By Matthew Reitz
Collectors of the locally made shotguns that helped put Fulton on the map will flock to the city this month for a weekend of nostalgia, sport and fun.
The L.C. Smith Collectors Association and Friends of Fulton History will host the fifth annual Hunter Arms Homecoming the weekend of August 21.
Les Weldin, a member of both the L.C. Smith Collectors Association and Friends of Fulton History, said the event was created to promote L.C. Smith shotguns, safe firearm practices and collecting and preserving the history of the Hunter Arms factory and L.C. Smith guns.
The event is open to the public, and allows collectors, shooters and other enthusiasts to share stories and display their L.C. Smith shotguns, which were produced in Fulton from the 1890s to the middle of the 20th century. Trap, skeet and five-stand shooting competitions, in which participants use L.C. Smith shotguns, will take place at the Pathfinder Fish & Game Club on Crescent Road in Fulton. An awards banquet for those competitions and displays will take place Saturday at Tavern on the Lock. Flac lossless download here. best music portal!
The history of the Hunter Arms Company began in 1877, when W.H. Baker and Company started making the Baker Three-Barrel Gun in Lisle, N.Y. Two years later, Baker formed a partnership with L.C. Smith to begin manufacturing the weapon in Syracuse, and by 1888, Smith had taken over the company and sold it to John Hunter Sr. of Fulton. A year later, a factory in Fulton was completed and L.C. Smith guns were being manufactured by the Hunter Arms Company.
Weldin said the factory was on the east side of the Oswego River just north of where the Oneida Street Bridge sits. Weldin said Hunter Arms produced L.C. Smith shotguns of various grades, from a basic “field grade” to the “deluxe grade,” which Weldin said had “intricate etchings with gold inlays.”
More than 500,000 L.C. Smith guns were produced in 25 different grades and variations, but most of them were “field grade,” which Weldin said sold for about $25. He said there were only 37 “deluxe grade” shotguns made, and those sold for around $1,000.
The L.C. Smith brand competed with some of the best English- and Belgian-made shotguns, according to Weldin. He said it was known as “the best American side-lock” or “the gun that never shoots loose.” Weldin said the guns were owned by many famous Americans, such as Humphrey Bogart, Teddy Roosevelt and Clark Cable, and have become valuable collector’s items over the years, with some valued over $200,000.
The Hunter Arms Company employed around 400 people at its peak, and is a “big part” of Fulton history, according to Weldin. Ownership of the Fulton factory changed hands on several occasions, but production of the L.C. Smith guns remained in the city until the late 1940s when a section of the first floor of the factory collapsed, and was not rebuild.
“By this time, pump shotguns and automatics were coming out and could be produced with interchanging parts,” Weldin said. “They were made so easily and cheaply that the market changed.”
On Tuesday, Mayor Ron Woodward Sr. was to deliver a proclamation during the Common Council meeting declaring Aug. 22 Hunter Arms Homecoming Day in Fulton.
To learn more about the event contact Weldin at weldinj@gmail or call the John Wells Pratt House museum at 598-4616.