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.


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.

shooting an air rifle

Airgun laws and security requirements you need to know

Are you up to speed on airgun laws? Can a parent, friend or relative buy a youngster an airgun? Here’s a query we recently received from a concerned parent. Q: Can my ex-husband buy an air rifle for our nine-year-old? Is it legal? My son seems a bit young for…

buying a second-hand air rifle

Buying a second-hand air rifle: here’s how to do it

You can save a wad of your hard-earned cash by buying a second-hand air rifle. But if you don’t know what to look out for, you could also end up with something worthless. Here’s my step-by-step guide to buying a second-hand air rifle so you make the right decision. (You…

Air rifle case – we share our top picks

When it comes to pest control or stalking in the field, any keen Shot will tell you that you should only take what you need, because you don’t want to be weighed down by unnecessary gear when you’re several miles away from the car. Not only that, you need something…

caring for your air rifle in cold

Caring for your air rifle in cold, wet weather

Today’s performance fabrics such as Gore-Tex mean that we can stay outside in wet, freezing temperatures for longer than ever before. But what about caring for your air rifle in cold and wet weather? What do you need to know about maintaining it, so that it continues to perform well…

air rifle pest control

How to choose an air rifle that’s right for you

Before you choose an air rifle you need to think about what you want to use your air rifle for? A bit of backyard plinking? Target practice? Pest control? Set a budget and stick to it. (Read our guide to the best air rifles under £500). Go to air gun…

best air rifles under £500

Best air rifles for under £500: what made the list?

One of the greatest appeals of airgun shooting is its affordability. For a few hundred pounds you can pick up an air rifle that should give years of reliable service and will meet your needs. Many Guns start their shooting career with an air rifle and garden airgunning has been…

shotgun moderators

Shotgun moderators: a few discreet options to be considering

Sound moderators are now part of the British shooting fabric and an almost must-have item for rifle shooters. For shotgunners, however, shotgun moderators are still a specialised item. You have a choice of fully suppressed shotguns with in-built silencing – the original Hushpower moderated shotguns from the Saddlery and Gunroom…

Red stag

Finding the perfect calibre for deer

The UK is blessed to have a selection of deer species, both indigenous and introduced — and vitally important management of deer creates sporting opportunities all around the country. However, with species ranging from red stags weighing up to 190kg to a 10kg muntjac, having a suitable rifle for all…

lighter airguns

Lighter airguns: here are a few to be thinking about

The advice when buying an air rifle is to find one that suits you best, although what suits you is likely to change over time. If you’re finding your current air rifle a bit cumbersome for taking out into the field, then it’s worth seeing what’s around that could suit…

24g shotgun cartridges

Best 24g shotgun cartridges: top picks for lightening the load

Most of us would be better off shooting 24g shotgun cartridges. The advantages of a lighter load are often underrated and misunderstood. In addition to costing less and producing lower recoil they give you better patterns. This is due to less damage being done to the pellets during ignition and…

Browning 725 Pro Sport Adjustable trigger

How to adjust trigger-pull weight

The ideal weight of a shotgun trigger is usually a setting of about 4lb – anything under 3lb is dangerous and anything more than 5lb is a handicap. So if want to lighten your shotgun trigger, how do you adjust trigger-pull? (You might also like to read about trigger ‘freeze’…


Gunsmithing at home: when you shouldn’t DIY your gun

Home gunsmithing The guns you may be planning to work on were made by time-served craftsmen at the top of their game. Time may have been unkind to their creations, but unskilled gunsmithing, restoration or repair work is the unkindest cut of all, to paraphrase a line from Shakespeare’s Julius…

small bore shotguns

Small bore shotguns: threatened by the demise of lead?

For the majority of us, our shooting journey is punctuated by different bore sizes. It is perhaps an accurate representation of our growth and development through life; we tend to strive to achieve bigger and better until old age sets in and we retract to comfort and contentment. Many young…

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…