Some believe shotgun design has reached a dead end. Alex Flint reviews the latest gun from a man who dares to be different.
As I stated in my review of the MX8 (June 2013), there really is no better way of entering into the world of bespoke guns than with a Perazzi. These guns are astonishingly successful on the clay circuit and with good reason – they are good looking and shoot like a dream. In fact, the MX8 is easily one of the best shotguns I have tested.
One man who identified the prowess of Perazzi’s guns early on was John Jeffries, an East Sussex based shooting enthusiast who has spent the last 30 years honing guns of various types in the hunt for sporting perfection. Probably his best known gun in the game shooting world is the HPX with 34” barrels, purpose built for taking onthe highest pheasants. You would be forgiven for imagining such a gun would be an unwieldy lump but you would be quite wrong. John takes one of the world’s best shotguns and improves it in a number of ways which make it feel a world apart from a standard Perazzi shotgun.
His latest innovation is the Reverse Slope Rib or RSR, a gun which brings about a totally new way of shooting. Here the rib slopes up to the muzzle end of the gun, up to 7mm above the breach end on the game gun and even higher on the clay variant. This is combined with a high level comb to give a high tapered view of the length of the rib and yet because of the slope of the rib the gun shoots flat to the point of aim, rather than high as you might expect.
An astonishing view
The RSR is somewhat difficult to explain but is an absolute revelation in use. You have an astonishing view of your target and the sheer amount of rib visible means it is extremely easy and natural to point and swing. It is highly rewarding for instinctive shooting but also makes your mistakes that much clearer. When I missed some of the challenging clays at Grimsthorpe Shooting Ground I knew exactly why I had missed them. Once you get over the initial shock of the radically changed sight picture you will find an absolute peach of a gun.
Being based on a Perazzi you are starting from a pretty high benchmark but the work John carries out produces something special. Most obvious are the long barrels, though the Ultimate comes with two sets of barrels, one 33″ long and one 31″. Hence the increased price on the standard model.
You would expect long barrels to make the gun feel very heavy in the front hand, however this is not the case as John weights the barrels to keep the balance of the gun very central. Balance is also improved by improvements to the fore-end. The gun tested had a unusual fore-end of John’s design called the flute which is very thin and aided in making the gun feel an extension of the arm.
The grip is also particularly striking when you first pick the HPX RSR up, being slim but having a good swell in the palm. The stock, including the grip, is shaped exactly to each individual customer ensuring your hand is always on the correct place on the gun.
The triggers are fettled further on HPX RSRs making them incredibly responsive. The thinking behind this is that a slight delay in pulling the trigger can lead to you missing a 50 or 60 yard target by a significant margin, so highly reactive triggers mean you shoot exactly when you want to shoot and not after.
These exacting standards don’t come easily: John will not sell one of these guns without at least one fitting session and his preference is for three sessions before a handover. During one of these sessions the stock is honed into shape by John before being finished by his gunsmith. As in every other aspect of HPX guns even the wood does not come as standard, John selecting the high grade stock blanks on almost all of the guns he sells. All of this fine fettling results in a gun which handles, shoots and is finished to a genuinely surprising standard which feels a cut above the Perazzi gun on which it is based.
Make no mistake, the Ultimate is a serious shooter’s gun but I would urge anyone even a little intrigued by the HPX RSR to give John Jeffries a call. A few moments in your shoulder and it might just change your sporting life forever.
In the field
This gun defied almost every expectation I had for it. I was expecting a heavy, unwieldy and unpleasant experience but what I got was a gun which was as good as anything I have shot.
The impact of the rib is huge. The first time you mount the gun the amount of extra peripheral vision you get, as well as the great length of the rib in your eye line, is a shock. Oddly, rather than proving distracting, it made it easier for me to concentrate on the target.
The gun moves with an ease totally at odds with its length, and dealt with recoil extremely well. In truth I found the trigger pull a little too sharp, though I am sure with some perseverance I would soon get used to it. Remarkably, the long barrels were more than capable of taking on a wide range of targets, not just the high driven birds I was expecting.
Ultimately, this is a gun you really do need to experience yourself. I found it a pleasure to use and would recommend giving John Jeffries a call.
View from the gun shop
Bill Elderkin casts his expert eye over the Perazzi HPX RSR Ultimate.
Being based on the Perazzi MX8, the HPX RSR is starting from a very strong position indeed. These guns are very reliable and withstand an absolute pounding by the top competitive clay shooters who swear by them.
The gun is balanced very well and surprisingly not too heavy. The quality of wood to metal fit is, as you would expect, exceptional and the engraving has been well executed. A variety of styles are available from the manufacturer and the quality of wood and finishing of the wood is very good indeed.
The Ultimate model is provided with two sets of barrels, one 33” long and one 31” long. Both are matched exactly to provide the same balance when fitted to the gun, the longer barrels being ideal for high pheasants, the shorter for grouse. The whole order process takes between four and six months to complete, and the standard gun with just a single set of barrels costs £9,500. All sessions with John and a slip are included in the price.
Objectively it is a good looking, well-built gun with a superb stock, grip and fore-end and very nice balance. I’m just not sure I can get on board with the concept as it seems to me to fundamentally change how you view and shoot the gun.
One of the best designed and constructed guns available today