Wolfe Publishing Group

    Classic Upland Guns

    SKB (Sakaba) Model 605 Ducks Unlimited Over-Under

    If you were to ask shooting men where the best shotguns were made, Japan would not be one of their choices. Yet in its infancy around 1860, the SKB Company was known for its craftsmanship, producing guns of the highest quality. I have never seen one of the period guns, and there appears to be very little history supporting the SKB gunmaking activities prior to the early 1960s. What has been offered is that an individual named Shigyo Sakaba completed his gunsmithing apprenticeship in 1855 in an area northeast of Tokyo and was appointed by the feudal lord of the Mito clan to supervise the development and production of guns for the clan. It is not known when the gunmaking activity elected to establish itself as SKB Arms Company, but Mr. Sakaba (SKB) is given credit as the founder. From the early 1960s, the SKB factory began producing a complete line of competition and field shotguns.

    In 1966, SKB produced a line of shotguns for the Ithaca Gun Company, including semiautomatic, side-by-side, single-barrel and over-under models and continued to do so until 1978 when the Ithaca Gun Company filed for bankruptcy protection. SKB continued production of its own line of shotguns and reentered the U.S. market in 1979 represented by the Mitsui Company in Chicago, Illinois. By the early 1980s, the Japanese factory had produced over one million shotguns and distributed them throughout the world.

    The Miroku Firearms Company was then making the Browning A-5 and subcontracting parts manufacturing, such as barrels and stocks, to SKB. In 1983, SKB was sold to the Mira family in Tomobe, Japan, at which time it was reorganized into the New SKB Arms Company, headed by the Mira family.

    From 1984 through 2004, the New SKB Arms Company produced a line of shotguns that included semiautomatic and over-under models for Weatherby, Inc. Meanwhile, in 1987, G.U. Inc. became the exclusive U.S. importer of the SKB shotgun brand. The product lineup included semiautomatic, side-by-side and over-and-under models. Factory production had reached its capacity, and shotguns were being exported through a network of importers and distributors throughout the world. In 2008, economic turmoil began to take on global consequences and spilled over into other industries, slowing demand and production of firearms which eventually led to the SKB factory’s closing in 2009.

    The current line of SKB shotguns is being produced under a license agreement by the Akus and Akdas Makiha factories. Considered to be two of Turkey’s best shotgun manufacturers, they have a history of producing quality products for markets in both the United States and Europe. This line of SKB shotguns includes semiautomatic, side-by-side, single-barrel trap and over-under models.

    Made in Japan by the New SKB Arms Company, this Model 605 Ducks Unlimited 12-bore ejector with 28-inch barrels and 3-inch chambers has two barrel extensions that fit into the standing breech and are engaged by a rectangular crossbolt referred to as the Kersten crossbolt locking system that is activated by the top lever.

    The coin-finished frame is fully covered with floral scroll engraving because it is both the trigger guard and forearm hardware. Each side of the receiver has a gold bust of a Labrador retriever with a duck in its mouth in an oval panel. The bottom of the receiver is engraved with a duck head over DUCKS UNLIMITED and the trigger guard marked SPONSOR. The matte vent rib barrel has ivory and steel bead sights, and the gold-washed single trigger incorporates the barrel selection. Both the figured walnut pistol grip stock and bold forearm have high-gloss finishes. This is a well-built over-under that will serve the shooter’s needs on the clay course or in the field. Even with some field use, its excellent condition should bring $1,200 – $1,500 in a private sale.

    Wolfe Publishing Group