Guerini Sideplate 28 bore
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- Last updated: 15/12/2016
This month, we have had one interesting 28 bore in the form of a delightful little Fausti side by side, so, being a great 28 bore fan, I thought why not have another - make this the 28 bore issue (at least as far as my contribution is concerned). You could not get a more different gun to the Fausti than the test gun, though both have sideplates. First off, the Guerini Essex is an over and under, and this particular model has 32” barrels - and for a 28 bore, that’s long!
Why a 28 Bore?
It will not have escaped your attention that not only do I have something of a soft spot for 28 bores, but that these guns have become quite fashionable of late. Once considered a boy’s or lady’s sporting weapon (and it is still a great gun for introducing people to shooting in the right form), it is now seen as a very serious gun by some of the best shots I know. The late Sir Jo Nickerson, author of A Shooting Man’s Creed and as keen a game shot as ever was, shot a trio of Purdey 28 bores with the greatest skill. There are many other great shots who favour this bore size which is surprisingly efficient on the ballistic front (although economic it isn’t with regard to cartridges).
Our test gun is not one of London’s best, but, you might easily mistake it for something costing much more than the £2,845 RRP. It is a lovely looking gun for the money by any standard with a silver polished action and fine scroll engraving (the previous Essex Limited had a ‘colour case hardened’ action). Mind you, I am biased, I do much of my game shooting with 20 bore Guerini Maxums of quite similar spec. Regardless of price, I have yet to find better guns to bring the birds down than those long barrelled 20 bores, and, in the looks department they can stand in any company (as the test gun can). I use my 20s - which weigh 7lbs 3oz. - with Lyalvale 30 and 32 gram loads for nearly all my live quarry work now. I have used a 30” 28 bore for a couple of seasons too with some success, I might note, but that was a EELL Beretta. The test gun
The Essex model is available in a variety of bore sizes from .410 to 12b. This brush polished specimen was brought down to me by former Olympian (and current Olympic coach) Kevin Gill. Sadly, it was a horrifically cold day - real brass monkey weather. But, I think it fair to say (and without giving too much of the game away from our shooting impressions section) that on a test day that was far from ideal, we both particularly enjoyed using this 32” Essex 28. Why? Because not only does it look smart, but it handles really well, pointing easily and making shooting comfortable. The stock is not only well figured but well conceived with an open radius pistol grip (not a semi-pistol or prince of wales) and this is twinned with a rounded style Boss forend with button fastener.
So, first impressions are positive. The gun is especially well presented with excellent finish to all metal parts and an attractively figured and well designed stock as noted - it is an especially good design which helps to bring out the full potential of this unusually specified and most attractively decorated gun. Bluing is deep and lustrous. Wood to metal fit is good. The gun, in spite of its length, perhaps because of it, looks elegant. It hits the scales at something around 7 pounds, that’s not light for a small bore, but it does not feel heavy. It is primarily designated as a game gun, but I would say it would be fun for clays as well and bring a smile to your face at the same time.
The Essex may have some mechanical features which are common to other Gardonne guns, but it has the style and character to stand out from the Euro-pack. Time to put it under the magnfiying glass. The barrels are multichoke and built, of course, on the monobloc system as most modern over and unders. Internal and external finish of the barrels are good. The forcing cones are of medium length and the bores themselves are chromed (my practical preference in any mass produced over and under). Both sighting and joining ribs are ventilated, there is a traditional brass bead at the muzzles (my favourite pattern). I liked the fairly narrow rib, it is well suited to the gun.
Sideplates apart, the action of the test gun is of typical Italian pattern. It is a bifurcated lump design with the usual split stud-type hinging. Helical springs are used to drive the hammers forward. The single trigger mechanism is of the inertia type, and a selector is combined with the safety as is the norm. Trigger pulls on the Essex were pretty good. I also liked the shape of the plain steel trigger blade (I retain an irrational prejudice against the unnecessary bling of gold plated triggers).
The action is decorated with tight scroll work and looks very good. It is a personal thing, but I am not a fan of the machine engraving of game birds - I much prefer scroll and this is as about as good as it gets at the price point. The bolting involves a wide B25 style bolt coming out of the bottom of the action face and engaging a slot or bite to use the proper term beneath the bottom chamber mouth. This arrangement was developed by John Moses Browning and has been copied by so many others since. Most over and under guns use this system or a variation/ simplification of Boss bolting.
The well proportioned stock on the Essex 28 is made from walnut that shows good figure. There is a pleasingly tapered comb of good form and proportion. The round forend is also a particularly good shape (like the grip) and equipped with a front button release catch. Both butt and forend are competently oil finished, the preference of most British shooters to the varnish that is sometimes seen (and remains popular in the States). It would be difficult to improve on the stock design. The dimensions were good too, with an LOP of 14 3/4”, and drop of 1 3/8 at the front of the comb and 2 1/8” to the rear.
Fun! (That’s two fun guns for me this month). We shot the Essex on the skeet and sporting layouts of the Fennes Shooting Ground near Bocking appropriately located in Essex. It was a delight to use with 21 gram Lyalvale Express 7s. The gun had a very distinct character. It did not feel like small bore in its handling, it was a full size, but willing, gun. I have noted that small bores need to be ‘driven’ but this was not so much the case here because of the medium weight (the equivalent of the average 12 bore game gun) and extra barrel length. If you want some some fun though, a challenge, and a gun which offers a lot of finish for the bottom line, look no further.
My thanks to Lyalvale Express for supplying the cartridges used in this test.
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