The descriptions below are of the
general characteristics found for that particular type and grade
of Parker shotgun. Not all Parkers will exactly meet these descriptions
because Parker would alter a gun to meet a customers requirements
if possible. Parker shotguns are custom guns and descriptions
found here are those of their most common features.
When Parker began
making shotgun they made both elaborate and plain guns but they didn't
distinguish between them in their sales literature except by the sales
price. Later they adopted a numeric system to identify the various
"grades" they produces. The grade naming system
began at zero and ascended as the grades became more elaborate and
expensive. Later the numerical grades were combined with letters in an
attempt to better differentiate the shotgun characteristics but that
did not last long and the letter grades simplified and became almost
interchangeable with the numerical system.
Invincible - Grade 9
The first Invincible was completed in August, 1923 but was
first cataloged in 1926. It was offered at the princely sum of
$1,250. Over the years the Invincible has taken on a shadowy mystique
and was more of an unfounded rumor than fact. It has only
been in recent history that the Invincible has come to be seen and
In addition to being more lavishly engraved and checkered
than the A1 Special, the characteristic Parker recessed hinge pin is not
present. There are gold birds inlayed on the sides and bottom of the
frame, combined with fine scroll engraving. Unique to the Invincible,
the frame has
barrel side clips on the bolsters and was rebated so the stock fit behind the frame to prohibit splitting of
the stock head. The checkering and engraving patterns
are superbly executed.
Invincible serial number 230329 is a
16 ga. and the other two are 12 ga.
The "Quality A. No. 1
Special" was introduce around 1907. Its price at that time was
$500, a very handsome sum at the time.
The A1S has extensive engraving
and checkering, it has a gold shield and gold grip cap as well as gold plated
triggers. There are three or four extra beads around the bolsters on
the frame. On many A1 Specials, the inside surfaces of the water table, the standing
breach and barrel flats, will display an engine turning finish.
The stocks were made of the
finest Circassian walnut which was dense enough to allow the very fine checkering done at
about 32 lines per
The barrels are marked on
the top rib indicating the quality of the steel used at the time. Only
the finest Whitworth steel was used on the earliest A1 Special guns produced and in
later years, Peerless Steel was used. Ejectors were
standard on the A1 Special.
The quality of workmanship
was superb, wood to metal fit and engraving richly enhanced the graceful
lines that made it so pleasing to the eye. The balance was, as with
all Parkers, centered for comfort and ease of use.
There were approximately 79
A1 Specials produced*.
Parker AAH -
The Grade 7, is also called the AA grade.
Most were hammerless and in that case an 'H' was added to the name; the 'H' stands for hammerless. An 'E' (AAHE) is added to the grade
if the gun has ejectors. Early AAH guns were marked as "Pigeon Gun"
on the top barrel rib.
The first AA was seen about 1895 and at that time, it was Parkers highest
grade. It sold for $400 and in 1895, it was a very expensive
The early AA guns engraving tended to be deep
chisel but later the engraving became lighter in style; although both were
elegantly done by the best engravers of the time. The stocks were made of the
finest Circassian walnut which was dense enough to allow the very fine checkering at
about thirty lines per
inch. The stock has a gold shield and gold pistol grip cap. Stocks were
fitted with a skeleton butt plate as standard but recoil pads were an
option. The barrels were made
of the finest Damascus steel or Whitworth fluid steel. The hammer gun barrel bolsters have the characteristic
teardrop sculpture and hammerless guns have one or two extra beads around
the barrel bolsters. Ejectors were a standard option found on the AAH grade.
The AA grade was intended to appeal to the pigeon
shooters of that era.
Top Lever Hammer
Parker AH -
The Grade 6 grade was
introduced about 1875 and at the time was the highest grade produced.
It was initially sold for $300 (the $250 and $300 Dollar grade).
The barrels were made of the finest Damascus steel and
later were available also with Acme fluid steel barrels. The hammer
bolsters have the characteristic teardrop sculpture and some hammerless guns
have a single bead around the barrel bolsters. The stock is the finest
English or Circassian walnut, highly figured with a gold shield and gold pistol grip
cap. The stock is elegantly checkered and has fleur-de-lis carved side
panels. Stocks were fitted with a skeleton butt plate as standard but
recoil pads were an option. The
engraving is of the finest quality and dogs or game scenes are a standard motif.
a common option found on Grade 6 hammerless guns, which would make the grade
Top Lever Hammer
Parker BH -
The Grade 5 was introduced around
1875, before the grading system was established and would have been the $200
The stock was made of the finest Circassian walnut and
adorned with fine checkering, a checkered side panels with carved fleur-de-lis.
It had a gold shield and gold pistol grip
cap. Stocks were fitted with a skeleton butt plate as standard but
recoil pads were an option. The barrels were of Extra Fine Damascus and later, when available,
Titanic and Acme barrels were offered. The hammer gun barrel bolsters have the characteristic
teardrop sculpture and some hammerless guns have a single bead around the
The grade 5 was strictly
a custom ordered gun.
Ejectors were a common option found on
Grade 5 hammerless guns, which would make the grade BHE.
Top Lever Hammer
Parker CH -
The Grade 4 was introduce around 1875.
It didn't find a strong niche in the market place. It
found itself with little more in added adornments than the next lower grade, the
D, but it carried a substantial increase in cost at $150 (a $150 Dollar grade).
Customers wanting a
high quality Parker, but on limited funds, seemed to settle for the D grade
and those that could afford the C seemed to be able to afford the higher
grades. The C sales suffered because of that. It was meant to be a
"medium priced" Parker but seemed to have missed the mark, as can
be seen by its production numbers.
The barrels were
mostly made of Bernard steel but some were made with Damascus until some
years later when Acme steel was offered. The stock was of
Circassian walnut and had more figure than that used on the Grade 3; with a silver
shield and silver pistol grip cap. Stocks were fitted with a skeleton butt
plate as standard but recoil pads were an option. The checkering was fine and deep, at about twenty-four lines to
the inch but it was less
ornate in design than the higher grade Parkers. The stock side panels
were sometimes checkered and they have angular
points. The engraving is similar to the lower grade 3 with dogs and scroll
work. The barrel bolsters on hammer guns were sculptured with an abbreviated
teardrop bolster, unlike the full teardrop found on higher grades.
Ejectors were an option for CH Parkers.
CH grades with ejectors are desirable to collectors and can add to their
Top Lever Hammer
Parker DH -
The Grade 3 was introduced in 1875
and was very popular at a cost of $100 (a 100 Dollar grade). The DH is considered the
lowest grade parker to be a custom grade shotgun.
The DH had Damascus
barrels until Titanic Steel barrels were offered as a popular option.
The stock was made of Circassian walnut. The stock commonly has a silver shield behind the tang,
nickel or silver plated triggers and spear-pointed extensions to the stock
side panels. The checkering on the stock is more elaborate than lower grades
and is a deep, twenty lines to the inch. Stocks were fitted with a skeleton butt
plate as standard but recoil pads were an option. Dogs were almost always a
feature of the engraving on the sides along with some extensive scroll
work. Before 1897, almost all grade 3 guns had Damascus barrels and
Titanic Steels after that date, that is, until the Acme Steel barrels were
The Grade 3 hammer gun was the lowest grade to have sculptured barrel
Ejectors were an option for DH Parkers
with ejectors (DHE) are desirable to collectors which can add to their
Top Lever Hammer
Parker GH -
The Grade 2 production started
about 1875, before the grading system was adopted and it sold for $80 (a 80
Dollar grade). As Parker introduced the named
grades they named Grade 2 guns E, F, G, H, EH and GH. The GH and EH describes
Grade 2 hammerless Parkers, the other names describe Grade 2 hammer
guns. These names were based on various gauge and stock
It was a popular gun for the owner that wanted a gun
with more adornment that the average gun and was willing to pay about $20 more for a gun that looked better and
was well balanced. The Grade 2 had
a higher quality of American walnut which has some figure.
Most Grade 2 guns
have Damascus or Parker Special Steel barrels. They were significantly
better engraved than the lower grade guns. Quail, ducks, snipe
and woodcock are common figures in the engraving of the frame sides and
bottom; the forend latch and screw heads are also engraved. The
checkering was deeper and finer than lower grade Parkers. After about
the hard rubber dogs head butt plate and a white metal shied behind the top
tang became standard on the Grade 2. Because of the added embellishments,
it was very popular with Parker customers.
Ejectors were an option on GH grade.
These guns with ejectors (GHE) are desirable to collectors and can add as much
as 50% to their collector value.
Top Lever Hammer
Parker Grade 1
The Grade 1 gun designation started in 1882.As
Parker introduced the named grades they named Grade 1 guns I, K, L, M, N, O.
P, Q, NH and PH. The PH and NH describes Grade 1 hammerless Parkers,
the other names describe Grade 1 hammer guns. These names were based
on various gauge and stock configurations.
grade 1 guns had English Twist barrels and in later years Twist Steel and
Laminated Steel barrels were used. About 1917, Parker started using
fluid steel barrels and marked the barrel ribs with Parker Steel.
As can be seen by the production numbers, the Grade 1 guns did not sell as well as the higher priced Grade 2 or the lower priced Grade 0.
The characteristics between the Grade 0 and the Grade 1 were minimal, they
had slightly better quality wood and a little additional engraving around
the screw heads on the frame.
Ejectors were an option on PH grade.
These guns with ejectors (PHE) are desirable to collectors and can add as much
as 50% to their collector value.
Top Lever Hammer
Parker Grade 0
Parker started production of the Grade 0 (zero) in
1869. Parker started its grade numbering system at zero to denote
their lowest grade made at that time. As Parker
introduced the named grades they named Grade 0 guns R, S, T, U and VH.
Except for the VH which describes all Grade 0 hammerless Parkers, the other
names describe Grade 0 hammer guns based on various gauge and stock
It had Decarbonized Steel
barrels in the beginning and later used Plain Twist, Stub Twist or Plain
Steel barrels. The early grade 0 guns were back action lifter guns and
evolved into the front-action lifter. In 1899 the hammerless grade 0 , the
VH, was introduced and it used Vulcan steel barrels. The grade 0 was the
mainstay of Parker production and the fit and finish was excellent. They
have little extra finish in the way of checkering or engraving and the wood
used was plain, straight grain American walnut. The engraving was a
simple border around the
frame. The early guns had plain metal butt plates and later ones have
hard rubber dogs head butt plates. The frame, forend iron and locks
Ejectors were an option on VH grade.
These guns with ejectors (VHE) are desirable to collectors and can add as much
as 50% to their collector value.
Top Lever Hammer
The Trojan was first produced in 1912 and was
Parker's attempt to get into the less expensive market at a sales price of
$25.50. To keep the costs down, in an effort to appeal to the
"average" man, no customer options were offered on the
Trojan. This kept production costs down and made the factory processes
easier, remember production line processes were not mature at that
To reduce costs even further, the latching system was changed
and around 1920 the rib extension was eliminated. Engraving was nonexistent
and the checkering patterns were simple and done in a course 12 lines to the
inch. The Trojan frame is uncharacteristic of all the other grades and is
surely done to further simplify production. Even the butt plate was
changed to be less involved, dropping the traditional dogs head in favor of a straight, molded black plastic or rubber
butt plate with only a few horizontal
lines across it. The forend latch
hardware was replaced by a simple internal spring latch and is removed by pulling on the top of the forend.
Top Lever Hammerless
"Dollar Grade", T-Latch and Back-Action
1869 until 1875, the startup years for the Parker shotgun, Parker didn't
grade their guns. The guns are not stamped with a grade marking and the
advertising of the time described the features and the price of the various
styles but didn't refer to them by a standard name.
that many peculiar features are present on the early Parker guns, almost as
though the factory was searching for what would become their standard.
appears to be that there were few, if any, standards that could be
considered earmarks of a "grade"
for the simple reason that a buyer could have just about anything he wanted
for an additional price. Such a system would seem to demand a grading system
eventually but until that 'time' a Parker's level of embellishment (or
options) was determined by what a buyer was willing to pay.... hence, the
things to consider when evaluating an early “ungraded Parker”:
Barrel steel can help in determining grades that
would equate with what we commonly think of as grade 0, 1, or 2, but
higher grades in these earlier
lifter guns had Damascus barrels. Many
of these guns have been re-barreled, so the original barrel steel may not be
present for examination.
patterns were not yet standardized.
quality on some of these early guns had fantastic wood, even on the
lower cost guns.
the surviving company order books for pricing is not taken as fact
either because gauge, stock wrist, and checking style carried price
surcharges that varied over time.Also,
many guns were sold at deep discounts.
The fledgling Parker
Gun Works would have been a fascinating young business endeavor to see grow
and evolve. Imagine, it
was a time in American history immediately following a devastating Civil War
and in the midst of the Industrial Revolution; at a time in a gun history
with the advent of the breech loading gun. There was an immigration of skilled
artisans from Europe, and the vast expansion in the American West.
Brothers knew they wanted to produce a quality shotgun for the discerning
sportsman. They put together a
team of skilled gunsmiths, engravers, carvers, etc.; this team probably
ranged from highly skilled and experienced, to entered apprentice. They had
the freedom to experiment and perfect their art, along with all the
innovations made during that time.
young business, Parker Brothers was also trying to grow and expand sales. A
price list was circulated with general descriptions of "grades",
all based on the amount of embellishment. When an order was received, a gun
was assembled or chosen from production, to fit the description and priced
accordingly. This is why, prior to 1875, no two Parker guns are alike, even
within the same general price description.
sculpture and the level of engraving followed closely by checkering pattern
and wood quality, in that order, are best used to “grade” an early
after the arrival of general manager King, as the factory manager, that things
seemed to settle down and take on a grading structure.Many peculiar things happened before King came along with a working game
plan. It may be that no design feature seen in an earlier serial number
Parkers really sets a grading precedent.
were a few $300 guns listed but they remain elusive. The known $250 guns are a
treat to see and hold. They are finely engraved and the best materials of
the day were used. The common
range for dollar grade guns is $250 - $50.
best that can be done to catalog these early guns today is to group them by their
sales price when new; thus the name of dollar grades. All the dollar
grades are back action or lifter action guns.
Parker Single Barrel Trap (SBT)
The Single Barrel Trap guns were introduced
in 1917 and are designated by
the letter S (single) followed but the standard Parker Grade
designation. There have been no SBT guns cataloged in a grade lower
than C. The SBT was introduced as an SC and sold for
$150. The engraving and checkering qualities follow those of the
In June of 1934, Remington Arms Co. took control
of Parker and continued to build Parker shotguns until production ceased in
1942. But in 2006, Remington resumed production and again makes
a Parker shotgun. The selection is very limited; they offer but one
grade and gauge, an AAHE 28 gauge. Because Remington owns all
rights to the Parker name, these guns are not considered reproductions or
copies. These guns may not have stood the test of time but their
style, fit and finish are presented in true, old time, Parker quality.
read Remington Arms sales brochures about the new Parker AAHE,
"click" on --->Remington
The Parker Reproduction by Winchester
In 1984, Winchester Arms revived the Parker
gun but because Remington Arms held the rights to Parker, they labeled it
"The Parker Reproduction by Winchester". Originally
introduced as a DHE grade, it was later expanded to BHE and A1 Special
grades. Production continued until the owners of the manufacturing
company in Japan closed their doors in 1989. Sales continued while
supplies remained but that ended sometime around 1997.
The first batch of 28 ga guns that were
ordered from Japan had that F on the lug where normally the frame size is
found. They came that way from the manufacturer probably because they
misread an accounting code that was used as a computer codes.
DHE 28 Gauge
DHE 20 Gauge
DHE 12 Gauge
DHE 12 Gauge Steel Shot
DHE 12 Gauge Sporting Clays
DHE 410 Gauge
BHE 28 Gauge
BHE 20 Gauge
BHE 12 Gauge
BHE 410 Gauge
A-1 Factory Engraved, All Gauges
A-1 Custom Engraved, All Gauges
A-1 28/.410 Combo
Plus 500 16 Ga barrel sets
that fit on the 0 frame 20ga DHE
The Parker Snow Musket
Charles Parker entered the gun business
because of a demand created by the outbreak of the American Civil War.
It all started in 1861 when James Mulholland entered into a contract with
"Parkers' Snow CO." to help fill an order for 50,000 Model 1861
rifled muskets. Later, in 1862, the Parkers Snow CO contracted to
produce 15,000 muskets. Any Mulholland contract muskets found will
have the date 1863 stamped on the lock-plate; those under the Parkers Snow
contract are stamped 1864.
Muskets made under both contracts are marked
"PARKERS' SNOW & CO, MERIDEN, CONN," on the lock-plate.
They have three barrel bands holding the forty inch, 58 caliber rifled
barrels to the stock. The metal has a bright finish. The overall
lenght of the musket is fifty-six inches.
Production numbers: Approximately 5,502 under
Mulholland contract and 15,000 under Parkers Snow contract.
*note: Production numbers of Parker Bros. shotguns
were obtained from
"The Parker Story" by Gunther, Mullins, Parker, Price