was sometimes supplemented by driving taxis and working as a contract deer stalker.
David built his first round action shotgun in 1974, and this would prove to be the first in a new stable of Scottish shotguns. He has almost been forced to sell his first gun on two occasions when times were hard, but thankfully he has been able to keep hold of it. It is the perfect grouse gun, but it comes with a unique downside. David is a good shot by all accounts, but as he explained, “when you’ve designed and built your own gun, you’ve got no excuses for missing”.
Grouse were a mainstay of David’s sporting world for decades, and he loves the flavour of a well-cooked bird so much he still makes sure to have enough in the freezer to eat one every fortnight throughout the year. He regards grouse as the world’s finest sporting quarry, but he is losing his appetite for the big bird days. Clients often invite him to shoot by way of thanks, but while he enjoys these trips out, he often finds more pleasure in shooting ducks on his flightpond at home.
David is a mine of old stories. It would be easy to lose track of time in his little office on Hamilton Road in Bothwell where his guns are built. The unassuming shop front belies the intrigue of its contents, and as soon as you enter 32 Hamilton Road, a sporting treasure trove awaits. A shouldermounted cape buffalo looms over the desk, and the walls are hung with endless certificates and commendations from major names in the gunmaking world. David alternates stories from a Hebridean snipe bog with tales from the African bush, and the smell of linseed oil, old papers and the heavy lathes downstairs is intoxicating.
After 50 years in business, David still has an immense appetite for his trade. A current trend towards high pheasants stirs his enthusiasm, and his work reflects changing tastes and fashions in the shooting world. On the rack beside the butterfly shotguns stands a special 12 bore over-under with 32” barrels – custom built to tackle high birds. It is easy to imagine that gunmaking can soon become formulaic and hide-bound in tradition, but David’s shotguns are responsive to change and progress. Fashions come and go every year, and there are always new boundaries to push and explore. Under David’s management, the firm has been able to balance the refinement of traditional ideas with totally new and progressive techniques which simply did not exist in the 1960s. Leaving him to his work and stepping out into the rain, I felt confident that the future holds plenty of surprises from David Mckay Brown.
david's unassuming shop hides an intriguing interior. the smell of linseed oil, old papers and heavy lathes is intoxicating.