Eibar shotguns and rifles are very rarely found in this day and age and they are prized by ardent collectors and antique dealers, but Eibar, the headquarters of Spanish gun making for many years, is a town with a proud history.
With a mere 28 000 inhabitants this town in the heart of the Basque Country in Northeastern Spain, with the Pyrenees to the East and the Bay of Biscay to the North, is surrounded by steep green mountains, hidden valleys, and rugged coastlines.
The Basque Country — El Pais Vasco — is an ancient land, and its inhabitants have dwelt in its mountains since the dawn of mankind. The Basques are believed to be the last of the original Europeans, with their own language and unique culture. They are seafarers and fishermen.
For centuries, gun making has been the raison d’être for Eibar’s inhabitants. It is home to the Escuela de Armeria — the gunmakers’ school — as well as the government proof house (Banco de Pruebas) which proof-tests every shotgun made in Spain. The era of fine gunmaking in the English tradition began in the Basque Country during the Peninsular War, when Napoleon’s troops were driven out of Spain by Spanish guerrillas and British forces under the Duke of Wellington. Wellington’s officers took home gun barrels of Spanish steel (Spanish steel was renowned for its strength) and had them made into fowling pieces by London gun makers.
This gave birth to a strong bond between London, the commercial capital of the world, and Bilbao, the Basque port and centre of banking, shipping, and iron mining. The Basques shipped iron ore to Britain, and sailed home with cargos of British coal. The close commercial ties between London and Bilbao throughout the 1800s naturally led to exchanges of technology and technique; as the English perfected the game gun in the late 1800s, the passion for fine guns crossed the Bay of Biscay and established itself in the Basque Country.
Victor Sarasqueta was the father of the Basque finegun trade. Sarasqueta established his company in 1881, and for the next hundred years set a high standard for Spanish “best” guns. Although Sarasqueta was the oldest, however, his company was not the largest, nor was it the most famous. That honour belongs to a firm founded in 1915 by Miguel Aguirre and Nicolas Aranzabal — Aguirre y Aranzabal, known around the world as AYA.
The only Eibar guns around today are to for sale at dealers around the world. An excellent example of such a gun is the Eibar SXS 28ga:
• Cal./Gauge: 28ga
• Barrel(s): 26" SR
• Choke(s): Full-Improved Cylinder
• Weight: 5lb 14oz
• Sights/Scope: White Front & Mid Bead
• Trigger(s): Double
• Stock: Checkered Walnut PG
• Stock Dimensions: 13 3/4" LOP
• Butt/Pad: Black Synthetic Butt Plate
• Metal Condition: Very Good
• Wood Condition: Very Good
• Bore Condition: Excellent
This Spanish side by side would make a great dove and quail gun. Engraved receiver with some wear on the edges of metal.
Reference Number: 1426319
For purchase information, please contact: Mitchell, SD: Phone (605) 995-4467 • Fax (605) 995-4477 • firstname.lastname@example.org
• Next week we take a look at AYA shotguns, manufactured in Eibar.
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