By Mike Yardley
Tuesday, 08 December 2009
Gun reviews: William Powell Zenith shotgun: The Zenith is a new 12-bore side-by-side from William Powell and, as Mike Yardley discovers, it’s just right for the market.
William Powell Zenith shotgun.
William Powell have recently introduced a new Continental range of side-by-side guns.
Churchill have also had success with their similarly named guns, and it may come as little surprise to learn that the man largely responsible for those, Mark Osborne, has recently purchased Powells.
The Powell Zenith is a brush-polished, sidelock, side-by-side game gun of classic form and it’s made to Powell’s specifications by Spanish gun maker Arrieta.
A 12-bore, it has 30" barrels, a swept rib, double triggers, and a straight-hand stock. It hits the scales at 7lbs 1oz and is resplendent with fairly deep scroll engraving of an attractive style, somewhat like a Holland Royal.
A ribbon on the front of the lock-plate includes the legend ‘William Powell’ and on the belly of the action the model name ‘The Zenith’ appears.
INSPIRED BY GENIUS
The gun is essentially a copy of a Holland Royal in most respects and includes an assisted opening mechanism of the Holland type with a spring and plunger fitted between the barrels.
It is a bar action sidelock gun with Southgate ejector work which has always been the favourite of the trade because of its reliability.
The Royal, which has been more copied than any other sidelock design, is an amalgam of all things good in my opinion.
Even when it was introduced it was not especially innovative. Rather, it took all the good ideas of the British trade and rolled them up into one excellent package.
Most Spanish guns imitate the Holland as, for that matter, do many British ones.
The Zenith comes to face and shoulder exceptionally well. It does not just look pretty, it feels good.
The form of the straight hand stock and splinter fore-end are very good. I especially like the fact that the grip is of true, ridged, Holland diamond form. This is my favourite design for a straight grip, to be distinguished from the more common oval form.
Provided it is not made too thin, the diamond grip feels especially secure in the hand and promotes good muzzle control.
The 30" barrels on the Zenith are chopper lump and well presented. They are competently struck up and internally straight, far from the norm today.
They have fixed chokes measuring 14 and 25 thou, tight quarter and tight half. My preference would be to open the first barrel a little, but to leave the second alone.
The concave rib is true to the eye and well suited to the gun. The external and internal finish of the barrels is also good.
The barrels have quite wide bores - both marked at 18.7mm which might have a positive effect on felt recoil. The minimum wall thickness is an ideal 29 thou.
A RELIABLE ACTION
The Holland & Holland design, upon which this action is based, is chosen by so many gun makers because of its reliability and relative ease of manufacture.
It is combined in this case (as in most others including the original Holland & Holland) with Southgate pattern ejectors which work on the over centre principle.
The gun makes use of v-springs to power the tumblers (hammers). These sit with the point of spring forward with the spring recesses into the bar of the action (hence bar action).
The strikers are disc set as in most better quality Spanish guns.
Like most sidelocks, the gun has intercepting safety sears to prevent the gun jarring off if it is dropped. The sears are activated via a tiny coil spring powered piston in a small cylinder which is integral with the underside of the bridle.
This differs from the Holland design, but is very neat. Should the spring break, some power may still be retained.
I have recently shot quite a number of the new Powell guns and had a hand in the specification of some of them - but not this one. I have been impressed in all cases.
I really think Mark Osborne and Peter Powell have gone the extra mile with their new range. They have made a real effort to make sure that their carefully and cleverly conceived new guns are ideally suited to the British sporting market’s needs.
And they are constantly evolving.
The test gun shot very well and I was most impressed with the Zenith. As I was with a 20-bore Monarch, a less expensive grade Continental, we used the same day.
The gun shot and felt like a good quality English gun. Not all Spanish copies float my ballistic boat, but this did.
It ticked all the right boxes - good balance, good stock shapes, good trigger pulls, and lower than average felt recoil. I thought the weight at a whisker over 7lbs ideal for a 30" 12-bore.
As for the price £9,950 (inc VAT) the Pound has taken a hit against the Euro, but the gun still represents good value, considering the quality of its finish and the thought that has gone into its specification.
The side-by-side comes in a handmade leather case, and can be made to customer’s measurements at no extra charge, either copying an existing gun or from a fitting session.
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