The William Powell Perdix is not just a partridge gun, more a gun for all seasons that performed very well on test
Perdix is the Latin word for partridge, and our little grey bird — the cock of which makes the distinctive “chiswick” call — is Perdix perdix. It is also now the name for the latest gun in William Powell’s Continental range of over-and-unders, which fits between the Perseus and Phoenix models. William Powell Perdix uses imaginative names for its guns and I think Perdix is one of the best to date.
The Continental range is made to Powell’s specification by B. Rizzini. Years ago, Powell was aware of the need to involve other makers in order to broaden the price range of shotguns on offer while continuing to produce its top-range guns. It was a brave move at a time when such honesty concerning the origin of a particular model could be met with less than complimentary comment. Of course, over the years, even pre-war, many makers had to make similar arrangements to keep up the necessary production. There are, for example, plenty of Birmingham-made guns bearing London makers’ names.
Perdix but no partridge
The William Powell Perdix is available as a 12- or 20-bore with the option of 28in or 30in barrels, five screw-in chokes and a strong ABS carrying case. The style is very much what we have come to expect in a mid-range over-and-under shotgun: clean lines with a nicely rounded fore-end and semi- pistol grip stock, sideplates and more than a dash of traditional detail. I was a little surprised to find that, in spite of its name, no English partridge was included in the decoration. However, to be fair, with its multi-chokes and 3in chambers proofed for steel shot, this is not a dedicated partridge gun — more a gun for all seasons. Having said that, it would be a brave shooter who subjected such a pretty gun to the rigours of the saltmarsh.
While on the subject of decoration, the detail on the William Powell Perdix sideplates, which fit like they are part of the action body, is excellent. Even a barbed- wire fence (not normally regarded as an artistic embellishment) is detailed with tiny barbs. Around the body of the action is attractive acanthus leaf decoration; this herbaceous plant is noted for the elegance of its leaves.
With a length of pull just over 15in, 30in barrels and weighing in at a shade over 71⁄2lb, the William Powell Perdix is a full-sized gun. It comes to the shoulder well, although a shorter shooter would find it handier with a bit less length of pull. There is a reasonable length of cast and the comb is slim and slightly offset to aid comfortable shooting. The William Powell Perdix is very pointable and both the fore-end and pistol grip, which give that visual impression of slimness, fitted my fairly large hands well. Balance is just in front of the barrel hinge point with this 30in-barrelled gun, which translates into a slight forward bias — enough to suit most shooters without impairing the handling in any way. I suspect the 28in- barrelled gun would be a bit quicker in handling.
The overall finish on this test gun was excellent. The walnut is tightly grained and has some pleasing figuring in the stock, while the chequering is extensive, small and crisp, and the factory oil finish faultless. The wood butt-plate, or heel plate as it is still sometimes called, fitted well. My only small gripe is the use of Posidrive or cross-head screws to secure it — common practice nowadays but slot-head screws neatly lined up look so much better to me.
Deep fences suit an over-and-under and the William Powell Perdix is no exception. Continuing the engraving on to the fences is eye-catching and a most pleasing feature. The bolsters or panels into which the sideplates fit are nicely shaped and of sufficient width to break up the line of the action bar so it looks slimmer than it actually is. Barrel blacking has a deep lustre while the top rib sports a fine matted non-glare finish. I do like the reference to “12ga” (12 gauge) on the barrel; this harks back to an earlier age when shotguns were listed by gauge, not bore. Does it even matter? I think if you are William Powell it probably does because it is technically the more correct descriptive term, at least to a gunmaker.
This follows what has become an industry standard, applying the principle of reliability via simplicity. Starting at the front and working back, a bar in the fore-end knuckle initiates the cocking. Ejectors are fully sprung and the top lever is held open with a plunger lock. The lockwork is of a modified trigger-plate type, neatly made and with polished, domed-head dowel pins holding it together; there is even a small screw for adjusting the trigger correctly. It’s a well-thought-out lock assembly on the William Powell Perdix.
Out on test, everything performed as it should. Trigger pulls were crisp and equally matched, the auto-safety snicked on and off in a satisfying manner while ejection was positive, much as one has come to expect in a modern over- and-under. Point of aim for patterning was with the foresight bead just under the centre of the pattern sheet. Shooting naturally and bringing the bead up right on to the target, the patterns were about two-thirds high, one-third below the centreline, which is an advantage for most forms of shooting.
Cartridges used included Eley VIP, Lyalvale Express Supreme Game, Hull Superfast for that bit of pre-season clay practice, and Hull Imperial Game. With such a line-up it was not surprising to find the patterns produced were good to very good. Chokes used measured light improved cylinder (0.003in) and quarter- choke (0.010in) as a direct measurement. It was interesting to see what size of pattern the gun actually threw, as this is the real judge of choke performance.