For nearly 200 years, Boss & Co has stood at the apex of the Holy Trinity of London gunmakers. A privately-owned business since its inception in 1812, it has unwaveringly and resolutely remained true to its company strapline: ‘Builders of Best Guns Only’.
The Boss family originated from Leicestershire, with no history of gunmaking before William Boss began an apprenticeship with Joseph Manton in the industry in 1773.
William’s commitment to becoming a gunmaker was clear, providing the spark for a series of events that would place the Boss name right at the very pinnacle of gun making.
William’s three sons, including Thomas Boss, would each become apprentices to him, before his death at a time when a father’s passing should have meant the end of any apprenticeships for his sons. However, such was the talent of Thomas Boss, that Joseph Manton fortuitously allowed him to continue to learn his craft.
Thomas went on to found Boss & Co in 1812 and soon established a name as one of London’s leading gunmakers. The year 1891 marked a pivotal point in the company’s history when a man by the name of John Robertson took ownership of the firm.
Robertson was already an established, first-class gunmaker, an acknowledged master of his trade with a passion for innovation at several previous gunmakers.
Ownership of Boss gave Robertson the platform he needed to create the type of guns he had always dreamed of – beautifully designed, impeccably constructed, peerlessly accurate and utterly reliable.
Robertson was responsible for innovations such as the Boss single-trigger, the Boss ejector and the Boss over and under. Inventions of such importance to the gun world that they are still celebrated, and replicated by other makers, today.
The Robertson era of Boss was a crucial period in the history of the company, and it shaped the way sporting guns were manufactured around the world.
Among the many innovations Robertson introduced were the Boss Single Trigger, Boss Ejector and Boss Over & Under.
Today, Boss & Co is owned by Arthur DeMoulas, a man with a long-standing knowledge and appreciation for the company, its heritage and of course, guns. Driven by a passion and a zeal that Thomas Boss and John Robertson would surely have recognised, Arthur acquired the company after many years of negotiating, such was his drive and determination to see Boss & Co be run in a manner he knew it deserved to be.
Arthur understands the importance of private ownership for the company. A factor that has enabled Boss & Co to continue to focus on building “Best Guns Only” and lead the revered ‘holy trinity’ of London gunmakers, unencumbered by the distractions that can arise from being part of a large luxury lifestyle brand.
After buying the company, Arthur’s first message to the workforce made it crystal clear that Boss & Co would make “Best Guns Only” by hand, using traditional methods. Second-grade and machine-made guns would never be given workshop space.
Since then, under Arthur’s leadership, the company has invested in its London workshop, has helped to secure key suppliers and set-up an apprenticeship scheme to train and pass on the century’s old skills to a new generation of Boss & Co, London gunmakers.
The second phase of Arthur’s vision was to reignite the passion for innovation first seen at Boss during the late 1800s and early 1900s when the company led the gun making world with ground-breaking new inventions, consummate design and peerless style.
Work is now underway to re-introduce unique products not seen for over 100 years, the first of which is the magnificent ‘1812 Edition’ – an O/U side lever billed as the world’s first ambidextrous gun. These innovative products provide continuity with the most celebrated periods in the company’s history under the stewardship of Boss forefathers such as John Robertson and Thomas Boss.
Around the year 1920 Boss & Co produced a booklet to describe its guns to interested buyers. It started with two paragraphs and Boss & Co is proud that both statements remain as true today as they did in the 1920s. Those words perfectly encapsulate the ethos to which the company has remained steadfast throughout its lifetime.
“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.”