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EJ Churchill Crown – a new version

EJ Churchill is renowned for fine guns, but now a new version of the Crown has entered the collection. What does Matt Clark think?

EJ Churchill - Crown,

EJ Churchill Crown

Overall Rating: 97%

Manufacturer: E J Churchill

Price as reviewed: £7,995

Most of you will know that EJ Churchill has an illustrious gunmaking past, but no longer makes guns. So you may be surprised to see that the company has brought out a new gun called the EJ Churchill Crown. Rupert Haynes, the gunroom manager at EJ Churchill is quite open that the company has outsourced production to Rizzini. And why not? After all, the Italian company makes excellent guns. This is a slight departure from the norm for EJ Churchill, as it has used AYA to produce its guns in the past, but decided to use Rizzini as the price of AYA guns has increased recently and so Rizzini offers the customer better value for money.

EJ Churchill Crown choices

The new EJ Churchill Crown comes in two configurations: a straight stock or a semi-pistol grip and you can choose a double or single trigger. Here, we are testing the pistol grip version with a single selective trigger. The reason we chose to review this one first is that most of us are used to using over-and-unders and moving to a straight grip side-by-side can be a bit of a challenge. By combining a pistol grip with a single trigger and a side-by-side configuration, you effectively get the best of both worlds, making the change from over-and-under less of a leap. We will review the straight stock, double trigger version in another issue.

Some shooters prefer a more traditional straight stock with double triggers, so that they can easily choose which barrel to use simply by pulling a different trigger. Let’s face it, on guns with single selective triggers, as seen on most over-and-unders, the shooter rarely has time to select a different barrel.

The other reason is that the majority of shooters these days shoot over-and-unders and so are more used to thicker pistol-style grips. If they fancy making the transition to a side-by-side, the pistol grip and single selective trigger make the shooter feel more at home and they also offer better control of the gun. (Read more on switching to a side-by-side.)

EJ Churchill Crown

Almost every piece of metal on the Crown is beautifully engraved


You will notice from the pictures that this gun has sideplates. These are purely decorative because at the heart of this gun is a boxlock action. The plates just provide the engraver a surface to practise their art.

There is profuse foliate engraving all over the metal surfaces, including the fences, the trigger guard and the extended tang. It is largely applied by laser and then hand-picked to finesse it by the atelier Bottega Incisioni di Cesare Giovanelli, one of the finest engravers in the Val Trompia region of northern Italy. Finally, the engraving is inked to give it an impression of depth and it also provides a beautiful contrast. The end result is stunning, especially when it’s combined with the high grade dark walnut stock, hand selected by Batista Rizzini himself.

The gun itself is nicely styled. Even with the chunkier semi-pistol grip it has the sleek lines a side-by-side should have. I call this type of gun a ‘hybrid’ because it combines the best of the old (side-by-side barrel configuration) with the best of the new, a semi-pistol grip stock. Combine both these qualities and you get the great handling of a side-by-side with the familiarity of an over-and-under.

The Crown is also future-proofed for high performance steel shot and has a 3in chamber, meaning you can use it for fowling if you wish. Although to me that would be close to sacrilege.

The barrels are deeply blued and glossy with a matt concave rib to reduce glare. The gun I shot had fixed chokes set at a ½ and ½. Multichokes are an option and cost £495, which includes five chokes and a key. If you want Teague thin-walled multi-chokes they will cost you £795. (Read more on Teague chokes here.)

EJ Churchill Crown

We tested this gun with 28g cartridges and found recoil well managed

The oily bits

Built on the trigger-plate action, like many modern Italian side-by-sides, the Crown’s operating system is similar to that of its over-and-unders. Hammers are hinged to the trigger plate with coil springs to power them. The single trigger mechanism is recoil operated and the barrel selector and auto safety sit on the top strap, again like most over-and-unders. The selector and safety move nicely, which is a testament to the fine engineering that goes into this gun.

The balance of this gun with 30in barrels is virtually on the hinge pin, giving it a delightfully neutral feeling when shouldered. The 14 ¾ inch stock actually fitted me quite well. I usually need something slightly longer, however, if you are using this as a game gun, then you must make allowance for a thicker shooting coat, which will make the stock feel longer than it actually is. The sight picture was ideal for me as well, with the barrels sloping gently up.

Of course, if you bought one of these new, you would get a two-hour gun fitting at EJ Churchill, which would result in a made-to-measure stock. So no worries there, because you would walk away with a gun that suited you perfectly.

On target

I tried this Italian thoroughbred with a range of targets at the ground of EJ Churchill and this is where I got really excited about the gun. It handles like a dream. I really couldn’t miss with it. I am at best a mediocre shot, but the new Crown made me feel like a shooting god.

Matt Coward Holley and a team from British Shooting were at the ground that day. At first I felt a bit intimidated. Thankfully they were using their own range, but after shooting the Crown a few times, I wanted them to see how well I was doing. That’s what this gun did to my confidence.

Using Gamebore Evo Competition Load (28g with 8 shot) I put the gun through its paces. I went for a heavier load to see how the gun handled recoil. After all, this gun was built to be used in the field and could theoretically handle magnum loads.

I found the recoil was well-managed and the gun was comfortable to shoot. Perceived recoil is a personal thing, so I handed the gun to Andrew, our photographer. He is used to shooting side-by-sides and I wanted his opinion on this matter. Like me, he found no adverse recoil. (Read more on recoil here.)

There were a number of factors that made this gun so good to shoot. First was its handling. With its neutral balance it felt light in the shoulder. The 30in barrels swung easily through the targets, no need to exert any undue force.

The semi-pistol grip gave me the feeling that I had total control of the Crown. It was thicker in the hand than a straight stock, which is what I am more used to. Sometimes over-and-under users feel that the straight stock of a traditional side-by-side can be too ‘dainty’ for them.

Secondly, the side-by-side configuration gave me a better sight picture. I focused on the target with the barrels in my peripheral vision. On over-and-unders my eyes are often drawn to the barrels, which often results in the gun stopping.

Finally, having just one trigger suited me as well. On double-trigger guns, I often forget to move my finger to the other trigger, which results in a frustrating miss.

After building my confidence on some of the less challenging stands, I went to one that always caused me problems. It was a high driven pair. I dusted the first pair and then hit one of the second pair. Thereafter it was hit after hit. Andrew the photographer had a go with the same result.

The new Crown is a lovely looking gun and its handling qualities are superb. I am sure many of you will think that you are going to pay a premium for the EJ Churchill name on the side. It’s a fair assumption, but you wouldn’t be right.

At £7,995 you will pay £900 more when you buy a gun from there, but the extra money is not for the gun itself. For that extra you get an EJ Churchill leather compact ABS case, a two-hour gun fitting session, one-hour handover lesson and a made-to-measure stock.

That more than covers the extra money and not only that, you will get the illustrious EJ Churchill name on your gun.

Tech specs

  • Model: Crown side-by-side pistol grip
  • Bore: 12 (tested), 20, 28-bore and .410 cal
  • Action: Boxlock with decorative side plates
  • Barrel Length: 30in
  • Chokes: Fixed (tested as standard), multi or Teagued (£495 or £795)
  • Fore-end: Splinter or beaver tail
  • Weight: 7lb 6oz
  • Price: From £7,995

EJ Churchill Crown

Editor’s verdict

The EJ Churchill Crown is a shotgun that looks beautiful and handles superbly. That makes it worth £7,995 of anyone’s money. This gun will appeal to those who are a bit sentimental in that they want the EJ Churchill name on their gun, but want to combine that with the reliability of a modern gun from a prestigious Italian gunmaker.

Combine that with the superb handling and you have a gun that is worth every penny of its asking price.

Scores on the doors

  • Build quality 23/25
  • Handling 25/25
  • Styling 25/25
  • Value for money 24/25


  • Single or double trigger
  • Spare barrels and fore-end £3,350
  • Made by Rizzini for EJ Churchill


The Crown is a lovely looking gun and its handling qualities are superb