Part of the ‘Holy Trinity’ of London gunmakers, Boss & Co has been in private ownership for more than 200 years. As it prepares for next week’s World Gunmakers’ Evening, current owner Arthur DeMoulas reveals how he went from customer and collector to custodian.

Trade News: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us in the build-up to World gunmakers’ evening at the Tower of London on Wednesday. Can we start by asking for a bit of background on Boss & Co?

AD: Boss & Co was established in 1812 and, for more than two centuries, its private ownership has meant it has operated with the freedom to relentlessly innovate in the art of gunmaking, producing some of the most beautiful and era-defining guns ever. 
Perhaps the most important period of Boss & Co’s history came under the leadership of John Robertson from 1891 to 1917, who built upon Boss’s reputation for quality with an appetite for innovation.

During his years at Boss & Co, Robertson is credited with introducing the last significant innovations to sporting guns and shaping the gunmaking industry for many decades to come. 
This spirit of innovation continues at Boss & Co today, with a dedication to remaining true to the company strapline: Builders of Best Guns Only.

Trade News: How did you come to join the firm and how long have you been there?

AD: I’ve been a long-time customer and collector of Boss guns, as well as an admirer of the company itself.

As London’s oldest gunmaker, Boss & Co has passed from private owner to private owner, under the leadership of some of the finest gunmaking minds the world has ever known.

It was important to me that it remained privately owned and, as of 2015, I have been Boss & Co’s latest custodian, with an opportunity to recapture the golden era of gunmaking and secure the future of a vitally important piece of history. 

Trade News: What makes Boss & Co guns so different from others out there?
AD: A Boss gun is immediately recognisable by its beauty and its complexity. Our over and under shape has been described as ‘the racehorse of best guns’ because it’s so elegant and slender, purposely designed so the barrels slot into the action with millimetre precision, rather than turn on a hinge pin.

This complex method is rarely replicated elsewhere in the gunmaking industry but it allows us to create an elegant silhouette that’s regarded as the most beautiful over and under in the world.

Any Boss & Co gun will also be truly handmade to a customer’s exact requirements. Each step of the gunmaking process is completed by hand, giving customers the freedom to choose from the highest levels of personalisation in the gunmaking industry.

We always come back to something written in an early Boss & Co brochure, during the 1920s:

“We would say from the outset that we make only one grade of gun and have never placed a second quality make upon the market. This policy has enabled us to retain the services of the finest workmen in London, and to give them continuous employment. The advantages attending the production of best work only are manifold. There is no opportunity for the work of inferior men to be utilised in the economy of the workshop, which is frequently the case when more than one class of weapon is produced.
The owner of a Boss & Co gun has the satisfaction of knowing that he has the best gun that money can buy, and that no one has a better gun. The Boss & Co gun has, therefore, always a standard value whether new or second hand. Our output is strictly limited according to the amount of first-class labour available.”

Trade News: The 1812 Edition has been getting plenty of attention in the media and from gun buyers, of late. Why is it so special?
AD: The ‘1812 Edition’ is special to us for several reasons. Firstly, it continues Boss & Co’s 200-year history of innovation, started with the introduction of the first reliable single trigger in 1893, the Boss Hammerless Ejector in 1897 and the Boss Over and Under in 1909.

Each innovation has been replicated throughout the gunmaking industry and continues to be used today.

The ‘1812 Edition’ is the beautiful next step in that history of invention, bringing an entirely new type of gun to the world, complete with a purpose-built action.

It is the world’s first ambidextrous side-lever gun, making it truly generational. The lever can be fitted to the left side or the right side of the action, with two levers shaped and engraved at the same time the gun is built.

A left-handed shooter can inherit a right-handed parent’s gun and simply switch the lever to their preferred side of the action.

What’s more, if one was to sell the gun, there’s no need for a buyer to request a new lever be shaped and engraved, especially considering the original gunmaker or engraver may have since retired or passed on.

The ‘1812 Edition’ is also special to us because it marks the beginning of many exciting and new things to come at Boss, all developed and built in our London workshop.

See Boss & Co’s 1812 edition and find out more about the company at World Gunmakers’ Evening on Wednesday or visit: