Gun reviews: Boxall and Edmiston over-under shotgun
Boxall and Edmiston is fast becoming a recognised name in the British gun trade.
And this latest model of theirs: a round bodied O/U – is a fine example of why these makers are so highly rated.
Pete Boxall oversaw development and production of the Holland and Holland range of O/ Us when he was their Director of Gunmaking and this experience has served him well in the creation of his own guns.
Although the Boxall and Edmiston over-under is totally their own design, Pete admits that he has drawn on the best ideas from other gunmakers.
Many of the traditional gunmaking features we see today are effectively the result of evolution with the best ideas having survived for more than 150 years.
However, computer aided design and manufacture means many different ideas can now be used as inspiration to bring together a totally new gun like this.
For many of the best ideas and designs, simplicity is the key.
And this gun has an uncomplicated look to it – in my opinion an admirable achievement from a gunmaking perspective.
To my eye this impression of simplicity comes in part from the fact that with the woodwork removed there is relatively little to see inside.
The hammers, sears and inertia block are the parts that draw the eye but no mainsprings are visible.
Instead, Boxall and Edmiston have taken a slightly different approach and fitted Vee springs to the bottom of the plate either side of the trigger so that it pushes the hammers from underneath.
It’s an inspired idea as it leaves lots of room for the inertia block to move freely without any chance of it touching the mainsprings and impeding their work.
When the hammers fall they also take forward a cocking cam which in turn pushes forward independent cocking rods hidden neatly away in the floor of the action frame.
Each cocking rod is then pushed back by a cam in the fore-end knuckle when the gun opens activating ejector trips housed on either side of the fore-end iron.
The ejectors/ extractors are housed in the barrel monoblock and are directly sprung by coil springs. Spent cartridges are ejected only when the gun is fully open.
Unlike some others you could mention, this Boxall and Edmiston over-under is a true round-bodied gun that has been shaped for elegance and to save weight – the makers have not started off with a square body and simply knocked off the corners!
This action is literally half a circle round at the bottom – you can’t get much rounder than that!
And to accentuate this ‘roundness’ the side walls of the action extend upward at a tangential angle.
At its lightest this gun can be made down to 6lb 12oz which is the same as the Boxall and Edmiston 12-bore side-by-side but final specification will dictate the weight to some degree and on the over-under somewhere around 7lb 4oz would be typical.
This is a good compromise for positive handling, carrying the gun on a day’s game shooting and to keep recoil to a comfortable level.
These have been made on the monoblock principle but you have to look really hard to see a ‘join’ because the welding in of the tubes and the striking off has been superbly done.
On monoblock guns like this the breech end of the barrels come in one piece and the tubes are then soldered or welded in place.
Some makers prefer demiblock barrels where each tube and breech end is integral and the two pieces are silver soldered together – the O/U equivalent of chopper lump barrels.
However Pete reckons monoblock manufacture is possibly stronger as there is greater surface area to resist the shearing forces on the joint between the barrels when the gun is fired.
In addition there is greater strength as the jointing on the face and the bite is effectively on one piece or material.
The barrels fit into a low profile action and hinge on stub pins at the knuckle while the bolt locks into bites on either side of the mono block at the breech face.
Furthermore, ‘draws’ set into the side of the action wall give the strongest possible lock up when the gun is closed.
The draws work by making contact with the circle in the monoblock at the very point the gun is closed.
Consequently this creates a large surface of contact to combat the stresses of firing.
One noticeable feature achieved by clever design, physics and good gunmaking is that the gun gapes fully open so there’s no need to pull the barrels that bit further down to get a cartridge into the bottom chamber.
CHOOSE THE SPEC
These guns are bespoke and within reason you can choose your own specification but as standard they are built with 28in or 30in barrels, and a choice of fixed or multi-chokes.
Chambers are 2.3/4in (70mm) with a long forcing cone and, as standard, the stock length is 15.1/8in with drops of 1.3/8in at comb and 2.1/8 in at heel.
The solid top rib on the test gun is tapered as far as the fore-end iron shoulders to give an area for the makers to engrave their name but after that the rib is 6mm wide and matted.
Ventilated ribs can be fitted if desired.
Barrels are made by two specialist outworkers and the traditional rust blacking is also done out of house but, apart from that, all the machining work is carried out by Boxall And Edmiston.
Specialist stockers and finishers complete the team.
The makers have developed a precision machining process that speeds up the making of a stock to customer specification but the final fitting of wood to metal is done by a skilled stocker.
The wood is finished with a traditional oil finish and the chequer is traditional. English style to complement the shape of the hand and style of gun.
For me one of the most impressive features of these guns is the engraving and how it has been done.
You would think it has been executed by one of the world’s best engravers.
But look really closely you will see it is perfect… and therein lies the clue.
It has been done by laser!
You can stipulate hand engraving of course but to do it to this level would almost double the price of the gun.
The laser beam is computer driven to give the depth and pattern in the same way a hand engraver would physically push or hammer an engraving tool.
Boxall and Edmiston have developed a number of house styles which can be used, or you can opt for a mixture of house style with bespoke vignettes to personalise the gun.
For me the bold scroll-work takes some beating.
Whichever way you look at it these are extremely well made guns offering incredible value for money.
The thought, development and craftsmanship that goes into them is just about second to none at this price.
I’m tempted to give this gun a score of 100, but perfection is a journey not a destination (not my words; I heard it somewhere!)
There is certainly no other range of guns built in the UK that offer what Boxall and Edmiston do.
Boxall and Edmiston over-under shotgun
£12,900 For the standard round-action with border engraving and colour hardening.
£14,200 For the round-action with full scroll engraving as tested.
Gun reviews: Boxall and Edmiston over-under shotgun