All American A-10
A new sidelock over-under from the States has people talking on both sides of the Atlantic. Donald Butts explains why.
Over the past 35 years, Tony Galazan of Connecticut Shotgun Manufacturing Company has been building shotguns of an impressive standard in New Britain, firmly establishing himself as one of America's top gunmakers.
Well known for their A. H. Fox and Model 21 side-by-sides, guns based upon proven boxlock designs but built with modern materials and very sophisticated production methods, Connecticut Shotgun manufacturing Company have also developed their own side-by-side, the RBL.
Combining the tradition of highly skilled hand craftsmanship, modern CNC machinery and innovative production techniques, these really are all-American guns. Locks, stocks and barrels are all made under the same roof. “You may be surprised to find that most shotgun manufacturers in our category are merely assembling operations at best,” says Tony. “But by manufacturing from the foundation up, right from the inception of the project, it allows us to build an uncompromised product.”
And with so much happening in-house, what started off as a one man band in 1975, has grown into one of America's most advanced gunmaking facilities with over 120,000 square feet of manufacturing space and a workforce of over 100. And that too is almost entirely American, albeit with a handful of talented Europeans brought in for certain responsibilities like checkering, stocking or finishing.
With everything that Tony has achieved, he'd be forgiven for wanting to take it easy. But not one to rest on his laurels, he instead decided to design and build a true hand-detachable sidelock over-under that could be built in America of the finest materials and to the absolute highest quality, but at a price that would astonish the foreign competition. The result is his A-10 American which sports a low profile, sidelock over-under configuration, one that the world's finest gunmakers are familiar with, but had never before been manufactured in America.
Tony is fanatical about quality control – he puts every single A-10 through extensive range testing and makes any necessary adjustments before it is shipped. Not only does he shoot the guns himself, but all employees in the production department test-shoot their guns continuously. This ensures that every gun functions perfectly, but also that all craftsmen are familiar with how a gun should operate.
It is important to acknowledge that the overwhelming majority of over-under shotguns are not sidelocks. Granted, they may be fine, reliable guns that will give years of service, but they are not sidelocks, and sidelocks represent the ultimate in shotgun design. They are the equivalent of a 12-cylinder engine in a sports car. Other types of engines can certainly do an excellent job of moving a vehicle from point A to point B, but they will never have the mystique of a 12-cylinder engine.
The adverts for the A-10 state: “This changes everything…” And that, if anything, is an understatement. Available in either 12, 20 or 28 bore with interchangeable barrels, these guns are of exceptional quality, and starting at US$7,995 (about £5,000), the selling prices are almost unbelievably reasonable.
The design of the A-10 sidelock incorporates a bridle that is integral to the sideplate. It produces an unusually strong design that allows all of the components of the sidelock to be far more rugged and durable than on conventional sidelocks with the bridles simply held in place by screws.
Everything about the A-10 is top quality. The single selective trigger is of the reliable inertia design. The wood for the stocks and fore-ends is comparable to best European guns with Circassian walnut sourced from Turkey and black and English walnut from the US. The fit and finish are tight and true. The bluing is deep and smooth. They are guns to be handed down from generation to generation. I had a matched pair of 20 bores made for our son, Jake. I was so impressed with them that I ordered another pair for myself.
These guns come with all of the bells and whistles. Each one has its own handsome metal case with a fitted nylon protective cover. All come with five Tru-Lock screw-in chokes, and all documents are in a leather envelope with the owner's name embossed in gold. It is all very classy.
And as an indication of just how good this gun really is, some of the best European companies are sending over their gunmakers to study how Tony does it. That too, is surely a first for self-taught American shotgun manufacturer.
Frame: 12, 20 small frame
Gauge: 12, 20, 28
Barrel Length: 26, 28, 30, 32”
Receiver Finish: Coin finish, rose and scroll engraving (game scene engraving on the Deluxe)
Stock Finish: Hand-rubbed oil
Checkering: 24 lines per inch
Chamber: 2 3/4”, and 3" for the 12 bore.
Top Rib: Ventilated
Center Rib: Solid
Forcing Cones: Standard
Chokes: 5 Tru-Lock chokes
Sight: White Bradley type front sight
Fore-end: Hunting or target
Trigger: Single selective, inertia driven
Accessories: Choke tube spanner and impact case
Warranty: 5-year. (The Deluxe model comes with a lifetime warranty)