Guerini Essex West London Shooting Ground Special
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- Last updated: 21/12/2016
This month we are looking at a Guerini Essex WLSS special; a special model for the West London Shooting Ground where we conduct many of our gun tests (and where I have shot for almost 40 years man and boy). Now, readers of this magazine should be familiar with the Guerini marque and the Essex and Maxum side-plated models in particular. I shoot a 32” Maxum 20 bore for game, and a very good gun it is too. The aesthetics are excellent and the handling qualities great. There is also a Maxum based West London Special.
The test gun is a 30” 12 bore weighing in at 7lbs 5oz. It has 30” multi-choked barrels (which I think suits it well), a near Prince of Wales style grip, a rounded Boss-style forend, single-selective trigger and a solid rib. The RRP is £2,845 and I have to say that I think the gun is especially well specified for its price. Guerinis generally seem to offer good value for money, as well as good looks and performance, and these side-plated guns have sold especially well as a result. This gun has a colour case hardened finish and tight, Purdey-style, rose and scroll, the Maxum has wider scroll and a silver finish. They both look excellent, though I have to say my preference in both cases is for the 20 bore model – it just suits this style of action. That said, this gun is one of the best looking 12 bores that I have seen on this action and only eclipsed by the William Evans St.James (also based on a Guerini barrel-action) for style.
The boxes are all ticked. The action is really smart and the engraving, though mechanically applied, is really nice. The stock wood has some reasonable figure. The blacking on barrel and furniture is deep and lustrous. Wood to metal fit is good. The gun looks better than its price. It is primarily intended as a game gun but would not be out of place on a clay shoot either.
The gun has the added cache of the West London name. It’s style and character combines both British and Italian ideas and make is stand out from the Euro-pack. The grip shape, the rib, the decoration and the finish are all typically English. The gun has very sensible dimensions too, as one might expect from West London (and, I might note that I had something of a hand in the gun’s original specification for the UK). The drop on the stock is an ideal 1 3/8 and 2 1/8”. The length of pulls is 14 ¾” with a wooden butt-plate (one could go over 15” with the right pad). On the cast front, there is slight cast apparent – about 1/8” at heel, and possibly a smidgeon more at toe. Ideal for Mr Average (and me).
On getting the magnifying glass out, we note that the barrels are monobloc as most modern over and unders (and there is nothing wrong with that) and 3” (76mm) chambered. Both internal and external finish of the barrels are good. The forcing cones are of medium length and the bores are chromed. The barrels have solid joining ribs and a neat, tapered, solid sighting rib as noted. It looks fantastic, but it adds a little weight. My only critical point concerns the brass bead at the muzzles which is perfectly proportioned but set just a little further back than it needs to be – a very small point.
Italian Style Action
The action of the test gun is of typical Italian pattern. It has split stud-type hinge pins. Coil springs are used to power the tumblers. The single trigger mechanism is of the inertia type, and a selector is placed on top of the conventional thumb operated top strap safety. Trigger pulls on this gun were reasonable - better than on some guns in this price category. I also liked the shape of the trigger blade. I reserve judgement on the gold-plating. I did not take against it as I normally do because it contrasts well with the blues and browns of the dark colour hardening.
The Guerinis, as previously noted, is decorated with tight scroll and nicely colour case hardened (although this may be the result of a chemical process rather than hot ovens and bone meal). It all looks very good, though. It is a personal thing, but I am not a fan of game scenes that are machine applied (or anything less than works of art). I much prefer scroll, and, to my eye, the Guerini scores dix points or very near it in the looks department. The action, which has a hinging system muck like a Beretta and bolting like a Browning, is a little tall, but still manages to look truly elegant.
The stock of this West London special is exceptionally good. The grip offers great purchase, and the forend is both good looking and functional too. It would not be correct to call this a true Prince of Wales grip (where the bottom of a wide angled and slim grip runs parallel with the bore axis). It is much better! I like the semi-pistol grip style on Guerini and B.Rizzini guns, but this is another really good design (though the semi remains my preference for game shooting because it is easier to hold in the ready position). The rounded forend is also an especially good shape and removed by means of an Anson style push-rod to the front.
This special Guerini was a solid, viceless, gun to shoot. It was good, but not quite as inspiring as its great looks might suggest. It shoots as well as a Silver Pigeon, EELL or Browning 525, though. And, I will also note that the 20 bore versions of this gun really do handle fabulously. Indeed, I would go as far as to say that they shoot just about as well as anything regardless of price – quite a compliment.
This 12 just gets a good, but still gets my recommendation. It would make an excellent gun for someone who wants to shoot game and clays with one gun and do it in a bit of style without breaking the bank. As a clay busting machine it would be ideal for skeet or club sporting. As a game gun, the Guerini could be put to just about any task – high pheasant, partridge, or indeed pigeon (which should not be classed as a sporting bird technically today because of PC piffle, but offer many of us great sport anyway). With 3” chambers it offers versatility on the foreshore too. Bottom line. Good gun, good looks, great value for money.
PRICES: £2845 (including case)
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