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Boss single trigger shotgun review

Boss single trigger shotgun: It comes from the stock of Ray Ward Gunsmiths in Cadogan Place, Knightsbridge, who specialise in top-end guns of both English and Continental origin, and carries a price tag of £42,000.

Boss Single Trigger Shotgun

Boss single trigger shotgun: It comes from the stock of Ray Ward Gunsmiths in Cadogan Place, Knightsbridge, who specialise in top-end guns of both English and Continental origin, and carries a price tag of £42,000.

A significant saving on a new gun which, in side-by-side form, now starts at something over £60,000 including VAT, over-unders costing around £80,000.

Boss are generally credited with creating the first really successful over-under breech-loader early in the last century, and John Moses, the first successful mass-produced one.

The semi-pistol grip on my old Japanese gun, bought with the proceeds from my stamp collection, may have been Boss inspired as well, whether or not Miroku knew it.

The Boss half-pistol with round knob, reminiscent of some early-mid 19th century pistols, was not unique to the firm, but they developed the shape significantly, using it more than other London makers. It was ideal for use with the single trigger that was also a house speciality.

Boss have been enormously influential in so many areas. Famous as makers of ‘best guns only’, they created, under the guiding genius of John Robertson, not only a reliable mechanical single trigger mechanism, but also a much copied over-under action design.

This was patented by Robertson in 1909, but with significant input from his foreman Bob Henderson. Boss also developed the aesthetic of the rounded action bar for side-by-sides and no-one has ever been able to better it.

They also developed interesting coilspring powered ejection systems. Beretta, Perazzi, Kemen, and McKay Brown guns owe a very specific debt to Boss. The first quality over-under gun Beretta made was an outright copy of a Boss and made in 1932. The following year, the firm made their first Boss inspired over-under – the now famous SO sidelock model.

Returning to the present, our Boss side-by-side, was made in 1991 and is a beautiful example of the marque – rounded bar, perfectly proportioned in all departments, well figured wood, classic rose and scroll engraving, and equipped with the famous Boss ‘three-pull’ turret single trigger as well as the half-pistol grip as mentioned.

The semi-pistol is especially well suited to a single trigger game gun. It provides significantly more muzzle control than a straight grip and allows one to more accurately follow the bird’s line.

The advantages of the straight grip, apart from pleasant aesthetics when well conceived, is that it allows you to move the finger between the triggers easily.

While we are at it – why not a full pistol?

On a game gun, many full pistol designs – especially those with an acute radius – force you to cock the wrist uncomfortably when in a muzzle-high ready position.

Tony Sorrell, the resident gunsmith at Wards notes, of the test gun: “The workmanship is fantastic inside, very detailed. All the components are precisely made and perfectly polished – not something you see routinely in English guns today. Because the small parts are burnished, because there are no blemishes or scratches of any kind on the metalwork, including, most importantly, the springs – they are less likely to fail because there are no weak points. These guns can last lifetimes, indeed, one often sees them working well after 100 years, including the springs.”

He added candidly: “I can’t honestly say that a Boss is absolutely my favourite British gun – I love Dickson round actions (a quite different thing to a round bar gun, of course) but this is a fantastic example of English gun-making.”

This Boss round bar gun is not only exquisitely made, but exceptionally attractive with traditional rose and scroll and a brush polished action, which led me to think initially that it might have been older than it was.

Other makers try and copy the rounded style but they don’t always get it quite right, although AyA have made a good stab at it in their new round bar No.2.

The test gun, moreover, shot as well as it looked when taken out on to the clay layouts at the Braintree Shooting Ground in Essex.

The 28″ barrels are controllable.

The gun is not too light – just breaking the 7lb mark – an ideal weight for a 12-bore intended for serious field use as there’s enough mass to soak up some recoil, but not so much as to impede swing.

Boss single trigger side-by-side 12-bore.

Stock measurements are standard, 1.1/2″ and 2″ at comb and heel respectively for drop with a stock length around the 14.3/4″ mark and showing about 3/8″ of cast at heel – a little more than the average.

The quite complex single trigger functions as it should. The Boss design is often credited as being the first really reliable English mechanism.

My own preference, nevertheless, is for double triggers on bench-made guns.

Only machine-made mechanisms framed in steel are absolutely reliable in my experience.

But you cannot help admiring the ingenuity of the Boss trigger. If you were to take the mechanism apart – a job for but half a dozen living craftsmen – you would find it to be quite complex with a fiddly little spring inside the turret. When you pull the trigger, the turret lifts and rotates under spring tension to a firing position for the second barrel.

In essence, it all works rather like a capstan. One clever aspect of the design is that it makes allowance for an involuntary second pull on first firing. This prevents double discharging.

As for the action design, the Boss is a bar lock design and it is cocked by the fall of the barrels (like a Holland). It utilises, like most side-by-sides, classic Purdey double lumps and a Scott spindle and top-lever.

Some very early guns featured snap action under levers. Early guns also had shoulders on the action, they were remodelled in the 1890s to be more Purdey-esque in shape. And, like many British sidelocks, and notably Hollands and Purdeys, the Boss has intercepting safety sears to block the fall of the tumblers if they are inadvertently jarred.

The coil spring ejectors
This gun has an interesting coil spring powered ejector system, which is unusual as most top quality bench made guns use leaf springs.

The coil springs are housed in the fore-end and operate slides, which press on rods acting on the ejector legs on the conventional split extractors.

Some suggest that coil springs have the advantage over V-springs in that they will still function to a degree even when broken. To quote Dig Hadoke: “There is also something ergonomically pleasing and logical in having the spring working in the same direction in which the empty shell is to be ejected.”

Cogswell & Harrison later used a similar principle for the ejector in their Avant Tout boxlock.

However, the Boss has other useful features – the ejector extractors raise the unfired shell rim to the same height as a tripped extractor, but more slowly and in a graduated manner, rather than with a sharp ‘kick’ as occurs on ejection.

The extractors, moreover, rise at the same speed at which the gun is opened. At full gape, the shells are held well proud of the breech, insertion and extraction of cartridges is therefore especially easy.

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