This months test gun is Kemens new side-by-side called the Paralelas, Spanish for side-by-side.
These guns are most intriguing, as they are not based on a Holland Royal or Purdey Beesley style sidelock action, nor the Anson and Deeley style.
Superficially, they look like side-plated boxlocks. In fact they are something completely new, conceived and built by Kemen after much development.
The guns have Purdey double lumps and bolting like most side-by-sides and conventional top levers with Scott spindles, but the actions are drop lock.
This is very similar in concept and form to the Kemen over-under, which draws its inspiration from a Perazzi.
First impressions are of quality guns that look just a little different from the classical norm but share the essential form of a best sidelock game gun.
They have monobloc rather than chopper lump barrels, as many continental guns do.
There is no attempt to disguise the joints and the Kemen name in gold stands out quite boldly on the chamber side.
The chokes on this model were fixed, but the guns are also available from the factory with Briley multichokes if required.
The barrels are 28″ and the chambers 2.3⁄4″ with Eibar proof marks in evidence. The side-plated actions are very well presented, with tight rose and scroll engraving of Purdey style carried out to a good standard.
The rosettes on the hinge pin are especially well done. The top lever is quite long and elegant. The safety is of the Purdey button type, which is not my favourite aesthetically but by far my favourite practically – it is more positive than others when fingers are wet or cold.
The trigger blade is quite wide – looking very much like the trigger from a Kemen over-under. It is well shaped, however, and practical.
The single trigger mechanism itself is inertia operated, again very similar in concept to that used on the Kemen over-under. The compact trigger lock drops from the action body by means of a sliding catch to the rear of the trigger guard as in other Kemens.
In terms of handling, they are a little heavier than the average English norm something just over 7lbs and they feel unusually steady. This is not just down to the weight, which is not excessive, but also a consequence of good stock shapes and neutral balance.
The fore-ends are a little deeper than the average, though they feel comfortable. The straight hand grips are also well conceived, with good proportions that are a little larger than the London Best average, which, for me at least, is a plus.
You must be able to hold a gun efficiently to shoot it well. The combs are also fuller and higher than on many game guns. The stocks are made from excellent wood, moreover, and have a distinct Spanish character.
If I was to characterise the dry handling of the guns, I would say that they feel – straight grip stocks and splinter fore-ends notwithstanding – much like over-unders.
This will make them appeal to those who find that the traditional British side-by-side game gun can often feel a bit light.
It also strikes me that these are guns intended to do a lot of work in a country where vast numbers of birds are commonly shot when driven shooting.
The average on top flight Spanish shoots is probably in excess of 500 birds in a day, with bags of 800 not being uncommon.
I much enjoyed shooting with the Kemen, not least because the birds at Cenicentos, the partridge shoot near Madrid where I was shooting them, were so beautifully presented.
The gun did not miss a beat.
The trigger pulls are first class and the recoil control is just as good – exceptional for a side-by-side.
The stock shape and dimensions suited me well. We have not seen many of these guns in the UK yet but I hope we will. They are different.
They may not appeal to all but I thought them excellent, and Kemen are to be congratulated for taking the risk to develop something truly new.
For high volume shooters and high bird specialist these are worth the most serious consideration.
I believe that the King of Spain himself uses a pair of these guns with titanium actions.
Anyone in the UK interested in acquiring a single gun or pair should get in touch with Mike Meggison at the Kelbrook Shooting School on 01282 861632