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“I’m looking for an elegant second-hand boxlock – please help”

Our expert Mike George advises a reader

Buyer’s brief: “I am a clay and walked-up game shooter, and I am looking for a really elegant gun to replace my ageing Browning B125. I could spend a little more than £5,000, but I would rather pay out less and use the surplus cash on lessons with a coach to improve my shooting with the new gun.” George Collins, Portsmouth

Mike George’s buying advice

First of all, you are right in going for a boxlock, and there are plenty of good-looking guns on the second-hand market which come well within your budget. For your money you should find what you are looking for, and have the cash for some coaching.

In fact, I wish all gun buyers would consider the value of coaching, and cost some sessions into their budgeting. I know good coaching is not cheap, but it can save a lot of frustration, wasted time, cartridges and non-expert analysis by well-meaning friends.

I think your decision to go for a boxlock over a sidelock is correct, because you wouldn’t get a really good sidelock for the money. And it doesn’t need to be side-plated in order to look good.

One thing George has to look at is the weight of the gun he chooses – the types of shooting he does calls for compromise. For his clayshooting he wants a gun heavy enough to soak up the recoil over long strings of shots, while for his walked-up game a Sporter weighing 8lb-plus may give him tired arms before the shooting day is over.

Now let’s take a look at the boxlock, which tops my elegance list…