Webley & Scott 2000 side by side
By: Mark Stone
Mark Stone goes old school, this time with Webley & Scott’s new range of side- by-side, the style of shoguns they were originally famed for
Its just one of those things but I’ve never been the most avid enthusiast of side-byside shotguns. The upside is that whilst the majority of them don’t suit me, every now and again one comes along that simply works, is comfortable and I can actually shoot with it without having to adjust my own personal style. Enter Webley & Scott’s new range of 2000 Series side-by-side shotguns, the 12 bore they sent me to have a look at falling unusually into both camps. Now one point needs to be made before we carry on, the 2000 Series name also applies to some of Webley & Scott’s over-unders so do be careful if your dealer says they’ve got a 2000 in stock, the barrels could well be stacked rather than side-by-side!
All you need
Delivered in a traditional looking canvas covered ‘motor-case’, complete with five flush-fit choke tubes and friction fit key, you’ll be up and running with the 2000 in a matter of minutes. What you’re presented with is an elegant, English style side-by-side 12 bore that looks like it should have cost you considerably more than the £1,749 you’ve just parted with.
Long glossy black 28” steel proofed barrels that are made up of two one-piece tubes and 3” chambers are jointed together courtesy of the central rib with machine finished barrel flats and chopper-style lumps that have been brazed into place. Superbly struck, the barrels alone would be worthy of being seen attached to far more upmarket shotguns, such is their quality. Sat between the tubes is a tapering 9-5mm raised and slightly concaved rib marginally reminiscent of those once fitted to live pigeon shotguns, complete with a small brass bead whilst an almost imperceptible flair just back from the muzzles allows space for the internal choke tubes.
Interestingly, to ensure the 2000 doesn’t actually look like a multi-choke shotgun, the tubes screw into place using a friction fit key. This means the familiar engaging notches cut into the leading edges as employed by most tubes aren’t present giving the casual observer the illusion that the 2000 is a fixed choke and therefore more traditional shotgun.
To give the barrels purpose in life, the 2000 utilises a time proven boxlock action that has been chemically colour-case hardened, the barrels pivoting on a single hinge pin with a deep recess in the rear lump to engage the locking bar. The deep blue, purple and brown of the action’s finish is from a modern process that generates more or less the same effect as the traditional and time consuming bone and leather burning without the inherent costs and gives the 2000 in my opinion, a more pleasing finish whilst still allowing the light scroll engraving to show through along with the gold inlaid Webley & Scott name on the base.
The trigger-guard, none adjustable trigger, bottom tang, top-lever and manual safety by comparison share the same lustrous blacking as the barrels, although unusually for a 12 bore that encompasses modern technology the barrels aren’t selectable. This means the 2000 is restricted to firing the right barrel first although the multichoke system means you can quickly ‘cock bore’ the 2000.
In physical terms ‘cock bore’ means whereas the traditional side-by-side usually has the tighter choke in the left barrel or on a double-trigger gun the shooter decides which barrel to discharge first by virtue of which trigger they pull, tight first or tight in the right are the chosen muzzle restrictions predominantly of grouse shooters or seriously high driven pheasant exponents. The wide restriction in the right or first barrel then tight left barrel can trace its origins back to the origins of game shooting when it was all walked up when the bird first appeared just a few feet in front of the shooter.
With the light engraving and colour-case hardening repeated on the Deeley & Edge style latch and irons on the splinter type forend, the quality of the walnut especially the ‘Prince of Wales’ stock is more than pleasing although a straight grip stock is also available. The grain is good, the machine cut chequering reasonably well defined and comfortable, the grip free of a palm swell, nicely rounded and angled whilst the concealed buttplate gives the 2000 a true traditional look. The scalloping around the stock head, where it butts up against the action, is well defined and an excellent fit - and rapidly becoming a Webley & Scott trademark.
My main if ungenerous criticism is the finish of the woodwork, which might well have been unique to the test gun. Oil finishing is longestablished and designed to withstand the elements, but when caught in a shower whilst testing, the oil washed out.
This was easily rectified by the application of a few drops of stock oil, to a degree that the furniture looked even better than when the 2000 was delivered. The factory finish hints at cost cutting, but a good treatment of oil back in Turkey would set this oversight right and produce a finish worthy of the rest of this nicely produced 12 bore.
With the advent of the summer months comes Bond & Bywaters evening clay shoot, a thirty bird sporting extravaganza designed to intrigue, entertain and torment the off – season game shot and the perfect venue to test the 2000. An initial few minutes with the Arrow Laser Shot determined that for me the 2000 shot flat but slightly left, meaning that for me I’d need some extra cast in the stock. Not a major problem for any gunsmith or a particularly expensive modification, whilst for many shooters the degree of cast as is would be ideal. Remember, we are all physically different - only two friends of mine can actually shoot with any of my own personal guns.
Apart from the cast, the rest of the 2000’s physical dimensions were more than acceptable for a shotgun with an overall length of 45 13/16 inches, and an all in weight of 7lbs 4oz. The drops at comb and heel of 1 ½” and 2 1/8” combined with a 14 ¾” length of pull give the 2000 a ‘big gun’ feel whilst the bulk of the mass sits firmly within the leading hand, the balance point just in front and beneath the chambers, a crisp average release weight of 5lbs 6oz allowing the trigger to break on either barrel, the mechanical action meaning now inertia is required during the transfer.
Mental allowances made and with ¼ and ½ chokes screwed into the muzzles, a goodly selection of 28 gram Express World Cups and 36 gram Supreme Games were loaded up, the later of the size and type this Webley & Scott will be destined to fire. Once the physical adjustments to my sight picture had been made, the 2000 started breaking clays with enthusiasm although two points came to light. The overall weight and pivot point means the 2000 has to be physically driven slightly harder than usual whilst for me at least, pre-mounted wasn’t the way to go. In fact what the American’s refer to as semi-snap shooting at unexpected targets revealed that this Webley & Scott’s forte is as a reactionary ‘don’t think about it’ shotgun, the physical dynamics of the 2000 coming into play.
Heavy enough to stop you over swinging but light enough and soft enough even with 36 gram loads to be fired as it touches the shoulder, the 2000 displayed noticeable abilities as a walked up shotgun, the sort of 12 bore that would acquit itself admirably when just you and the dog were taking a gentle stroll along the hedges and boundaries. For others though this Webley & Scott will prove to be the perfect driven bird shotgun but for me it has other positive attributes that set it apart. And yes, by the end of the evening, the 2000 had more than proven its worth.
As good as…
Like all Webley & Scott shotguns the 2000 side-by-side is manufactured in Turkey which for a purist of a particular mind set is a reason not to buy one. However, apart from the fact the oil finish could be better, where else are you going to buy yourself a classic looking side-by-side of this quality for this price that is as well made as this, and has all the traditional values and looks that made the original Webley & Scott shotguns as popular and longlasting as they were?
The fact it doesn’t have a barrel selector does seem a little strange although the idea is you change the chokes to suit, but once set up you’ll more than likely either leave it alone or carry one alternative choke and the small key in your pocket or slip. This in turn actually gives the 2000 genuine versatility, a driven game gun one day, a rough shooting companion the next along with an ability as a duck and wildfowling piece. In other words, Highland Outdoors who now own the Webley & Scott name and have these shotguns manufactured have not only turned the name around from its previous incarnation but have now with care and forward planning, taken the name back to where it should be with guns worthy of the name.
As I first commented, sideby- sides aren’t my first choice when it comes to shotguns, but if I had to have one in my cabinet, this Webley & Scott would be a serious contender. A multipurpose, flexible resident of more than sufficient quality and a name that traditionalist can once again start to take some pride in, you won’t go far wrong with the Webley & Scott 2000. GM
|Name||Webley & Scott 2000 S/S|
|Calibre||12 – bore|
|Action||Boxlock side by side|
|Stock||Walnut Prince of Wales|
All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates