The Boxall & Edmiston 20-bore is both functionally and aesthetically this is an appealing gun, says Mike Yardley. The overall impression is of liveliness and lightness, but light guns need control
The Boxall & Edmiston round-action 20-bore over-and-under was first seen at last year’s Game Fair “in the white” and drew much positive comment because of its elegant, dainty appearance. The firm’s stand was fortuitously placed near the entrance to Gunmakers’ Row, squeezed between Purdey and Churchill and opposite Holland & Holland, ensuring a deluge of visitors and engendering much interest.
The 20-bore – save for its single, non-selective trigger – is more or less a scaled-down version of the 12-bore launched in 2012 as the “Yardley” model and now available with the original rounded bar or with a square action and sideplates (a 20-bore sideplated gun should be on show at July’s Game Fair).
The test 20-bore has 30in fixed choke barrels (quarter and half, though you may order length and constriction as desired) and hits the scales at just below 6lb 6oz. The stock has a well-proportioned semi-pistol grip combined with a rounded fore-end accommodating a decoratively extended fore-end iron, giving the gun a London look. Both functionally (grip and fore-end provide plenty of purchase for a small gun) and aesthetically it is appealing.
The general form is svelte. The action profile is extremely low. The action body is particularly compact and the house scroll (applied by laser) is most attractive. Nevertheless, a colour-case-hardened version with minimal engraving is offered at the same price – £18,800 (which is £2,000 more than that of the comparable 12-bore).
The gun is based on the same mechanical design as the other Boxall & Edmiston over-and-unders. That project began as a collaboration between me and the firm and I am delighted by the subsequent success and the renaissance of British gunmaking the project has encouraged. Having seen the firm’s engineering and gunmaking capabilities in 2009, when it was making side-by-sides exclusively, I had suggested to Peter Boxall and James Edmiston that they should build an over-and-under. My concept was for something hinged in the manner of a Woodward or Beretta, bolted like a Boss and powered by traditional V-springs based on a fixed-lock trigger-plate design. I thought a round bar might look good and could be developed into other models.
Peter Boxall, who had the experience of developing the Holland & Holland Sporting over-and-under, took this idea and some material I sent him and developed it. CAD-CAM software was used. As well as perfecting the mechanics, Boxall developed the flowing lines of the gun with its distinctive bolsters.
Seeing the virtual design on screen I made a few mechanical suggestions and stocked one of two prototypes. Boxall continued to develop the design and cleverly added a plate in the action body that covered the cocking rods, not only making the gun more distinctive but preventing dirt and debris getting into the action.
Boxall & Edmiston has gone from strength to strength since. The order books are nearly full and the machines work 24 hours a day. Two new bench workers bring the staff to nine, including an apprentice. Another apprentice will be employed next year. Annual production is around 50 guns.
BOXALL & EDMISTON TECHNICAL DATA
Although the Boxall & Edmiston 20-bore, like its 12-bore sibling, is predominantly machine made,
a week is spent at the bench actioning with file and smoke lamp, another on the barrels, a week-and-a-half stocking and a week on finishing. Even the laser engraving takes up to two weeks.
The mechanical design incorporates twin, centrally positioned cocking rods as well as Beretta-style hinging and Boss bolting. The draws mid action include detachable bearing surfaces that ensure security. The barrels are monobloc with joins neatly concealed by TIG welding and may be equipped with Teague interchangeable chokes if required. The guns are usually fitted with a solid, tapered rib but a vented rib is an option as is a “ribless” barrel in Boss style.
BOXALL & EDMISTON SHOOTING IMPRESSIONS
Although I had played no part in the specific development of the 20-bore, I shot this gun with some excitement. The first physical impression on dry mounting was one of lightness; 6lb 6oz does not qualify as an ultralight, even with 30in barrels. However, it felt lively. I missed the first couple of (crossing) birds in front as a consequence; light guns need control.
Shooting fairly close simulated grouse, the fast handling and lively quality became a real benefit. Felt recoil was a little higher than average but this must be considered against the overall gun weight. The mechanical trigger worked well (and allows for the use of light payloads if required).
As I was using the gun, it attracted a lot of positive comment. At £18,800 it’s not inexpensive (the sideplated version will be £19,800) but it is competitively priced and bears witness to a new British engineering success.
Boxall & Edmiston 20-bore price: from £18,800, incl VAT
Where to buy the Boxall & Edmiston 20-bore: Visit Boxall & Edmiston or call 01743 762352