A shotgun which ticks a lot of boxes for West London Shooting School instructor Mark Heath
This version of the AYA is designed to replicate the very best English Game guns of the inter war years, with lighter barrels and fast handling. They are available as single guns and matched pairs and can be ordered in 12, 16, 20 and 28 bore. The guns come in a beautiful leather covered oak case with a leather and canvas outer cover.
AYA offers bespoke guns with left opening top lever for those who shoot left-handed. This is something that few manufacturers of fine guns offer. You can also specify single trigger and self-opening should you so wish. The test gun came with double triggers and superbly pointable 30” barrels, though other barrel length options are available. The wood is a lovely straight hand stock with straight grain through the hand to give maximum strength.
The test gun came with the following measurements: length of heel – 15 ¼”, mid 15 1/8” and toe- 15 ½”. The drop was 1 3/8” at comb and 2 1/8” at heel, while the cast was 1/4” off at heel.
Made to measure
Whilst these measurements are a good starting point these guns come with the option of being made to measure at the factory, with a delivery time of somewhere between six and nine months. To get the maximum pleasure from using them I would strongly recommend you plan ahead and have a gun-fitting session and get the guns made to your own requirements. The measurements from AYA always come back from the factory exactly as ordered.
Reliability and longevity
These guns are made with chopperlump barrels which is the same manufacturing process as best guns. AYA is also the only Spanish gunmaker that machines its own barrels and actions. The steel used for the locks and springs is unique to AYA, and is manufactured with reliability and longevity in mind. The design is such that even if the gun is shot off the face after tens of thousands of cartridges, it’s easy for a gunsmith to rectify it by replacement of the hinge pin.
We see a large number of AYAs at WLSS in every configuration and bar the odd spring or firing pin they do stand the test of time.
The build quality of the test gun was first class, with exceptional wood to metal fit, well figured wood complimented by some elegant rose and scroll engraving. The chequering was well executed with the diamonds of the chequering being comfortable in the hand. The radius of the straight hand stock fitted nicely in the hand. The weight of the 20 bore comes in at 6lbs with the 30” barrels, as consequence we were wondering how a light gun would be to shoot.
A comparison with other guns is difficult as the choice in this price bracket is limited. The closest competitor would be an AYA No1 and what you choose would be dependant on personal taste. The question you would need to ask is whether you want something that was that little bit different from the mainstream.
So how does it shoot?
To test the gun I took it out onto the school with the home team including Alan Rose, who has been teaching longer than most of us have been alive.
We started on the 40ft tower shooting all the angles, the gun was a delight to shoot and perfect with the longer barrels. We were surprised how controllable the gun was, the straight hand stock was perfect to let the hand slide back for the second trigger. The ejectors as for all AyAs shot the cartridges out and were perfectly timed. As with most AYAs if you miss the bird in front with both barrels you have a fair chance of hitting it with one of the ejected cartridges as it flies behind.
We moved onto the medium tower at 80ft and shot a range of birds at every angle including pushing the trap out to send a 45-yard bird. The gun was a pleasure to shoot even on these medium to high birds and produced some powdering kills. We shot a range of cartridges from the school teaching loads at 21grm No.8 shot, some 28gram copper coated No.6 shot, and some 30gram No.5 shot in a variety of brands. Interestingly, we were expecting recoil to be a problem but even the No.5s from a manufacturer with a reputation for some punchy loads were comfortable to shoot. We finished on one of the fast grouse butts where we were able to control the gun nicely to shoot consistently with some smoking results.
Shotguns: AYA No.2 de luxe 20-bore shotgun: We test this more affordable version of AYA's No.1 lightweight sidelock.
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So what’s the verdict? I asked Alan and senior instructor Paul Gendall whether we would choose to take the gun on a 300 bird mixed partridge and pheasant day, where there was a range of birds from good partridge to reasonably high pheasants. There was no hesitation. We would all be happy to shoot it on a wide variety of birds and get a great deal of pleasure in the process.
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Engineering: From my personal experience there are rarely any issues with AYA guns, just the occasional firing pin or spring caused by wear and tear and easy to fix. 9/10
Looks and finishing: Fabulous looking gun, the engraving was exceptionally well done and the style of engraving was to my personal preference and well executed. 9/10
Handling: The gun was a pleasure to shoot on a wide range of targets. 10/10
Reliability and customer service: AyA and ASI have been around long enough and have built their respective reputations. 9/10
Value: If you are looking for something a little bit special have a close look at this one. 9/10
Happy to shoot it on a wide variety of birds and get a great deal of pleasure in the process.