Gun reviews: Verney Carron Sagittaire shotgun.
As far as I can see the French seem to make guns in the same way they used to build their cars – and that’s with a certain kind of unique styling appreciated mostly… by the French themselves.
Verney Carron is one of that country’s oldest gunmakers and build quality is very good right across the range.
But VC has yet to come up with a field shotgun that really appeals to shooters in Britain.
And to be honest I don’t think this one (even though it has been totally redesigned) will really cut the mustard, either unless some alterations are made to it, in particular to the dimensions and configuration of the stock.
If you’re looking for a lightweight 12-bore that can be carried effortlessly for mile after mile then the Sagittaire being imported and distributed by Garlands is certainly worth a look.
Now, there are tried and tested designs and principles that most of the rest of the gunmaking world adopts and follows but the design of this gun’s action is nothing like anything else I have seen before.
However, the French seem happy enough going their own way in design terms and, where their own market is concerned, they are right to do so.
The Sagittaire comes with 28in barrels chambered to take 3in magnum cartridges and has been subjected to steel shot proof.
That said, I wouldn’t want to fire too many magnum loads through such a light gun in quick succession without first having my dentist check the strength of my fillings.
The barrel assembly is topped off with a narrow 6mm ventilated rib that’s cross matted to reduce glare and a solid centre rib which finishes just inside the fore-end wood.
The barrels have been built on the monoblock system and carry flush-fitting multi-chokes.
The blacking is not overly glossy – which I like – and the bores appear very good and straight.
What I’m not entirely convinced by are the extractors which in my opinion are quite small and don’t offer a large enough surface area to the rim of the cartridge.
Given time and wear there’s a strong likelihood of the extractors overriding the head of the cartridges, and ejection is likely to be weak.
The gun hinges open on trunnions or stub pins and lock up is via a U bolt similar to the system used by Beretta.
The top lever is both long and elegant and, because of its inherent length, the job of opening the gun is made very easy indeed.
Unfortunately the manual safety catch is very stiff when you try to return it to the ‘safe’ position.
On the plus side the machined engraving on this Verney Carron has been done to a good standard and the mix of scroll/ game scene decoration is both neat and well executed.
Wood quality is good too but the styling is again, well, French. The pistol grip dips round into the body.
Drop at comb and heel are 1.3/8in and 2.5/8in – quite a steep drop which means most shooters will need to lift their heads to look down and over the top rib.
Stock length is 14½in and there is about 1/2in more at toe, which is OK, but looks slightly odd because the heel is the same length as the centre.
However the length of toe goes someway to compensate for the amount of drop.
The Sagittaire is an unconventional gun by British standards, but the quality of build and finish is good.
I can’t see it selling in big numbers here and those who do buy it will probably want to have the stock altered before it leaves the shop.
Verney Carron Sagittaire shotgun