The French have hit the mark with this delightful, lightweight game gun, as West London Shooting School's Mark Heath explains.
Prior to picking up the Chapuis C40 for this month’s review the only other French shotgun I had shot before was a Darne made in the same region of France as the Chapuis but with a unique sliding breech action. So on opening the travel case I was quite relieved to find a conventional over-under 12 bore.
- The Chapuis we are testing is aimed at the UK game shooting market, the demonstrator we were sent was a 12 bore with 30in barrels.
- It is also available in 28in and 32in barrel options.
- It was a fixed choke gun with 1⁄4 and 1⁄2 chokes, a multi choke option is available with the chokes made by Chapuis themselves rather than an aftermarket manufacturer.
- An auto non selective safety catch is also a standard feature.
- The woodwork had pleasant figuring with straight grain through the grip to give strength, and a chequered butt plate.
- The fore-end was of a rounded type and particularly comfortable, the wood to metal fit is of the highest standards.
- The guns overall weight was 7Ilb 4oz so falls in the category of a lightweight 12 bore game gun and the balance was perfectly on the pin with the barrels coming in at 1,400g.
The gun test was going to be interesting. But before that the stock measurements were some of the best off the shelf measurements that I have seen, the length of pull was 15 1⁄8ths with drop measurements of 1 3⁄8ths at comb and 2 1⁄8th at heel with ¼ in cast off at heel.
The reason for this became apparent later when I spoke to Stephane Dupille, the founder of Stephen & Son gunmakers, who declared that the stocks were made to his specification. He is a prime dealer in the UK for Chapuis and also its UK repair centre.
- The C40 has a wide range of options in addition to barrel lengths that we have already mentioned.
- There are choices of grip style including straight hand, Prince of Wales and pistol grip, two fore-end options rounded and schnabel.
- Wood upgrades can also be added to the specification and the stock made to bespoke specifications.
- Ribs can be specified as solid or vented and the action can be ordered with case hardened colour finish.
- Additional barrels are also available to order.
- Chapuis can be ordered in 12, 16, 20 and 28 bore.
- Lastly there are case options, the standard is a plastic travel case or alternatively there are canvas and leather options.
The gun tested at West London Shooting School was in the basic version but clearly there are a fabulous range of options that you can specify to the extent that you will have a custom individual gun made to your specifications.
Chapuis C40 12 bore – in the field
This is the first Chapuis I have seen let alone shot, so the first job was to put it together. With the Chapuis you do have to get the angle of attack right to get the barrels to slot in with minimum effort to the action, the good news is once you get this correct it’s simple and the barrels go onto the action right first time every time.
Out onto the shooting school for what turned out to be a bit of an eye opener with one of my usual co-testers Paul Gendall. We started on the 40ft tower to get the measure of the gun and it soon became apparent what looks like a perfectly normal off the shelf medium priced gun has got some amazing handling qualities.
The patterns were absolutely stunning with the fixed 1/4 and 1/2 chokes, the gun was fast handling but controllable, we moved the targets around and we were both incredibly impressed very quickly. Onto the 80 ft tower for something a bit more serious. We both shot the complete variety of targets straight overhead and out wide left and right, the handling was stunning and perfect breaks on the targets, literally the whole clay ground to powder.
We both changed our timing to shooting the bird normally and then some really fast breaks straight off the tower, the handling of the gun was completely flexible. We were shooting a variety of fibre wad cartridges from 24gram No.7 ½ up 32 gram No.5s. The gun was fitted with the chequered butt plate, the gun was very comfortable with little felt recoil, this was probably due to a combination of the balance and the measurements.
We started the gun test expecting average fairly neutral handling with a does the job sort of response and came away incredibly impressed. If your thing is shooting pheasants closer to Pluto than the Earth then you might want something a little heavier or the 32 inch barrel version with some multi-chokes rather than the fixed quarter and half on the test gun, but as an all round game gun the Chapuis C40 12 bore has some great strengths especially its handling.
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Engineering: 9/10 Appears very well put together and executed. It feels properly screwed together and comes with a two-year warranty. I sometimes think the way the safety catch works gives an indication of the quality of the gun, this one has a re-assuring very precise click on and off.
Looks and finishing: 9/10 A very well presented gun, that has been well finished, my personal preference would be slightly darker wood but then with a Chapuis I could upgrade the wood.
Handling: 10/10 A real shock in this department to a significant degree with some truly fabulous handling.
Value: 9/10 With a starting price of £3,800 which you can then customise your gun with various extras and bespoke measurements in a way that I am not sure many others offer. I would add bespoke fitting, upgraded wood and either the canvas or leather case.
Customer service and reliability: 9/10 Chapuis do not have a heavy brand presence in the UK however they are definitely not new to gunmaking. Stephen and Son are well known within the guntrade and they back these guns and provide first class service.
Overall: 46 /50
Appears very well put together and executed