Charles Daly Model 500 Side-by-Side Shotgun
By Chuck Hawks and the Guns and Shooting Online Staff
Yes, there really was a man named Charles Daly and he was prominent in the gun trade during the latter third of the 19th Century. In 1865 Charles Daly was a founding partner of the sporting goods corporation Schoverling, Daly & Gates, an importer and dealer located in New York, NY. Schoverling, Daly & Gates dealt only in top quality products and acquired an excellent reputation in the trade and with the public. They began marketing guns bearing the Charles Daly name around 1875, having settled on Charles Daly's name simply because it sounded right for a top quality shotgun. Some early Charles Daly guns were made in England, Belgium and also by Lefever in the U.S. Most (and the most famous) Charles Daly guns were made by Prussian firms including Schiller and Lindner, Heym and Sauer. These were best quality European guns made to American specifications for American shooters. Charles Daly (the man) died in 1899.
Ownership of Schoverling, Daly & Gates and the Charles Daly trademark changed hands several times over the years. In 1920 the Company was purchased by the Walzer family, who owned Sloan's Sporting Goods. The importation of Charles Daly guns from Germany ceased before the Second World War. Sloan's spun-off Charles Daly & Company, which imported fine shotguns from the likes of Bernardelli and Beretta (Italy), Garbi (Spain), and Miroku (Japan). After 1976 the Charles Daly trade name passed through a couple more hands and since 1996 has been owned by Michael Kassnar of K.B.I., Inc. who has imported Italian and Spanish made doubles bearing the Charles Daly name.
B.C. Miroku (in Kochi, Japan) made the Charles Daly Model 500 side-by-side that concerns us here. Miroku is best known in the U.S. for producing the famous Browning Citori O/U shotguns, but all Miroku made guns are of excellent quality with fine fit and finish. Miroku produced Charles Daly shotguns from 1963 until 1976.
Our Model 500 is a straightforward 20 gauge field gun of proven design. It features an Anson and Deely type boxlock action with a blued receiver, a bit of simple engraving, checkered walnut pistol grip stock and moderate beavertail forend, and blued chopper lump barrels struck full length with a concave (English style) rib. The 28" barrels of our test gun were carefully bored Full/Modified. Double underbolts keep the gun closed. A single bead at the end of the rib serves as the sight.
The top tang mounted safety is supposed to be automatic, but in our test gun the automatic feature was disconnected by the late gunmaker Larry Brace. Forward is "fire" and back is "safe." The (now manual) safety works fine, but like all safeties it should never be relied on.
The 500's walnut pistol grip stock and beavertail forend are hand checkered in traditional point patterns. They align the hands nicely with the target. The forend release is of the Anson push button type.
The 500 was equipped with double triggers and plain extractors. Charles Daly's upscale Empire Grade model featured more engraving, a single trigger, and selective ejectors.
The Model 500 was offered in 12 gauge as well as 20 gauge and with barrel lengths of 26" (Mod./IC), 28" (Full/Mod.) and 30" (Full/Full). Many were produced with a solid, raised and tapered barrel rib. A ventilated rib was an extra cost option. The Magnum Model (30" Full/Full barrels) came with a rubber recoil pad, others with a corrugated black plastic butt plate. 12 gauge guns with 26" and 28" barrels came with 2-3/4" chambers, but all 20 gauge guns were bored for 3" shells regardless of barrel length.
None of the foregoing (except the chopper lump barrels and double underlugs) is particularly remarkable. What is remarkable is the high quality materials used and the care that went into the manufacturing and assembly of our test gun. This is not an expensive gun, yet it was put together like one. The original purchasers of these Charles Daly/Miroku side-by-side guns got a terrific bargain in terms of quality, if not features, for their money.
Following are some basic specifications for our Charles Daly 500 shotgun.
It might be worth noting that for 2007 K.B.I./Charles Daly is importing a side-by-side shotgun with mono-block barrels and interchangeable choke tubes that, in general style, resembles a Model 500. (See photo below.) Who makes this new Model 306 shotgun, and where, is not mentioned on their web site (www.charlesdaly.com).
Guns and Shooting Online technical advisor Jim Fleck owns our Miroku made Charles Daly Model 500 test gun, which is in excellent condition. Several years ago he had Larry Brace fit a Pachmayr Decelerator recoil pad to this gun.
Six members of the Guns and Shooting Online staff were able to participate in this review by firing the Model 500 at the Cottage Grove - Eugene Sportsman's Club (our local trap range) or informally in the field. The shooters were Jim Fleck, Bob Fleck, Gordon Landers, Rocky Hays, Nathan Rauzon and yours truly. The Cottage Grove - Eugene Sportsman's Club offers American and International trap, skeet, 5-stand sporting clays, and a patterning range.
This Model 500 has always delivered impressive patterns on the patterning range from both its Full (left) and Modified (right) barrels. Even, round, and well distributed patterns with pellet count percentages averaging right where they should be were achieved using Winchester AA (3/4 ounce, #8 shot) target loads. Both barrels shoot to the same point of aim. This fine performance merely reinforces our belief that high quality barrels with bored chokes are generally superior to interchangeable choke tubes.
On the trap range (and subsequently in the field) the little Charles Daly shot well for everyone. It shattered clay pigeons from the 16 yard line when we did our part. And we all appreciated the gun's non-automatic safety, a rarity these days on a double gun.
Gordon and Rocky thought that, subjectively, the 20 gauge Charles Daly kicked harder than their 12 gauge Ruger Gold Label and Lefever E Grade guns, but their claim is not supported by physics. Never the less, they were able to successfully break targets with the Model 500.
This 12 vs. 20 gauge argument has been going on for years among the Oregon branch of the Guns and Shooting Online staff. Jim and I favor the 20 gauge for informally shooting clays and as a field gun due to its trimmer size and lower recoil, while Gordon, Rocky and Nathan champion the 12 gauge for practically everything.
The consensus was that the Model 500 generally felt good and handled well. We agreed that in a perfect world the pistol grip would have less curve and the gun could be slimmer around the pistol grip and at the forend, but these are common complaints about mass produced shotguns, even doubles. Neither is really objectionable and both are trimmer than what is typically found on repeaters.
That is it for suggestions and criticism. Basically, the Charles Daly Model 500 field gun lived up to its namesake. It is a very good shotgun that was under priced when new and is still undervalued on today's used market. If you find a used one in good condition, buy it.
Copyright 2007 by ChuckHawks.com. All rights reserved.
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