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Joined: Jul 2009
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Sidelock
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Interesting thread.

I have put my money where my mouth is and placed an order - twelve months ago. This was after a huge amount of consideration about competiting options in the market (both modern and used), and as a passionate user of English side/sides, hammerguns and big bores, I am not a solely O/U focused shot. I have also shot for 29 years, so I would hope I know what floats my boat when it comes to guns.

The versions at the 2013 Game Fair were generally either prototypes (i.e. the 20 bore O/U), or unfinished customer guns - of which mine was (proudly) one. When I first tried these guns 14 months back, the wood to metal/general finish was poor - but this was entirely due to the fact that the guns were early prototypes and B&E were not trying to disguise that. Peter Boxall has too solid a reputation to deliver a product which is out of whack or so materially poor - and frankly, I would not pay for such a product.

The logic I had when entering this market was a very keen, lifelong desire to own an English gun, for the long term, which represented a highly bespoke, affordable (to me), shootable gun to cherish and enjoy for the future. I have enjoyed the manufacturing process to date and can honestly say everything I have wanted has been possible. So "bespoke" is correct - and not simply selecting/fitting your stock blank which is as far as it goes for some. Resale value is not my primary consideration - enjoyment of the wider experience of ordering and ownership is.

This is not a post to say the Boxall and Edmiston is for everyone. It absolutely is not. However, it was and is for me, the right gun - and for a significant number of other shots who have placed and are now starting to take delivery of, their orders. B&E are not trying to compete with Purdey/Holland/Boss and this has never been their mission. They are equally not seeking to compete with Perazzi/Beretta who produce some stunning guns - but not English, and not nearly as bespoke for the price. The Beretta Jubilee is a case in point.

Ultimately, I am delighted to see new entrants into the ranks. Longthorne are also to be congratulated in this - it is not an easy task. But for the price point of between £10-£18/20k, I believe both names are worthy of consideration.

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Fletchedpair,
Interesting comments, perhaps you could explain in greater detail what irritated you and on which models?
I was particularly intrigued by your comments as I know that B&E are made utilising modern machining practices instigated by the former Engineering and machine shop manager of Holland & Holland, a designer and engineer instrumental in the manufacture and production techniques used in the McLaren MP4-12C Supercar, barrels made by a former Purdey man, stocking by a former H&H stocker, checkering by probably THE finest, and finishing by a Gunmaker who is in his own right one of the finest. I cannot believe that they all had a bad day to produce guns that caused you to be so critical? In deed constructive criticism is welcomed and appreciated.
I notice that you are a stocker by trade, perhaps we could see some examples of quality that meets with your approval.
Let us clarify one thing B&E may use modern machining techniques as indeed do Purdey , H&H, Boss, Perazzi, Piotti, but it is still down to hand skills to assemble and finish the final product.

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Hi Salopian,

Can't disagree with your remarks on manufacture and production techniques in this case but lets be clear, I wasn't commenting on this aspect.

Also, your observation on the assembly by best outworker craftsmen is correct but this applies to their boxlock and sidelock guns, hence the cost. They are stocked and finished to best standard in my critical eyes. Can I draw your attention the the B&E factory tour video on Youtube, here you can the O/U's being assembled and stocked and finished in-house.

The O/U's was where my criticism was. CBL1 has offered up an explanation that these were likely prototype guns and hence the fit and finish was not great. I don't quite agree with this as there was more than one and why would you use these to showcase your product and turn off potential buyers? Anyway, this is all an just an opinion offered up, maybe someone else saw the same.

CBL1 - I did not mean any disrespect in your choice of gun and purchase, I think it will be a really nice addition to your collection.

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Fletchedpair,
Thank you for your observations and opinion.
If no one complains, you can become a little complacent, so it all bodes well for the future. Haven't seen the Youtube video, so I will now look.
I do have to agree that it is probably impossible to satisfy everyone's desires and taste, but as long as we try and improve then the criticism will be taken care of.

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I too, as did J-P saw video shots that a prudent person would have deleted such as chipped wood at the back of the strap.

However, I was also amazed several years ago at the Boss photo of their in their O/U advert where what appeared to be scoring marks on the lumps of the barrels of the new gun was "grinning" back at me (as the Brum gunmakers are fond of saying). Subsequently, I have noticed that Boss and its photographer has "photo shop" edited the photo to make the lumps darker and harder to see the scratches.

I suspect there was a lot of discussion down at the Kew bridge workshops about that advert photo.

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"Perazzi/Beretta who produce some stunning guns - but not English, and not nearly as bespoke for the price."

This phrase confuses me. Perazzi will let you choose wood from a vast selection of blanks, engraving which will be by hand and signed, the gun will be shot for POI and POA by the client and finally adjusted till the fit is perfect. How is that less bespoke than any other?

"Stunning but not English" for some international buyers may be a positive characteristic. Failing to see this may be the problem for the new British makers.

Last edited by Shotgunlover; 08/16/13 03:05 PM.
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I always thought bespoke went further than simply fit and finish. Want disc set strikers or ones intergal with hammers? OK. Unusual barrel length - no problem. Action slightly lighter and skimmier - consider it done. Two barrel sets, one 16 and one 20 3", each weighing the same and the gun feeling the same? We'll see what we could do. Remember that Purdey .303 DR with Beesley action operated by a rotary underlever? That's bespoke for me; fitting the stock on a gun otherwise identical to all others is only tuning.

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Humpty Dumpty,

Your assumptions about bespoke echo mine before I started asking awkward questions. Such as:

If I supply you the stock blank, taking the risk of any mishaps due to fualty aging, and want it delivered unfinished, uncheckered, can it be done?

Can I have it totally unenegraved?

Extractor not ejector?

The response invariably was yes, but it will cost MORE because it forces deviation from our normla production process. What normal production process is used in the making of "bespoke" guns? What adds to the cost by NOT doing costly work like building and timing ejectors, engraving, stock finishing? Why not credit the buyer with the cost of the stock blank at least!

After a few of these responses I got the idea. And it was about then I came across Bob Brister's comments that if you have not been diddled by a gunmaker you haven't lived. It was written in response to the comment "our clients do not close their own guns" he and some friends got at a London establishment when they pointed out that self openers tend to be hard closers. So I was in good company.

Something is not right in this bespoke game.

Comparisons are inevitable. A Ferrari is 2 tons of hand worked metal, with blue printed engines, and lots of specialised hand work. The upholstery has over a million hand stitches. Cost per kilogram 200 bucks, cost per kilogram of a bespoke gun 40 000 USD.

No way I will accept that the brazing and finishing of two shotgun barrels is anywhere near as complicated as the fitting of 12 cylinders in a bluprinted engine. Credulity has its limits.


Last edited by Shotgunlover; 08/16/13 06:43 PM.
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Thanks for posting the video, Adam. Interesting stuff, and I wish those guys the best. I might gently suggest that in these times of Blair and Cameron 'British-made' no longer carries the cachet that it did in the days of Empire and Raj, at least not outside the United Kingdom. Within the UK perhaps it will still count for something.

And that's a great Bob Brister quote. That guy may have forgotten more about shotguns than most of us will ever know. And he sure wrote well (even when the blood alcohol content was a bit elevated, which wasn't unusual). He was no skeptic of things British (the A in the BAC would have been Chivas), and I'm sure his jab at snooty gunroom clerks was friendly. But it does allude to an uncomfortable truth. Things have gotten a bit checkered.

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Originally Posted By: Fletchedpair

CBL1 - I did not mean any disrespect in your choice of gun and purchase, I think it will be a really nice addition to your collection.


No disrespect taken at all - this is a measured debate but one which merits a number of inputs. I am delighted with my choice and the thought process behind it - but the proof will be in the shooting this season. I also echo Salopians comments on this being a learning experience. I knew when I placed my order that could be bumps along the road and when I originally test fired the gun, we did have early challenges. The gun at the Game Fair was also far from the final article - it had not been close to going to finishing. But happy to date, and I await collection soon (app 12-13 mths from order). And if I am not happy, I have the confidence in Peter and team that things can be fixed.

With respect to "bespoke", the following are indications of where I believe B&E are going over and above what some of the other comparable manufacturers are offering - for the price;

- selection of ribless barrels (try asking for that from a number of greater volume manufacturers and it is much more challenging)
- selection of Anson push-rod when Deeley catch was originally only option offered. This took an extra two months of manufacturing to perfect.
- barrel length whatever I wanted - I went for 32", but could have gone up or down, and anything in between.
- I could also have chosen the stock without chequering should I have wished; it looks stunning, but try shooting it in wet weather!
- A host of smaller, primarily cosmetic items, but still to my requirements - trigger type (single/double), trigger width, safety catch style, stock grip cap, stock shield/eschutcheon, bright or dark action.

If I had wanted, I could also have left the barrels in the white (i.e. not blacked) or had them browned.

Perazzi and others all offer bespoke options (which are indeed superb), but if you want an SCO with bespoke wood and engraving, then be prepared to pay a significantly higher amount than B&E are charging. I know because I looked into it, notably with an HPX high-pheasant gun. Personalised engraving is often stunning, but my pocket can't stretch to hand-engraving which would have added £5-£10k to this gun (and therefore making it unattainable/unrealistic).

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