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.

24gm shotgun cartridges

Taking a look at 24gm shotgun cartridges

The advantages of 24gm shotgun cartridges 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 as they travel through the bores.  The upshot to this is…

airgun laws

Air rifle questions we’re often asked

  Q: Do I need a licence for an air rifle?  If you live in England or Wales and have an air rifle with a muzzle energy level of 12 ft lb or less or an air pistol with a muzzle energy of 6 ft lb or less you don’t…

best clayshooting cartridges

13 of the best clayshooting cartridges reviewed

Forty or so years ago when clayshooting wasn’t as big as it is now shooters used whatever cartridges were around. Then clayshooting started to really catch on and now there is a whole host of cartridges specially designed for smashing clays. Dedicated competition cartridges are available for 12-bore, 20-bore, .410…

clear pheasant pens of rats

How to use an air rifle to clear pheasant pens of rats

One evening that really sticks in my mind is a ratting session with my friend Kev Hawker in February. As the pheasant season had drawn to a close, we were allowed to shoot inside the release pens on a local estate and the early signs suggested that we were 
in…

Summer squirrel shooting with air rifle

Airguns and summer squirrel shooting

Squirrel shooting with an air rifle can be very tricky over the summer months. The trees are covered with dense foliage which makes your quarry almost invisible in the treetops. Lure of the pheasant feeder The colder months are an easier time for squirrel shooting with an air rifle. Hungry…

Italian shotguns Beretta Silver Pigeon 1 (2019) Field

Italian shotguns

The superb value offered by Italian shotguns If you’re looking to buy a gun then it’s definitely worth considering Italian shotguns. Buy Italian and you will be the proud owner of a well-built, good quality gun that will cost far less than a new English gun. Long and proud history…

wildfowling

Steel yourself

Twenty years ago, when restrictions on the use of lead shot on the foreshore came in, the steel shot cartridges commercially available to wildfowlers were not good enough. Steel shot performance has been playing catch-up ever since and still struggles to slough off its poor reputation. But there was a…

most powerful air rifle

Powerful air rifles that don’t need a firearms licence

Which is the most powerful air rifle under the legal limit? Legal limit airguns (air rifles that are under the 12ft/lbs power limit) are the easiest and cheapest way to get into shooting. These types of rifles do not require a licence (except in Scotland) and after the initial expense…

crow control with rifles

Shooting crows with rifles

Crow shooting isn't just for those who possess a shotgun. Bruce Potts investigates the relative merits of centrefires and rimfires for a safe and humane despatch

copper bullets

Are copper bullets the way forward?

Using copper bullets for stalking? But isn’t copper toxic?” 
asked a friend. He 
is a staunch defender of lead ammunition. In a discussion about centrefire rifle ammunition, I suggested he read Megan Rowland’s recent piece in Shooting Times. She gave a detailed account of using copper bullets for stalking and…

English classic gun

Is it time to buy an English classic gun?

Always wanted an English classic gun? If you are anticipating a drop in the price of English guns in the wake of the announcement that lead shot should be phased out over the next five years, and are considering taking advantage of the situation, there are some considerations you need…

EJ Churchill Regal

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

Always store guns muzzle down When you put your gun back in your gun cabinet don’t put it butt down. Always store guns muzzle down. The reason for this is that any oil or cleaning fluid left in the bores will run out onto the floor of your gun cabinet.…