Michael Yardley tests the John Jeffries HPX Elite, a long-barrelled over-and-under, intended for use both as a high-pheasant gun and a clay-breaking machine
The John Jeffries HPX Elite is a long-barrelled gun, intended for use on high flying pheasants as well as clays. Michael Yardley finds this beast-like gun lively, and decides that it takes a bit of getting used to.
JOHN JEFFRIES HPX ELITE
This month’s test gun is unusual: a long-barrelled, HPX over-and-under (tested in both 323⁄4in and 34in form) built by John Jeffries in association with Perugini and Visini. He calls this model, which incorporates an intriguing RSR (reverse slope rib), the Elite.
Weighing 8lb 5oz regardless of barrel length (but can be built lighter), it is intended as both a high-pheasant gun and a clay-breaking machine. The John Jeffries HPX Elite is the latest specialist long-barrel model designed by Jeffries, who developed the 32in Sporter in the Eighties and is now well known for a range of Perazzi-based extra-long-tubed game-guns.
The John Jeffries HPX Elite is a sideplated premium model and has a detachable trigger-lock action similar to a Perazzi. (Perugini and Visini are former Perazzi employees who developed a similar style of gun and now also work in association with Purdey on its upmarket Sporter.) The bottom line is not insignificant at £25,000 but this HPX is hand-engraved and built to order with a wide range of specifications on offer. It comes in a fitted, leather motor case and the price allows for a variety of decorative options and fitting sessions as required. Trigger pulls are regulated in England and the stock is finished and adjusted here.
First impressions of the John Jeffries HPX Elite are of a big beast. The monobloc, high-ribbed barrels are light for length and the stock, adjustable in the test gun, is amply proportioned. The style of the action is familiar, the rose-and-scroll work neat.
I was not quite sure about the colour case-hardening. My preference would be to strike it off, leaving colour in the engraving and on the internal action surfaces (coin finish is offered as a standard option). The gun’s name was engraved to the rear of the sideplates but will be on the barrel in future.
Finish of the John Jeffries HPX Elite was good. Metal-to-metal and wood-to-metal fit were tight. Stock wood was dense and well figured. The grip was wider in radius than many with a palm swell. The comb did not have much taper and was offset rather than conventionally cast.
Barrel-making was sound. Both sets are 3in (76mm) proofed but not fleur-de-lis for steel (although this is a no-cost option). The longer barrels have vented joining ribs save under the fore-end area. The 34in tubes are joined at the muzzles only. Chokes are fixed at 1⁄2 and 1⁄2 (323⁄4in) and 3⁄4 and 3⁄4 (34in) with Teague interchangeables on offer.
As mentioned, the sighting ribs slope in reverse – deep at the muzzles and flat at the breech end. This is an idea I put to Daniel Perazzi some 20 years ago as a scheme to improve target visibility. He was not keen and I did not pursue it but it makes the test gun of special interest to me.
John Jeffries says of his developed RSR concept, “The plan is to make a gun that allows you to see more of the target with less obstruction from rib or action so you’ll point more positively and have better visual contact. If your sighting plane is flat, if your eye is only level or just above the rib, then your sight picture may be obstructed… here we elevate the eye more than usual – about 6mm above the breech – and the Elite has the benefit of the top rib starting well away from the breech. With the higher head position you see more rib but the gun does not shoot high. It can appear unusual to shoot initially but… after a few shots at varying targets, the proof becomes evident.”
JOHN JEFFRIES HPX ELITE: TECHNICAL DATA
The sideplated action draws inspiration from Boss, Woodward and Perazzi. The bifurcated lump barrels pivot on stud pins. There are Boss-style draws and wedges to enhance lock-up. A single central cocking bar is covered by a plate machined into the action body (protecting the mechanism from debris). The action incorporates a detachable trigger lock. Coil springs power the rebounding locks (V-springs are an option). The single-trigger mechanism is inertia operated and the trigger blade is adjustable.
The extraordinary RSR rib is worthy of further comment. Tapering 10mm to 7mm, the first section of 13cm is not quite flat but dips just below the breech line (highlighting the rest of the rib to the eye looking down it). From the 13cm point, it gradually rises to the muzzles where the final height is 6mm.
JOHN JEFFRIES HPX ELITE: SHOOTING IMPRESSIONS
I used the John Jeffries HPX Elite initially with the stock adjusted to my normal rib picture and shot indifferently. Far better breaks resulted from raising the comb provided focus was maintained. The gun was surprising lively (both barrels weighing just over 1.5kg) and balanced somewhat forward of the hinge pin. It was soft in recoil. I did not master deliberate shooting with the RSR rib but accept that it significantly increases target visibility. I suspect I would adapt to it. I did enjoy using the light, long, barrels. The 34in ones were mustard for long, going-away and incoming birds (which seemed to evaporate). For closer crossing shots the 323⁄4 in barrels were preferable. I liked the open-radius grip (but not its palm swell). The parallel comb and offset cast seemed to contribute to the low felt recoil. The stock as tested is intended for right-handers; left-hand versions of the John Jeffries HPX Elite are available at no extra cost.
John Jeffries Price: £25,000
Where to buy the John Jeffries HPX Elite: www.perazzihpxshotguns.com
Call: 07711 456524