About a year ago, I had a telephone call from Mark
Osborne who had just bought William Powell, the famous Birmingham gunmaker.
Mark had made a great success of rebuilding EJ Churchill with Sir Edward
Dashwood. He sold out that interest to start the new project regenerating
Mark wanted advice on creating a new range of guns – foreign-made but worthy of the Powell name. I have helped other companies do something similar and was glad to accept this commission, so, some months later, I found myself at Broomhills shooting ground with Peter Powell – who has remained as an active consultant to his old family firm – testing a variety of prototypes built to a specification that had evolved between the three of us.
It is always exciting when one sees an idea become wood and steel. The new guns – made for Powells by Batista Rizzini in Brescia – were genuinely impressive. At The Field we see a lot of guns which are the fruit of the Italian CNC revolution and these were better than the norm. They looked and
shot well. There were just a few details that needed tweaking. Now the production guns have arrived and I have had the chance to examine and shoot them.
I have already declared a bias; I might add, though, that the production guns have gone far beyond my initial input. The one under the microscope this month is the “Pegasus” sideplated over-and-under (there is also a round-body “Phoenix” boxlock). The test gun mentioned is one of a pair. It has 30in barrels with solid sighting rib, fixed chokes (quarter and three-quarters), and a full but slim pistol-grip stock. It weighs in at 7lb
4oz and costs £10,750 – significant dosh but not unattainable.
First impressions are of a gun that is elegant and finished to a high standard (as often seems to be the case when Italian firms make models for “proper” English gunmakers who know how things should be done). The Italians, meantime, are getting very good at making deluxe guns using their hi-tech and artisan skills and aided by continual feedback from the demanding UK market.
Detailing and finish, not to mention engineering, are getting better and better. This is evident in the test gun. The tight rose-and-scroll engraving is attractive, well applied and not too flashy. It would not look out of place on a best London or Birmingham gun. The fit and finish of all parts is impressive. I liked the well-shaped, plain-steel trigger blade and the look, form and function of the top lever and safety. The engine turning to the sides of the monobloc was a nice touch as was the extended trigger tang.
The stock is made from finely figured walnut.
It measures 147⁄8in from the middle of the trigger to the middle of the well-matched wooden butt plate.
The full pistol grip is of traditional English pattern without palm swell and
has an Ebonite cap. The comb is well proportioned with a good taper. Drop measurements are a standard 17⁄16in at the front of the comb and 21⁄8in at heel. There is slight cast for a right-hander (1⁄8in at heel and 5⁄16in at
The fore-end is a classic Schnabel with a
traditional Anson push-rod release. Butt and fore-end are properly oil finished and well chequered.
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