HOME OFFICE TO INCREASE COST OF FIREARMS LICENCES
The price of a firearms licence is likely to increase significantly
A major review is underway to determine the extent to which the cost of ﬁrearms licences will need to go up, probably at the end of next year. With the Home Ofﬁce and the Police in agreement that the service should essentially pay for itself, we can expect the cost of a new ﬁrearms certiﬁcate to rise from its current price of £88 (shotgun £79.50) to something more like £200. A potential 150% increase.
While no one wants to see their costs rise, the hope is that a new regime will help to clear the current backlog in the issuing of certiﬁcates. But for now, the delays caused by Covid, exacerbated in many cases by limited resourcing—again often as a consequence of the pandemic, where ofﬁcers have been moved onto other tasks—are now being compounded by the next cycle of reviews of fees.
Nick Hunt, Head of the Firearms Policy Unit at the Home Ofﬁce, told a packed meeting at the GTA AGM: “We are looking again at the level of fees charged for certiﬁcates. We last looked at them in 2014 and the levels increased in 2015, so it’s overdue that we looked again.”
The ongoing review, to which contributions have
been invited from organisations like BASC and the Countryside Alliance, is examining how police forces around the country are faring in the issuing of certiﬁcates, in terms of the time they spend on the process and their overheads, in order to determine their costs, with the ambition being to make the licences pay for themsleves in the sense that any cost increase will cover the time the police take to issue them. “Though clearly we don’t want to reward inefﬁciency in police forces,” Hunt insisted.
Once the review has been completed, it will go to consultation, and then a set of proposals will go to Parliament. “If all goes to plan,” any necessary
increases will come into effect by the end of 2023.
Chris Downs, Head of Firearms Licensing at the Metropolitan Police, explained the particular problems he had faced in London, but also noted that: “Nationally, to March 2022, there was a 3% reduction in the total number of ﬁrearms certiﬁcate holders, and a 5% reduction in the total number of shotgun certiﬁcate holders.”
These ﬁgures, whatever their causes, will inevitably impact on gunshops, as people without licences cannot buy guns and ammunition.
To put the cost in perspective, a ﬁshing licence will currently cost you £150 over ﬁve years.
BROCOCK TO RENAME AS BRK
BROCOCK has announced its intention to rename itself as BRK. Brocock’s Tony Belas told GTN: “The Brocock name is 30 years old and quite recognisable as the British company that it is. However, the change to BRK reﬂects the many advances and innovations that have been achieved in more recent times.
“With the launch of the high speciﬁcation Ghost, rebranding to BRK is a refresh that allows the company some options to move completely into the prestige sector of the PCP airgun market.”
A UK trademark registration was ﬁled for BRK by Brocock Ltd in June. The original trademark was applied for by the Silcock brothers in the 1990s and was a play on their names and relationship. In the short to medium term the Brocock name will be used alongside the new logo, as shown.
GUNSONPEGS CENSUS REVEALS FAVOURITE SHOTGUN BRANDS
THE Game Shooting Census 2022, carried out by GunsOnPegs and Lycetts in collaboration with BASC, the Countryside Alliance and the GWCT, asks participants for information on everything from their preferred headwear when out shooting to where they shoot and how much they spend. It also tells us what guns they are buying.
So which brands of shotguns have sold over the past 12 months, and what’s behind the success stories? The Game Shooting Census reveals some fascinating insights.
One surprising result this year was that one in ﬁve game shots had bought a shotgun in the previous 12 months—and this in a market place plagued by supply chain issues. The obvious explanation for this is that people are now buying steel shot ready guns ahead of the phasing out of lead. This theory is supported by the ﬁnding that 73% of people had no need to make any changes to their equipment,
retta is the most popular shotgun brand in the UK
whether that be having their gun sleeved, getting the chokes adjusted, or buying a gun—a ﬁgure that has not changed since last year.
Furthermore, of those who did buy a new gun, the data revealed a slight preference for buying new guns over used ones, tentatively suggesting that people were doing this with future-prooﬁng in mind
However, running contrary to this argument is the
INSIDE THIS ISSUE…
ONE FLU OVER
fact that people who shoot with a side-by-side—the group you would expect to be most likely to need a new gun—are less likely to have bought a new gun in the past year.
The proportion of game shots who use a side-byside shotgun has remained steady, at around 30%. However, given the requirement for heavier loads when using steel, and the challenges of using steel in older guns, it may be that some side-by-side users will switch to an over & under. This is supported by the fact that only 17% of those who bought a new gun bought a side-by-side, while 72% opted for an over & under, and the remainder opted for a single shot pump action shotgun or a semi-automatic.
BRITAIN’S ONLY SHOOTING INDUSTRY PUBLICATION
Roddis analyses the reporting of gun shop attacks in London – Page 40
The BGA’s Liam
mulls over the impact of Avian Influenza – Page 22
Luminaries from across the shooting world lay out their priorities – Page 31 ISSUE 83 NOVEMBER 2022 £4.95
What shotgun brands did people buy? The Italians dominate the charts, but the rising popularity of Turkish guns is notable, with Yildiz and ATA both making the top ten most popular shotgun brands of the year and Kofs and Hatsan also putting in a good showing just below. MARKET SHARE 1 Beretta 27% 2 Browning 17% 3 AYA 5% 4 Rizzini 5% 5 Caesar Guerini 5% 6 Miroku 4% 7 Blaser 3% 8 Yildiz 3% 9= Perazzi 2% 9= ATA 2%
Call the Shooting Sports team: 01625 613177 Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org Visit our website: EDGARBROTHERS.COM #edgarbrothers All riﬂes come with a 10 round magazine, M-Loc handguards, ambidextrous controls, match trigger, NoRec compensator, match grade barrel, and a Negrini hard case. RRP £1,999.00 .223 REM STRAIGHT PULL Where tradition meets high-tech – certainly a good philosophy and one Schmeisser our proud of. Their goal to produce the best AR15 and M16type ﬁrearms now extends to straight pull action. Using a wide range of alloy components makes it possible to increase strength and durability of their ﬁrearms. SP M4FL SP M5FL SP LMR SP15 ULTRA MATCH • Dropped forged 7075 T6 aluminium upper and lower • 20” Lother Walther match grade barrel • Guaranteed sub MOA @ 100yards • M-loc handguard interface • Ambidextrous safety, hold open and mag release • Weight 4 kg / 8.8 lbs • Twist rate 1:9 • Raptor style charging handle • Single stage match trigger • 38.1” Overall length • Dropped forged 7075 T6 aluminium upper and lower • 18” Lother Walther match grade barrel • Guaranteed sub MOA @ 100yards • M-loc handguard interface • Ambidextrous safety, hold open and magazine release • Weight 4.17 kg / 9.2 lbs • NoRec compensator • Backup sights • Twist rate 1:8 • Raptor style charging handle • Two stage match trigger • 37.8” Overall length • Dropped forged 7075 T6 aluminium upper and lower • 16.7” Lother Walther match grade barrel • Guaranteed sub MOA @ 100yards • M-loc handguard interface • Ambidextrous safety, hold open and magazine release • Weight 3.95 kg / 8.7 lbs • NoRec compensator • Backup sights • Twist rate 1:9 • Raptor style charging handle • Two stage match trigger • 36.6” Overall length • Dropped forged 7075 T6 aluminium upper and lower • 14” Lother Walther match grade barrel • Guaranteed sub MOA @ 100yards • M-loc handguard interface • Ambidextrous safety, hold open and magazine release • Weight 3.250 kg / 7.16 Lbs • NoRec compensator • Backup sights • Twist rate 1:9 • Raptor style charging handle • Two stage match trigger • 31.2” Overall length
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Solidarity. That’s what we really need to show at this particular moment. As the Health and Safety Executive continues its interrogation of our industry and proposes an outdoor lead ammunition ban that could come on us within the next two years, it’s important that we stand together and try our best to speak with one voice, so that our own contrasting opinions are not used against us to divide and legislate.
That’s why I’m proud to announce that Gun Trade News has become a paid-up member of the Gun Trade Association this month. I will be wearing my shiny new button hole badge with pride at the World Gunmakers’ Evening on November 9. I hope to see lots of you there.
You only need to turn to our report on the lead debate at the GTA AGM on page 31 to see that the trade and sport as a whole is not always singing the same hymn, but I do think it’s time for us to stand together and allow our fate to be decided with the best champion we can muster on the day—and for the trade that is deﬁnitely the GTA.
Over recent months Simon West and his team have pulled together dissenting voices and given them a platform. They have engaged with the HSE and liaised with the other organisations leading this ﬁght—BASC, the NRA, the CPSA and others—to make sure we present a united front across trade, sport and countryside interests. It has been a huge effort from all sides, and we can only hope that the government listens to sense.
What is sense? I think the best we can realisti-
cally hope for is a gradual phasing out of lead ammunition, and that the only real lever for debate is how long that phasing out takes. And we are still judged against the “ﬁve year voluntary transition” that was announced in February 2020 by various organisations representing the countryside, so realistically any amelioration of that timetable would have to be seen as a signiﬁcant success.
Whatever the science—and I know how long we can argue over that—the issue is that the food industry will not allow lead in carcasses any longer, and public opinion is not on our side. There is more hope for the sporting and target side of the industry to retain lead ammunition, but for game it is surely over, and a ban is just a question of time.
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Head of marketing: Gemma Payne Subscriptions: HH&S, 301 Harbour Yard, Chelsea Harbour, London SW10 0XD subsaver.co.uk/gtn Subscriptions Customer Care: gtn@ subsaver.co.uk or call 0800 953 0033 Contributors: Stuart Farr, Al Gabriel, Diggory Hadoke, Mat Manning, Caroline Roddis, Alex Sayer, Liam Stokes, Simon West ©2022 Stable Events CONTENTS News 07 Simon West, GTA 10 Reviews ..................................................... 13 Quick Quiz 17 Store of the Month 19 British Game Assurance ........................ 22 On Air 24 Auction View 27 Legal .......................................................... 29 Insight: Lead Debate 31 Market opportunities: Christmas 37 Media ........................................................ 40 Talking Stalking 42 The editorial matter, pictures or text, may not be reproduced without prior permission. Views expressed are not necessarily those of the editor and staff.
The trade and sport is not always singing the same hymn ”
THE NORTHERN SHOOTING SHOW 6-7 MAY 2023 Booking for 2023 now open. Contact Lee Hurst 07949 111539 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
SANDWELL FIELD SPORTS Please contact the agent Rob Doman by email, email@example.com in the first instance l Air rifle speciailst retailers in a growing market l Solid firearms trade as well l 25 years of established good will (4.6 rating on Google) l A well-stocked and well-presented store with a loyal customer base l Good solid turnover with large internet sales potential l Own brand of modified Weihrauch – The Imp “A .22 calibre masterpiece” l Potential to develop the export market with new and established products l Well-known and popular salesman/technician Tony Wall keen to stay with the business Sandwell Field Sports is looking for a new owner due to retirement. Bob Stanton is interested to hear from anyone keen to take on this profitable and wellestablished business (Store Of The Month, page 18)
Around the UK and abroad, all the top stories digested
New BRK rifle range
Sharing the same monocoque chassis as the Delta Wolf, the Ghost is also the debut riﬂe for Brocock as it begins a gradual transition to its new BRK corporate brand.
The mechanical action BRK Ghost is available in three models priced between £1,440 and £1,600. Available in .177 and .22 at 12 ft/lbs with FAC versions also available, the BRK Ghost Carbine has a 300cc carbon air bottle. Also available in .177 and .22 at 12 ft/lb, as well as FAC levels, the BRK Ghost Plus features a larger 480cc bottle. The high power BRK Ghost HP model also has the larger capacity bottle and adds .25 and .30 calibre options.
With features including a 20-point micro power dial, an adjustable stock, cheek rest and scope rail, a new design adjustable trigger, Huma Air regulator and new balanced cross-ﬂow valve, it wasn’t long before the journalists had all three variants in all the calibres working hard. On Oakedge’s 70 metre outdoor range, the 100 ft/lbs .30 calibre and 65 ft/lbs .22 HP riﬂes were particularly popular.
Commenting on the BRK Ghost’s launch, company representative Tony Belas said: “The fully ambidextrous BRK Ghost is the ﬁrst in a new generation of air riﬂes that underlines our values that combine a passion for innovation with dependable know-how, resulting in top-quality, leading-edge air riﬂes that won’t let you down.”
World Gunmakers’ Evening 2022
This is your last call for tickets to the World Gunmakers’ Evening, a truly unique event where you can meet the experts, handle ﬁne guns that would usually be locked in a glass cabinet, and compare your favourites—all in one place at an event like no other.
The biggest names in the world of gunmaking will be displaying their ﬁnest guns for guests to enjoy and dry mount. This is the perfect opportunity to really speak with the experts, learn more about the history of the gunmakers, and gain a unique insight into the designs of the famous guns we know today.
Founded in 2015, the tabletop event brings together the very best gunmakers and shooting brands from around the globe, together with 500 guests for an evening of canapés and champagne. Conﬁrmed gunmakers include James Purdey & Sons, William Evans, Charles Lancaster, William Powell, John
Dickson, Browning International, Stephen & Son as well as Bonhams and Holts auctioneers.
The event will take place at the Armoury House, a beautiful Georgian manor house built and furnished in 1735 and still home to the HAC Regiment. The venue’s six function rooms are full of character and period features—from the cannons ﬂagging the main entrance to the suit of armour on display in the court room—so you can really enjoy the long story of this fascinating building and feel its proud connection to the HAC.
Whisky Partners has been revealed as the headline sponsor of this year’s World Gunmakers’ Evening.
Managing partner Alistair Moncrieff commented:
“We are delighted to sponsor the World Gunmakers’ Evening in 2022. The shared traditions of both our industries, showcasing the very best of craftsman-
ship and heritage, makes the event a natural ﬁt for our business. We look forward to a superb evening together and to creating a lasting partnership.”
Event director James Gower added: “We could immediately see the synergies between the event and Whisky Partners. Our guests appreciate beautiful things and are investors in tangible assets including art, antiques and collectibles such as watches and guns. And with the ﬁnancial markets in such turmoil of late, and crypto currencies left for the tech geeks, more investors than ever before are turning to liquid gold as a secure place for their money.”
The World Gunmakers’ Evening 2022 will take place from 6pm-10pm on Wednesday 9 November at the Armoury House in the City of London. Tickets are £120 and can be purchased through worldgunmakers.com
Avian flu updates
In order to keep its readers up to date with the rapidly changing picture on avian inﬂuenza in the UK, Shooting Times will publish a weekly update, beginning this issue. The bird ﬂu outbreak, which began in October 2021, is continuing, with signiﬁcant numbers of new cases in late September and early October this year. This is an extremely concerning situation with serious implications for shooting. The situation is generally expected to worsen as colder weather and migrating wildfowl arrive.
(See Liam Stokes, page 22 )
Countryside Alliance Awards
The Countryside Alliance Awards are back and open to nominations. The awards aka, the “Rural Oscars” celebrate the achievements of rural businesses, and those that go on to become ﬁnalists or champions will receive regional and national recognition, helping them build for even more success in the future. To nominate a business go to countryside-alliance.org
HRH The Princess Royal is new BASC Patron
The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) has announced Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal as the Association’s new Patron. BASC Council chairman Eoghan Cameron said: “We are privileged that the Princess Royal has accepted the invitation to become our new Patron. The news has been warmly welcomed by all at BASC and I extend our deepest thanks to Her Royal Highness on behalf of our membership, staff and Council for her kind agreement.”
Beavis wins BASC .410 World Championships again
Nick Beavis has once again been crowned the winner of this year’s BASC .410 World Championships, his fourth title. The clay shooting competition, which celebrated its 20th anniversary this year, was held at the Dovey Valley Shooting Ground, Llanwrin, over the ﬁrst weekend of October. More than 100 participants took part, and Beavis took the top spot with a score of 47/50. Beavis previously won the event in 2017, 2018 and 2019.
Fiocchi Munizioni sponsors Central European PRS Championship
Fiocchi Munizioni sponsored the 2022 Central European PRS Championship held in Čachtice, Slovakia, this September. “More and more fans are choosing our riﬂe ammo, a guarantee of reliability and precision in all weather and environmental conditions,” said Daniele Palmieri, Fiocchi Chief Marketing and Commercial Ofﬁcer. “We are very happy to support this event, one of the most important and popular shooting competitions in Europe.”
Industry News 7
The busy throng at the very successful sell-out event
Malcolm Appleby, well-known engraver
representative Tony Belas said: “The fully am-
BRK Ghost High Power, BRK Ghost Plus and BRK Ghost Carbine
New clothing range from Waring Brooke
Waring Brooke, the clothing brand founded by Samantha Brooke, has launched its biggest collection to date. Promising “structured lines and ﬂattering silhouettes”, the new collection features burnt orange and olive-green hues inspired by the Notting-
“O f course, Liz Truss has been the Defra Secretary of State before, so I was keen to see what she made of it last time. I googled her record. In the two years that she held the post she never made one keynote speech and gave the impression that she could not wait to leave. What we do know is that in that period she cut the Environment Agency’s budget so much that it became unable to act against water polluters, a legacy that we are still living with today. Given that she has made great play of her plans to rip up remaining EU legislation, where does that leave the retained environmental legislation, such as the habitats and birds directives, which underpin our current biodiversity strategy?”
hamshire countryside sunsets. With sustainability and quality at the forefront of the brand, Waring Brooke prides itself on being 100% handmade in Britain, and its pieces are all made to order, ensuring production waste is minimal.
The new Autumn/Winter collection includes timeless knitwear with cropped jumpers, cosy ponchos, and ﬂattering knitted skirts, along with hairbands and headbands, personalised monogrammed patterns and must-have winter luxury boot socks— all for wear in and around the countryside. The pieces are the perfect companion for an autumnal adventure, whether that be a visit to a quaint country pub, strolling the countryside or a day’s shooting. For those of you who relish the cosiness and stylistic comfort of the cooler months, Waring Brooke’s new Autumn/Winter collection will ensure you are looking your country-chic best.
Pard appoints Steve Gomm
Pard has appointed Steve Gomm as UK business development manager. Steve has over 40 years of shooting experience and is a well-known ﬁgure in the British airgun and shooting community with many strong relationships in the ﬁeld. Working alongside Pard’s exclusive distributor Sportsman Gun Centre (SGC), Steve will be promoting, showcasing and developing Pard’s business and consumer relationships within the UK. Steve said: “These are exciting times and I’m looking forward to working with the UK’s largest and most dynamic distribution company and to working for a market-leading manufacturer.”
Adam Brown joins GMK
GMK has appointed Adam Brown as Marketing Executive. Adam has recently graduated from the University of the West of England with a degree in Business Management and Marketing. He has a long sporting background including football— playing as a goalkeeper for four seasons—basketball and martial arts. He currently takes great enjoyment in being a music producer and DJ. Adam can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via mobile on 07 562 741 009.
BSA launches R12 CLX Pro
Following the successful unveiling of the Ultra CLX model in 2021, BSA Guns has announced its next launch, the R12 CLX Pro. This will initially be available in .177 and .22, with additional calibres planned. Building on the success of the ‘Thumbhole’ version of the R10, BSA has designed the R12 CLX Pro to maintain the classic Thumbhole stock. Maintaining the core beneﬁts and features of the Ultra CLX and utilising the side lever action launched exclusively in the 160th Anniversary Ultra CLX, this new gun combines the key features and beneﬁts into BSA’s ﬂagship model. BSA will present the R12 CLX Pro
in one of Minelli’s quality-made stocks. This latest thumbhole variant will be available in both walnut and black pepper laminate.
BSA has pre-built a large number of R12 CLX Pro’s to enable immediate availability to its UK trade accounts. Orders can be placed for both .177 or .22 calibres in either walnut or black pepper stocks and in both variants, carbine or the shorter super carbine (same price for carbine and super carbine).
Trade pricing is as follows: R12 CLX Pro—Walnut, £745 (RRP £1,215); R12 CLX Pro—Black Pepper, £792 (RRP £1,265).
lloway & Naughton gun sells for £66,000
A ﬁne 28-bore single-trigger over & under ejector gun built by English gunmaker Holloway & Naughton sold for £66,000 in Gavin Gardiner Ltd’s live/online auction of Modern & Vintage Sporting Guns on Wednesday, 5 October 2022. Estimated at £25,00035,000, it was built in around 2010 using a Boss-style action and, after ﬁerce bidding, the gun, Lot 358, was bought by a collector in the USA.
Following the sale, Gavin Gardiner commented: “I was extremely pleased to sell this gun on behalf of a collector in the north of England. 28-bores are very desirable at the moment and with the ﬂuctuation in the currency markets it made it appealing to the overseas market, like many items in the sale.”
For more on this particular gun, and more from the Gavin Gardiner sale in general—and more on the current attraction to the UK market from American buyers—see this month’s Auction
on page 27.
Climate Change and Biodiversity: Food Security, House of Lords September 8
Model wearing AW22 Cock & Hen Boot Socks, £46.50 RRP
TAKING A LEAD ON LEAD
As the steel trap closes around us, the Gun Trade Association is fighting across several fronts to ensure the best possible outcome for our cartridge manufacturers
WE are approaching the deadline for responses to the government’s consultation on the use of lead in ammunition. There is a huge amount of work going on behind the scenes across the shooting community as we prepare our response.
I am delighted to report that, with renewed efﬁciency, the shooting organisations within the British Shooting Sports Council, live quarry and target organisations and the GTA are working together to ensure we have a strong argument to manage the ﬁght on the future of ammunition. We have now had two meetings with NRA, CPSA, BASC, CA, NSRA and GTA to consider the challenge together. These meetings have been hugely productive. We have been able to assess the HSE’s proposals and look at the evidence. What is abundantly clear is that the restriction proposals have been based on ﬂimsy evidence in some areas and have taken a sledgehammer approach to managing lead in shooting. We are carefully unpicking that approach and offering a better one.
We all know that lead has adverse effects on human health and on other living things in our environment. We always hear the examples of petrol and paint, where lead use has been stopped. In those situations, the lead compounds were easily accessible to ingestion and they were rightly removed. When it comes to lead in its metallic form, however, the hazard is much reduced. Yes, if small shot is ingested by living things, the risk of detrimental effect is there.
“ The challenge is the time it will take to bring production levels up to what is needed ”
That is why our live quarry organisations are moving on from using lead to shoot game. Where metallic lead can be managed in the environment, the risk is far lower.
The HSE have already stated that lead in the ground is not something they are concerned about.
If target shooting with riﬂes or shotguns can be conducted so as to contain lead and manage its accessibility for ingestion, then—although there is still a theoretical hazard—the risks can be minimised. The whole subject of health and safety is to identify hazards and to reduce risk. The governing bodies of our target sports are the experts in the ﬁeld and should be given the responsibility to conduct that risk management activity.
When it comes to timelines, there are other factors to consider. As I have proudly reported before, our shotgun cartridge manufacturers have been advancing lead-free ammunition for years. Their investment in new technologies for both lead-free shot and biodegradable wads is commendable. In fact,
we have now got to the stage where we can rightly claim that the UK is a world leader in the ﬁeld. The challenge to producing lead-free cartridges for game shooting is the time it will take to bring production levels up to what is needed to supply our shooters.
The challenge comes in two parts. First the machinery needed to produce steel cartridges at speed is different to that traditionally used. These new machines aren’t cheap, and neither are they quickly available. It can take years from order to delivery. Then there’s the components. A move from lead to steel isn’t just about replacing the shot; it’s also the wads and powders that need to be changed. Steel shot suppliers around the world are few and, with the global supply issue challenge, difﬁcult to access in the quantities we need. Powders need special conﬁguration to meet the internal ballistic requirements and, following Russia’s war on Ukraine and NATO’s re-armament, are in short supply for sporting use. The advanced, biodegradable wads are tricky to produce and bring their own loading challenges. New machinery and alternative supply chains need time to develop. While you may have non-lead am-
munition available for you to sell, let me assure you that if we were forced away from lead before the end of 2024, as the HSE propose, we would be nowhere near being able to supply all our customers.
This is why the GTA has contracted two studies into the cartridge manufacturing process that will inform the government on what we are able to achieve and when—and most importantly, the impact of what this would mean to our shooting industry.
The car industry has been given to 2035 to move completely to zero-emission machines. And, of course, there will be years of petrol and diesel cars on the road after that. Why then, should we be given such short timelines to achieve a transition away from traditional production that we have had since long before the car was invented. At a time when we are leading the world on shotgun ammunition advances, why would the government propose a restriction that has high risk of destroying an industry that is doing so much to advance?
You have the chance to speak; the consultation is open until 6 November. The shooting organisations are still working on the detail—there are lots of technical questions. Before the deadline we will all be making clear to our members what we are going to say. You may want to engage now but I would recommend you wait until you see what we are all saying—to speak with one voice!
10 Gun Trade Association: Simon West
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This rifle looks ‘different’ when you take it out of the box. It’s slim, and rather long as far as conven tional rifles go, measuring in at bang on 1,000mm, or exactly one metre; 550mm of this is the shrouded barrel, which has a removable end cap that exposes a 1/2in UNF fitting, in case you want to add a silencer.
I’ve been testing this rifle for well over a month now in various situations, and so far I’ve had no problems with accuracy, but something inside my head keeps telling me that I’d feel happier of there was some sort of barrel band toward the end of the set-up to keep the floating barrel from moving should it get knocked or dropped. That’s just me, though. Like I said, I’ve had no problems and the rifle has been thrown about in my car and at the range—not literally!
On to the stock, then. Like I said, it’s really quite slim, measuring just 40mm wide. There’s a Pica tinny rail moulded into the fore end for adding the supplied mono grip, which cleverly doubles up as a bipod at the push of a button.
At the other end, there is an adjustable cheek piece, which is raised and lowered with the press of another button—a nice touch not having to fiddle about with Allen keys. There’s also a soft touch butt pad attached for added comfort.
The 280cc cylinder has a removable metal end cap, which also rotates to reveal the fill port, and the pressure gauge is situated on the end of said cylinder.
It’s easy to read and is colour-coded in yellow, green and red segments. I should also mention that the rifle comes with its own hard case for transportation.
For a little over £550, you’re getting a lot of rifle for your money, and one that seems extremely well built. If I were to change one thing it would be the stock, but that’s just me. I prefer a good lump of Turkish walnut. But for a rifle of this price the syn thetic stock does exactly what it is supposed to do. Factor in the easy adjustability and I can see why Niksan opted for this route to keep costs down.
Accuracy-wise, I’ve had no problems at all. In fact, I’m happily surprised by just how accurate and consistent it is. Due to its length, I’d say this rifle is more at home on the range, or on the bipod in a field in search of rabbits. I don’t think I’d want to wander around the woods or confined spaces with it when hunting, but there are other rifles in the Niksan range to cover that are designed for that purpose.
imaging clip-on is a high-quality, precision opti cal device that will give excellent service to those who are fortunate enough to be able to employ this kind of mega-tech in their shooting. Easy to
Review Roundup 13
the Ferrari, I will have to be content with dreaming about buying one of my own. You can choose between white hot, black hot, red hot and rainbow colour palettes for optimum viewing in a variety of conditions
Archero-S David Barham reveals the new PCP from Turkish manufacturer Niksan Highlights of reviews from consumer magazines GUN TEST Air Gunner is published by Fieldsports Press and is available for wholesale from Seymour on 0207 429 4000 “Converts a day scope into a high-performance thermal optic in seconds, making it an excellent tool for nocturnal airgun pest control. It costs serious money, but the tech justifies the outlay if you can afford it.” THE AIRGUN SHOOTER VERDICT NEED TO KNOW n MANUFACTURER: Zeiss (zeiss.ly/DTC-3) n MODEL: DTC 3/38 Thermal Imaging Clip-on n PRICE: £3,500 n LENGTH: 165mm (base unit) n WEIGHT: 650g (base unit) n DETECTION RANGE: Up to 1,950m n FEATURES: Choice of four colour palettes, Bluetooth connectivity for Zeiss Hunting app, storage for multiple zero profiles, integral rechargeable battery, fast and secure attachment system GUN TEST Airgun Shooter is published by Future Publishing and is available for wholesale from Marketforce on 0203 787 9101 In the heat of the night NEED TO KNOW n UK DISTRIBUTOR: The Shooting Party n TYPE: PCP, multi-shot rotary mag n STOCK MATERIAL: Ambidextrous, synthetic n COCKING: Side lever n TRIGGER: Two-stage, adjustable n SAFETY: Manual lever n CALIBRES: .177 (14 shots) and .22 (12 shots) n OVERALL LENGTH: 1,000mm (39.4 in) n BARREL LENGTH: 550mm (21.6in) n WEIGHT: 3.5kg (7.7lbs) without scope n FILL PRESSURE: 200 bar n SHOTS PER FILL: 90 (.177), 115 (.22) n ENERGY OF TEST RIFLE: Avg 11.5 ft/lbs over 20 shots n VARIATION (20 SHOTS): 10fps n WEBSITES: shootingparty.uk or niksandefense.com n PRICE: £559
Most of you will know that EJ Churchill has an illustrious gunmaking past, but no longer makes guns. So you may be surprised to see that the company has brought out a new gun called the Crown. Rupert Haynes, the gunroom manager at EJ Churchill is quite open that the company has
outsourced production to Rizzini. And why not?
After all, the Italian company makes excellent guns.
The Crown is a lovely looking gun and its handling qualities are superb. That makes it worth £7,995 of anyone’s money. This gun will appeal to those who are a bit sentimental in that they want
HikMicro Alpex A50T digital day/night scope
Paul Austin takes a look at the latest contender for the day/night digiscope crown, and it turns out to be a close call
HikMicro haven’t been in the shooting game for long, but they’ve become a real force in the mar ket, targeting the middle ground and offering goodquality kit at sensible prices. That tradition continues with the Alpex, but with a slight twist. It isn’t merely good, it’s truly exceptional, especially when you fac tor in the £799 price. As a combined package of per formance and price it’s untouchable at the moment.
HikMicro always do a particularly good job of presenting their products. The Alpex ships in a very nice case, but more importantly its contents include everything you need to go shooting except for a pair of 30mm rings. The included torch is a typi
cal example. Most torches that ship with IR scopes are good enough for ratting and rimfire ranges, but they’re often little more than an afterthought and are quickly replaced. The Alpex torch, on the other hand, is superb! It’s got great range for its size, is fully dimmable and adjustable from flood to spot, and it delivers more than enough IR light to go fox ing right out of the box.
I suspect the question for most people is whether the Alpex matches up to what I consider to be the current market leader, the Pulsar C50? The C50 was a revelation, transforming what you could expect from an IR scope and low-light, non-illuminated
performance. It was light years better than anything before and remains the gold standard for IR optics in my opinion.
So how close is the Alpex? I’d say very close in deed. While writing this piece I’ve noticed a drop in the price for the Pulsar C50 from £1,099 to £950. Pulsar do not like to discount, and I suspect the ap pearance of the Alpex at just £799 was the driving force behind this decision, which is a testament to the quality of this new digiscope.
In terms of combined bang for your buck, perfor mance and features, the Alpex is probably the most impressive product I’ve seen this year.
14 Review Roundup
NEED TO KNOW n MODEL: Crown side-by-side pistol grip n BORE: 12 (tested), 20, 28-bore and .410 cal n ACTION: Boxlock with decorative side plates n BARREL LENGTH: 30in n CHOKES: Fixed (tested as standard), multi or Teagued (£495 or £795) n FORE-END: Splinter or beaver tail n WEIGHT: 7lb 6oz n PRICE: From £7,995 EJ
Crown EJ Churchill is renowned for fine guns, but now a new version of the Crown has entered the collection. What will the editor think? GUN TEST Sporting Gun is published by Future Publishing and is available for wholesale from Marketforce on 0203 787 9101 NEED TO KNOW n SENSOR RESOLUTION: 1920x1080 n LENS SIZE: 50mm, f1.2 n MINIMUM FOCUSING DISTANCE: 3m n PROTECTION: IP67 waterproof n OPTICAL MAG: 3.5x with up to 4x digital zoom n DISPLAY: 1024x768 OLED HD n VIDEO RESOLUTION FOR RECORDING: 1440x1080 n FRAME RATE: 50Hz n APP CONNECTIVITY: Wi-fi hotspot to HikMicro Sight App n VIDEO FEATURES: Recoil-activated recording, on-board video recording, picture-in-picture mode n BATTERY TYPE: Two rechargeable lithium batteries, one internal, one turret external CR123 n DIMENSIONS: 442x78x83mm n WEIGHT: 1,062g n PRICE: £799 n CONTACT: scottcountry.co.uk 97 /100 OVERALL SCORE Looks beautiful and handles superbly the EJ Churchill name on their gun, but want to combine that with the reliability of a modern gun from a prestigious Italian gunmaker. Combine that with the superb handling and you have here a gun that is worth every penny of its asking price. GUN TEST Rifle Shooter is published by Fieldsports Press and is available for wholesale from Seymour on 0207 429 4000
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THE GTN SIMON MOORE
This month’s Quick Quiz features Simon Moore, Managing Director of BSA Guns
Please tell us who you are and who you work for I’m Simon Moore, and I’m Managing Director of BSA Guns.
In a word, incredible. Coming through the pandemic and into this year, business is booming. With the launch of our new BSA models over the past 12 months—with the Ultra CLX last year, and the R12 CLX Pro more recently—together with our continued roll out of Gamo’s Swarm 10x Multi-shot break barrel programme—for BSA and our wider group of companies, which includes Gamo, Daisy, and Winchester Air Guns—we’re moving from strength to strength.
Up to anything new?
Plenty! In addition to my role as Managing Director of BSA, I also sit on our Executive New Model Programme team. This focuses on delivering strategic direction for new product for all our group brands and includes colleagues from Spain and the USA. We’re dealing with programmes four to ﬁve years ahead of launch, which ensures that we have a continuous pipeline of new product being developed. And, there are more new BSAs on the way!
Do you shoot? If so, why? And what?
Not enough. Mainly I shoot air guns, testing our product, assessing competitors’ products and being a guinea pig on some of our new ideas. I occasionally do a little clay shooting and have been lucky enough to experience driven hunts in Scandinavia.
For me, I enjoy the ‘mechanics’ of shooting—that tactile feel of holding a riﬂe, the balance needed, ensuring your breathing is correct, etc, etc.
What do you most like about your job?
Although I didn’t study design, the design and aesthetics of our products are very important to me. Achieving the balance between functionality and form, modern versus traditional, trying to move with current themes… It’s all fascinating.
The directions in design themes across many industries at the moment are ‘simpliﬁcation’ and
‘forwardism’. How do we take complication out of our modern lives? How can we apply that to our products of the future, working in what is a very traditional industry?
What are the other loves of your life?
Quite simple really. Family. I know it’s a cliché, but everything I do is driven to provide a secure and better future for my family. For better or worse I follow Aston Villa FC and have been a season ticket holder for many years.
Which other ﬁeldsport/shooting businesses or organisations do you most admire, and why?
That’s a difﬁcult question. In terms of businesses, it’s hard to single out anyone speciﬁc, as we all do our own thing in our own way. There have been many occasions when I’ve looked at our competitors in both a positive and a negative light.
our own thing in our own way. There have been
I guess BASC would have to get a mention here. They are the face of shooting in the UK, and for many years now they have partnered with us at BSA on a youth shooting education programme. They attend many of the country fairs and, using BSA products exclusively, have opened up the shooting experience to the next generation.
many of the country fairs and, have opened up the shooting experience to the next generation.
What’s the biggest threat facing , in your opinion?
Again, this is a very difﬁcult question. Further legislation, the ban on lead, economic challenges.
What can the government do to support the industry more?
Engage with us and listen to us. As an industry we’re generally very good at self-governance as we have too much to lose if we take the wrong direction.
What’s your favourite shooting read?
With the explosion of social media, there’s too many options for me to answer that question with a single publication, blogger or inﬂuencer. However, I do enjoy reading a printed article. There’s still something satisfying about reading a magazine or a book, rather than just looking down at that little bright screen in your hand.
Quick Quiz 17
Although I didn’t study design, the aesthetics of our products are very important to me ”
And the best bit of kit you ever bought? Harkila Pro Hunter GTX boots.
Tell us an interesting fact about yourself I’d never held a ‘gun’ in my life before my interview for this BSA position in 2009.
If you could only eat one kind of soup for the rest of your life, what ﬂavour would it be?
Tomato. There’s really nothing better than a steaming hot bowl of tomato soup on a cold winter’s day. And in the summer months, I just mix it up with a gazpacho! GTN GTN
Gen2 Roadster, Ultra CLX - Beech Stock, R-12 CLX Pro Black Pepper
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SANDWELL FIELD SPORTS
What year was the shop established?
We started trading in September 1997.
Are you independent, one of a chain, how does that work? Who do you report to?
There’s three partners, myself and Tony and Tracey.
We all sort of report to each other. We have our roles and it works very well. We aren’t registered as a lim ited company, which surprises people, but we are entirely independent yes.
The one member of staff you couldn’t live with out and why…
I couldn’t live without either Tony or Tracey. Tracey does the paperwork while Tony does all the custom ising of the air rifles and loves serving customers. The shop couldn’t run without Tony.
Tell us a little bit more about yourself, and why you’re running a gunshop—tell, us what your passions are…
I’ve shot all my life, beginning as a 10-year-old over on next-door’s farm. I loved those farm days above all else and wish I could relive them. Then I moved onto a Benelli when I was about 16 or 17 (when they were still five shot). To this day I still prefer shooting pigeons over decoys.
Quite late on in my shooting, in the 1990s, I got into clays a bit and had a Miroku 7000 which I much prefer to the MK70. I also had a 30in 325, which again, in my opinion, is much better than its succes sor, the 525.
What has been the most successful product (or area) for you in the past year?
We do our own air rifle called the Imp. That has been our most popular product for a few years now. The gun starts life as a Weihrauch HW99 but made spe cifically for us to our design in Germany. We heavily modify the internals in our workshop via de-burring, polishing and honing all the contact areas so that when finished they feel like ice on ice. We then ap ply our concoction of lubes and pastes and replace the mainspring with one of our own design, fitted with a top-hat bearing and turned down spring guide to fit that particular spring. The trigger unit is next to have our treatment by stripping it down to its ‘bare bones’ and, like the rest of the action, it is polished, de-burred, lubed and set. The hand engraved barrel is lapped to remove any ‘high spots’ within and the finished gun is then reassembled, checked for con sistency and power over the chronograph, range tested at 20m and only if it groups five shots within a little fingernail is it fit to have the famous gold SFS sticker on the cylinder.
It’s so popular with pest controllers due to its ma nouverabilty. The usability can be further increased by the addition of one of our in-house designed over barrel moderator.s There are two to choose from, the ‘Hushwell’ or the ‘Gnat’. All of the stuff that’s ex
“ Tracey does the paperwork while Tony does the customising of the air rifles and loves serving customers ”
clusive to us is really popular and topped our success list for around six or seven years now.
What was your first gun?
I started with a 16 gauge at eleven years old, shoot ing rabbits and pigeons. The following year I moved onto a 12 bore, a Spanish Essex side-by-side—my father bought it for me from a man who went by the name of Samson.
Who’s your best customer?
We're very lucky at Sandwells and I can honestly say that every customer is a good customer. One or two stand out but I don't want to embarrass them.
Best day ever?
You always feel you’ve had the best day when you are really busy, and then before you know it, the day is over. There’s a lot of good days here but that’s the mood and the team, which in turn helps the takings.
Of course. I think every day is a good day here if I’m honest. We never think “Oh dear, what a bad day!” Saturdays are always busy but you can never predict. We once thought to close a day in the week so we could all have time off together but we just couldn’t because any day can suddenly end up busy at any time. There’s no pattern in this trade.
I suppose the best days financially were the shows. We stood at the Midland Game Fair for 18 years and have been known to take £60k there in the past.
What’s the first thing you put down when order ing stock?
Everything we are short of. Many suppliers ring us
on a Tuesday and we replenish the stock weekly. We seem to sell plenty and we seem to order plenty.
What’s your funniest or most memorable story?
There really are just so many. We always have a little giggle at anyone trying to pronounce Weihrauch. ‘Wine rack’ is the most popular but the ones who lean towards dog breeds like Weimaraner and Rott weiler are always amusing.
On another note, we did have a guy come in once who was complaining about holes in one of his bar rels and was seeking a replacement. Tony had a good look and it being a Beretta AL391 semi auto, the holes were of course vital for the gas!
What do you anticipate will be the biggest trends for the next year?
One sad trend I’m seeing is people surrendering their guns and not renewing their licences. We offer stor age as a facility and most of the ones we are holding are entirely due to people having delays on renewals.
There are some FEOs which are only available for an hour a day. Having said that, there is one example from West Mercia Police where a licence was sorted within five days.
We are also seeing people attempting to ‘panic sell’ due their concerns about steel, which is another worrying trend in the making.
Any other interesting facts about the business?
Well, it’s up for sale at the moment, so if any of your readers would like to get in touch… We have a try before you buy rifle range upstairs (around 20 yards or so). Here at Sandwell Field Sports there’s also a
fully equipped workshop and an armoury, as well as a cartridge store and lots of cabinets.
We have other guns we have produced too, the Snipe and the smaller Jacksnipe. The moderators we do are called the Hushwell because of ‘hush’ meaning quiet, and ‘well’ comes from Sandwell.
The Gnat got its name because we set up a bit of a competition for the customers and whoever came up with the best name got a free one, and Gnat won!
Other interesting facts include originally setting up as MFS but we were stopped because those let ters were already taken by Midland Funeral Ser vices! Before that, we were going to go as Midland Field Sports but that was taken by a man who was only selling wax trousers.
What for you is the best thing about working in a gunshop?
It’s different. When I was a greengrocer it was the same thing every week. I like the unpredictability and you never know who is coming through the door next.
Are people surprised when you tell them you own/run a gunshop?
People are surprised I’m selling it, but it’s my age more than anything. I love this place and would help the new owners settle in if they needed that.
Store of the Month 19
This month we are at West Bromwich in the Midlands to talk shop with Bob Stanton, the owner of the famous Sandwell Field Sports
Bob Stanton (right) with Tony Wall, one of his partners at Sandwell
SANDWELL FIELD SPORTS n ADDRESS: 13 Queens Court, Greets Green Road, West Bromwich, B70 9EG n PHONE: 01215 20200 n WEBSITE: Under construction. Find out more on the Sandwell Field Sports Facebook page and Si Pittaway films on VerminHunters TV n OPENING HOURS: Monday to Saturday 08.3016.30, Sunday: closed NEED TO KNOW n YEAR ESTABLISHED: 1997 n ANNUAL TURNOVER: c. £600,000 n NUMBER OF STAFF: There’s two full-time members and four parttime members, including me. I only work Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. ON THE FRONT LINE
20 Store of the Month
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AN ILL AVIAN WIND?
Liam Stokes of the BGA is our new food chain expert. Here he turns his attention to the number one problem for every estate owner and Gun in the country… The dreaded bird flu
AVIAN inﬂuenza is not only taking a toll on game shoots, it is also threatening to disrupt the game meat supply chain. The immediate impacts will take careful negotiation, but depending on how this story unfolds the ramiﬁcations may be felt for years to come.
It is remarkable to me that we have been talking about avian inﬂuenza (AI) since at least February, yet the ferocity of the impact it is having in certain (thankfully so far isolated) parts of the country is still taking us aback. For most of 2022, bird ﬂu has been woven into an Eeyorish blanket of pessimism that has fallen across our community. Fuel costs are phenomenal, grain prices gargantuan, no one has any money and, oh yes, we can’t get any birds anyway because of bird ﬂu.
Well a certain number of birds made it in the end. Estimates vary widely on how the overall number of birds has been affected by the spring and summer outbreaks in France. At BGA we surveyed our registered shoots and it seems that around 40% are expecting to shoot a full calendar, with those mostly being the larger shooting operations with more robust supply chains. Smaller shoots are more likely to be experiencing varying degrees of disruption, as our polling found. More than a quarter of the shoots reporting a reduced calendar will not be shooting at all in 2022/23.
The picture may, however, have shifted since we undertook that work. I visited a game farm recently with unprecedented order books, with eggs being set into months for which their usual diary didn’t have space to enter records. Late releases on shoots not
planning to put out Guns before December were just one more extraordinary development, after three years of them. Given that context, there may now be more birds on the ground than our mid-summer numbers would suggest.
We were already calculating the impact on the game meat sector before AI began to impact shoots with birds on the ground. It seemed to us that the shoots supplying local markets would be less likely to have received their birds than those supplying processors and the substantial contracts into major multiples. Early experiences with grouse, partridges, pigeon and duck all pointed to the supply shock having the effect you might expect on prices for shot
to retailers is up about 10%, despite the increased supply, because the demand for birds in feather is so strong in Europe and the costs of processing birds that do stay in the UK are so high.
The next storm
An increased dependence on the export market is a contributing factor to the next storm that is approaching our sector. A processor receiving a shot bird from within an Avian Inﬂuenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) loses the ability to export, so as new areas fall under that designation, the shoots within them are ﬁnding that dealers are no longer willing to collect their game.
“ Money is changing hands for shot game, in some cases for the first time in years
birds and for processed game. It seemed the rules of supply and demand were ﬁnally taking a hold of the game meat market, which has always been dysfunctional due to the distorting inﬂuence of the value of a bird on the wing versus a bird on the ground.
At the same time, all the other factors we have worried over this past eight months or so have only got worse. Processing costs are every bit as high as we had feared, and where dealers can avoid them by sending game in feather overseas, that is what they are doing. We have reason to believe that signiﬁcantly more duck has been released this past season than in recent years, yet the price of processed duck
The short-term impact is two-fold, depending on whether you are within or without an AIPZ. Outside a zone, demand for your birds is likely to be high. Money is changing hands for shot game, in some cases for the ﬁrst time in years. Lead-free birds are particularly sought after. This is what people have wanted to see for years, and it’s a shame it has taken such extreme events to bring it about.
Inside the zone, the picture is murkier. At BGA we are working to join up shoots with dealers who don’t export, who might be willing to collect. There might be a fracturing of the relationship between shoots and their historical game dealers, which might in-
troduce some dynamism into the market, but which will also be unsettling. Some shoots will pivot to supplying their local market using the two exemptions in the Wild Game Guide to sell direct to local outlets. Remember, government guidance is clear: cooked game remains safe to eat.
There is, of course, a long way to go this season. Cases remain isolated and at the time of writing the spread seems to be slowing. It feels slightly surreal to be writing these words about an entirely new contagion, this time in our birds, after two years dominated by disease of a different kind. But that experience has surely taught us to be circumspect about the prospects of a rapid improvement in fortunes.
The long term
Future-gazing for a moment, I can foresee a situation in which freezer stocks of game, which were so depleted during the Covid-stricken 2020/21 season, are reﬁlled by birds that cannot be exported this year. A return to that situation would reintroduce a market distortion, with unknowable quantities of stored game suppressing the price for shot game once more.
I hope I am wrong about that. I can equally foresee our community emerging from this time somewhat battered and bruised but with a restructured and more effective game meat market—revitalised local supply chains for smaller shoots and a healthy competition among dealers to collect top-quality birds to supply larger contracts leading to fairer prices for shot game across the country and throughout the shooting sector. Whichever version of the future unfolds, we can be conﬁdent that this season will be looked back upon as a game changer.
22 British Game Assurance
Official UK Distrib U tO rs fO r H atsa N ar M s c OMPa NYEST.19 7 1 SGC TRADE call O U r De D icate D t ra D e l i N e: 01392 354870 Or e M ail U s ON : email@example.com Or Visit O U r t ra D e website: www.sgctrade.co.uk at 44-10 tact s U b 12 ft / lb / c al: .177, .22 b arrel: 495mm / s ynthetic b lack rr P: £403.99 n ova Q e a dj s U b 12 ft / lb c al: .177, .22, .25 / a lu b ottle b arrel: 585mm / walnut Q e (Quiet e nergy): rr P: £466.99 c ompact rr P: £466.99 Quiet Energy Version - QE fully shrouded barrel and Integrated Sound Moderator -Approximately 50% Quieter. Factor Q e a dj (Quiet e nergy) s U b 12 ft / lb c al: .177, .22, .25 / b arrel: 585mm a lu b ottle / s ynthetic b lack or f D e rr P: £577.99 Flash 101 t humbhole s U b 12 ft / lb / c al: .177, .22 b arrel: 450mm / s ynthetic b lack rr P: £ tbc Nova c ompact Nova (Quiet e nergy Version) f actor f D e ( f lat Dark e arth) g ladius Q e a dj t humbhole Bullpup s U b 12 ft / lb / c al: .177, .22, .25 b arrel: 495mm / s ynthetic b lack or f D e rr P: £523.99 Quiet Energy Version - QE fully shrouded barrel and Integrated Sound Moderator -Approximately 50% Quieter. Gladius f D e ( f lat Dark e arth) aVaILaBLe Late 2022 QuietEnergy f actor Q e f eatures: • Available in .177, .22, .25 calibre • Quiet Energy - Fully Shrouded Barrel with Integrated Moderator • Manual loading, side lever action, pre-charged pneumatic (PCP) • Quattro Trigger: 2 stage full adjustable match trigger • Manual safety • Patented anti-knock system - prevent discharge tactical telescopic stock & elevation adjustable check rest aluminium frame with integrated Picatinny rail and a rail also beneath the forearm externally adjustable hammer preload (located on right side of the receiver) DI s C l AIM e R: f O r t H e latest P rices , P lease c H ec K wit H tra D e tea M ( P rices M a Y c H a NG e fr OM ti M e O f P ri N t ) serious Performance. Incredible Price.
ONLY THE BEST WILL DO
Air Arms’ uncompromising attitude has placed the trail-blazing British gunmaker at the heart of the global airgun community. Mat Manning talks with owner and managing director Claire West
MM Can you tell us the history of Air Arms from its inception to the present day?
CW NSP Development & Manufacturing Engineers Ltd (originally Organ Engineering) was found ed by my father, Bob Nicholls, and two partners back in the 1960s. My father then became sole owner of NSP in the early 1980s.
The business’s precision engineering portfo lio then covered hospital and dentistry equip ment, and the retail, motor and agricultural in dustries, as well as defence. However, with the continuing rise in demand for air rifles, we had dedicated 100% of our energies to producing them by 2010.
The Air Arms brand was established in 1983. Spring-powered rifles were the name of the game back then, and our first ever production rifles were the Jackal, Hi-Power and Firepower. In a couple of years we had completely redevel oped the range to include the Mistral, Camar gue and Khamsin, to name but a few.
From the late 1980s, the business began to invest heavily in state-of-the-art CNC equip ment. Our very first PCP was the Shamal, and while it still needed further development, it was undoubtedly ahead of its time and was quickly followed by our 100 series. We soon learned that with more investment and more develop ment, Air Arms would lead the way in massproduced sporting PCPs with our S300.
I joined the company in 1984 at the age of 16 and quickly realised that the world of airguns would become my love and my life. I consider myself extremely privileged to have worked closely with my father for over 27 years before his untimely passing in 2011.
Following my father’s passing, NSP was gifted to myself and my three sisters. Ten years later, I purchased the company in its entirety and became the sole owner under the new name of NSP Group Ltd.
MM How does it feel to be at the helm of a business with such a remarkable history and reputation?
CW I feel extremely honoured, not only to carry on my father’s legacy but to be part of a passionate team, creating new products and setting the bar higher at each turn.
Maintaining our reputation is easy because it is who we are and what we do. I continue to run the business according to the core values and principles that were instilled in me from an early age. I lead with honesty and integrity, and I will continue to invest in our people and evolve Air Arms and airguns as my father did before me.
MM What are the most important factors in design ing and making high-quality air rifles for the modern market?
CW The most important factor to us is always the customer: what they want and what we can do to meet their expectations using our skilled staff and equipment.
It is also important to get the product right before release. This involves engaging with our focus groups and countless hours of bench and field testing, not only test and measure ac curacy, reliability and consistency but also for ergonomics and handling as well as to test for wear and tear. Supplying products that can be used straight from the box and upholding our
promise of “only the best will do” is as impor tant to us today as it ever was.
MM Which airgun in the Air Arms line-up, past or present, are you most proud of and why?
CW From the past, it has to be the Shamal, purely because it symbolised the advancement of air rifles and was the catalyst for what we are see ing today.
Right now, it has to be our new XTi50. While I appreciate that it is not yet launched, I am hugely proud of the story behind the rifle. This is a 100% customer-led project, and I look forward to sharing the story behind the XTi50 in due course.
I also have to give the TX200 a mention. While it has had several upgrades over the years, this spring rifle is now 30 years old, and I can honestly say sales are higher now than they have ever been. The reputation of the TX200 has encouraged many a target shooter from across the globe to use and compete with it at a world class level. The TX200 is the most dressed spring rifle in the world, winning countless gold and silver medals.
MM What are the biggest sellers in the Air Arms line-up and why do you think that is?
CW Our S4 and S5 series are our biggest sellers and this—I believe—is because the range of fers such a variety of options, giving each cus tomers what they need to fulfil their chosen discipline successfully—and this can only be achieved through reliability, consistency, accu racy and trust, which is exactly what the S4 and S5 series rifles offer.
MM What do you believe are the factors that set
Air Arms apart from the rest as a business and maker of airguns?
CW I would like to think it is our core values and commitment to producing high-quality prod ucts without compromise. We are a 100% Brit ish-owned manufacturing company. With the exception of our stocks and barrels, we produce all of our component parts in-house, which means we have total control over our quality and inspection processes.
We are also a customer-centric company. We listen, connect and engage with our customers and community to fully understand and man age expectations, and it is so important to us that every person who engages with Air Arms has a happy and positive experience. Above all, we are a close-knit and passionate team who support each other and who have a shared vi sion. We have a proud history, but we are all about the future of airgunning; supporting our communities from grass roots level to World Champions across all disciplines. For Air Arms, airguns are not a commodity to simply buy and sell, they are our love, our life and our passion.
MM What have been the biggest challenges faced by your business over the past three years and how have you had to adapt to overcome them?
CW Brexit, exporting, Covid restrictions, hiccups in the supply chain, rising costs, lack of skilled engineers, and now the cost of living crisis, to name but a few. However, I think it is impor tant to remind ourselves that our industry has always faced challenges in one form or another and so we at Air Arms have learned not to view these situations as challenges but rather as op portunities waiting to be explored and lessons to be learned.
MM What makes you most proud about working for and owning Air Arms?
CW In September 2011, I made a promise to my fa ther. Through resilience, hard work and a huge determination, I have been fortunate enough to keep that promise and I am eternally grateful and so proud of my amazing team who help to keep that promise alive.
Air Arms is without doubt a family, a family and global community made up of some of the greatest, talented and diverse people I know.
MM Can you give us a little hint regarding what we might expect from Air Arms over the next year or two?
CW We have various new projects in the pipeline and just as soon as they are ready, you will be the first to know.
Air Arms celebrates its 40th birthday in 2023, and you can certainly expect to see us mark this milestone with something very spe cial indeed. If everything goes to plan, we will be making a very big announcement at the start of the year. GTN GTN
24 On Air
“ Airguns are not a commodity to simply buy and sell, they are our love, our life and our passion ”
Flying the flag: Claire West with Air Arms shooters Jack Harris (left) and John Farbrother at the Pyramyd Air Cup in Ohio
The HFT version of the XTi50
Escort AS Walnut
Escort PS Synthetic
Escort PS Camo
Escort Xtreme Blue / Red
Escort Xtreme Camo
Escort XtremeMax Camo
Official UK Distrib U t O rs fO r hatsan arms c O mpany EST.19 7 1 SGC TRADE
Gas Op Semi Auto / M/C / Synthetic L/H & R/H / 12G, 20G, .410 / 26”, 28” RRP FROM: £299.99
Gas Op Semi Auto / M/C / L/H & R/H / Walnut AS - 12G, 20G, .410 / 26”, 28”, 30” RRP FROM: £372.99 AS Youth - 20G / 24” RRP FROM: £346.99
Gas Op Semi Auto / M/C / L/H & R/H / Synthetic Black / Dark grey - 12G / 28”, 30” RRP: £357.99 APHD - 12G / 28”, 30” RRP: £459.99
Gas Op Semi Auto / M/C / L/H & R/H / Synthetic MODB Camo - 12G / 28”, 30” RRP: £378.99 MOBU Camo - 12G / 28”, 30” RRP: £378.99 MOOB Camo - 12G / 28”, 30” RRP: £378.99
Gas Op Semi Auto / M/C L/H & R/H / Alloy/Synt Blue - 12G / 28”, 30” RRP: £357.99 Red - 12G / 28”, 30” RRP: £357.99
Gas Op Semi Auto / M/C / L/H & R/H / Synthetic Black / Dark grey - 12G / 28”, 30” RRP: £418.99 APHD Camo - 12G / 28”, 30” RRP: £499.99 Max5 Camo - 12G / 28”, 30” RRP: £499.99 Escort Supreme Walnut Gas Op Semi Auto / M/C L/H & R/H 28”, 30” / 12G / Walnut RRP: £459.99 AS Youth Mossy Oak Duck Blind Mossy Oak Break Up Realtree APHD Realtree APHD DISCLAIMER: FOR THE LATEST PRICES, PLEASE CHECK WITH TRADE TEAM ( PRICES MAY CHA n GE FROM TIME OF PRI n T ) Serious Performance. Incredible Price. O FFICIAL UK D ISTRIBUTORS F OR HATSA n ARMS COMPA n YEST.19 7 1 SGC TRADE CALL O UR D EDICATED T RADE L I n E : 01392 354870 O R EMAIL US O n: t RA d E @ SP o R t SMA ngun CE nt RE C o M O R V ISIT O UR T RADE WEBSITE : WWW S g C t RA d E C o.uk
Official UK Distrib U t O rs fO r P ar D call O U r De D icate D t ra D e l ine: 01392 354870 Or email U s O n: firstname.lastname@example.org Or Visit O U r t ra D e website: www.sgctrade.co.ukEST.19 7 1 SGC TRADE 850nm / 6.5-13x Mag / 3.5-1200m Range Focus: 3cm - Infinity / IR Distance : 350m / Wifi ORDER TODAY nv008s / RRP: £645.99 (159347) nv008s LRF / RRP: £899.99 (159348) Digital scope / Mount / Type C data line / Hexagonal wrench 18650 3.7v rechargeable Lithium battery (8HRs Max Life) PARD NV008 S/LRF DAY & NIGHT VISION RIFLE SCOPE NEW ARRIVAL FEATURES • Ballistic Calculation - The bullet’s travel can be precisely calculated and accurate shooting will be easily achieved. • 1200m LRF Rangefinder - Upgrade laser rangefinder in NV008S can detect objects up to 1200m, which helps hit targets in a longer range. • Camera Light sensitivity - up to 0.001lux Extremely low 0.001lux is able to record in extremely dark conditions. More opportunities to catch the footage of targets. • self-activated Recording - Just Switch on Self-activated Recording, the full shooting process will intelligently be auto-recorded and saved in TF card. Never miss a moment! • “PARD vLEA” - PARD Self-developed Imaging Engine Module PARD R&D team self-developed an Imaging Engine Module that provides an enhanced visual image. Quality improved by more than 20% compared with NV008P. • “PARD 2K” Self-developed Sensor, resolution: 1920x1080 * to meet British s tandards this model no longer ships with a r ed d ot Laser s ight. t he I r unit is unaffected by this change. FOR THE FULL PARD nIGHT vIsIOn / THERMAL RAnGE, PLEAsE DOWnLOAD OUR TRADE CATALOGUE EXTREME LOW LIGHT SENSITIVITY, IMPROVED CLARITY, FEATURING THE NEW DISPLAY MODULE - PARD VLEA NEW FOR 2022ni GH t V isi O n & t H ermal D e V ices YOUR CHOICE, HUNT DAY OR NIGHT WITH THE NEW PARD NV008 S/LRF
YANKEE DOODLE DANDY
The collapse of the pound is a calamity for most, but an opportunity if you're buying in sterling with American dollars. Diggory Hadoke wonders who will be attending this autumn's auctions
I can remember when the pound was trading at two dollars. This month it dipped to a fraction over one for a while. While the majority of what auctioneers call ‘punters’ are watching with horror as the cost of their borrowings increases and their mortgage payments rise by hundreds of pounds a month, there will be one sector of trade that sees this as an opportunity for robust sales.
Gun auctioneers sell a lot of stock to American buyers. With the dollar riding high, all those guns priced in sterling suddenly look cheap—in fact, half as much as they would have looked back in the early 2010s. Thanks to Brexit, which knocked the pound down from a ‘traditional normal’ of around $1.60 to a ‘new normal’ of closer to $1.30, and the new Truss regime, which engineered an historic low of $1.03 in late September, Americans should be getting pretty excited about raiding our locker this month.
If the Chancellor’s about-face on the top rate of tax reduction in early October works, exchange rates may bounce back a bit as the month wears on. The ﬁrst opportunity to buy during the autumn sales was Gavin Gardiner’s auction in West Sussex. His ﬁfth October sale assembled 361 lots, ranging from old Webley service revolvers to a ﬁfteen year-old Holland & Holland ‘Sporting’ 12-bore over & under. Probably the best over & under Gavin had was a Holloway & Naughton Boss system 28-bore, built in 2010. Estimated at £25,000-£35,000 and in almost mint condition, it looked good value for top-class workmanship. However, high-priced, high-quality guns by makers that do not excite the majority of gun collectors (or brand-conscious shooters) stubbornly fail to prove good investments. These are guns to buy and keep and shoot a lot, not things to stick in a vault and hope you will eventually make money on them.
Let us just pause and look at that gun and see what the current market has changed about the cost of purchasing. Pre-Brexit, if we look at an exchange rate of £1-$1.60, a bid of £35,000 on the 28-bore, plus Gavin’s commission and VAT, amounting to about 30%, thus adding £7,000 to the bill, makes a total of £42,000. That would have represented $67,200 back then. At September’s low of $1.03, the bill would be just $43,260. That is a discount of a whopping $23,940! I think British buyers from the ‘general public’ will ﬁnd it very hard to compete with such purchase power for these autumn sales, and for many more to come.
Unlike, of course, those in the Jacob Rees-Mogg bracket of vulture capitalists, who have been thrown a huge windfall by their friends in government and may be in the mood to spend. Currency turbulence certainly creates both problems and opportunities in the international auction market. Getting back to Gavin’s catalogue, provenance has long been a big draw for collectors and, in shooting terms, few rival Oliver Robinson, 2nd Marquis of Ripon, in adding value to shotguns and riﬂes. Gavin has a good record of procuring collections with Ripon-linked guns and he has sold several in recent years.
Here, he has uncovered another; this time a Holland & Holland double hammer rook riﬂe made in 1884 when Robinson was still Earl De Grey and aged 32. It is a .300 (.295) and the barrels have been lined to renew the bores and chambers. I wondered if, like many such obsolete riﬂes, it was once boredout to .410 and re-instated to its true form when someone later discovered its identity. Gavin tells me
this was not the case, but that the bores were pitted and the vendor had arranged for it to be lined and re-proofed in its original chambering. The estimated price of £5,000-£8,000 is signiﬁcantly over what it would be likely to make without the provenance, so we shall see how the old Ripon magic works this time around.
Visiting Gavin, it was a moment to reﬂect; holding in my hands a riﬂe that was once ﬁred by the greatest game shot of all time. How the world has changed in the intervening years. Amongst the items that I will be watching with interest is a very little used and remarkably clean William Evans Mannlicher Schoenauer 6.5x54, made between the wars and with an unusually long, 24in barrel for a fullystocked model. Another rare riﬂe was the DuvalMacNaughton he had listed, an 1872 falling block that MacNaughton hoped would rival the Martini Henry as a prospect for the British Army. It was not adopted and very few were made.
It really belongs in the collection of John Dickson, under whose umbrella MacNaughton now falls. 1967 is an interesting date for me, as it is the year I was born. It is also the year Purdey 12-bore
side-lock ejector number 27009 was delivered. The price of a standard Purdey then was £850. This one is now expected to fetch £8,000-£12,000, which seems very reasonable. It is, as was then the fashion, a lightweight gun, with 28in barrels, so it will never be an extreme pheasant basher. However, as a classic game gun in excellent condition, it would serve very nicely as the centrepiece of any sporting battery. A new one now stands at over £120,000. The 1960s may not be the sexiest decade for Purdeys but in a buyer’s market that looked a good value gun.
From Gavin’s to Holts
By the time this issue is delivered, Gavin’s sale will have ﬁnished and realised prices will be posted on his website, alongside the descriptions, at www.gavingardiner.com Not far behind Gavin, Holts have an auction in Norfolk, which is building online as I write. The actual sale is in November so items will be added to the online catalogue at regular intervals until the print catalogue is sent for publication. I did notice a peach of a .360 falling block riﬂe by Alex Henry, cased with accessories, in the Obsolete Calibre Riﬂe section. These small versions of the 1863
patent classic are lovely. If I had a spare £5,000, I’d be very tempted. The quality of these riﬂes and their beauty of function is poetry in motion.
Southams, the lowest-fee auctioneer with a sale size approaching the bigger houses, is again taking consignments for their next sale,. There is a window from until 21 October to get lots listed in the 8-10 December sale in Bedford. With a commission to buyers of just 17.5% they have to be a tempting alternative to the commonly applied 25% and 30% rates of most others. The notable lot in the last Southams sale was a howdah pistol by Horsley. It was a very nice example from the late 1860s in .577 and sold for £5,100 off a low estimate of £2,000. Howdah pistols are selling for very strong money lately and I expect two more listed with Holts to do very well in their upcoming sale. Overall sales targets are proving robust as well, with Southams liquidating 80% of items offered.
We shall ﬁnd out how strongly the Americans approach the weak pound in the autumn sales. Hopefully not too strongly in the direction of a rather nice Lee Speed .303 Holts have listed. I rather fancy adding it to my modest collection of inter-war magazine riﬂes. The Lee Speed is another of these once un-appreciated models that has been steadily rising in value over the last ﬁve years, while much of the traditionally solid buys have weakened.
In the absence of the likelihood that we will meet at a London auction in the coming weeks, I’ll wish all readers fair weather and straight barrels as the pheasant season begins to warm up.
Auction View 27
“ With the dollar riding high, all those guns priced in sterling suddenly look cheap ”
Over 300 lots featured in Gavin Gardiner’s catalogue, including rare sporting guns and rifles from the pre-war period
Gavin Gardiner at his Pulborough HQ, getting ready for the October sale
Another unusual collector’s piece from Gavin’s sale: a Duval-MacNaughton patent falling-block rifle
A very nice Westley Richards 10-bore rifle offered for sale in October by Gavin Gardiner
Official UK Distrib U t O rs fO r N i GH tf O rc E OP tics i N c call O U r D ED icat ED t ra DE l i NE : 01392 354870 Or E mail U s ON : email@example.com Or Visit O U r t ra DE w E bsit E : www.sgctrade.co.ukEST.19 7 1 SGC TRADE d I sc L a I mer : FOR THE LATEST TRAdE PRICES, PLEASE CHECK WITH TRAdE TEAM ( PRICES MAy CHAngE FROM TIME OF PRInT ) rugged . re LI a BL e . repeata BL e . sHV 5-20x56 i t’s tough, reliable and big calibers won’t bother it! • i lluminated (Optional) • Zero s et • Parallax a djustment (25 Yards to i nfinity) • Second Focal Plane F2/SFP • 30mm Tube • . 250 m Oa or .1 mra D Ret: MOAR / illuminated, rr P: £1,429.99 / Non-illuminated, rr P: £1,269.99 Ret: 4A / illuminated, rr P: £1,429.99 / Non-illuminated, rr P: £1,269.99 c reated for the s HV™ 5-20 x 56 and 4-14 x 50 f 1 riflescopes. i t provides a quick and efficient means of returning to your zero setting, even after you’ve made several elevation adjustments. w hether you enjoy target shooting, pursuing big game, varmint shooting, or all of the above, there is an s HV™ designed for you. t he s HV™ line was specifically designed for hunters and shooters who want Nightforce quality and don’t need all the features of our NX8™ and atacr ™ lines. Nightforce’s r ugged, r eliable, r epeatable promise means that the s HV will outperform many optics and brands that cost much more. Target shooting, competitive shooting, ex treme long range Big game hunting Varmint and predator shooting Tac tical and law enforcement CQB environments and 3 Gun competition Dangerous game hunting General shooting sHV 4-14x50 f1 a ward winning first focal plane performance • i lluminated • Zero s et • Parallax a djustment (25 Yards to i nfinity) • First Focal Plane F1/FFP • 30mm Tube • . 250 m Oa or .1 mra D Ret: Mil-R / illuminated, rr P: £1,370.99 / MOAR / illuminated, rr P: £1,370.99 sHV 4-14x56 remains one of the most versatile, affordable scopes in the Nf range • i lluminated (Optional) • Parallax a djustment (25 Yards to i nfinity) • Second Focal Plane F2/SFP • 30mm Tube • . 250 m Oa Ret: MOAR / illuminated, rr P: £1,198.99 / Non-illuminated, rr P: £1,057.99 Ret: 4A / illuminated, rr P: £1,198.99 / Non-illuminated, rr P: £1,057.99 sHV 3-10x42 a hunters best friend! • i lluminated • Parallax a djustment f ixed @ 125 m • Second Focal Plane F2/SFP • 30mm Tube • . 250 m Oa • f ast f ocus Eyepiece Ret: MOAR / illuminated, rr P: £1,046.99 / Ret: 4A / illuminated, rr P: £1,046.99 4-14x First 30 mm 14.8"/376 mm 6.1"/155 mm 30 oz/850 g .250 MOA or .1 MRAD E: 90 MOA/27 MRAD W: 70 MOA/19 MRAD 25 yd–∞ 3.15"/80 mm 4x: 25.1 ft/7.65 m 14x: 7.4 ft/2.25 m 4x: 10.8 mm 14x: 3.3 mm Standard ZeroSet™ Accessor y MOAR™ (F1) MIL-R™ (F1) Foc al plane Body tube diameter Overall length Mounting length Weight Click value Internal adjustment range Parallax adjustment Eye relief Field of view @ 100 yd/m Exit pupil Illumination Elevation feature Power Throw Lever Reticles available sHV 5-20x56 sHV 4-14x50 f1 sHV 4-14x56 SHV 3-10x42 “ desIgned for maxImum VersatILIty across a wIde range of sHootIng dIscIpLInes” sHooter Hunter VarmInter
As the lead debate intensifies, it seems we are all looking for a “Silver Bullet” to solve the problem.
Stuart Farr looks at the challenges
AT the present time, any discussion on the proposed ban on lead-based ammunition is not for the faint-hearted. It takes a fair degree of stoicism, coupled with a long, deep breath, to muster sufﬁcient willpower to engage with the topic. It is technically complex, a legal conundrum beyond measure, and a molten hot political potato.
As the title to this article suggests, I’d much rather be writing about something far more whimsical or fanciful. For instance, where did the myth of despatching werewolves (or the undead) with silver bullets originate? Or, as an alternative, why did the legendary Western hero, the Lone Ranger, use silver bullets in his pistols?
Stories, legends, fables and old tales aside, there is a harsh reality emerging in the world we occupy. The use of lead, as a material for use in the manufacture of ammunition, is on its way out. Period.
I think it is fair to say that an increasing number of people in and around the gun trade are beginning to recognise this. However, not all. Within such a diverse group it is understandable that some should raise the question “why me?”. Others, on the other hand, have bypassed that question entirely and simply declared “not us”.
My immediate concern is that the gun trade is at risk of polarising itself into those who; (a) accept that change is coming and are working to ﬁnd a practical solution; (b) those who do not fully understand the question and are searching for clariﬁcation—perhaps with the aim of gaining possible legal or negotiated alterations, exemptions or derogations; and (c) those who decline to accept any change and continue to adopt a fully resistant position.
To use the phrase “silver bullet” in its metaphorical sense, the search for a simple solution which, almost magically, will resolve the issue for everyone is seemingly beyond our reach at the present time. While the Lone Ranger may have adopted silver as his calling card, regrettably, in the real-world, silver is both expensive and ballistically diverse from lead. Other materials are providing similar difﬁculties— more for some than others I might add. Regardless of the technological “ﬁx”, the important widespread concern is one of transition periods. Ultimately, while there is cautious optimism (to put it at its highest) in certain quarters that a solution can be found, the problem centres around scaling that up— production needs to be maintained at pre-lead-free levels because the changeover requires considerable investment and plenty of that intangible asset, time.
With several options being explored at once, the available solutions could also present their own problems. To illustrate, we can draw useful similarities with other industry sectors. Who remembers the battle between the technologies offered via VHS and Betamax in the 1970s and ’80s? VHS won—but not before a decent chunk of consumers had piled their dosh into purchasing the alternative.
In the motor industry today, we can see that battery-based electric vehicles are stealing a march. That is not to say, however, that other forms of propulsion are not being explored seriously. LPG still has a shout; hydrogen-based power plants perhaps more so. Eventually we will have to choose and switch to one of the non-petrol/diesel options. Similarly, if several viable options emerge to address the ban on lead ammo, we will also need to choose between them.
The importance of this comparison also lies in the fact that once the ban on sales of new “combustion” cars comes into effect, the petrol taps won’t be simply turned off. The transition period will be long because vehicles with fossil fuel engines have longevity. So why, then, is that principle not also being applied to the shooting industry? There is no suggestion, as far as I am aware, that people who own older guns will be compensated by the government when their guns become obsolete and valueless literally overnight. Is that fair?
appetite for lead-free game meat will go a long way to changing public perceptions. Similarly, there will be lots of older guns out there which could either become unﬁt for purpose or uneconomical to run. Regardless of whether consumers will be compensated (which I doubt), the potential for a growing demand for new replacements still exists.
The more “glass half empty” among you will also appreciate the risks associated with a failure to address the lead-free issue properly. Those who lack faith in the lead-free alternatives and continue to use
meantime, the trade will have to adjust its legal and regulatory compliance to ensure their day-to-day practices are compatible with the new lead-free requirements. Don’t forget, it is the HSE organising all of this and they do like to see the “i’s” dotted and the “t’s” crossed properly.
Input and support
After all the hard work done in putting Wild Justice back in its box, it would be a shame to see all those beneﬁts implode because of a lack of consensus. The various trade associations are doing their very best but need our continuing input and support. Co-operation and collaboration between everyone are key. The ammunition sector, gun manufacturers and retailers all have a vested interest in close communication across all levels – whether technical or policy-based. On this particular issue, there is little or nothing to be gained by adopting a remote or purely competitive stance.
For the shooting sector, lead has always been the common denominator. Lead-free alternatives risk the trade diversifying its efforts too far, with the consequence that consumers become confused and disgruntled. Consumers (in shooting) don’t want to ﬁnd themselves in the invidious position of making risky purchases only to ﬁnd their chosen technological solution becomes obsolete or unsupported. One expects that to happen with electronics, but not with guns, which are built to last for decades (and longer).
Assuming the current level of cautious optimism can be turned into the reality of a silver bullet, the rewards are potentially considerable. An increased
lead, contrary to the law, will no doubt face some form of liability or even prosecution—perhaps not on any large scale but sufﬁcient to cause a slide in the wrong direction. A small ﬁne for bring down a pigeon with a lead cartridge may not grab any headlines—until certiﬁcate renewal time comes around, when the prosecution on ﬁle has the devastating impact of stiﬂing a renewal.
The wrong technical ﬁx could drive up consumer claims, which in my experience are already increasing. Those groups who refuse to bow to the new legislation will have to decide whether they have the stomach for a legal judicial review process and, importantly, the ﬁnancial resource to do it. In the
A new common denominator needs to be found —a silver bullet—but one which, like the vaccinations developed during the pandemic, is much more likely to emerge from the sharing and pooling of knowledge, ideas, enthusiasm and expertise.
Hi Ho Silver… away! GTN
Stuart Farr is a Partner in niche commercial law ﬁrm Taylors. A lifelong shooter and advisory member of the Gun Trade Association, he has a wealth of experience and welcomes contact from any member of the trade.
“ There is no suggestion that people will be compensated when their guns become obsolete and valueless ”
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THE GREAT LEAD AMMUNITION DEBATE
Leading lights from organisations and the trade that represent all aspects of UK shooting were invited to discuss the issues surrounding our industry’s transition away from lead ammunition
LAST month GTN was invited to the Gun Trade Association’s Annual General Meeting. This is an event that keeps getting better, featuring this year not just the AGM and subsequent excellent barbecue, but also a trio of lively debates in the afternoon on transport, licensing and lead. Here are just the introductory statements from the de bate on lead, demonstrating what a difficult topic this is, and will continue to be for a while.
Simon West kicked off proceedings by introduc ing the panelists and explaining what he saw as the current legislative process.
Simon West, Gun Trade Association
“Lead is on its way out. I hope that’s not news to anyone. But the way it leaves us and in which areas of sports and at what times is slightly up for grabs. And that’s really the conversation we want to have.
"So the use of lead in ammunition is on the de cline and I can assure you of that. We have a Health and Safety Executive and Environment Agency pro posal that could come into effect next summer, with a transition period away from the use of lead shot in all uses 18 months after that.
"So it would be a ban on the sale and use of lead shot. The proposal is on outdoor usage, so indoor us age is not covered.
"The same timeline applies for large calibre rifle ammunition, and then a five-year transition period for small calibre rifles.
"Now, the GTA has a pretty good insight on am munition supply and availability. We have said that the 18-month timeline is far too short. The industry, like the car industry and the fossil fuel industry, needs time to transition and 18 months to move from 95% of our ammunition being lead-based to all of it being lead-free, that’s far too short a period.
Charles Bull, Just Cartridges CARTRIDGE RETAILER
cost of lead and again has reasonable availability.
"And then we’ve got steel, with costs on a par with lead. So steel is going to be the way to go for most people purely based on cost, but unfortunately the rules pertaining to the use of steel are extremely complicated. Purely from a cost point of view, steel is cheaper than lead at the moment. [By the time we went to press, steel was actually slightly more ex pensive.] But there are other factors that contribute to the increasing cost. For example, shipping a con tainer from China 18 months ago cost about £2,000. That’s now about £17,000.
"The cost of bio wads is another factor and the UK is really the only country in the world that de mands biodegradeable wads. So the cost of bio wads is around about €80 per 1,000, a fibre wad is about €22 with the over powder card and plastic about €15. So you can see where the cost increases are coming from.
"So the big questions for me are, firstly, how do we influence the transition periods to make sure they work for the industry? And secondly, how can we dovetail with the various angles that come from the different user organisations that we have represented here today?
"And I’m going to start, perhaps, if I may, Charlie, with you. Perhaps you can give us your perspective,
"So starting with the most expensive like Tung sten Matrix at about six times what a lead cartridge costs, you’re not going to see any of that any time soon. Bismuth costs three times what lead does and is a good alternative plus it has reasonable availabil ity. A small Spanish company, Bioammo, makes an alloy for Bioammo Blue at one and a half times the
"And also, for the manufacturers, there’s a cost as sociated with what machinery the transition needs— modern machines that can load steel as quickly as current machines can load lead, for instance. And these machines are not cheap. And neither is the tooling. Tooling alone costs north of £100,000 per set, depending on the number of impressions.
"Availability then is being hit by cost. It’s also be ing hit by factors such as Brexit, Covid, and all the rest of it. It really is a perfect storm."
Insight: Lead Ammunition Debate 31
as both a wholesaler and retailer of cartridges, all about the shotgun.”
“I’d say the barriers to transition to sustainable ammunition are basically threefold—cost, suitabil ity and availability.
“ 18 months to move from 95% of our ammunition being leadbased to all of it being lead-free, that’s far too short a period ”
Simon West, Charles Bull, Andrew Mercer, Tony Belas, Iain Parker and Dan Reynolds
Andrew Mercer, Chief Executive NRA TARGET SHOOTING CHIEF
“I would take issue with Simon’s opening statement. Lead is not on the way out. I think there will be a sig nificant reduction in the use of lead ammunition. It’s worth bearing in mind that the proposed prohibition on lead in rifles is on outdoor ranges. A significant amount of ammunition is used on indoor rifle rang es, and I think that indoor rifle ranges will absolutely be allowed to continue to use lead.
"The proposal from the agency includes a deroga tion for outdoor ranges that can evidence the reacti vation of 90% of the lead that is fired. We think that is unnecessary and our focus at the moment is to try to get the HSE to apply more logic to the scheme, where you don’t focus on the range, you focus on the stop butt. Because in our world the vast majority of rounds fired end up in the sand of the stop butt or the bullet catcher, from which reclamation is a much more straightforward exercise.
"So worrying about whether you’re farming cattle or raising sheep or cultivating crops between the fir ing point and the stop point where the rounds are collected seems irrelevant. Our focus is on looking at credible ways to convince the HSE and the other environment agencies that our kind of shooting pro duces minimal risk to the environment.
"I think if we can’t convince the HSE that we are already responsibly recycling lead in target shooting then life is going to get very difficult for us. I think in terms of shotgun, we have a dog in that fight as well because we have clay ranges here too at Bisley.
"I think fundamentally from target rifle’s shooting perspective there is hope, I was very keen to work with the HSE to prove that what we do is not detri mental to the environment.
"I think we’re also very keen to work in concert with our game and clay shooting colleagues to make sure that what we say is in line with their perspec tive. We know there are differences of opinion, with the game community very keen to transition to non-
lead alternatives to allow them to sell game meat into supermarkets, but I think it’s important that we have a co-ordination in our approaches so that what one of us says does not have a detrimental effect on the standpoint of the other.”
“Of course, we have had lead-free pellets on the airgun side of things for some years now—they’re generally considered to be about half as accurate and twice as expensive. So if you have an airgun that you think is accurate up to 30 yards, it’s only going to be
And this is the challenge to the government. That is, before you spend £10,000 on developing a new barrel and new ammo, what exactly are the rules that you’ve got to work with? This is what we really need to know.
"If it’s something like a complete ban, then it’s pretty clear what’s got to be done. If it’s an exemp tion for clubs who are reclaiming up to 80% of their lead, well… that’s a massive exemption that could apply to a huge amount of people shooting in this country. It would change the game as far as develop ing new ammunition is concerned. So all these chal lenges are there. And I think that the first thing that we will need to know is what are the rules that we have to work with.”
Dan Reynolds, BASC England Director ON BEHALF OF GAME SHOOTERS
“I actually don’t think, irrespective of the HSE or UK REACH, that lead ammunition use in the game shooting sector has a lot of time left, because ulti mately we’re selling a food product into a commer cial consumer market.
"If you are Waitrose or wherever, game is such a small part of what you are selling. If you cannot sell it in a way in which your consumer wants to buy it, because you can’t get rid of the lead content, guess what’s going to happen: it will for ever more disap pear from supermarket shelves and be replaced by chicken, Gressingham duck, or whatever.
"So from that perspective, and irrespective of what’s going on in UK REACH, game shooting is already setting these time limits on lead, and you’re seeing a number of the big estates moving away from lead already.
good for 15 with lead-free pellets. But you can build on that with development.
"The main problem with airguns is the lack of available energy to drive such a light projectile suc cessfully. As, in the UK, it’s a 12 ft/lb airgun that most people will be using, 12 ft/lb energy is consid erably less than the your average 7.62 rifle, which will have 2,500.
"If you put a lead-free pellet into a current air rifle you will end up with something like 6 ft/lb of energy, which would be unacceptable to most consumers.
So to get good results, the rifle will need re-engineer ing, the barrel will need changing, the chokes would need to be removed, and the ammunition would need to be redesigned. All these things are possible, and all of these things are an opportunity.
"Any budding pellet and airgun manufacturer out there could probably see a way of cornering the market. But, of course, he has to know the rules.
Iain Parker, Chief Executive CPSA CLAY PIGEON CEO
[Iain did not want his statement reproducing in full but was happy to sum it up in this way:]
“We are fully aware of the publication by HSE Defra of the public consultation paper on lead am munition and have been involved in the discussion process with the government, and will continue to be so.
"We strongly oppose any changes to clay target shooting and our position remains that it is our inten tion to lobby hard to keep lead ammunition for our sport. We are reviewing the dossier and will chal lenge its assumptions, work with fellow target asso ciations, trade, grounds and the government to pro tect our sport. We would encourage the membership to engage with this consultation and have their say.”
"Meanwhile, if you do look at the UK REACH proposals, they have presented an evidence base. Some of that is absolutely nailed on. You can’t dis pute the fact that anything that’s got a feeding ecol ogy which utilises a gizzard and which consumes lead is going to be at risk. They’ve got studies in the wild, studies in the laboratory. Lead pellets do get into their system, and they give them acute poi soning. So we have to do something about that. We can’t just sit here and say that’s an acceptable thing to be happening.”
On the Panel
• Simon West, Gun
• Charles Bull,
• Andrew Mercer,
• Tony Belas, Brocock/Daystate/MTC
• Iain Parker,
“ Our position remains that it is our intention to lobby hard to keep lead ammunition for our sport ”
Tony Belas, CEO Daystate, BRK (Brocock) AIR RIFLE MANUFACTURER
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PROTESTS IN PICADILLY
After the protests in London against gun shops Caroline Roddis finds that they didn’t really get much publicity, with surprisingly neutral reporting all round
MY friend and I were knocking about in town over the weekend, so we went for Sunday lunch at Fallow in St James’s. Fallow is, despite the area, gloriously unstuffy, with an open kitchen, cosy seating and mushrooms growing from the ceiling in a way that’s all about showcasing their commitment to sustainable ingredients— and certainly not about reminding you of that ﬂat you lived in while you were a student. Most importantly, the food is stunning—so good, in fact, that it lulls you into forgetting that you paid £7 for two thirds of a pint of beer while you were waiting for a table.
Over mouthfuls of tender venison and roast potatoes so crispy they could have been extracted straight from the collective subconscious of the British public, my friend told me about the wedding he’d attended the day before. It was all very pleasant, he said, except for the fact that the buses which had been chartered to take guests from the church to the reception had been stopped due to protesters in Piccadilly Circus. “I don’t begrudge people their right to protest,” he said, “but it was a long service and they were standing in between me and an open bar.”
Just Stop Oil
The protesters, it turns out, were part of the groups Animal Rebellion, Just Stop Oil and, by the looks of the photographs, Students Who Have Nothing Better To Do On A Saturday. Not only did they decide to pour milk all over the road, the local supermarkets and the carpets of Churchill’s favourite corner shop Fortnum & Mason, but they also got out their ﬁnger paints and had a crack at two nearby shops familiar to us all. As the Daily Mail reported:
“The shopfront of William Evans gun room was covered with green paint and red paint was poured on the ﬂoors of Farlow’s ﬁshing, hunting and shooting supply store, as well as placing paper ﬂowers outside.
The group say this is to expose the outdated practices of hunting, shooting and ﬁshing, whilst also showing that a better world is possible.
Animal Rebellion say the act highlights the need for urgent and immediate transition towards a plant-based food system, away from the current one that includes the inefﬁcient and unnecessary exploitation of nonhuman animals.”
Paint and milk
What these people are secretly protesting against, in my view, is carpets—because paint and milk are two things that really shouldn’t go anywhere near a shagpile. And yes, that is literally the closest I can get to making sense of their actions, not least because I think a world which contains hunting, shooting and ﬁshing is already the best possible world. Even their choice of different colours of paint seems bafﬂing: why is Farlow’s ‘Stop’ and William Evans ‘Go’?
At least, however, the group provided an explanation for the ﬂowers. According to the Mail:
“They also said that the outside of the shop had been covered in origami ﬂowers to represent the nature that could be restored and ﬂourish if we move into a plant-based future, free from so-called ‘blood sports’.
If the closest you’ve ever gotten to nature is making origami ﬂowers then a) I feel incredibly sorry for you and b) I can understand how you’d
start making such fantastically asinine statements. It doesn’t excuse you from vandalising two wonderful shops staffed by lovely people though, FYI. Anyway, if the protesters were hoping for a swathe of publicity for their actions then they will have been sincerely disappointed. Despite the fact that, as you may have heard me mention once or twice, the media does have a tendency to report negatively on shooting, the coverage around the
may have been because, although Animal Rebellion put out a message “calling all vegans to occupy London”, it seems that relatively few actually turned up. Speaking to the Evening Standard while the group were at Trafalgar Square, spokesperson Dillon Parsons said: “There are, I’d say, a couple of hundred activists and we are all sat on the ground and demanding that the Government transition to a plant-based future.”
Compare the photographs shared on social media from that event, featuring an endless river of people stretching out of view, with those from this Saturday’s protest and to say the latter pales into insigniﬁcance is beyond an understatement. Annoying? Yes. Newsworthy? Not really.
Liberty and Livelihood
shops was neutral and largely overshadowed by the milk-splashing incidents further up the road. Not one of the shop proprietors appears to have been asked to comment, so I can’t even complain about William Evans and Farlow’s being sidelined because readers care more about hampers and fancy tins of biscuits.
The grand scheme of things
In fact, in the grand scheme of things the protests didn’t really achieve much coverage at all. This
While I don’t know how many vegans it would take to change a lightbulb (answers on a postcard, please), I can tell you that a couple of hundred won’t really make much of an impression in the vast arena that is central London. But then you already know this, because just last month you’ll have seen everyone commemorating 20 years of the Liberty and Livelihood march, during which hundreds of thousands of people descended on the capital to give the countryside a voice. You were probably one of them.
The legacy of the Liberty and Livelihood march lives on. Whereas I suspect that by the time your next edition of GTN appears, not only will everyone have forgotten even reading about the vandalism of the shops—and my friend gotten over being temporarily deprived of a drink—but William Evans and Farlow’s will be once again pristine and ready to sell you lots of things you might not absolutely need but still really, really want. (And is there a better excuse for a shopping spree than supporting two businesses who’ve been attacked by idiots? Get your credit cards out, people!)
Fallow will be there too, and if you wander into any of those three places and have a chat with them about their ideas on sustainability, conservation and land use I’m absolutely sure you’d be more intellectually stimulated than if you spent a week with the people behind Animal Rebellion. I certainly know which one I’d choose, even if it will cost me a quid for every sip of beer in the process.
Credit: Animal Rebellion
40 Shooting in the Media
“ William Evans and Farlow’s will be once again ready to sell you lots of things you might not need ”
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FALLING ON DEFRA EARS?
Defra’s recent consultation was most surprising for the speed with which it happened. Our stalking expert Al Gabriel hopes that still meant they listened to the objections to their two principal ideas
THE recent Defra consultation on the management of deer in England had come as a surprise to many. Most of the shooting and deer organisations didn’t take long to release their position statements. It was an unusual consultation in that the time frame was rather short. The consultation was only open for four weeks; clearly deer are back on the government’s agenda. The consultation suggests that the government recognises some changes are necessary for the management of cervids in England.
The consultation covered many aspects of deer management, and proposals ranged as far as incentivisation and mandatory training for stalkers. Almost everyone was quick to point out that control or management of deer should be focused on female deer. Rightfully so: I’m still yet to hear about a buck/stag that can give birth! While smaller species such as muntjac and roe are known to be controlled within smaller areas at a woodland or farm level, recent research has shown that species such as fallow need to be managed over a 62-mile radius on average to be effective. It is surprising that the consultation does not seem to cover the organisation and funding of deer management groups. There is also the unsurprising focus on woodland and the ignoring of damage to pastures on farms. As soon as the consultation closed, I was excited to review some of the posts online by those in the industry, to take a temperature reading of our fraternity. Some farmers online have commented as far as £250/ha loss because of fallow grazing. The amount of damage will vary from region to region, but it is interesting to look at the responses of people online.
There are major advantages to some of the proposals. The ﬁnancial incentivisation of stalkers and capital investment into the venison market could be a beneﬁt and is deﬁnitely most welcomed by many in the industry. It is widely accepted that, as far as England is concerned, muntjac and fallow deer are the two species of concern that could beneﬁt from change in management strategies. Chinese water deer in particular are well managed, by all accounts, and do not need additional intervention from the current management plan. The funding should go into nurturing the seed of local corporations. Let’s face it,
mented in a large geographical region is a colossal undertaking. But some of the infrastructure already exists with game dealers. Given the recent spending plans and consequent sharp U-turns of this government I’m not certain this is well thought out.
The two points that seem to stand out the most, however, are the possibility of extending the open season of male deer, and night shooting. These two points have not been well received by the stalking fraternity. And for good reason. Given the speed at which the consultation was carried out, I’m not convinced
this may facilitate an increased level of poaching, which is already an increasing problem in the countryside. From a technical standpoint, deer would be further out than foxes during shooting in most cases, and thermal imaging, though good, is not x-ray. There is a chance that features on the ground, such as rocks and obstacles, may not be observed. There is also the issue of deer welfare and follow up, but that is for another day. If the licensing and training improves, I think we will get used to it quickly. The required mandatory training is interesting, I have always been a supporter of training and accreditation—not to level that it creates a barrier or more regulation, but from the point of view that we should be self-governing, and we already are. With respect to night shooting, I’m in favour of specialised training. Certainly, not mandatory. There are no specialised night shooting courses at the moment.
it’s not CWD, roe, sika or reds we are talking about in England. It’s muntjac and fallow deer. The management requirement for these two species is utterly different and needs to employ different techniques.
So, what does this mean for the shooting industry? The recognition of venison as a wild and healthy source of food is a good thing. Any ﬁnancial incentives that aim to bridge the gap between wild venison (wild being the operative word) and a dinner plate is certainly most welcome. The practicalities of how capital funding will work remains to be seen.
In practical terms, the supply, processing, marketing and even waste management that needs to be imple-
enough thought has gone into it, nor do I believe the right people were consulted ﬁrst. However, there is a chance some good might come out of it. The reduction of deer to vermin status in a national way is critically wrong. Tree damage is not just a deer problem: grey squirrels have some say as well; the only difference being that deer damage saplings with minimal ﬁnancial loss, whereas squirrels can damage mature trees with a heavier environmental and ﬁnancial toll.
The shooting of deer at night is a particular issue for those not used to engaging in the exercise. Many people shoot deer at night already and for the most part it is safe. The dangers aside, some believe that
The fact that the consultation is being fast-tracked suggests to me that something is afoot. I would have imagined such consultations taking a few months to get as much canvassing as possible. It is likely that the outcomes may have already been predetermined, although the change in government and policies may lead to a different outcome. Whichever way the consultation goes, it is very likely that some of the points raised in the consultation will come to the foreground. With it will come a change in the management of deer in England. The critical point must be that the incentives must go to the stalker and not just to the estates or game dealers. We must not forget that it is the part-time stalker who is a major player in England’s deer management plans, not the contract stalkers.
42 Talking Stalking
The fact that the consultation is being fast-tracked suggests to me that something is afoot ”
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