Upland Bird Gun of the Month
Gun Review #3
High Wycombe, England. The Continuation of the old-line London firm of gunmakers, best know for its one-time proprietor, Robert Churchill. Robert Churchill (1886-1958) was famous for two achievements. The first was his development of his XXV (25-inch barrel) shotguns that were topped with a high, tapered rib that gives the illusion that the barrels are longer. These little guns are fast handling and very precisely balanced! E. J. Churchills are truly a London best gun that have a cult following that is justified by their craftsmanship and dynamics. All E.J. Churchills from the more affordable utility grade boxlocks to their higher grade sidelocks have a magic feel and lend themselves perfectly to instinctive wing shooting. This leads us to Robert Churchill’s second achievement. This is the Churchill method of shooting. I advocate this method, and the great XXV (25-inch barrel) shotguns to go with it. If you are not a big man of six feet+, a XXV may be one of the best balanced upland guns out there. The barrel length is not the key, as we should all be looking at the bird. The balance and dynamics are the key to these guns. The fact that 25-inch barrels are back out of vogue means that you can find them at more affordable prices than other London best guns. Give an E.J. Churchill XXV a try before they become in-vogue again. They are a joy to carry and swing in the rugged uplands!
*Note: read my chapter Perfect Balance on Pg. 95 in my book!
The Parker Reproduction
The production of this iconic gun began in 1984. This gun was manufactured in the Olin-Kodensha factory in Japan. This factory was already manufacturing the excellent Winchester model 101 and the model 23. Jack Skeuse and his father, Tom, were very serious Parker collectors. They had one of the most sought-after original Parker collections known and believe me when I say they were Parker experts. The father, Tom, died shortly into the project and left the outfit in Middlesex, NJ called Regeant Chemicals to his two sons Jack and Tommy. These great reproduction guns were called “Winchester Parker Reproductions.”
It is my opinion that these special Parkers are more of a clone than a copy. Many original Parker owners scoff at a gun being made in Japan, and they are missing out on a great gun! I will always be honest and fair even in my taste for guns! Don’t let any prejudices stop you from owning one of the best reproductions of all time.
Parkers are held in very high esteem by the best collectors and the Winchester Parker Reproduction shotguns emanate class all the way and are even better than the originals in the sense of modern metallurgy and the impressive walnut stocks. I have owned eight different Parker Reproductions over the years and I never had a problem with any of them. Now I own a BHE 12 gauge and two DHE 28 gauges. The 12 gauge weighs 6 lbs. 11 oz. This is much lighter than almost any original Parker 12 gauge ever produced. The BHE is gorgeous and has great handling qualities with desirable stock dimensions. The well struck barrels produce excellent patterns. This gun is made to be shot in the uplands! My 28 gauges are one of the sweetest handling 28 gauges I have ever owned…PERIOD! One of my 28 gauges weighs 5 lbs. 9 oz. The little gun feels even lighter with great balance for the uplands. Many a person I have known thought the gun felt too light and whippy but when they shoot it they are shocked at how well they shoot it. The 28 gauges have great stock dimensions for most people and the fit and finish is first class. These guns also have a great set of barrels that pattern like gang busters. All this can be enjoyed for about $5,000 new and cased. An original Parker DHE 28 gauge might sell for $25,000+.
I’m not too proud to shoot a reproduction! These special guns are going up in value and will be great investments for the future especially since they were discontinued in 1989. So…get one while you can and enjoy it as these guns were made to be shot!
One of Belgium's oldest and finest gun makers.
I wanted to start my gun reviews with the Francotte because I believe they are one of the most under valued and under rated bird guns out there. You can still find a Francotte for a good price and end up with a great upland bird gun. The top-of-the-line old Francottes are lovely guns, the quality of their craftsmanship and finish is on par with many of London's best. I trust fine Belgian Damascus barrels more than any others made. Francotte built many light-weight bird guns, usually with 26" barrels. These guns are very well balanced with excellent handling qualities. If you are on a budget, or would just like a great quality bird gun, give a Francotte a try!