Gun test

Shooting Gazette - - The Review - For more in­for­ma­tion on Chris­tian Hunter, visit chris­tian­

The fas­ci­na­tion of Us-based col­lec­tors for English sport­ing guns has long been known, but what of the trade in the other di­rec­tion? When one con­sid­ers Amer­i­can gun­mak­ers the name of John Moses Brown­ing of course leaps the front of the mind, but even Brown­ing has a whiff of the ‘Old West’ about it. In­deed, per­haps the best known of the Amer­i­can man­u­fac­tur­ers are those from the films and games of our child­hoods, with the likes of Colt, Rem­ing­ton, Smith & Wes­son and Winch­ester in­grained along­side im­ages of weather-beaten wan­der­ers and the strains of Mor­ri­cone’s great scores.

This is, of course, do­ing a great dis­ser­vice to the Amer­i­can gun­mak­ing in­dus­try, a feel­ing brought sharply to light the mo­ment one lays one’s eyes upon the beau­ti­ful Chris­tian Hunter side­locks which are the sub­ject of this review. Beau­ti­ful lines, nat­u­ral feel and topend fin­ish­ing char­ac­terise an Amer­i­can-made gun more than a match for most guns you would care to men­tion– in­clud­ing those car­ry­ing a much larger price tag.

These guns are the brain­child of Tony Galazan, a man who has de­voted much of his life to the pur­suit and man­u­fac­ture of fine sport­ing guns and will per­haps be fa­mil­iar through his Con­necti­cut Shot­gun Man­u­fac­tur­ing Com­pany (CSMC). Founded in 1975, the com­pany have been pro­duc­ing best qual­ity shot­guns for some time, though without ever punc­tur­ing the con­scious­ness of the Bri­tish buy­ing pub­lic. That they haven’t met with enor­mous fan­fare and suc­cess is some­what sur­pris­ing given the qual­ity of the prod­uct, and this is some­thing Mr Galazan doubtless hopes will change with the Chris­tian Hunter brand.

Based on the CSMC A-10, the Chris­tian Hunter over-un­der is a very low pro­file, shal­low frame true side­lock shot­gun, and is sure to ap­peal to the eye of any sport­ing gun en­thu­si­ast. Re­li­a­bil­ity should be no con­cern for those wary of an un­fa­mil­iar name, since the A-10 (and hence the Chris­tian Hunter) was de­signed to be a truly durable and us­able side­lock shot­gun, not just a work of art to be ad­mired from afar. In­deed, in a Shoot­ing Gazette in­ter­view with Roger Catch­pole in 2016, Mr Galazan re­vealed he had put over 100,000 rounds through his per­sonal A-10 gun.

The Chris­tian Hunter is based on the Beretta SO, itself a side­lock over-un­der shot­gun in­spired by the shal­low-ac­tioned Boss over-un­der. The wood on dis­play is ab­so­lutely ex­cep­tional and fea­tures the carved teardrop shape at the rear of the lock plate one tends to as­so­ciate with high­end guns. The lock plates pro­vide plenty of room for ful­some en­grav­ing, first ap­plied by laser and then fin­ished by hand. On our 12 bore test gun the pattern took the form of bold sprays of or­na­men­tal fo­li­ate scroll of a sur­pris­ing and im­pres­sive depth, with real ar­eas of con­trast al­most giv­ing the ap­pear­ance of carv­ing. The gun also fea­tured won­der­ful

blued lock plate pins and trig­ger, with some ex­cep­tion­ally fine che­quer­ing work on the capped Prince of Wales stock and Dee­ley fore-end. As stan­dard, the gun in­cludes many el­e­ments nor­mally found as ex­pen­sive ex­tras, such as an ex­tended trig­ger guard tang, ei­ther coin or colour case hard­ened fin­ish, your choice of straight, Prince of Wales or full pis­tol grip and high qual­ity Amer­i­can black wal­nut wood. Given these are be­spoke shot­guns, a full fit­ting ser­vice is also of­fered at var­i­ous shoot­ing grounds around the UK.

Along­side the 12 bore vari­ant on test here, I also had the plea­sure of test­ing a 20 bore gun with a straight-hand stock, rose and scroll en­grav­ing and colour case hard­ened fin­ish which one might eas­ily have mis­taken for a best English gun. With a gold trig­ger and brass sight bead, this gun was a lovely thing to be­hold, and both 12 and 20 bore vari­ants are sure to in­spire envy in the line. In­deed, the only real aes­thetic com­plaints one might make were over the stan­dard sport­ingstyle ven­ti­lated top rib which can be re­placed with a solid rib for £600, and the red plas­tic sight bead found on the 12 bore test gun. While by no means a sig­nif­i­cant prob­lem, I was happy to dis­cover a brass sight bead is a stan­dard op­tion! For those with a de­sire for some­thing truly special, these guns can also be or­dered with cus­tom en­grav­ing and higher grade wood, in­clud­ing Turk­ish or English wal­nut.

Vis­ually, then, the Chris­tian Hunter is a cer­tain tri­umph - but what of its per­for­mance in the field? Thank­fully it is just as good to shoot as it is to look at, with su­perbly weighted trig­ger pulls, mount­ing in a con­sis­tently pos­i­tive fash­ion and re­ward­ing con­sid­ered shoot­ing. Given the qual­ity of these guns and a price best de­scribed as ex­tremely com­pet­i­tive (and likely to find sev­eral Euro­pean gun­mak­ers wak­ing up in a cold sweat) you might find your­self won­der­ing where the catch is. Sim­ply put, there doesn’t ap­pear to be one.

The en­graved cap.

Alex Flint

Can our Amer­i­can cousins fill the hole left be­hind as we turn our backs on Europe? dis­cov­ers a gun will­ing to take up the chal­lenge.

Fine che­quer­ing of­fers ex­cel­lent feel in the hand.

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