Our expert Mike George looks at the useful buy that is an AYA shotgun
Investigating a second-hand AYA shotgun
The No.3 was a non-ejector boxlock, and there was an even simpler version called the Yeoman, which is not to be confused with an AYA over-and-under of the same name.
The boxlock ejector is the No.4.
The boxlocks have Anson & Deeley-type actions, originally built to resemble a Wesley Richards. AYA no longer make non-ejector guns.
I’ve named the basic models here but there are other choices, like the Model 56. This is a high-rib side-by-side sidelock competition gun.
You may also find the occasional second-hand AYA Model XXV game gun with 25-inch barrels in sidelock and boxlock versions. You may also find guns in the smaller bores, right down to .410s.
Some of the more expensive guns – particularly the sidelocks – may have been built to special order with non-standard features or special engraving.
I haven’t been able to find many secondhand AYA over-and-unders being sold at the moment, although you can watch out for the occasional Yeoman boxlock or County sidelock.
The best-handling AyA was probably the Coral and if you find one you are in luck. The Coral was so like a German-built Merkel that some shooters believed they were made in the same factory. However when I asked some gunsmiths about this they told me this was not the case and Merkel and AYA parts are not interchangeable.
Background to AYA
The story is a stirring tale of two English brothers, Peter and Andrew King, who set up a hugely successful importing business.
In the 1950s they went on holiday to Barcelona and were very taken by what they saw in Spanish gun shops – so in 1958 set up a company called Anglo Spanish Imports or ASI.
Looking around for suppliers they were impressed by Aguirre y Aranzabal, better known in the UK as AYA.
The brothers were taken by the care this Spanish gunmaker took to listen to them and learn about what British shooters were looking for.
AYA is based in the Basque Country of Northern Spain. In the 1980s they were briefly members of a partnership of Basque gun makers but then reformed their own company in 1989.
There are AYA over-and-unders but the company is renowned for its side-by-side game guns, which are the most familiar models.
New AYA guns
There’s an excellent range of side-by-side sidelocks. Most are available in 12, 16, 20, 28 bores and .410. The AyA No 1 and 2 are available in round action variants. The most expensive is the Anniversary – a beautiful hammer gun. However it comes in at a steep price of over £24,000.
The latest version of the No.4 boxlock is the 4/53, and the “25” boxlock is still in popular use. There is also a “Best Quality” boxlock, and a new round-action version. All guns are available in 12, 16, 20 and 28-bores, and .410.
These include the MD2, MD6 and MD6S boxlocks, and the Excelsior, Model 37 and Augusta sidelocks. All models are available with Briley multichoke tubes. The Model 37 is built on a Merkel-like action.
My round-up here is by no means exhaustive and just about any gun can be built to special order. You’ll discover there is a extensive list of optional extras including stock and fore end variations, rib styles, selective and non-selective single triggers, and even full left-hand actions.
How much should you expect to pay for an AYA?
The least expensive new side-by-side No.4 12-bore boxlock has an importer’s recommended price of over £3,200. Prices get gradually higher through the ranges.
If you’re buying a second-hand AYA, an old but serviceable side-by-side Yeoman will be over £250, and a No.4 around £600. Yeoman over-and-unders are generally over £550, and a good Coral over-and-under over £1,200.
Where to find an AyA shotgun
The UK importer of AyA shotguns is ASI and you can find more details on their website.