|This article is an orphan, as no other articles link to it. Please introduce links to this page from ; try the Find link tool for suggestions. (September 2010)|
The factory is fully functional despite the difficulties from 2016 and is now on the hand of the 3rd Generation of the family Ugartechea.
Ugartechea is the last of the Big Three of Basque gunmaking from the 1960s that still exists bearing any resemblance to what it was. The Ugartechea company has survived in an unbroken line, but not without overcoming some difficulties. Today, it is no longer a mass-production company. It is mostly a custom shop, with a small workforce making high-quality guns to order.
There have been three Ignacio Ugartecheas in the history of the company; founder, son and grandson. It was founded in Eibar in 1922. The first Ignacio called his company Casa Ugartechea (House of Ugartechea) and set up shop in the Bidebarrieta, the first of serval locations the company occupied as it grew and diversified. After a few years it moved to San Augustín Kalea, and finally to Txonta Kalea, No. 26, which it occupies to this day.
In the US market since 1996, Ugartecheas have only been imported through Lion Country Supply in Port Matilda, Pennsylvania. They're available in eight different grades in different gauges.
In addition to shotguns, Armas Ugartechea once made rifles and pistols. However, the firm is most famous for its side-by-side double-barreled shotgun, and at some point stopped manufacturing the over/under double-barreled shotgun configuration. The change in product was due in part to several different factors. After World War II, the international demand for sporting shotguns increased while the demand for pistols and rifles decreased. More importantly, Ignacio Ugartechea made his last double rifle in 1943, an 8x65R Brenneke, for the Caudillo himself, Generalissimo Francisco Franco and then Armas Ugartechea was passed on to the first Ignacio's son.
The second Ignacio Ugartechea was trained in the tradition of gun making at the prestigious Escuela de Armeria in Eibar. At one point, he was known as one of the most prominent sportsmen in Spain, developing a relationship and participating in social hunts with the likes of the king of Spain, Juan Carlos I.
Armas Ugartechea builds guns based on designs and patents originating from London and Birmingham firms such as Holland & Holland and Westley Richards. When shotgun-making was in its heyday in the late nineteenth century, patents were only granted for fourteen years. After that period, advancements like the Anson & Deeley boxlock action were reproduced all over the world. When a patent that seemed efficient and easy to reproduce became available, it was not uncommon for Basque shotgun-makers to reproduce it with local components, and market it as a less-expensive alternative to the English offerings.
Here is one of the models that made Ugartechea famous and is exposed in the Arms Industry Museum of Eibar
Forged steel scales with exhaust valves
Demiblock cannons made of fine steel with a narrow list of concave sections and smooth bores.
Selective automatic ejectors.
Automatic opening type Holland & Holland.
Dual keys safe with fine engraving done by hand.
Two triggers with the first articulated.
Selected fully hand finished walnut stock
Finished in white.
Armas Ugartechea originally made matched-pairs of sidelocks guns for export to England. In a sidelock action, the mechanism that makes the gun function can be removed and reinserted fairly easily. At that time, the shooting of driven pheasant and partridge at large English country houses; and pigeons in Spanish pigeon rings; was very popular. These shooting sports required shotguns that could be repaired in the field. This made the sidelock very desirable (and expensive), and selling the sidelock action became a clear priority.
Eventually though, the sidelock fad passed and the simpler and less expensive boxlock action gained popularity. Driven shooting and pigeon rings became less and less accessible, and sidelocks came to be considered more of a luxury. This was especially true for the rapidly growing American market after World War II. In the United States, consumers were generally looking for a gun that had the features of the traditional English shotgun, but not the corresponding steep price tag. Up until this point, Armas Ugartechea traditionally spent less time on its boxlock guns, producing mainly lower-end offerings. However, perceiving a change in the market, the company switched its focus to the boxlock, and now exports them to the United States.
- Wieland, T. Spanish Best, p. 259. Countrysport Press, 2001
- ibid., p. 261.
- Wieland, T. "Ugartechea Reborn", page 27. Gray's Sporting Journal, August 1997
- Venters, V. "Boxlocks by Ugartechea", page 110. Shooting Sportsman, Sept./Oct. 2001