Tony Galazan’s A10 Christian Hunter sidelock over-under
Vic Harker puts American gunmaker Tony Galazan’s A10 Christian Hunter sidelock over-under to the test.
The gun I am reviewing in this issue has a number of different names. Its design also has several influences but it’s all been brought together by one man, Tony Galazan who is an American and the proprietor of the Connecticut Shotgun Manufacturing Company in the USA. The sidelock over-under his company produces at his factory in Connecticut is known as the A10 American, and to this is added a number of further designations depending on engraving and specification.
In the UK it is called the Christian Hunter and is marketed by Criddle Fieldsports based in Powys. I have met Tony Galazan only once, very briefly two years ago at the CLA Game Fair. He was exhibiting his A10 and my first impression, as it would be for most people, was that it owed a considerable amount, at least in appearance, to Beretta’s SO sidelock. Such was the crowd at his stand and the interest in his gun that I had no opportunity to discuss the A10 with its maker, but now with the gun on my desk, my first impressions remain the same.
There is no escaping the fact that the jointing of the A10’s barrels to the action is almost identical to that of a Beretta SO. Pivoting on trunnions behind the action’s knuckles, on closure of the gun, the A10’s barrels – with their flared breech ends – meet with heavily beaded fences and Beretta-style trapezoidal shoulders which are integral to the monobloc, and engage with slots each side of the standing breech.
It then only remains for Beretta’s iconic cross-bolt to move across the reciprocating stubbs, which are also integral to the monobloc, and lock the barrels to the action. Except for the fact there is quite a different system in place. Instead, a substantial bifurcated bolt moves forward each side of the breech-face and locates in recesses in the flared breech-ends of the top barrel.
As to the advantages of this arrangement over Beretta’s cross-bolting, I will leave aficionados of both designs to fight this one out. I would only add that Beretta’s relatively new and most expensive sidelock, the SO9, adopts split-bolt locking in place of a cross-bolt.
The A10’s hand-detachable lock-work is particularly impressive. The bridle is machined integral to the plate for maximum rigidity, and all other internal parts have a hard gold coating to prevent any chance of rusting.
Other benefits of the hand-detachable locks include the facility to regulate the triggers easily, and, of course, ease of cleaning. As for their removal, this is by way of hinged caps on the lock-plate, almost invisible to the naked eye; just press them and the lock work is in your hand.
As for decoration, the side-locks provide the engraver the space and opportunity to embellish the A10’s graceful lines. Employing a laser to draw the design, the lock plates and bottom plate were covered with a hand-finished acanthus leaf design that had a depth and contrast that was positively mouth-watering.
Made from a well-figured and close-grained piece of black American walnut, the stocking of the A10 was to a very high standard, to the extent that the wood-to-metal fit around the lock-work is almost seamless. The same was true in the inletting of the bottom tang into the long semi-pistol grip, as is its steel pommel. Unusual for a sidelock gun of this type, the A10 incorporates a stock-bolt which adds considerable strength through the grip, an area where it’s not usually provided.
Combined with this is also the option of barrel weights. However, my sample gun was already perfectly balanced and in my view did not require them. As to stock dimensions, these will usually be to a customer’s personal requirements, as will the stock configuration which, on my test gun, demonstrated the maker’s good understanding of British taste. The comb’s slim profile tapered nicely from back to front, and located comfortably at the face. Few if any imported over-unders I have handled provide the kind of stock configuration so suited to driven game shooting as the A10. The fore-end wood was equally well proportioned and provided a natural pointing hold.
The A10’s barrels are London proofed and stamped accordingly, which, without being chauvinistic, is in itself an accolade. The striking off of the barrels is impeccable, as is the internal boring. While traditional gunmaking standards are maintained, the makers happily incorporate modern innovation in, for example, hand-detachable chokes if required. My test gun incorporated them and they were discretely installed without any unsightly flaring of the barrels and, even more importantly, detectable muzzle heaviness. The rib is the best of both worlds, suitably unobtrusive but the sighting plane is cunningly machined to provide a useful subconscious point of reference.
Weighing 7lb with light 30" barrels, the A10 had just the right amount of weight between the hands to provide fast handling and effortlessly pointable characteristics which translate into a gun that is a delight to shoot.
As with most guns not fitted to me, I had to resort to a comb-raiser to achieve my preferred amount of drop at comb, and, having done so, I found the A10 a joy in terms of balance and mechanical function. Provided I maintained a light hold on the fore-end with my left hand, it really was just a matter of pointing and shooting to achieve consistent and very satisfying results.
Few, if any, foreign-made over-unders have the feel and balance required of an English game gun, but this American most certainly does. While far from being original in many aspects of its design, Tony Galazan has looked at a wide variety of options and combined them into a package that incorporates very attractive aesthetics with dynamics that cannot fail to please the British sportsman who favours an over-under in the field.
Tel. +44 (0)1938 580204
Maker: Connecticut Shotgun Mfg. Co.
Model: A10 Christian Hunter
Bore size: 12
Barrel length: 30" (or to order)
Action: Hand detachable sidelock
Chamber: 2 3/4"
Chokes: To order or hand detachable
Rib: 10mm parallel
Weight: 7lb 8oz
Price: As test gun £17,500 inc. VAT.