By Shooting Gazette's Bill Elderkin
Thursday, 18 August 2011
Scottish shotguns review: The gun market today is somewhat dominated by the big names, be they the English masters such as Boss & Co., Holland & Holland and Purdey, or large modern houses like Browning or Beretta.
Scottish shotguns review.
As such, it is easy for the casual buyer to forget about the Scottish makers, in spite of their history of innovation and quality.
Much like the English gunmakers, the number of active Scottish makers has dwindled alarmingly in the last 50 years.
Many great names have been kept alive through amalgamations, the likes of John Dickson & Son now incorporating James MacNaughton, Daniel Fraser, Alex Martin, Alex Henry and Thomas Mortimer, for example.
All these firms produced guns of an enviable style, which shot well and were extremely reliable.
The most famous Scottish guns are either the classic MacNaughton ‘Edinburgh gun’, a remarkable bar-in-wood side-by-side gun, or the Dickson round action.
Both of these guns are still made today, on the market from £37,250 and £38,775 respectively.
If you get the chance to pick up either of these guns you should seriously consider buying one if the price is right.
Though you should be wary of anything available for under about £15,000.
Also consider guns by David McKay Brown for the very best in new hand-made Scottish guns.
The major gunmaking centres of Scotland were Edinburgh, Glasgow and Perth, though obviously there would have been numerous smaller firms all around the country.
Today there is a particular love of Scottish guns amongst foreign sportsmen, especially Americans.
Certainly we are all envious of having such remarkable, iconic sport, be that grouse shooting or red stag stalking, on your doorstep, and it seems this romantic notion is what particularly appeals.
Understandably, many foreign sporting visitors would prefer to support the local industry rather than fall back on the obvious selection of London guns.
Rifle manufacture has always been a major part of the Scottish trade, as you might expect.
There are few Scottish gunmakers producing hand-made rifles today, but those that do exist are in demand as a result.
Michael Lingard, for example, is a holder of a royal warrant, making rifles by appointment to HRH The Prince of Wales and produced a .243 rifle for Prince William.
He makes just five or six new rifles a year, and around four shotguns.
You will often see a very bold style of engraving on Scottish guns.
The so-called Celtic strap style has bold, thick lines and deep carving, and is very striking.
It will certainly not appeal to some, but if you’re buying a Scottish gun to be different it seems a shame to have standard London-style rose and scroll engraving!
The potential buyer should also be careful of new guns under the name of some of the older makers.
These guns are in fact Italian guns, some of which are finished in Scotland.
In fairness, all the makers are up front about this fact, and the guns themselves are very reliable and will shoot very well.
As ever, be sure you know what you are buying.
Scottish sidelocks are quite rare - Dicksons made one or two, based on the standard nine pin design.
Assuming these guns are in good condition, then they certainly offer good value for money.
As with English guns, often the price doesn’t reflect the quality of the gun due to the name engraved on it.
This means you can have lesser quality guns at an inflated price or better quality guns at an oddly low price.
Overall, however, a Scottish sidelock is likely to be a good amount cheaper than an English sidelock, but will be of just the same quality.
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