Purdey side-by-side

A Purdey side-by-side – highly desired by many and one of the most expensive guns in the world

If you have a question about guns then you’re in the right place. Whether  buying a new gun or wanting to know what proofmarks on guns are. You may need to brush up on certain aspects of gun law, be searching for a particular gun review or want some information on ammunition.

Shotguns What is the main difference between rifles and shotguns?

A gun has a long metal tube (barrel) from which gun cartridges are fired . A rifle has a long metal barrel that is ‘rifled’ inside, which makes the bullets it uses spin as they are expelled, which allows for greater accuracy at a longer range.

Rifling in a rifle barrel

Close up of rifling in a rifle barrel, which makes the bullet ‘spin’ for greater accuracy long distance

Gun reviews

If you’re in the market for a gun then take a look at our comprehensive list of shotgun and rifle reviews. We regularly ask experts to look at the latest models and updates from popular manufacturers, as well as rounding up useful guns to buy second-hand.

Guide to buying guns

There’s a lot to know before you part with your hard-earned cash. In our gun-buying guide here we have listings of the best shotguns for gameshooting, clayshooting, guns for under £1000, how to find a reputable dealer, what bore side would be right for you …

Second hand guns – should you? 

We’re written a lot on the subject of buying second-hand guns. On the plus side you’re likely to pick up a bargain, but on the minus side you may not get a warranty. Here’s how to make sure you end up with the right gun for you when buying second-hand. 

Engraving proof marks on guns

Proof marks are added to a gun at the Birmingham Proofhouse

Proof marks

A proof mark on a gun is a bit like an MOT certificate on a car. It means that it was safe on the day it was examined. However, a proof mark can be many years old. So if you are buying a gun and have some doubts about the proof mark you can take it to a gunsmith for a safety check, which will include checking that the gun closes tightly and safely, and that the barrels are free from dents and bulges and that they are not worn beyond safe limits.

It is legal?

You should also bear in mind when buying a gun that it’s illegal to sell an out-of-proof and dangerous gun, and this applies to individuals as well as to the trade.

Every cartridge firearm must bear valid proof marks if it is sold legally. As the UK is a signatory of the International Proof Commission (CIP), it recognises the proof marks of every other member state.

Keeping guns securely

Part of being a responsible shooter (and obeying the law) is knowing how to store your guns securely, whether that’s in a gun cabinet or whilst you’re at a shoot lunch. 

Fausti XF4

The Fausti XF4. A round body gives this Sporter a touch of Italian style

Different types of guns

A question we’re often asked is what is the difference between a Sporter and a trap gun.

We usually advise newcomers to pick a Sporter as their first gun.

Sporters are known for all-round use, suitable for shooting clays as well as game. They are generally steady to handle, a little heavier and recoil less.

Sporter guns usually weigh between 7.1/2lb and 7.3/4lb. These guns shoot closer to point of aim than a trap gun, are less tightly choked (1/4 and 1/4 being the norm in a fixed-choke), and their handling and balance are designed for fast swinging.

gun barrels for trap shooting

Long barrels on a trap gun help achieve a smooth swing

Trap guns are designed for trap shooting and many weigh over 8lb. When tackling trap targets you don’t have to swing the gun as quickly or as far as you do in Sporting, so the gun can be heavier (which helps to soak up recoil), and also steadier in its handling.

A trap gun is configured so that it shoots slightly high. This enables the shooter to fire with the target in view just above the muzzle end of the rib, and hit it right in the middle of the pattern.

As the target is retreating from the shooter at quite a rapid rate, choking is usually quite tight: 3/4in the lower barrel (which is fired first), and full in the top.

Versatile?

Some believe trap guns can’t be used for gameshooting but instructor Adam Calvert disagrees, saying: “There is no reason whatsoever why you can’t use a trap gun for game shooting, however, I would check the impact point of the gun on a pattern board.” He also notes that trap guns are sometimes used for high pheasant shooting.

Bettinsoli DiamondDeluxe

The handsomely decorated sideplates conceal a standard Italian boxlock action

What are a sidelock and a sideplate on a shotgun? What’s the difference?

On a sidelock, lock mechanisms are built on separate plates which are fixed to the wood of the stock immediately behind the action. These plates carry the hammers, mainsprings and sears.

A side-plated gun is a conventional boxlock, with all parts of the firing mechanism mounted within the action body. However, plates giving the appearance of artificial lock plates are added for cosmetic reasons, providing an area for elegant engraving.

fleur-de-lys and CIP marks

Steel shot in old shotguns: time to make a decision?

I’m sure that by now most of you will have read at least one article regarding the demise of lead shot and its replacement with steel and other alternatives. And you will certainly have heard many opinions about the change, a change that is under way whether we like it…

air rifle

Camouflage for airgunning: what’s the best pattern?

Q: I’m new to airgun hunting and plan to invest in camouflage for airgunning so I can get closer to my quarry. What’s the best pattern to go for? A: It’s difficult to recommend one camouflage pattern over another, but it makes sense to choose one that gives a close…

shotgun cartridges in different bores

Shotgun cartridge safety rules

Every responsible shooter should be aware of the all-important cartridge safety rules. You must NEVER  mix cartridges of different calibres. To do so is exceptionally dangerous, and could result in serious injury or even death, not to say the needless destruction of your gun. If you are going to have…

Shot pheasants

Non-lead ammunition works well

A few weeks ago, I said I would report back from a day I had been invited on where most of the Guns had decided to use non-lead ammunition. (Read more on non-toxic shot.) I am happy to report that everything went exactly as planned and that the steel shot…

Gun security

How to keep your guns and rifles truly secure

The Home Office reported this year that there are almost 1.4 million legally held shotguns and 600,000 other legally held firearms, which are mostly Section 1 rifles, in the UK. Of those, 5,000 have been reported stolen since 2011 — that is 500 thefts a year on average. Firearms used…

gameshootesr

Top 10 guns for game

In my job I’m lucky enough to get to review a good few guns. Based on my experiences, and talking to our reviewers and other keen Guns, here’s my list of the best guns for game around today. (Read about the difference between a game and a sporting gun here.…

lead shot deadline

Why the lead shot deadline should be extended

One lesson most of us learn pretty early in life is to not make promises we can’t keep. Doing so risks credibility and trustworthiness. Failing to deliver on a personal assurance is always bad enough but nowhere near as bad as stupidly making one for other people. Yet that’s exactly…

Compressor for air guns

Compressor for air guns – what are the best options?

Recently, our airgun expert Mat Manning  received the following question from an airgunner which got us thinking about the best options when it comes to compressors for air guns. Airgun compressors are the most practical way of making sure an airgun stays full of air, particularly if you live somewhere…

Sustainable ammunition day

Why sustainable ammunition days are a superb introduction to steel shot

As the five-year transition to non-lead shot for live quarry shooting continues, BASC has taken the initiative and organised a series of Sustainable Ammunition Days around the UK. These workshops aim to provide accurate, honest and practical experience of lead-free ammunition for your shotgun on a simulated game layout. Shooters’…

best air rifle targets

Best air rifle targets for setting up a range at home

We’ve taken a look at the best air rifle targets which you can use at home. You can try them airgunning in the garden. If you’ve got a garden with a range of above 20m then you’ve enough room. Before you set off: Air rifle expert Mat Manning says: “You must stop…

air rifle

Best airgun pellets – our list of tried and tested picks

Airguns are known to be notoriously fussy about the ammunition you put in them, so how can you find the best airgun pellets for you and your purposes? It’s really a matter of trial and error and experimenting. Luckily airgun pellets aren’t particularly expensive and putting some time in to…

Quiet air rifle for pest control

The benefits of using a quiet air rifle for pest control

While I’m the first to admit that a shotgun is usually the best option for controlling corvids over open ground, there are plenty of times when using an airgun for pest control is a more appropriate choice. The former will usually help you to make the necessary big bags when…

attic space

Storing guns in the attic: is it legal?

I’ve recently got into shooting and have applied for my shotgun certificate. I know that I need a gun cabinet and I’m thinking of storing guns in the attic in it. Is this a good location – after all it’s discreet and out of the way. Will the guns be…

shotgun cartridge wads

Shotgun wads explained – here’s what you need to know

Besides checking our shotgun cartridges are loaded with the correct shotgun wads type to comply with the rules of the ground we are shooting on, it’s likely we don’t give much thought to that small item between powder charge and shot load. Prior to the introduction of plastic, all wads…