The AyA No 2 in standard 12-bore form is one of the most popular side-by-side game-guns in Britain. “The logical alternative” has become the equivalent of a good Birmingham or provincial gun 50 years ago. Its fundamental design is sound; it imitates the Holland & Holland Royal sidelock in most respects. The No 2 succeeds because of its well-proven mechanics, good styling and competitive price, and it is not without character. It may be considered a classic in its own right after decades of proven service to thousands of owners.
The No 2 round body, which is available in 12- and 20-bore (as tested here), was introduced much more recently. It is, essentially, the No 2 that so many know and love with the sharp edges removed. Round-bar guns were (and are) most famously produced by Boss. A rounded bar is a means of streamlining an otherwise conventional sidelock or boxlock and sometimes removing a little weight.
To dispel potential confusion, it is not a round-action gun (as built around a trigger-plate mechanism and bow mainsprings).
Making a round-bar gun is difficult, though; consequently I am not always fond of mid-market offerings (and I have seen some best guns which have not quite made the grade either). They need first-class detailing and, in particular, correctly shaped lock plates, well-chosen engraving and good stocking. The test AyA, a 20-bore on offer as old stock in the West London Gun Room at £4,170 (but with a new RRP of £5,325) is one tenth the price of a best London gun. Can it succeed in round-bar form at that price?
As far as the aesthetics are concerned the answer is yes. This AyA is particularly svelte. The
straightforward but pleasing scroll engraving and the colour-case hardening do not try to gild the lily. The dry handling is good, too. The gun is quite light at 6lb 3oz, with 28in barrels. A 30in option is available and would be my preference, since longer barrels increase control in a small bore.
The fixed choke (quarter and half), chopper-lump barrels are reasonably true (you cannot get perfection at this price point). The striking-up and blacking are competent. The traditional concave rib is well laid, though a flat pigeon-style rib would be an interesting option provided it were not too wide. I liked the traditional metal bead at the muzzles, the Purdey-style button on the auto-safety and the beaded edge on the trigger guard, too.
When mounting the gun, one is struck by its general handiness. The proportions of the oval-shaped straight-hand grip are reasonable, though I would prefer a Holland-style diamond grip as seen on some AyAs. The butt and splinter fore-end are made from decent wood, and the oil finish and chequering are well up to AyA’s usual high standard. The fore-end has an Anson-style button fastener and is not too shallow.
Stock measurements are 15in for length of pull with 1/16in extra at heel (not quite enough – more bump at heel can make a gun feel more secure in the shoulder) and 1/2in more at toe (possibly a little too much for those with broader chests). With regard to drop, there is 13/8in relative to the rib axis at the front of the comb and 2 1/4in at heel. Classic shelf dimensions are 11/2in and 2in, but these are not bad.
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