A reader is mystified, so David Frost explains ...

Pump-action illegal for wildfowling

Q: I own an 8 shot pump-action, which I use for pest control. I know it is illegal to use a pump-action for wildfowling but I don’t know why. It doesn’t make sense that a person with a three-shot can shoot duck and someone with a four-shot cannot.

Nobody seems to know the answer.

A: It’s all to do with the European Birds Directive and the Wildlife and Countryside Act (WAC) which implements the Directive in the UK.

The WAC prohibits the use of any semi-automatic shotgun for shooting wild birds.

For this purpose semi-automatic means a self-loading or pump-action gun capable of holding more than three cartridges.

The reason, says the EU, is to prevent the wholesale shooting of large numbers of wild birds, which could lead to a serious population decline.

The WAC permits the issue of general licences for shooting pests  and those licences include the use of multi-shot shotguns, which is why you can use yours for pest species but not quarry species.

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Are 3in Magnum cartridges safe in my pump-action?

Q: I recently bought a 12-bore Winchester pump-action SXP, which is chambered for 3in cartridges. Some years ago, I acquired a box of 3in Winchester cartridges, which are still in good condition. They are the Winchester Power Piston Magnum, loaded with 1.7⁄8oz of BB shot. Are they safe to use with this gun?

A: One of the basic principles of the CIP international proof system is that any CIP-tested cartridge is safe to use in a gun, which has been tested in the proof house of a CIP country, provided that it is used in a chamber of the same length as the cartridge.

If you look on the box of Winchester cartridges, you will be able to see if they have been CIP-approved; there will be a little mark of a crown over a rose over the letter B in Birmingham or L in London.

The shotgun will have passed through Winchester’s own proof facility for testing. However, this is not recognised by the UK proof authorities and the gun must be re-proofed on import to the UK at one of the two proof houses.

It may well have been proofed in another European proof house, such as in Germany or Belgium, so it is likely that it bears CIP proof marks.

If the gun has CIP proof marks and the cartridges are CIP-tested, then it is safe to use them.

If you are unsure, go to a competent gunsmith or contact the Birmingham Proof House.