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.

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…

Baikal guns

My first gun – a Baikal single-barrel 12-bore

I’m proud to say that my first gun was a Baikal. People may smirk but it carries a weight of nostalgia. Although strictly speaking my Baikal single-barrel 12-bore was not my first shotgun. That honour goes to a BSA Snipe, a single-barrel shotgun given to me by my cousin Geoff Hoyle.…

Thermal imaging for airgunners

Thermal imaging for airgunners – testing out some options

It wasn’t long ago that basic infrared night-vision optics were regarded as being too expensive, too complicated and too bulky to be a worthwhile proposition for airgun shooters. Just a few years later and thermal imaging for airgunners has become standard equipment for anyone who carries out regular after-dark pest…

10.6mm German M83 revolver

Changes to antique firearms regulations

With the passage of the Antique Firearms Regulations 2021, British law includes the definition of what constitutes an antique firearm for the first time in legal history. Previously, there was no such definition, with the law relying on the common or usual meaning of the word ‘antique’ — in other…

lightweight rifles

Best lightweight rifles – we test a selection

I was two-thirds the way up ‘the Ben’ and puffing some when my companion started. “You should get a lightweight rifle, like mine,” he said. At that moment any rifle would have been too heavy, but I refrained from replying that maybe the 40-year difference in our ages ought to…

air rifle

Which lead-free airgun pellets would you recommend?

Q: After all the talk about shotgun shooters moving away from lead shot, I feel inspired to try using lead-free pellets in my airgun. Are there any brands you can recommend, and should I expect them to perform differently? A: Many of the best airgun pellet manufacturers, such as JSB,…