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.

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…

Shooting with over and under

What would be the best all-round shotgun for you?

How to choose your best all-round shotgun If you had to have one gun that would work for you in all your shooting, what would it be? This would not necessarily be your dream gun and some tough choices would have to be made. We are talking here about someone…

Game shooting

How does your shot measure up?

Like much in game shooting, our choice of shot size has evolved. The era before international corporations dominated the UK shooting market, and US-style marketeers brought professional persuasion to an unsuspecting public, was quite different. But not necessarily bad. There is much in modern game shooting to be proud of,…

Hatsan Escort 
.22LR rifle

Should I get an air rifle or a rimfire?

Air rifle or a rimfire Q: I am thinking of buying an FAC-rated air rifle for pest control. Would this be better than a .22 rimfire? A: I like FAC-rated air rifles for certain pest control duties. They offer a significantly higher energy rating over the legal standard 12ft/lb energy.…

fixed-barrelled guns wildfowling

Here’s what you need to know about fixed-barrelled guns

Semi-auto and pump-action shotguns have been around for a long time but have not been as popular in the UK as they have in the USA. Shooters shy away from them mainly because of the uncertainty of how to operate and handle them in a safe way. Those that use…

black powder

Black powder licences … what you need to know

Thinking about using black powder? You’ll need a licence from the local police and a reason for using it. Having a gun proofed for black powder should be enough. Of course you can make your own black powder cartridges and you can also buy them if you prefer.  But first…

choose a stalking rifle

Choosing the right stalking rifle

Perhaps you have already done a bit of stalking, possibly as a guest using the estate rifle, and now you have been truly bitten by the deer bug. It’s time to choose a stalking rifle – but where to start? Your biggest decision, and one you need to make even…

shooting rabbits

Are pump-action rifles really a valid vermin tool?

Q: I see quite a lot of classic .22 rimfire pump-action rifles at auctions. Are they really a valid vermin tool? A: They certainly are! Your first choice would be a newer bolt-action or semi-automatic rimfire for rabbits, but some older model rimfires are tremendous value for money and have…

steel bio wad cartridges

What did our tester make of the latest ‘eco-cartridges’?

Margaret Heffernan, the writer and entrepreneur, said: “For good ideas and true innovation, you need human interaction, conflict, argument and debate.” Shooting has had this in spadefuls of late, largely on the topic of cartridges. In February 2020, the British shooting organisations unanimously voiced their support for the phasing out…