I'll be able to see it more up close and personal in the store.

Sounds like it may be in a bit better condition than the one you looked at, so it might be worth the $350. I won't know if they're willing to deal till I get out to the store.

The Lefever looks/sounds remarkably like the Suhl gun I mentioned, which I HAVE handled. The Suhl has a splinter fore end, comes up real nice and is very nicely balanced, so I'll be disappointed if the Lefever doesn't swing up as nice.

Dave McC
November 2, 2001, 12:02 PM
Lionheart, "Ringing" the bbls can show if there's a separation.

Take the shotgun down as if for cleaning or storing and...

Suspend the bbls by a wire, and hit them someplace around mid point with a pencil or other non marring, medium hard instrument. Listen to them. A clear and bell like ring means no separations, a thud means Trouble.

If you trust the dealer and believe he'll fix any immediate probs, skip the smith. I've a couple shops I trust, usually referred to here as Guns R Us.

As for the Guild gun, the few I've seen have been decent pieces,tho Germanic stocks don't thrill me.

All else equal, I'd get the Nitro. But, my Chauvinism about things US made is legendary.

One small caveat....

Old doubles can be a morass of problems. Tho ones like this were well made,but who knows what has happened to it in the decades since it left the factory. OTOH, I doubt you're going to run 5000 rounds a year through a piece like this, and it should(Fingers crossed and prayers said) do very,very well as an upland gun and for informal clays.

Also, most older shotguns other than Skeet guns are choked on the tight side. Modern ammo is way better than the old stuff, and you may want to open those chokes to something like IC and LM for the best use.


I believe that Uncle Dan did some of the research and development on the first 12 ga mags, the Super Fox model in particular. I think one of McIntosh's books has something on this.


November 2, 2001, 03:15 PM
Good stuff, Dave. Thanks

November 2, 2001, 11:37 PM
Can't add anything to what these other guys have said. I've got one that's been in the family since the 1920's. It's going chukar hunting with me Saturday morning. I'm very fond of mine for personal rather than practical reasons. Been knocking the snot out of clays with this gun, the moving parts are tight and crisp. Just need to get some cooperation from the birds. :rolleyes:

November 3, 2001, 12:31 PM
You're making me really want this gun.

I'm glad you still shoot the gun. What kind of loads do you use?
If I buy the gun, I want to be able to shoot it, not just hang it on the wall.

November 4, 2001, 12:23 AM
Yep, it is not much for a show piece, but I enjoy the thought of hunting with grandad's shotgun.

Been using 2 3/4 - inch shells hi-brass with 1 1/4 oz of 6 shot
or target and field loads in 7 1/2 shot. Don't see myself running steel or anything hotter than those loads.

Good info on this guys. Thanks for the input. Good luck with this Lionheart. Tough choices.

November 6, 2001, 04:40 PM
I went ahead and bought the Lefever.

It looked in good shape and the dealer, a reputable old company that deals it some pretty high quality guns, said they'd stand behind it. It was shown to me by the firm's gunsmith himself.

Was made in 1922, according to the serial number. The locking lever felt a little gummy. Metal/bore looked great; wood was worn smooth at the butt; otherwise, very nice.

Solid, yes; fancy, no. Just like me. :D

Felt like mine the minute I picked it up.

Thanks to all.

Dave McC
November 6, 2001, 04:54 PM
Enjoy!! Grab a coupla boxes of light loads and have fun.

November 6, 2001, 11:42 PM
Excellent. I hope you enjoy!!

What is the butt like on yours? Mine has about 4 thin rubber pads stacked in series followed by about 3 thicker leather pads that finish off the butt. The leather capped butt seems to slide off my shoulder easily. Not sure if that is a factory deal or something my long-armed grandpa put on ;)

November 9, 2001, 02:03 PM
Went out yesterday 11/09 and fired a couple of shells. The lockup seemed a little "gummy"; I mean, I expected the gun to "snap" shut, rather than having to push the locking lever into place. Also after a couple of shots the actions was really hard to open. I wondered if maybe the ejectors were getting in the way, but, again, there could just be some gunk in there. I'm wondering if some WD-40 squirted in there would help. I think I e-mail the gunsmith at the store. I've noticed this same problem with other older guns, both O/U's and SxS's.

The butt has the original factory plate in place. That's it! Even with the target loads I was using, the kick was pretty stiff, and I'm thinking I'll either add some kind of pad (though not leather, I think) or wear a shooting vest with a bit of padding in the shoulder. Course, maybe I just need to adjust how I'm mounting the gund, cuz my experience has always been that Jeff Cooper's belief that "felt recoil" is all in the head is dead on. I need to shoot it a bit more, once I work on the "gummy" problem.

Dave McC
November 9, 2001, 02:41 PM
Being a non smith and "tool-challenged", I'd take it to a smith and have him take it apart and clean everything, for maybe the first time since it left the factory. Just squirting something in will postpone the prob at best.

My 94 Winchester has a homemade pad on it. Wife had some 14" neoprene sheeting for some arts n crafts stuff that's got adhesive on both sides.
About three layers of that with a deerskin cover where it touches the shoulder does fine. Cheap, easy to apply and remove, and effective. Feels almost like a Pachmyer Decel pad.

November 10, 2001, 10:54 AM
Lionheart, there are two different ways to close a double. One school of thought says you raise the barrels up till the action snaps closed ,BUT NEVER hold the gun by the stock and snap the action closed (like The Duke did in the movies). The other way is to hold your lever to the right raise the barrels till the action is closed then release the lever an give it a nudge to the left.Personaly I use the second method especialy if it's an older gun.
Sometimes you'll find shells that will hang up after being fired,the primers will catch either on fireing pins or will hang on the standing breech.If the gun won't open break it down remove the barrels then shells,if it's tight to open look at the standing breech to see if there are drag marks or scrapes ,this will tell you if it's hanging on the primers.

November 10, 2001, 05:48 PM
A friend who knows a lot more about guns than I do also recommends Method No. 2, which I will adopt as my own favorite method as well.
He said the gun appears not to have been fired all that much in its nearly 80 years. It locks up nice and tight and seems a very stout old gun.
I wasn't aware that the primers could hang up on the firing pins or the standing breech. Hmmm. Good to know. I'll check it out. It's certainly easy enough to break down.

Dave McC
November 10, 2001, 08:16 PM
Sometimes, firing pins peen the edges of the holes in the standing breech that they protrude through, and that may account for the hangups. A simple feel test will let you know. Easily corrected.

I use method #2 myself with break open guns. Folks that know more about good doubles than I do have recommended it to me more than once.

A simple headspace test here would be to use a single layer of tinfoil. Place it across the standing breech and try to close the gun. If it closes easily, you may have excessive headspace.