Boxall & Edmiston over-under
Boxall & Edmiston's new range of bespoke over-unders is the result of a happy marriage between classic British gunmaking and cutting-edge modern technology, says Vic Harker.
The single factor that most inhibits the production and sale of English sporting guns in the UK is price. As with all manufacturing industries, volume production gravitates to countries where things can be made more cheaply and consequently in greater numbers. What remains of the English gun trade, or at least the manufacturing sector, is a rump of the very best makers who by dint of reputation and quality are still able to make and sell their guns in small numbers at very high prices.
The only possibility of this changing is with the introduction of modern technology. Within the last 30 years we have seen the emergence of computer numerical control (CNC) and computer aided manufacturing (CAD-CAM). These two technologies combined have become increasingly able to produce, in quantity, intricate component parts to an accuracy that only the very best craftsmen can attain by hand.
The capital cost of installing this kind of technology is very high, but its advantages cannot be ignored. What we are now seeing is the emergence of a very small number of makers who are designing and producing guns with a much greater use of CNC.
About four years ago, Peter Boxall, who had previously been in charge of gun production at Holland & Holland, formed a partnership with John Edmiston, who had managed the Sterling Arms Company for 12 years. Together they decided to manufacture a high quality shotgun employing the most modern methods of production. It should be understood that the Boxall & Edmiston is a genuine bespoke gun, which means that within sensible parameters it can be made to any weight, barrel length, choking and type of rib specifications. They will also individually fit their guns to customers' requirements.
I've been looking at their new over-under.
Both the square and round bodied models are equally elegant, although my personal preference is for the former. Just as impressive is the beautiful simplicity of the gun's lockwork. Remove the stock and apart from the hammer sears and inertia block there isn't much to see. This is because the V springs are fitted to the bottom plate each side of the trigger and power the hammers from underneath. A classic trigger plate action, the geometry of major components, all powered by leaf springs, are so arranged as to provide the hammers with maximum impact as they hit the strikers. The same principles are applied to create an optimum angle for the strikers through the action body at the breech face for more effective cartridge detonation.
In regards to decoration, this is carried out by a state of the art laser process which produces spectacular results, although you can have your gun hand engraved if you wish.
Made on the monobloc system, the barrels pivot on stubs and lock into the action by way of a bifurcated bolt coming forward each side of the breech face and engaging with bites in the monobloc above the bottom barrel. Further bearing surfaces are created by a system of draws and wedges at the sides of the monobloc and the walls of the action body.
The barrels themselves are made in London by outworkers that Boxall & Edmiston have specially chosen for their high standards of workmanship. The traditional rusting process is employed in the blacking of all the barrels, which is also done out of house. Choke constrictions are to order, or there is the option of Teague's detachable system.
I shot a 30" barrel version of the square bodied over-under at the West Midlands Shooting Ground. Its weight was 7lb 10oz, which Peter Boxall was going to reduce by 2oz, but if it had been made for me I would not have let him. The gun balanced perfectly, with sufficient weight between the hands and just a little extra liveliness at the muzzle ends, which I prefer. For me at least, the ideal game gun should allow one to shoot instinctively, by which I mean it should require only the minimum of physical effort in its manipulation. Fortunately, the stock dimensions were pretty close to my own and the configuration, including the grip shape, was excellent. Indeed, the whole gun felt a part of me within a few shots. I would hasten to add this is not always the case, but as a game gun on sporting targets, it was a delight.
This over-under is a superb package, great to shoot being the most important thing of course, but Peter Boxall should be praised for the excellence of the gun's design. Cleverly thought out, he touches base with every requirement in terms of mechanical function and durability. The Boxall & Edmiston makes sense in another important way in that, by means of the most modern production methods, it is able to offer the customer sophistication in terms of balance and handling, together with a standard of finish usually only found in guns at far higher prices.
Maker: Boxall & Edmiston
Bore size: 12 (20 bore to be launched later this year, 16 and 28 in 2014)
Barrel length: 26-34"
Action: Square sideplated or round action. Both with classic trigger plate lockwork system
Trigger: Single selective
Rib: Solid, minimal or ventilated
Measurements: Centre: 151/16", Heel:15¼",Toe: 153/8"
Weight: 7lb 12oz
Price: Round action from £12,900. Square sideplated from £15,900