The Longthorne Valhalla Model 3004
Ye gods! Becky McKenzie says the Longthorne Valhalla is no Odin-ary shotgun
Price as reviewed: £11,995
Where do I start with this stunning, 100% English-made beauty, the Longthorne Valhalla?
My full-time job, as a lot of you know, is being a shooting coach and my part-time job is reviewing guns. How lucky am I? The gun I tested here is a Longthorne 12-bore, 32in barrelled, sidelock. What is a sidelock, you ask? Or a boxlock or trigger-plate for that matter? When choosing a gun to test, I try to find a new model that has been recently released or something a bit different or unusual. Or I will go for an everyday gun that readers might be considering. Oh, and I may just choose it because it looks downright gorgeous.
A key feature of any shotgun is the ‘feel’ or quality of the trigger-pull. Some shooters are probably unaware of how heavy the trigger-pull is on their gun until they try out a different, more expensive gun. Then they appreciate the feel, crispness and ease when applying pressure to the trigger-blade. (Read more on adjusting trigger-pull.)
A boxlock action is based on the simple but hard-wearing design made many years ago by Anson & Deeley. The design allows for a lot of strong and competent guns to be manufactured at a much more affordable price. So, basically, the boxlock is a simple design where the lockwork is mounted internally, as opposed to the sidelock, where the parts are located on the sideplates of the action. Sideplates are much more complex, but they offer supreme quality in trigger-pulls, though at a significant cost.
The trigger-plate action took the locking system away from the sides of the action plates and mounted everything on the trigger-plate itself, where it could be inserted into the action from the bottom. This makes the action bar very strong and puts the weight firmly between the hands of the shooter, making for a gun with a neutral point of balance.
Anyway, the Longthorne. Being of Viking heritage – yes, I did one of those DNA tests and discovered I am 55% Viking – I chose the Valhalla action on the Longthorne gun tested here. It has stunning engraving with a dark background, and I loved it.
I had the 12-bore version, but the gun is also available in 16, 20 and 28-bore. Barrel lengths available are 30in or 32in, flat rib design or a slightly ramped, or higher, rib style, which I really like. The one I chose had a normal flat rib, as the previous Longthorne I borrowed had the higher rib.
The gun in question has a 3in chamber, which is high-performance proofed for steel shot up to half-choke. Five chokes are provided – skeet, quarter, half, three-quarters and full – with a box and a choke key. The action is square rather than round and has a trigger-plate with an adjustable trigger.
The gun on test had a standard Sporting-style fore-end, but you can order a slim fore-end, beavertail, rounded and tapered. The trigger-guard and the top-lever on the gun I had were nicely engraved.
- Proofed for high-performance steel
- Adjustable trigger
- 12, 16, 20 and 28-bore available
- Celtic style engraving
- Walnut stock with satin finish
- The barrels are extremely strong
The stock length of pull on this demo gun was 15in, which was somewhat big for me, so a bit of stretching needed to be done when I shot it. The Valhalla I had was endowed with some fine Turkish walnut. Each client can hand pick their timber should they wish to do so, and upgraded walnut is available too. Most of the stocks can be custom made, or semi-custom made, to fit each individual client. The barrels with top vented rib and solid mid rib weighed in at 1.639kg. The total weight of the Longthorne was exactly 8lb.
The Longthorne is made in Northampton and is British through and through, and who doesn’t like to go British these days? It is made with Longthorne’s patented barrel technology, which means it is made from a single billet of special steel with no soldered side joint. This makes the barrels extremely strong, giving less recoil and muzzle flip. Finally, the gun has an ultra-low-profile action, making it better balanced and nicer to handle.
On the clays
It was time to test the Valhalla on some clays. On shouldering the gun for the first time, I found the stock was too long, so I really had to stretch myself to feel at home with it. If you bought the gun, it would usually be fitted for you. That aside, I really liked the gun after a couple of shots. Only 8lb, but lighter than my own Perazzi by 6oz, I feared the Valhalla might feel too fast as a result of that; and I wondered if I was going to feel more recoil because it was lighter?
We went on the Sportrap layout at Sporting Targets to have a bash. Popping the gun into my shoulder, I chose a nice easy target to start with. One puff of clay dust later and I quickly decided I needed to challenge this gun a bit more. Trying it on a good crosser, left to right, the Longthorne Valhalla gave me an excellent sight picture, even with the stock being too long. It moved with grace and speed but not with uncontrolled or whippy movements as I’d feared.
I tried various methods of shooting this particular target – swing through, touch and push, and I even dabbled with maintained lead, of which I am not a fan. The Longthorne just kept breaking clays. Trying a few more technical targets, I missed the first one, as I didn’t know where it was coming from, then smashed up the rest. All the breaks were of good quality, showing I was hitting the targets’ centre patterns.
This gun goes to point of aim with little effort. Was it too fast? No, it was smooth, kept a good line and offered a good field of view too. Did I feel any recoil? Barely. A meagre push into my shoulder. In my previous encounter with Longthorne, Jim, the managing director, made me a semi-custom stock. I used the gun for a month and having a stock fitted reduces the recoil even more. (Read more on gun recoil here.)
The Longthorne Valhalla inspires confidence in the shooter and this is evident from the many clients who tried it and really loved it. It oozes quality, looks like the dog’s danglies and, for those of you who don’t like fancy engraving, there is a plain black action model and even a GB flag action for the patriots out there.
There was something about this gun that I didn’t like: the price. If I went out and bought one, there would be a divorce on the cards. However, it must be said the product is well worth every penny because the build quality is excellent. Plus, as it is made in the Midlands, you are supporting British industry, and servicing and repairs can be done relatively close to home.
- Model: Longthorne Valhalla Model 3004
- Bore 12-bore
- Action: Trigger-plate
- Chokes: Five extended chokes (also made by Longthorne)
- Rib: Vented flat rib
- Fore-end: Slim Sporting
- Weight: 8lb
- Cost: From £11,995