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.

best clayshooting cartridges

We looked for the best clay cartridges around – here’s what we found

Nowadays there is a whole selection of cartridges designed specifically for clays. Some are general-purpose, some for specific disciplines like trap and skeet and some are dedicated competition cartridges for 12-bore, 20-bore, .410 and even 28-bore. The golden rule for finding the best clayshooting cartridges is to pick the one…

shotguns for under £1000

20 of the best shotguns for under £1000

Finding a gun at the right price can be tough. We’ve listed 20 shotguns for under £1000 here that we think are well worth a look, both new and second-hand. It’s also worth reading our advice on buying a shotgun second-hand where you might pick up a real bargain. If…

fibre wad cartridge

Fibre wads – it’s time to ditch the plastic

Plastic pollution is a major cause for concern these days and as shooters we have to do our bit to protect the environment and show that we are behaving responsibly. So does that mean we should turn our back on plastic wads and make a wholesale switch to fibre wads?…

history of gunfit

The history of gunfit

It’s quite easy to look at a Best hammerless sidelock ejector and admire the perfection of form and function. It’s far harder to admit that the French have greatly influenced the sport of shooting and, as a result, the fit of a shotgun as we know it today. Gunfit is…

air rifle shooting

How to make your airgun more accurate

Precise air rifle shooting The pursuit of precision is a big deal when it comes to air rifle shooting. Because air rifles have a relatively low power output, it is vital to be confident of landing your pellet in exactly the right place if you intend to shoot live quarry.…

Duck's foot pistol

How the bizarre duck’s foot pistol came into being

The history of the duck’s foot pistol Until practicable revolver designs had been perfected in the 1830s, the only way to increase a gun’s firing rate was to give it multiple barrels that could either all fire at once or could be selected to fire at the user’s pleasure. The…

shotguns for clay pigeon shooting

15 of the best shotguns for clay pigeon shooting

1. Kofs Sceptre from £450 This made the list of best shotguns for clay pigeon shooting because it’s a great beginner’s gun for those on a budget. Good quality for a low price. Kofs come in 28, 20 and 12 gauge, with various barrel lengths and upgrades available.    …

A-Z guide to shooting terms

What’s my best gun for shooting clays and game?

Can you use a clay gun on a pheasant shoot? Yes. A lot of the differences between a clay and a game gun are subtle. Ventilated and wider ribs, manual safety and slightly different woodwork won’t really stand out on a game day. Most of the day the gun will…

Fausti Aphrodite shotgun

Should I store my gun butt-down or muzzle-down?

Always store guns muzzle down Which way up (or down) should you store your gun when you put it back in the gun cabinet? Well, the answer is that you should always store guns muzzle down. Wondering why? It’s very logical when you think about it. The reason is that…

semi-automatics

Why there should be no snobbery about semi-automatics

Semi-automatics are enduringly popular with the gun-buying public. For people coming into the sport of shooting, they tick many boxes. Advantages of semi-automatics They are relatively cheap, so first-time buyers are immediately drawn to the attractive price tag. Also, it should not be overlooked that the option of a third…

improve airgun accuracy

Top 10 reasons to keep an airgun

Have you got an old airgun lying around in your gun cupboard? Now’s the time to take it out and dust it off – maybe for a spot of garden airgunning, which is legal during lockdown provided you follow the safety rules. I still have my old airgun from when…

side by side old fashioned shotgun

Is the side-by-side shotgun history?

“Snobbery and inheritance are the only reasons why people use a side-by-side.” So said one keen Shot, once described as the best of his generation. “But I’m not that bothered. I just like to shoot straight.” So is a side-by-side old fashioned? Turn up for a day’s shooting in some neighbourhoods…

history of airguns

The history of airguns

The history of airguns is a broad and interesting one. The first examples were powered by human lungs: blowpipes. These could well have been man’s earliest ballistic weapon, possibly even predating the bow and arrow. What is certain is that the blowpipe is still in use today in parts of…

punt-gunning

The history of punt guns and punt-gunning

Punt-gunning today is a curiosity. Once it was a business. To some Victorian sportsmen, it was an art to be learned and practised. The punt, the punt-gun and the punt-gunner are characters from a fading chapter in the history of old British shooting sports. Younger readers may have no idea…

woman clayshooter

What you need to know about adjustable shotguns

Would having an adjustable shotgun improve matters? The shotgun is evolving. Most shotgun manufacturers are developing new designs, models or features for their guns. We are the other part of the equation in that we probably believe that if we have the latest gun we will shoot better. We are…