Laura Bosis prototype 28 bore
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- Last updated: 13/12/2016
This month, the game season well and truly over, I thought we might have a bit of a flight of fantasy with one of our gun-tests. It concerns a Laura Bosis 28 bore made under the direction of Paul Roberts of J.Roberts and Sons in London. Paul is one of our great gunmakers (formerly gunmaker to her Majesty the Queen) and a famous hunter who has shot more of everything than anyone else I know (including 50 plus buffalo). Laura Bosis is a member of the Bosis family who make some of the most beautiful guns in Italy - you might describe them as the Purdey of that great gun-making nation.
Our test gun is not a Purdey, but it has similar elegance, based on a very clever reworking of a B. Rizzini barrelled action. The 28 bore, we might note meantime, has become fashionable again. Once designated a boy’s or lady’s gun, it is now considered as a serious tool by those clay and game shots who want a challenge. The late Sir Joseph Nickerson was well known for his trio of Purdey 28 bores and the skill with which he used them.
Our prototype - and the sad thing is that few more of these are likely to be made - has 29” barrels and a very beautifully colour case hardened action, with a flighting pheasant engraved on its belly as well as some restrained but very well executed scroll.
This is a remarkably elegant little gun with lovely lines to both metal and wood work. The colours of the colour case hardening are exceptional. There is also great figure to the wood. Bluing is deep and lustrous. Wood to metal fit is impeccable. Ten points. No kidding.
On the handling front, the gun is lively when you first bring to face and shoulder. Hardly surprising: it hits the scales at just 5 pounds 12 oz. It is evidently intended as a game gun at this weight, and would be suitable for various applications in the field. It is the sort of tool that might one might imagine using on a woodcock or snipe expedition (where I always curse the weight of my gun). It might also come in handy walking up grouse over pointers. It would be an ideal lady’s gun with the right stock dimensions (this one has a 14 3/4” stock with standard shelf drop dimensions).
Judge for yourself… the gun has style. It is not about the mechanics. The action is familiar mechanically, but it shows just how important the filing up and quality of finish are to the final product - something the English gun trade used to understand so well (hence their A, B, C and D grade guns). Finish is everything.
The barrels of the Laura Bosis are built on the monobloc system as most modern over and unders (and there is nothing wrong with that). Both internal and external finishes are very good.
They have tight, fixed, chokes (half and full) - my own preference on a 28 is three quarters and three quarters. The joining ribs are solid as is the sighting rib. I love solid ribs on a game gun as I often noted. This is in Boss style with a slight taper - the great advantage of the solid rib (which is actually hollow but looks solid and is therefore termed such) is that it is not so prone to denting in the field.
The action of the test gun is, well… a Rizzini… but a very pretty, special, Rizzini. It has much improved aesthetics - and looks beautiful to my eye. It is, frankly, amazing what a little hand work can do to an otherwise machine made gun. This gun has been transformed from the usual CNC product of Gardonne.
The hinge pins are of the stud type as seen in a Beretta, Perazzi or Woodward. The locking system is inspired by Browning with a full width bolt coming out of the bottom of the action face and engaging a wide slot bite beneath the bottom chamber mouth. It is a system used by half a dozen Italian makers and described many times in these pages. I prefer Boss type bolting because it reduces action height, but in a 28 bore the bite beneath the bottom chamber is not so material. This gun is still very compact.
Coil springs are used to power the hammers - a leaf spring conversion would be nice (certain compromises have to be made to sear angles when coil springs are employed). The single trigger mechanism is of the recoil activated type, and a selector is placed on top of the conventional thumb operated top strap safety. Trigger pulls on the test gun were very good - better than I expected of the design. The shape of the trigger, like most of the other shapes on the gun, was very pleasing to the eye.
The stock of the test gun is made from splendidly figured, dark, walnut. It was not too short - an issue on some small bores. There is well-shaped Boss style half-pistol grip and a comb with some taper and good shapes ideally suited to the gun. The subtle schnabel forend is also a good shape and has an unusual striped figure. It is equipped with a front button release catch - a style which has many advocates. Both butt and forend are oil finished to high standard and hand chequered.
I am not a great fan of very light guns, but this one shot very well (with its lovely looks it would have been disappointing if it hadn’t). I put it through its paces on the skeet range at Braintree initially, and then on the simulated game and sporting stands. It is, obviously, not a competition gun, but broke most of the clay targets in fine style with its heavy chokes.
Being so light, it was easy to accelerate in front of some birds - this is a common characteristic of lightweight (and, especially, light-barrelled) guns. One may also find oneself shooting high for similar reasons. The key to success is a bit of extra control with the front hand. Once this is adopted guns like this can become a joy to shoot. It is a pity that few more of these guns are likely to be made because it would make an ideal tool for walking up or for a lady Gun, as discussed, because of its reduced frontal weight. It might also make a good pigeon gun (I use a 28 bore for pigeons - the reduced bulk of the cartridges is a boon when one is struggling with all one’s other kit).
As for clay shooting, I cannot say that a very light 28 is going to put your scores up, but there is tremendous pleasure from using a gun like this well. I use a 28 bore Beretta EELL for much of my clay shooting now (and a brace of 30” 28 bore Silver Pigeons for my game shooting). Paul Roberts, it might be added, also offers some excellent up-market side-plated Rizzinis in both 20 and 28bore. They have the same sort of style as this gun. The pick of his particular bunch, though, again benefiting from Laura Bosis design input, is the round action 30” 28 bore. It is a stomping little gun - as good as any 28 bore available. Pricewise, this gun would have set you back about £5,000, the side-plated guns (which are colour case hardened) begin around the £2,500 mark and, the excellent, round-body ‘boxlock’ starts at about £4,000.
My thanks to the Braintree Shooting Ground for the use of their layouts and to Lyalvale (Express) for supplying the cartridges used in the test.