Chapuis C135 Artisan
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- Last updated: 14/12/2016
It’s a few years now since I paid a visit to the small hill top village of St Bonnet le Chateau in central France, home to the Chapuis family and their truly impressive range of bespoke French guns. Back then Chapuis were predominantly double rifle makers, their ethos being that smoothbore tubes were an accessory, driven or walked up birds a light-hearted adjunct to the more serious side of a day in the field. However, times have changed, with Chapuis now increasing their manufacture of shotguns that are both stunning in looks and handling, and York Guns being the new UK importers.
From the buyer’s perspective the C135 Artisan, part of the Super Orion range, is all encompassing offering the customer a choice of stock styles and walnut grades, along with either 12, 16 or 20 bore options. The gun seen here is the new 12 bore boxlock that comes complete with some of Chapuis’ finest quality, beautifully figured and lacquered walnut, with exceptional wood to metal work fit. The London style fore-end is kept locked in position courtesy of deeply engraved Deeley & Edge latch and fore-end irons, the fit and finish a mirror image of the stock. The stock is unusually finished with a thin rubber recoil pad instead of Chapuis’ more usual checkered walnut butt plate with a fine metal foliate framing.
The semi-pistol grip configuration stands out, being finished with a fine foliate frame grip cap. Chapuis have developed the habit of lowering the gentle palm swell. Providing you place your hand where Chapuis intended, the fine panels of chequering directing your hand accordingly, the overall effect is to generate a lower and a somewhat more relaxed hand and arm position whilst opening up the shoulder pocket. This in itself may seem very little but after a full day’s driven game shooting its noticeable how more comfortable your arm will feel since the correct positioning of your hand has the direct consequence of placing the rest of your arm and shoulder into a more natural posture.
The steel boxlock action which displays a distinct rounded appearance is once again based around the Boss style with the two locking lugs extending from the standing breech and locating in the corresponding indents set into the powerful, well timed ejectors. The outer surface of the action, top and extended bottom tangs, top-lever and manual safety-catch are decorated with a scroll and foliate design. This in turn repeats on the trigger-guard where facility has also been made for the owner to have his or her initials engraved. Within the main panels of engraving lighter, impressionistic game scenes have been applied with partridge, pheasant and ducks all in various stages of flight. A point I would personally pick up on is that although well executed, the game bird engraving needs to be slightly deeper or made more pronounced, the surrounding panels of scroll work rather overwhelms the delicacy of the miniature landscapes.
From the action of course extend the barrels; these gloss black, monobloc tubes personifying the universally acknowledged quality of barrels struck in the St. Etienne region of France. With a full mid – rib and vented top, the precision, balance, excellence and inherent durability is everything you’d expect, Chapuis once again drawing on theirs and the region’s expertise.
A Little to the Left
Fitting the Arrow Laser Shot confirmed that unlike the previous Super Orion the Artisan had slightly different dimensions. Exhibiting a drop at comb and heel of 1 7/16” and 2 9/16” the comb was over a quarter of an inch too low for me, although the length and weight of the fixed trigger pull of 15 1/8” and an average of 5lbs per barrel were exactly as I like them to be. Similarly, from my perspective I could have done with a little extra cast although holding the fore-end towards the rear directly beneath the balance point exactly 1” in front of the hinges did allow me to negate my initial view down the left side of the barrels and along the vented 7mm game rib.
Shot around fifty of Rishton SG’s sporting targets the Artisan’s deftness of balance was brought to light. Weighing an exact 7lbs, the handling and balance of the gun belies 31½” barrels, the muzzles flowing onto their targets with going – away birds an absolute joy to shoot, highlighting this gun’s true metier, the fixed ¾ chokes of both barrels keeping the 28gram charges of Express Supreme 8’s nice and tight at over forty yards. The downside is that for most game and clays the Super Orion is a joy to shoot but the fixed chokes rather precludes the use of non-toxic if you’re not to damage the Artisan’s chrome lined, 3” chambered barrels, even though Chapuis over proof their tubes to 1,370 bar which means they’ll withstand virtually anything the shooter cares to fire down them. If non – toxic will be used then specify the multi–choke version but the asking price will change accordingly.
Invest to Impress
For many UK shooters the Chapuis name is still one they’ve rarely encountered which likewise means the investment of £6,100 in the case of this shotgun still seems something akin to a leap of faith, especially in the current financial climate. What I will say without any fear of contradiction is that the moment you see and examine the Artisan you’ll be hooked, the price seemingly almost becoming insignificant when equated to what you hold in your hands.
Admittedly this particular shotgun didn’t fit me but only because it’s been made to general dimensions along with the fact it’s spent the bulk of its life in an ambassadorial role on display at shows throughout the world, exemplifying the quality, looks and handling inherent to all Chapuis’ shotguns and rifles. What I will say is that the previous Chapuis I shot with happened to have more favourable dimensions, to a degree that a late season’s driven game I was invited to resulted in one of the most successful shooting days I can remember.
But if you’re going to invest in a Chapuis such as this, it makes sense that you’d spend that little extra and have the gun fitted along with specifying the engraving of your choice. The Chapuis’ catalogue is overflowing with potential decorative ideas whilst the overall format of your Artisan such as stock style, etc., can be varied to your particular likes or preferred style, once again both Chapuis and York Guns are able to advise you accordingly. Likewise, the company are also able to supply whichever of their travelling cases suit your needs the best so when the gun’s delivered everything’s exactly as you want it.
Yes, these shotguns tend to be for the connoisseur, the type of shooter who specifically wants something slightly different. And with the new Chapuis C135 Artisan that’s what they get, a shotgun that looks absolutely stunning but one that embodies that vital distinctive element that truly sets it apart. But at £6,100 the price certainly isn’t out of it compared to the asking price of equivalent makers whilst the end result being a shotgun you’ll treasure and enjoy for years to come.
PRICE: £6,100 srp