William Evans St. James
Normally I don’t like the idea of guns bearing traditional British names but are really made abroad – usually in Italy. But I make a total exception with this gun because it is so elegant and so, well, English-looking. And some of the final finishing is done by William Evans, whose headquarters are in London’s exclusive St. James area.
Evans has the gun made by Caesar Guerini in Italy, and many wonder why the London craftsmen don’t do the fabrication. One of the answers, of course, is cost, and when former Sporting Gun gunsmith Jason Harris first evaluated the St. James in 2009 the retail cost was £9,500. I note that the William Evans’ website now asks us to call to discuss the cost, which to me suggests that the price has gone up. Another reason is speed of delivery, and Guerini is not afraid to admit that it uses sophisticated modern machine tools rather than laborious hand work.
The barrels are imported “in the white”, and blacked in Britain. The gun is available in 12, 20 and 28-bore – the gun illustrated is the 20-bore. Can Brian afford a secondhand gun? I think he would have to stretch his budget to somewhere around £7,000. And he would have to be patient, too, because second-hand examples are quite rare. Both cost and rarity bring me to my second choice, which shares the St James’s Italian origins.