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 market 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 weight 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 they 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.

Rifle shooting

Vintage rifles can still be viable

There are historical and legal reasons for the decline in interest in vintage rifles in this country. When I was a child, to have a modest collection of sporting and military rifles was not an uncommon thing for a country gentleman. My father had only a passing interest, but owned…

wildfowling in snow

Why you should never let snow get into your barrels

Dangers of obstructing gun barrels In the countryside, normal life goes on in wintry weather. And that includes shooting, which usually thrives in snowy conditions. A bit of old-fashioned hard weather keeps the birds from straying, while a decent covering of snow adds a winter wonderland aspect to a driven…

Adjustable gunstocks

Are adjustable gunstocks a worthwhile investment?

Adjustable gunstocks – definitely not worth it Robin Scott says: Most guns with adjustable stocks can only be altered for length, drop and cast. These are important, but they are but a part of the bigger gunfit picture. For instance, adjustable gunstocks don’t let us make minor changes to such…

slug airgun ammunition

How to choose the best air rifle pellets

Having the best air rifle pellets for your particular gun can make the difference between hit and miss. So how can you decide? Read through the following and you’ll be in a good position to make the right purchase – and make that all-important difference to your shooting. Best air…

testing rifle ammunition

How to match ammunition to your rifle using a chronograph

Q: I am after a cheap way of measuring the velocity of my .22 subsonic CZ rimfire so I can work out its trajectory. Is the new FX Chronograph any good? I use a lot of different chronographs to measure my rifle’s muzzle velocity. A: The new FX model is…

Countryside illustration

Getting a first air rifle

My parents bought me a second-hand Diana Model 23 .177 air rifle in 1984 as my first air rifle. The bluing was well on its way out and the cheap beech woodwork bore the marks of a life of hard graft. A series of hatches were etched into the stock,…

best English guns

Are English guns the best?

The famous makers of English guns – Holland & Holland, Boss, Purdey, William Evans, Westley Richards. These names are revered as the finest examples of the gunmaker’s art around the world. Or is that really true? Inherited English guns You’ll see plenty of people turning up at a smart driven…

lightweight 20-bore shotgun

Is a 20-bore better than a 12-bore for long, walked-up days?

The proposition was put to me recently that the ideal gun for walked-up shooting is a lightweight 20-bore side-by-side shotgun. It got me thinking, in these days where 20-bore mania is still gripping the nation, what is the enduring appeal of the Victorian ladies’ gun to the strapping six-footers who…

Shooting pigeons with semi-auto

How to clean and care for a semi-auto shotgun

Take 10 minutes to clean a semi-auto shotgun properly every time you use it and you’ll avoid a lot of issues. Another reason is that you also save money on repairs and get more for it if you ever want to trade it in or sell it. Lack of cleaning…

Gunshop

How to pick the right gun for you

Whether you’re looking to buy a brand new gun or second-hand, what should you be considering? Visiting any gunshop you are faced with racks and racks of guns, so how do you pick the right gun for you? The one that is going to enable you to shoot to the…

plastic cartridge wads

Why doesn’t everyone pick up their plastic cartridge cases?

What do you do with your empty plastic cartridge cases? Plastic wads are already verboten on many game shoots. But plastic cartridge cases are another matter. They are still very much the rule rather than the exception. Unlike wads, which are blasted to God only knows where, cases are much…

Shooting with a 20-bore

How to choose the best load for a 20-bore

A 20-bore shotgun is really used for game shooting and although 20-bores can easily and convincingly be used to shoot clays, most dedicated clay Shots use a 12. In this article I give overview of the most appropriate cartridge loads for differing quarry types. Ease of movement with 20-bore The…

.22 rimfire sound moderators

Five .22 rimfire sound moderators reviewed

I have selected five .22 rimfire sound moderators of varying prices, ranging from under £40 to £150, each designed primarily for subsonic cartridge use, though some can be used for .17 HMR or .22 Hornet cartridges.. I tested using Winchester Max 42-gr subsonic ammunition as this has a velocity of…

Spring-powered airgun or a PCP?

Should I buy a spring-powered airgun or a PCP?

Choosing the right airgun isn’t an easy decision. Once you’ve decided on your budget you will have to think about the power source and it’s this that most buyers usually have the most difficulty over. Years ago the only option was a spring-powered airgun but in the last 15-20 years…

lead-free bullets

The pros and cons of lead-free bullets

There is a growing push towards lead-free bullets. But what are the pros and cons of lead-free bullets? These are the advantages and disadvantages as I see them and of copper bullets. There are serious considerations for both but lead shot is, of course, being phased out over a five-year…

Beretta Silver Pigeons

The evolution of an Italian design classic

It’s one of the best-known, best-selling shotgun designs of all time, but does that make the Beretta Silver Pigeon or 68 series one of the best guns of all time? Gunmaking is a little like the industrial version of Darwin’s theory of natural selection. The most adaptable survive. The best…

Holland & Holland Royal Game Gun

Why Holland & Holland ‘Royal’ guns are sought after

Mark Sullivan works quietly at his bench, producing the heart of many bespoke gun-building projects. An auctioneer by trade, he used to work at Holland & Holland. Now he works for the wider trade, happy to let someone else put their name to his work while he remains quietly anonymous…