A reader is keen to be the proud owner of a famous English gun but doesn't have a large bank balance, rather a strict budget of £2000 - £3,000.


I’ve always wanted to own a Purdey or a Holland & Holland side-by-side. However I’ve yet to receive one as a bequest and can’t afford to order one from new.

Do you have any tips where I could buy one of these great English guns cheaply, on my budget?

A: Caveat emptor – let the buyer beware – is the phrase that springs to mind here.

Your modest bank balance might buy you a used Holland & Holland or budget Purdey shotgun, but it will be old and probably worn out! You can pick them up at auctions from time to time, but to be honest they are past their prime and won’t do you many favours out in the field, even though you could I suppose say you were the proud owner of a Purdey or Holland & Holland.

AYA No.2 28 bore

Built on the Holland & Holland-style nine pin design, the AYA No. 2 is a true sidelock

A better idea

My advice would be to forget this romantic notion. It would be much better to look for a gun in good condition by another English gunmaker.

There are plenty of good examples of used, hand-made English guns on the market at the moment and £2,000 to £3,000 will buy you a sidelock ejector by a good English maker which is in sound condition.

However, if you are willing to have a non-ejector sidelock then you should get one in excellent condition.

Ejectors are not really necessary for most shooting. English boxlocks are also good value, and your budget will buy you an extremely good one.

Hammerguns are also modestly priced and you could buy a nice hammergun for special shoots and have a modern over-and-under for everyday use.

Second-hand AYA sidelock ejectors are also remarkably good value. It is always best to put your money into a gun that is in good condition. And possibly have some shooting lessons with it too.

Make sure that the gun fits you well and practice mounting with it, so you are ready for success when first out in the field.