There are two challenges to finding a great shotgun -- fit and suitability.
The shotguns section of Shotgun Life is dedicated to helping you recognize the perfect shotgun (that you’ll want to keep for the rest of your life, and then hand down to your family for generations to come.)
For some people, finding a great shotgun is simply love at first sight. For others, a great shotgun grows on them -- and they find themselves down in the basement cleaning it for absolutely no other reason than just to be in its company.
But for every shotgun owner who falls in love with their pride-and-joy, there are teams of engineers and craftsmen toiling away behind the scenes to bring your gun to fruition.
As you’ll see, shotguns are generally designed for a particular sport. Some shotguns have composite stocks and fore-ends to withstand the travails of duck hunting. Then there are single-shot trap guns with high ribs that help you intercept rising targets. And skeet shooters find that their beavertail fore-end is particularly adept at bringing about a smooth, quick swing.
So let the search begin. Here is what you’ll find in our shotgun section…
A friend recently advocated his theory about the .410 in today’s America. He believed that as our wingshooting population ages it will find preserve hunting increasingly attractive. Knees and ankles not quite as sturdy in the rutted fields of South Dakota? That extra 25 pounds of belly fat making your Wyoming high country bird hunt more strenuous than you last remembered? Old eyes causing those explosive flushes to get away? Packing ibuprofen in the vest pocket next to your shotgun shells?
Imagine shooting a British sporting-clays gun anointed with Royal Warrants from every reigning monarch since Queen Victoria, up to and including present day. It’s a 12-gauge tour de force that moves to the target with grace and deportment – even on that low chartreuse crosser that blends against the leafy background until the trees swallow it like a tasty mint.
If the stars align in North Hampton, England the house of Longthorne Gunmakers will plant their flag on American soil later this year.
The boutique gunmaker – notable for its extraordinary barrels machined from a single billet of steel – has been in discussions with an American dealer of luxury shotgun brands that would represent Longthorne here with sales and support.
Looking back to April 2019,there were 26,678 student clays-shooting competitors from 1,042 high school teams across 25 states who participated in the USA High School Clay Target League.
That program isn’t the only game in town for youngsters looking to become the next George Digweed, Kim Rhode, Bill McGuire or Anthony Matarese, Jr.
Mike Burnett was given a mission: design and build an impeccable 32-gauge side by side for his boss, Russell Gordy – quail-hunting disciple, shotgun connoisseur, self-made billionaire and owner of the luxury outfitter Gordy and Sons in Houston, Texas.
All shotguns have stories and the story has to start somewhere. We all have shotguns that have such a story… my grandfather’s L.C. Smith Ideal Grade 20 gauge conjures a crystal clear vision of Archie in my mind even though he died the year before my birth. The connection of hunting and carrying his old Elsie is truly metaphysical. And with the backdrop of that gun, this story begins not with a vintage double, rather with a vintage hunter and his new Parker Reproduction.
On March 26, 2019 the German-based Blaser Group, manufacturers of the F3 and F16 shotguns, announced that industry veteran Jason Evans had been hired as CEO of Blaser USA in their San Antonio, Texas headquarters. Mr. Evans replaced Christian Socher who returned to Germany to accept his promotion as the new Head of Sales and CEO of Blaser GmbH, after a remarkable seven years of leadership that burnished the Blaser brand in America to a high luster.
As Mr. Kolander correctly comments, artistry and firearms have walked side-by-side for centuries. Kings, noblemen, and great military men of their era have all desired something to set their weapons apart. They required the finest craftsmanship and appreciated the artistry that could match it. Today is no different: embellishments make a gun unique, personal, investment grade and admirable among peers. To satisfy this desire for quality and aesthetics Holland & Holland has a history of working with a number of artisans to create beautiful and elegant firearms. One of those deserving artisans is Belgian Master Engraver Philippe Grifnée.
Kevin Kelly has a knack for cultivating the sweet spot in America’s fine shotgun market. His collection of bespoke Plantation side by sides and over/unders for the field are built to his exact specifications by family-owned Fratelli Poli Armi in Gardone Val Trompia, Italy – replete with the hand-finishing you’d expect from an $80,000 English Best, but starting at $8,995.
Browning’s new A5 Sweet 16 semi-auto revives a classic and creates an upland hunter’s dream gun.
Officially launched in 2016, the latest reincarnation of the Sweet 16 harkens back to a day when the 16 gauge was in its heyday. The original Sweet 16 first hit stores in 1937, and was built on a 20 gauge frame, presenting more firepower than the 20, but in a gun lighter than a 12. Introduced in 1902, the Auto-5, and its cousins manufactured by Remington and Savage, were the first commercially successful autoloading shotguns. These early models worked on the long recoil method, where the barrel moved about three inches backwards to eject the shell and recock the hammer. Upon moving forward, a new shell was reloaded and the action closed.
Now for the unthinkable: from the workshop of English best gunmaker James Purdey & Sons emerges an audacious 12-gauge clays gladiator fit for the Olympics. The idea may not seem so far-fetched after shooting the new Purdey Trigger Plate over/under.
The topic of Team GB competing with a Purdey shotgun at the 2024 Paris summer Olympics arose from a conversation with George Juer, Purdey’s Manager of North American Sales. He was driving a Polaris as we zipped through countryside hills of the sporting clays course at Griffin & Howe’s Hudson Farm in Andover, New Jersey. I was still talking about a few of the remarkable shots I had made with the Purdey Trigger Plate (even surprising myself), despite that the 8-pound/11-ounce demo model came with extra barrel thickness for high driven pheasants. Final production weight should be closer to 8 pounds/3 ounces.
Up until a few weeks ago Rich Cole’s stellar career was 100-percent Italian shotguns. Starting in 1979 he joined Beretta USA as a five-dollar-per-hour apprentice gunsmith. The job included extensive time at the mothership in Gardone, Italy learning the finer points of repairing and enhancing Beretta sporting shotguns.