Kemen ‘Eder’ 12-bores
These over-and-unders are exceptionally light and attractively finished, says Michael Yardley, with the added bonus of a bespoke stock-making service provided by the British importer
This month’s test concerns a pair of lightweight Kemen titanium ‘Eder’ overand-unders supplied by Midlands Gun Services (MGS) of Shrewsbury. MGS is now the sole UK importer and sales point for the products of the well-known Basque gunmaker. The British firm, run by Kristian Reilly, also offers a specialist restocking service and can provide Uk-made or finished stocks on Kemens if required (it will be bringing in some guns with headed stock blanks to facilitate this).
The test guns, which have an RRP of £36,000 plus vat, hit the scales at 7lb 2oz (particularly light for 30in 12-bore over-andunders, which are rarely seen much under 7lb 8oz today). The guns have 15in semi-pistol stocks and monobloc barrels. Visually, they are attractive with silver finished, florate, tight rose-and-scroll engraved actions (one of many options available). The sighting rib is a good 8mm parallel design, joining ribs are solid and chokes are fixed at three-quarters and full, allowing scope for regulation.
The level of finish on the Eders – which means ‘simple’ in Basque, according to the importer – is good, as one would expect at the significant capital price. Blacking is deep with good preparation in evidence. The stocks are well figured with a traditional oil finish and well-cut hand chequering.
Kemens usually have pretty good stock shapes and tend to have well-balanced, lively barrels. The monobloc barrels here are not exceptionally light at 1550g. The primary weight reduction is in the titanium actions, which lose about a pound on the overall weight. Kemens are notable, however, for their light-for-length barrels, a quality that has made them popular with many top shots.
The test guns are built to the Mark ii Kemen pattern, which looks similar to the original but is significantly different on close inspection. The box into which the trigger unit fits has been reduced in width to its rear quite significantly, meaning less wood now needs to be cut from the stock at a potentially weak point. This is an important improvement as earlier Kemens, though outstanding guns, were prone to cracking through the grip sometimes (especially if one subjected them to stock bending).
The stocks here are unusual: not only semi-pistol, they have a palm swell. i like semi-pistol grips for game guns but a palm swell is an unnecessary addition (their main application is for some clay disciplines). The combs presented are quite substantial and of unusual profile. They might benefit from being more rounded at the top to achieve additional facial support (and there is enough wood there to allow for such modification). My preference is for a semi-circular shape at the top of the comb in cross-section. instead, the sides here are relieved towards the top. it allowed my head to ‘rock’ when the guns were dry mounted.
The stocks as tested are quite low, too (academic as you may order what you want) with just over 1½in for drop at the front of the comb and almost 2¼in to the rear. Most continental and US guns tend to have more drop than our own, i suspect this is partly because they do not share our experience of shooting driven game at range.
if i was ordering a new Kemen from MGS i would specify a stock with a more English shape and less drop – something that they are particularly qualified to provide. Meantime, a butt that is just a little too high is always preferable to one that is too low. This is exactly what one may do with the MGS custom-fitting service – all its guns are potentially bespoke (and there is a patterning range on site). At the moment, it might be added, MGS has a special offer to get its new venture off the ground. it is advertising a plain steel actioned KM4 with a UK customfitted ‘Grade ii’ wood stock for £10,000, including VAT. This appears excellent value for a bespoke gun, all the more as the price is set to climb to £12,000 soon.
Shooting them instinctively they really came into their own and impressed on fast, close targets, so might suit grouse and partridge
The monobloc barrels weigh 1550g with most weight reduction achieved throughthe use of titanium for the actions Right: the guns have attractive, silverfinished, florate, tight rose-and-scrollengraving on the actions