Guerini West London
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- Last updated: 15/12/2016
I was in the gun room of the West London Shooting Ground the other day chatting to my mates Gemma and Martin, when I noticed on the wall a special offer on what I thought was an exceptionally smart gun – the West London model Guerini Essex 20 bore. The gun was on sale under £2,500 which I thought a particular bargain considering the excellent specification of this over and under. It is a 30” barrelled 20 bore which makes it my sort of game gun straight away, moreover, it has a solid rib which is always my preference too.
The positive features didn’t stop there, this Essex model has a silver polished side-plated action covered in profuse scroll engraving. Aesthetically, it ticked my boxes. I love fine scroll on a gun, frankly, I prefer it to game scenes (unless they are very well executed by a master). The style here is very classical, and although the engraving is applied by high tech means, you would be hard pressed to tell. Guerini have led the way with engraving mid-priced guns to a very high standard. The technology, by the way, has come to England and is being used in at least two new English guns.
The Guerini Essex’s close stablemate the Maxum – the gun I use for most of my game shooting – also has very attractive engraving but it is of deeper, bolder, style. Both look very well. The Essex, its name notwithstanding, is a little more restrained though. Guerini achieved a good market share quite quickly here because their guns were well presented for their price. They looked especially good, and handled nicely too (I am a particular fan of the 32” 20 bores as is quite well known). On which subject, the best bit is yet to come.
The Stock - About As Good As You Will Find
The thing that impresses about the West London model is that it has really excellent stock shapes. This isn’t BS, they are, regardless of price, just about as good as you will find on any 20 bore game gun. There is a rounded forend rather than a Schnabel. The butt has a full pistol grip but one of almost ideal depth and width, which is not too tightly radiused. I have mentioned before that I believe the action design of this type of gun – which combines trunnion hinging with a Browning style bolt under the bottom chamber mouth – allows for almost perfect spacing of top and bottom straps and hence the potential for a near perfect grip design as well. The scheme does not work quite so well in 12 bore – where the action becomes a little deeper than ideal – but, in 20 or 28, it’s a peach.
When you pick up the West London model you have an immediate, positive, sense of control. The hands are in good contact with the gun, you can make the muzzles do exactly what you want, and, one may anticipate that recoil will not be excessive (the hands, of course, take a significant amount of the recoil force through them). I don’t think I could really better the West London’s grip. As for the stock dimensions, they are good too. The length of pull is 14 5/8” with an extra 1/8” at heel and 3/8” at toe. The drop as originally specified by me to Guerini UK some years back is (not that I am biased!) a perfect shelf dimension of 1 3/8” and 2 1/8” at the front and rear of the comb respectively. The comb itself is nicely profiled too, enough meat to be comfy, but not so thick to feel clubbish.
OK, What About The Other Technical Stuff?
The barrels on the Guerni are, you guessed it, monobloc (where two tubes are inserted into a machined breech block which also has recesses for the studs upon which the gun hinges). Arguably the strongest system of all when well done, mononbloc manufacture is now almost universal. The tubes are fitted with conventional multi-chokes at the muzzles. The solid sighting rib presenting a good picture to the eye with a well machined top surface and neat metal bead. The barrels were well blacked too and the tubes were reasonably straight. The forcing cones were of medium length.
The internal diameter of the barrels, however, was wider than the 20 bore average at 16mm. I usually like wider bores, some 20s are made as low as 15.6, though one sees 15.7, .8 or .9 most commonly. My gun testing experience is that the factors that really do affect felt-recoil are, cartridge payload apart, gun weight, bore diameter and the angle of the stock comb (which should not be too steep). This West London Guerini ticked all the boxes again – not too light, wide-ish bores, and very nice stock shapes.
There is not much more to say, all the functioning of the Guerini was A1 (save perhaps for the barrel selector which, although of an excellent size - just a little bigger than the norm - was just a little stiff , but something that would quickly wear in). Ejection was positive and well timed. The trigger pulls were adequate (I am very finicky in this department), the operation of top lever and safety was fine. I liked the refined touch of a decent sized oval in the stock.
This is a gun which will not disappoint. I did not shoot the one on the shelf but another. My favourite test fodder for 20 bores is the 24 gram Lyalvale Express load, I use 30 or 32 grams for my game shooting (the latter in my 32” 20 bore Guerini). The gun was pointable and controllable as anticipated. It did not feel quite as refined as a Perazzi or Kemen, but with a modest expenditure on the triggers, I think you could end up with about as much gun as this sort of money will buy you these days. Great look, great handling, excellent value. You can’t ask for more than that – grab it!
My thanks to Lyalvale Express who supplied the cartridges used in this test, and, to the staff of the West London Gun Room.
PRICE: £2,500 (on special offer at the West London Gun Room)
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