Webley & Scott Kilworth
With top-class build quality, the future-proof Kilworth is a real workhorse and makes a fantastic first side-by-side, says Jonny Carter
Webley & Scott Kilworth
Overall Rating: 82%
Manufacturer: Webley & Scott
Price as reviewed: £1,999
Webley & Scott has just launched two new side-by-side shotguns. There is the Imperial — a case-hardened, sideplated boxlock in a single trigger with a grade 3.5 Prince of Wales stock that retails at £2,350 — and then there is the gun we are looking at today, the Kilworth.
The Kilworth retails at just under £2,000, putting it at the more affordable part of the new side-by-side market. As soon as you open the softshell case, you might think that this gun is pretty unexotic to the eye. This, to me, is a big tick because at entry price points I do not want the maker to waste money on engraving that will likely not set the world alight. What’s important is that the machining and build quality appears fantastic.
Instead the Kilworth is adorned with a small amount of deep scroll on its black action and fences, which gives it a real honest feel. There is a little bit of bling, which goes well with the black, and that is the maker’s name and insignia on the bottom of the action, inlaid in gold. The action is a scalloped-back boxlock, slightly prettier than the traditional square back, with the scalloping removing the usual harsh line between the steel action and the oil-finished grade 2+ Turkish walnut stock.
One of my favourite features is the Prince of Wales stock. This is really well proportioned, filling the hand without being too bulbous, and it suits the single trigger well. The fore-end is a little longer than you would find on a traditional side-by-side, but seeing as we are all getting taller this extra length of fore-end, matched with the 15in length of pull and sensible comb height of the stock, adds to the appeal.
The gun features laser chequering on the grip and fore-end, which are nice and grippy without being coarse, and a hand-fitted wooden butt plate. If I have one complaint, it’s that the stock lines are a little soft; a bit more sculpting wouldn’t go amiss.
The model is available in 12, 16, 20, 28 and .410, all with 28in multichoke barrels. The exception is the 12-bore, which also has the option of 30in barrels if desired. The gun on test was a 28in 12-bore, but I am very excited to see and handle the small-bore offerings when they are ready — I have dreamed of owning a 28-bore modern side-by-side for some time, and this style of gun is quite tempting.
Here’s the really exciting thing — this gun is 3in chambered and steel shot proofed. That means you can whack pretty much any shell through it without issue (choke depending of course), which makes it a very future-proof side-by-side. Of course, we all know that a lot of classic side-by-sides are perfectly capable of shooting some steel cartridges, but if you’re looking for something that will tackle bigger loads and higher birds then the classics won’t cut it — and this will.
The final feature is a flat, tapered, machine-turned rib. It’s finished with a little metal bead and the sight picture is great. All of these features should be the recipe for the perfect ‘clay shooting side-by-side’ or ‘side-by-side for the modern shooter’. Or, probably more bluntly, if you shoot an over-and-under, this will feel familiar to you. With this in mind, I headed up to EJ Churchill to give the Kilworth a spin.
Need to know
- Manufacturer Webley & Scott
- Model Kilworth
- Calibre options 12, 16, 20, 28 and .410
- Barrels 28in and 30in (12-bore only)
- Choke Multichoke
- Stock Grade 2+ walnut with Prince of Wales grip
- Chamber 3in
- Warranty five years
- Distributor Highland Outdoors
- Price £1,999
Dropping the first cartridge in, I was a little nervous as I had built the gun up in my head. The first shots took a bit of getting used to. The obvious note is that it recoils a little more than my heavier over-and-under, and that the recoil impulse of the side-by-side definitely has more muzzle flip. This is to be expected, of course, but it is worth mentioning for those tempted to buy their first side-by-side.
I started on some soft targets to get a feel for the gun, and unsurprisingly it handled them well. With the weight just in front of the hinge it is quite controllable, but with its lighter weight and shorter barrels it can accelerate with ease. I then went in search of something tougher. The Sportrap areas at EJ’s are always home to one silly target each, and today they had a 70-yard edge on a left-to-right crosser. It appeared over the back bank and sailed over a flat arch before landing a staggering distance away, needing what I perceived to be 12 to 15ft.
This gun did a great job through the array of targets on this layout and was more versatile than I had given it credit for. With confidence boosted, it was time to tackle the big boy. I wish I could tell you I hit it first time, but I didn’t. Nor did I hit it the second time, but the third time I did manage to achieve a sympathy break; one tiny barely visible chip flew off but that was enough to satisfy me.
This gun didn’t set my heart on fire to start with, but by the end I was smitten. This is an honest gun, a gun designed to work, to shoot cartridges time after time without hassle and without the glitter and spice that gunmakers think are a necessity to shooters now. I can see this as someone’s first side-by-side or as a real workhorse gun.
- Action and barrels 17/20 Great simple design
- Handling 17/20 A fantastic all-rounder
- Trigger 16/20 Reliable single trigger
- Stock 15/20 Good measurements but lacks style
- Value 17/20 One of the cheapest on the market
- Overall Score 82/100 Great concept and even better in reality
The future-proof Kilworth is a real workhorse and makes a fantastic first side-by-side