Chapuis Artisan 20-bore sideplate shotgun
You know those times when a fellow shooter arrives with a new gun that?s a bit special and you can?t wait for them to open the case so you can have a look and when they do, you go green with envy.
Well I recently had one of those moments, it was not actually a fellow shooter the gun belonged to but it certainly felt the same.
York Guns had sent me a French-made Chapuis 20-bore side-by-side to review at my pleasure, and boy it was definitely a real pleasure.
A little gasp came from not just myself, but two other shooters close by, as the case was opened revealing this little French seductress from St. Etienne.
Even before we had it out and put together, she had our hearts all of a flutter. ?Absolutely gorgeous? was the term use by one guy and ?stunning? by another.
The wood was Cirsassian walnut and as good as it gets quite frankly, dark enough to make it look the class that it so obviously was, with the lighter tones really complementing the darker wood perfectly, showing up the grain throughout the entire English straight-hand stock, that has a length-of-pull of 15?.
Chapuis grade it as AAAAA and the wood to metal finish is first class.
The hand engraving covers the entire rounded action together with the side plates, fore-end irons, trigger guard and bow, running down the underside of the stock.
The game scenes of pheasant, partridge and woodcock were done exquisitely, such detail.
The the fences and top lever feature deep traditional flowering & scrolls, with the engravers signature tucked away in the corner of the Woodcock scene? fabulous.
The 30? / 76mm chambered barrels had the incredible deep, deep shine, typical of a quality gun. But they had an unusual lump of mechanics fixed to them which operated the ejectors which to be honest I?ve never seen the like of before.
In fact the whole action operation was a little strange. Not really like any other action I?ve ever seen but very well made all the same.
Not wanting to hang about in the club house any longer, Wylye Valley Shooting ground owner Ian Stones and I set off out to the skeet layout, to try a few close, fast targets and see if the little Chapuis handled as well as it looked.
So armed with some 21g/24g/28g Hull and Express cartridges we got well and truly stuck in!
We did harbour a little doubt about the capabilities of the gun, but they were proved to be totally unfounded. At a tad over 6lbs in weight and balancing right between your hands, it felt like it was floating on air.
Instantly noticeable was the ?ski slope? rib, dipping away from the action, but making a perfect sight picture just under the target – which made it very easy NOT to look at the gun when shooting.
As the gun came up to the shoulder so well, we decided to take the high house target on station 7 first – on a simultaneous pair – instead of the low house as usual.
Again we were surprised by the handling and capabilities of the gun – as we both smoked both targets several times.
The fixed-choke barrels are very clearly marked 1/4 + ½, but from the way the clays dusted, I suspect they were maybe just a little tighter.
Also noted was that the ejectors were very strong in operation and threw the empties a long way.
Being impressed with the gun so far, I decided to try and put it through its paces ? on a mix of battues, rabbits, teal, driven pheasant and a dreaded 60 yarder on the top of the bank.
This time I was doing my best not to doubt the ability of this little French wonder.
Both 1/4 + 1/2 chokes broke every type of target extremely well, as it should of done. The wonderful feeling of sheer delight and self-confidence while shooting a side-by-side was an old feeling that had been locked away now for some time but now totally rekindled.
However, on such a long target as the 60 yard crosser I needed to concentrate and be at one with the gun so much so that the trigger pulls suddenly seemed to become slightly heavy for me at what felt in the region of 4.1/2lbs.
Also noticeable was, for me at least, the front trigger was slightly too far forward and needed to come back about 2mm.
I?m not really put off by any of this though as I admit to not having the biggest or strongest hands around.
Noticeably though the little 20g side by side was seriously at home on anything resembling a driven Pheasant, or Grouse type target for which it was designed. You really didn?t need to try very hard to hit these targets as they seemed to just give up at the site of the little Chapuis.
From a personal point of view, the only way this gun can be improved apart from maybe a little fettling is to give it a single trigger.
I have to say that I have truly been seduced by this little French beauty and am unashamedly going to hang on to her for as long as I can? or until York Guns send round the Heavies that is.
Chapuis Artisan 20b sideplate round-action
with hand engraving and exhibition timber
York Guns tel: 01904 487180