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2019 is here and many of our friends and comrades are in the US, first for Safari Club International in Reno, then Dallas Safari Club. We are not exhibiting in the States this year, the logistics of getting guns in and out and the costs are not viable to go every year, though we hope to be back next year, at least to network with our friends.

One of the highlights of SCI is the launch or Rigby’s new shotgun, built on the vertical bolt (or Rising Bite’) action, just like the new double rifle. The show went well for Rigby and it is great to see them going from strength to strength with yet another new model.

Rigby’s new shotgun, launched this month.

I had the good fortune to join Rigby M.D, Marc Newton, at the West London Shooting School to test fire the new shotgun. It is a faithful re-boot of the classic vertical-bolt model, last made in the 1920s and, refreshingly, made entirely in England, by resident gunmakers, from British steel. Only the walnut wood blanks are imported (as they always have been). The gun is light (the test model was a 28″ barrelled gun with 15 1/4″ stock) weighing only 6lbs 5oz. Despite this, it handles 30g paper case Hull loads very well, with no felt flexing or vibration; and recoil was nicely tamed.

With invaluable help from Mark, my WLSS shooting coach, I flattered myself on the high tower, dusting 55-foot clays with alarming regularity, followed by a good stand on a driven partridge simulation, reacting fast and taking pairs of targets in quick succession. The gun performed flawlessly, feeling instinctive and effortless, despite the stock being a half-inch longer than my usual preference.

With a price tag  just short of £80,000, it will give Purdey and Holland & Holland customers pause for thought. A new Purdey is £141,000 this year, having risen from £66,000 in 2010, despite general inflation over than period having been in the fractions of a digit.

Here at Vintage Guns, the restoration and service work continues apace. Some notable sales have taken place over the winter, with a beautiful 1880 Purdey hammer gun with two sets of barrels, cased with accessories, probably the highlight.

At Caynham Court we hosted our first shoot parties – Germans, Russians, Americans and a mixed group from London. Shooting was at some of the best venues in the county, all no more than twenty minutes’ drive. We have some bookings already for 2019 and are preparing packages for any teams looking for something both high quality and exclusive but informal and fun. Do contact us early if you want to join us next season.

Diggory caught relaxing between drives with a cup of soup.

HOLT’s have announced they are moving from Blackheath back into Central London for their viewing and auctions. I think this is a good move. The Blackheath venue was too much of a trek for many and the lighting was not optimal.

Their new venue is: The Army Reserve Centre, Adam & Eve Mews, Kensington W8 6TN.

Auctions have been moved from Thursdays to Tuesdays, with weekend viewing now available.

The next auction is March 19th.

John Dickson, the Scottish gunmaker renowned for the iconic ‘Round Action’ has been sold by its American owner to gunmaker J-P Daeschler, who is based in Kent. J-P got his start in gun-making in Scotland and has long been an enthusiast for Dickson guns.

In my view, in order to make a go of a ‘name’, you either have to be a gun maker who can work on the bench and build a team to create and deliver quality guns, in the way that Michael Louca did at Watson Bros, or you need the financial muscle of a conglomerate behind you, with all the support that provides, like Rigby have done with L&O. J-P has the credentials to take the first route and I’m sure he well make the firm a success. Dickson has several gun orders in progress and the team, now based in Dunkeld, will continue to make Scottish designs in Scotland.