If you wish to buy a new-to-you gun for the coming game season, then now’s the time to be looking along the racks of second-hand shotguns
Beretta 486 Parellelo
Purchasing a gun in July will enable you to shoot a few summer clays to get used to your acquisition, and get any handling tweaks sorted out, before the serious stuff begins.
The choice will be between a traditional side-by-side and a more modern over-and-under, and if you take the first option, then a Beretta is well worth a second look. Although the company is best known for its O/Us, its smaller number of side-by-sides are well-made and long-lived, and the latest of the breed is the 486 Parallelo.
The action represents a re-think by the Beretta designers, with the hammers driven by v-springs. The mechanical bits within the action are very compact – a necessity because there is less available internal space when compared to an O/U and, unlike a traditional side-by-side, the gun has a single, selective trigger. First barrel is selected, O/U-style, by a button within the safety thumbpiece.
The ejector work is powered by coil springs and – glory be – ejection can be turned off. This saves a lot of hands-and-knees groping for spent cases at the end of a drive, but you can turn it on if you are lucky enough to have drawn a really hot peg.
The barrels are made on the monobloc principle, and lockup is achieved by a low-mounted bolt engaging with twin bites in the barrel lumps. Fixed-choke and multichoke barrels are available in a variety of lengths up to 30 inches.
The straight-hand stock is commendably slim considering it has to accommodate a stock bolt passing through the hand, and the fore-end is a traditional English splinter type. Weight is between 7lb and 7¼lb, depending on barrel length and wood density.
New guns usually sell from £3,300 upwards.
Webley & Scott Jenson 3000 sidelock
When Jason Harris tested this Webley & Scott as a new gun a little more than three years ago, he was quite critical on a couple of points. The first was that, at 7lb 15oz, it was overweight for a 28inch game gun. Also, he didn’t like the profile of the rounded pistol grip.
But, despite those criticisms, the gun still has a lot going for it – and the biggest plus point is price. O/U sidelocks for around £5,000 new are pretty rare, so for that kind of money I can even forgive the fact that although the gun bears the name of a famous English maker, it is made in Turkey. I should also point out that there are lighter guns in the W&S sidelock series.
The gun is a true sidelock, which means there is no stock bolt running through the hand. The lock plates and action have been treated to a most attractive colour-hardening finish, which has been applied by traditional means as would have been used by Webley & Scott in its heyday, and not by the more modern salts bath method. The colours really are rich and varied, as well as serving to apply a hard “crust” to the steel.
The lock plates are held on to the stock with a hand detachable screw with its head on the left side.
The top lever, trigger guard and trigger are presented in a deep black, while the fore-end iron has been colour hardened to match the action. Overall, the standard of metal finishing is very good. The gun is a multichoke, with five tubes supplied, and the ventilated rib is 6mm wide. Chambers are 3in, ejectors are spring-loaded and lock-up is achieved by a low-mounted bolt engaging with a bite on the barrel lump.
Woodwork on this model is extremely good, as you would expect on a quality gun made in the home of the finest walnut trees.
Rizzini RB EL
Round-body shotguns have great elegance, and when the subject comes up I invariably think of the Dickson Round Action, a Scottish-made gun, a pair of which has just come on the market for £29,500. A good single gun can cost more than £12,000.
Fortunately there are reasonably-priced round-bodied alternatives to this timeless classic, and one of them is the Rizzini RB EL. The new price should be a little more than £4,000: I can’t be exact because, at the time of writing, the importer had yet to release his latest price list.
The fact that, as well as being available “off the shelf”, guns can also be made to individual order, further complicating the price structure, particularly on the second-hand market. So my target price of £3,000 is something of a shot in the dark, if you will excuse an awful pun.
The gun is made in Italy by B. Rizzini, not to be confused with one of his relatives, E. Rizzini, who made some cheap and cheerful guns on sale in the 1980s. It is part of an extensive range, all of which are of excellent quality.
The action is typical of most Italian guns – low in profile, with barrels hinged on stub pins, and a low-mounted bolt engaging with a bite on the shallow barrel lump. Hammers, driven by coil springs running on guide rods, are mounted on the trigger plate, with sears hanging from the top strap. Generally, this layout is reliable and long-lived.
The round action is presented in polished steel, and is very tastefully engraved with game scenes – partridges on one side and grouse on the other. The gun illustrated is a 20bore with 29inch barrels, 3inch chambers, and a solid rib tapering from 8mm at the breech to 5mm at the muzzles. The gun is available in 12, 16, 20 and 28 bore and all are built on true-scale actions, which means the smaller bores don’t suffer from odd-looking barrel spacing. In addition, a set of .410 barrels is available to fit the 28 bore action.
When Jason Harris tested the new gun for this magazine in 2013, he awarded it 96 points out of 100 – one of his best scores ever.