By Bill Elderkin of Shooting Gazette
Tuesday, 26 July 2011
Shotgun reviews: The country fair gun-buying experience can be overwhelming for the first time visitor.
But the apprehensive amongst you should persevere, as there are some great guns to be found.
In many ways, game fairs are now the best place for a gun enthusiast to go and buy a gun.
Gunmakers’ Row at the CLA game fair has what is surely the biggest display of guns in the UK.
There were guns of all types and prices on sale, from brand new Berettas to aged Purdeys, and as such it offered a tremendous opportunity for the canny buyer.
Game fairs give you the chance to meet a large number of retailers, and get a feel for their products at first hand, rather than studying adverts in magazines.
AN UNBEATABLE COLLECTION
Importers and manufacturers will be showing off the latest guns from the likes of Beretta and Browning alongside gun shops.
This means there is always a deal to be had on new guns, which is very much to the buyer’s advantage in terms of price.
The dealers will play off one another in an attempt to sell as many guns as they can, and while this means low prices you should make sure you’re not sacrificing a good standard of after sales service for the sake of a few pounds.
Cheapest is not always the best.
The biggest market at the Game Fair, however, is secondhand guns. With more modern second-hand guns from the likes of Beretta, Browning or AYA there is not a lot that can go wrong with them internally.
But there are certain basic things you should always check for, including dents in the barrels, sound ribs and cracks in the fore-end or stock.
As well as these, you will want to pay attention to the general condition of the gun, ensuring the gun opens and closes well and so on.
Though any such problems aren’t necessarily the retailer’s fault, you must keep your eyes open.
Though you may be looking at a gun which is only 10 or 15 years old, it might have had a lot of use in that time.
ENGLISH BARGAINS ABOUND
A lot of gun shops these days don’t stock side-by-sides, concentrating on the newer over-under or semi-auto guns, but you will see lots of good old English side-by-sides.
When looking at an older English gun or a classic gun you will need to be a little more careful. Ensure you check the internal bore measurements of the barrels and the thickness of the barrel walls with the retailer.
This is particularly important with Damascus barrelled guns.
A good retailer should make the time to go through all of this with you, and ideally will be offering a one-year guarantee on used guns for your peace of mind.
Away from new over-unders and second hand guns, you will see a lot of unusual guns which you would never normally see on the shop shelves, such as hammer guns or single barrelled 20-bores.
Many people will want to buy these on impulse, but do be extra careful before taking the plunge.
Makers of best quality guns, such as Holland & Holland and Purdey, will also have a presence at the Game Fair, though they rarely have guns ready to buy ‘off the shelf’.
Best quality guns, particularly from London, are obviously highly sought after and the gun retailers are well aware of this.
As a result, game & country fairs are probably the best place to buy a second-hand best quality gun from one of the big name makers; you will not see a good number of these guns together in one place anywhere else.
I am considering trying for my Working Gundog Certificate (WGC) at Cha...
SHOOTING GAZETTE: Driven shooting's finest journal
BRITAINíS BIGGEST & BEST SHOOTING MAGAZINE JUNE 2013 £3.60
Don't miss this week's Shooting Times (on sale Wednesday 22nd May)! Get your FREE BOOKLET containing 24-pages of top gundog training tips! Plus, Tim Bonner goes wildfowling on the Blackwater estuary! Buy your copy today!