The gun tested for this month’s issue is an elegant Grulla 12-bore side-by-side from the stock of William Evans in St James’s Street. The gun, one of a pair, is a true sidelock with hand-detachable locks, 28in barrels and a straighthand stock. It has chokes fixed at quarter and half and hits the scales at a very sensible 6lb 11oz. The price is a comparatively reasonable £13,500 for the pair including VAT. A single gun would cost you in the region of £6,500.
First impressions are good. The Grulla is brush polished but it is not too bright (it is available colour-case hardened, too). The gun is quite boldly engraved with flora and scroll of unmistakably Continental pattern.
I like this because it gives the gun a distinct character, not the usual copy of Purdey or Holland & Holland house styles. This decoration is attractive and practical. We tend to forget that the function of engraving is not only to embellish but to disguise wear.
There are gold-lined cocking indicators, a well-proportioned top lever and a classic top-strap sliding safety with a buttoned, Purdey-style thumb-piece (my favourite for cold or wet days). The front trigger is articulated and fairly straight (as Spanish first triggers tend to be). The trigger guard has a beaded edge and is well engraved. The belly of the subtly rounded action bar is carved gracefully to create extra side panels.
There are other details which please the eye. This is an extra-finish gun where no attempt has been made to spoil the ship for a ha’porth of tar.
It is a gun evidently made by hand with pride on the bench and not just by robots and cost accountants (who hate unplanned extras).
The 2¾in (70mm) chambered 1200 BAR proof barrels are competently struck up and richly blued. Internal finish is excellent, with forcing cones longer than the Continental norm (another positive). The barrels are well put together and straight, built on the chopper-lump system – where the barrel and lump are forged from a single piece of steel. There is a traditional concave rib (though a flat rib is an option) with a small, slightly flattened metal bead at the muzzles. It’s subtle, unobtrusive and well suited to this elegant gun.
The actioning inspires confidence, too. Grulla has an excellent reputation and this gun does nothing to alter that. The action, a five-pin sidelock with “special safety features”, is made from a drop forging and has disc-set strikers. I did not remove a lock – I tested the gun on an extremely cold day and did not want to risk damaging the finish as I struggled to remove the lock from its newly finished stock – but I take this to mean intercepting safety sears as one would expect in a good-quality sidelock.
The stock is of classic English form without any eccentricities of foreign imitation – comb, hand and splinter fore-end are all well conceived. There is a small silver oval on which initials may be engraved. My only significant criticism (one that might be easily remedied) is that the stock is rather low at heel, where there is more than 2½in of drop. The butt wood is interestingly figured with the grain straight through the grip (as it should be), the chequering is exceptional, the oil finish good, and wood-to-metal fit excellent as well.
Grulla 215 12-bore technical data and shooting impressions
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