William Evans Perazzi
The workmanship and presentation of this new over-and-under, a collaboration between two great gunmakers, impressed Michael Yardley immediately. But would its weight be an issue in the field?
I liked the feel of the new William Evans from the start. Heavy, long-barrelled and well ribbed, I anticipated it would break clays well. It did.
THE gun tested this month is a new William Evans over-and-under made in association with Italian firm Perazzi. Such ventures are increasingly common in the British gun trade. EJ Churchill has offered its “Continental” guns in recent years, as has William Powell. William Evans has previously worked with Guerini and Grulla. And Purdey famously makes its sporter in association with Perugini & Visini (although this project is, perhaps, atypical as much of the gun is still made in London). The essential idea is that the English firm specifies the gun towards the needs of our sporting market to the foreign maker. This, typically, is an exercise in cosmetics but may also include potentially important changes to stock dimensions and gun and barrel weight and balance.
Looking at the test gun, first impressions are of an exceptionally attractive but rather big beast. It has 32in barrels and hits the scales at 8lb 3oz. It has been built as a prototype for a specific user as a “sporter”cum-high-birder. The intention, however, is to build most guns a little lighter and hence better suited to the average driven line (although the trend today is definitely towards heavier and longer for game as well as clays). Considering aesthetics, having seen all of the guns made by English firms in association with foreign manufacturers in recent years, and having been involved in some of the projects, I would say this is one of the most attractive to date. The use of Evans’ pattern scroll – not unlike that on a Holland Royal – really works. It does not make the gun look English but it succeeds in making it look particularly stylish.
The Evans also has a well-conceived specification. The monobloc barrels are 3in chambered, fixed choke (three-quarters and three-quarters) and carry a really good 11mm-7mm tapered sighting rib fitted with a traditional metal bead at the muzzle end. It would be hard to improve on this significantly (though a solid rib might be less prone to denting at the penalty of even more weight). Joining ribs are solid and extend back just past the fore-end (such “half-ribs” are a common weight-saving measure today). Barrel work maintains the outstanding Perazzi reputation with tubes that are internally straight and without obvious imperfection inside or out.
The barrels are bored at 18.5mm – quite tight for clays but ideal for game where fibre-wadded loads may be used and obturation can become an issue in cold conditions. They weigh 1590g. This is typical of modern 32in Perazzis, which are usually in the range of 1580g-1600g for barrel weight. My experience, however – and there is an element of educated bias – is that 1550g-1570g is the ideal range for this sort of 32in Boss-bolted over-and-under. Having discussed the matter with the Perazzi team recently, they confirm that they could achieve a barrel weight in this range using their (off-the-shelf) lightweight joining ribs and a 7mm sighting rib. Moreover, this might be managed with full-length joining ribs (my preference).
The stock of the Evans Perazzi is well figured and chequered and oiled to a high standard. Shapes were quite full but the comb had a good taper to it and was not excessively influenced by trap shooting. The bespoke stock was, however, exceptionally high. Measuring 13∕16in to the front relative to bore axis and just under 2in to the rear. The length of pull was quite long, too, for a heavy over-and-under at 15in (380mm). It is academic, as one may have whatever dimensions one prefers (with heavy guns, some favour a shorter length of pull). The fore-end is of rounded pattern, the grip a round knob semi-pistol of quite large proportions that is to be replaced by a Prince-of-wales with flat cap on future production. It should be emphasised, however, that this is a bespoke product, so you will be able to order what you want within reasonable limits. Anticipated delivery is within 12 months.
Barrels are bored at 18.5mm, ideal for game, and weigh 1590g