William Powell Monarch Shotgun
By: Pete Moore
An old English name allied to a European maker; Mark Stone tries one of William Powell’s Spanish built 28 bore game guns
It’s a strange fact of life that some of the best and affordable traditionally ‘English’ styled shotguns are manufactured by the Spanish
Whilst they might not have the out and out prestige or appeal of a London or provincial built shotgun, they do at least - especially if they’ve been built to an English maker’s specification - give those of us on a slightly tighter budget the chance to own and shoot a game gun made in the traditional manner and fashion.
Enter William Powell’s range of Continental shotguns, English in every sense apart from the fact they’re manufactured on the maker’s behalf by Arrieta in Spain. Containing a range of shotguns of all gauges, styles and finishes, they have become some of Powell’s best selling shotguns.
The Monarch as tested sits neatly between the Marquis and Eclipse models and to date is the most popular of the collection.
But before you exclaim that for a shotgun to be English it has to be built here in dear old Blighty, think on this. Until someone tells you that the Monarch is Spanish I guarantee you’ll be convinced it’s as English as roast beef or cricket on the village green, Spanish gunmakers having perfected recreating English shotguns to a degree that you can hardly tell them apart.
Age of elegance
The first hint that William Powell’s Monarch is something that little bit special happens even before you’ve seen the gun. Complete with a traditional style motor case, the Monarch is contained within a green canvas and leather trimmed mode of transportation, two substantial straps, brass buckles and a lockable clasp keeping the guns safe inside. Internally, besides the all important label and the green baize, the gun sits firmly in place, courtesy of a small strap and the fact the spaces have been tailor made for the gun with additional compartments should the owner elect to add a few more accessories such as snap – caps, a small cleaning kit or similar.
The Monarch itself radiates from within, a beautifully grained, straight-hand walnut stock, chequered butt and graceful push-rod splinter forend flow gracefully into a six visible pin sidelock action, drop points extending towards the fine chequering. True bone colour case hardening encapsulates the entire action although for those who prefer it, a polished finish is also available. A small point, whilst the deep purple hues and delicate engraving bestow a rich character to the action, the finish has unfortunately not been continued onto the forend irons, not immediately noticeable but something that once observed does tend to stand out. Besides the six pins, a cocking indicator is also visible on either side, each one rotating to forty-five degrees from horizontal when the Monarch is cocked, the whole metal surface decorated with fine rose and scroll engraving.
The short top-tang plays host to the small automatic safety-catch and the full sized top-lever, the thumb pad well chequered and quickly located without the need to avert the eyes from the job in hand. On the reverse side the long, extended bottom tang progresses into a broad, over sized trigger-guard that house two well-sized triggers, the front blade is articulated so as to promote unimpeded transfer from blade to blade.
Looking closely at the action before the barrels are attached the disc-set strikers can be seen, as can the neatly executed cocking levers that protrude from the rounds, the whole well engineered and assembled. The chopper lump, 2¾” chambered barrels are jointed using a tapering 4-7mm concaved rib and are finished with fixed ¼ choke to the right, ¾ to the left muzzle restrictions and a small brass bead whilst the Southgate style ejectors are perfectly timed and throw the empty cases a remarkable distance when the wide gapped gun is opened after discharge. Taken as a whole, Powell’s small Monarch is a gem even before you’ve got round to loading it.
The one overriding physical aspect of the Monarch is the slender lines which in turn tend to emphasize the gun’s length, the barrels seemingly endless. With the Arrow Laser Shot attached the Monarch as expected demonstrated high shooting characteristics, a tendency displayed by most side-by-side game guns. Reason being, since driven birds are by far the main targets this and similar shotguns are designed to shoot, the idea is they dial in some additional lead as the birds approach the Gun and fly overhead or when engaging a rapidly climbing grouse during a walked-up day.
The slight downside until the user has got used to it is that the distance under the bird or target has to be determined. Once worked out it’s no problem but for anyone who prefers a flat shooting shotgun you will have to either learn to adjust of have the Monarch fitted to your own physical and sight plane preferences, only the most delicate stock alterations required to alter the Monarch’s basic attitudes.
Physically, the Monarch measures 47 5/8” in overall length (30” of this being the barrels) with an exact weight of 6lbs. Length of pull to the articulated trigger is 15 7/16”, average pull weights of 5lbs 1oz on the front trigger, 6lbs for the rear combined with drops at comb and heel of 1½” and 3/4”, all big gun sizes that have been superbly translated into this truly elegant sub-gauge complimented with gentle right-hand cast.
Ensuring a goodly supply of Winchester’s Super X 28 bore game shells filled with an ounce charge of 6’s, thirty of Bond & Bywaters’ summer shoot sporting birds awaited. The beauty of the Winchester ammo is that when it comes to hard-hitting sub-gauge cartridges, they rate as some of the best in the business, these American constructed cartridges guaranteed to lift the most demanding target cleanly out of the sky. Problem was for the first few shots, I didn’t live up to the Monarch – Winchester combo, the gun’s high shooting attitude slightly more exaggerated than I first thought.
Perseverance however did pay dividends, and a few stands later the clays were breaking on a regular basis the Monarch’s only other trait being able to swing so quickly as to be to far through the targets, 28 bore often best shot by almost rifling the birds. Once again, a slightly slower pace paid dividends, the evening culminating in accentuating the fact that no matter how long or intense a day’s driven shooting might be and irrespective of how many shots are fired, the Monarch leaves the shooter completely relaxed and free of fatigue to a degree you don’t actually feel like you’ve been shooting at all.
The balance is exactly beneath the hinges whilst the balance and handling are such that this diminutive William Powell points and swings anywhere in an absolute instant, so deft and precise are the gun’s intimate nature. Likewise, the articulation of the front trigger-blade means it gets out of the way when the finger is transferred to the rear whilst it pivots neatly forward as and when the shooter needs to discharge the left or tighter choked barrel first.
A friend indeed
If you’re looking to buy a genuinely traditional game gun in whatever gauge, Powell’s Monarch is a shotgun you should seriously consider. In looks, feel, handling and delivery its every inch a quintessential English gun with one of the correct names engraved upon it. Equally, in the great scheme of things, it’s certainly not badly priced at £5,750 especially when you take into account it comes complete with a deluxe motor case. The model starting price is even lower at £4,850 with the further option of 12, 16, 20 or 410 gauges.
As regards the 28 bore as tested, sub-gauges such as this are gaining more and more popularity. If you can get good with them, a 28 bore is incredibly rewarding to shoot and possesses a deftness few others can emulate, a day’s driven shooting as but nothing given the Monarch’s almost negligible weight. This is combined with the fact that a good load such as the Winchester Super X as used gives the accomplished small bore shooter tremendous reach meaning a high, driven pheasant taken with this William Powell will outclass a 12 bore each and every time. A beautiful little shotgun with true character and one any purist game shooter should and would be proud to own, the Monarch a true friend indeed on any occasion particularly within the social confines of a formal day’s shooting and an absolute asset on a day’s walked-up grouse.
And one final point. The 28 bore Monarch seen here is currently for sale with my friends at Bond & Bywaters. Less than twelve months old it’s done absolutely nothing, appearing on their shelves by virtue of the previous owner’s personal circumstances. To that end, the next owner will be able to acquire it at a considerable saving over new, making this delightful sub-gauge an even more tempting proposition with at least £2,000 off the original price.
|Name||William Powell Monarch|
|Calibre||28 – bore|
|Action||Side – by – side|
|Stock||Straight grip game|
|Chokes||¼ & ¾|
All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates