AyA No. 2
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- Last updated: 13/12/2016
The test gun is a 20 bore AyA No.2 which came straight from the stock of the West London Shooting School’s shop. Initial impressions are good; the lines are elegant, the scroll engraving attractive, the blacking and wood to metal fit are executed to a high standard. I also like the colour case hardening to the square bar action. This is just the sort of traditional gun that has made AyA one of the most respected names in the business. Nothing too fancy here, but solid quality and classic styling nevertheless.
Bringing the little gun to face and shoulder presents no unpleasant surprises either. Weighing in at only 6lbs with its fixed choke 28” barrels, it feels both well balanced and lively. I especially liked the Holland pattern diamond grip (a straight design of English style) and the way the weight of this gun had been concentrated between the hands. It demonstrated the classic virtues of the sidelock game gun.
AyA and ASI
Before considering this AyA in more detail, a little history of it maker may be in order. AyA, Aguirre y Aranzabal, are long established (1917) and based in the Basque region of Northern Spain. The firm has been re-organized somewhat. It is significantly smaller than it once was (as is all the Spanish trade - although there is more of it left than in the UK). Production now concentrates on higher grade guns, the Cosmos, Yeoman and Matador, which are fond memories of my youth, are long gone.
AyA have a very close relationship with the English company ASI (Anglo Spanish Imports), who import AYAs into Britain. ASI itself began in the late 1950s - founded by Peter and Andrew King (and now run by Edward). Its formation followed a visit to Spain during which the King brothers were looking for a gunmaker who might build in the British style. A relationship with AyA soon developed and various English guns were taken to Eibar for measurement and calibration by Spanish craftsmen. The results may be seen today in guns likes the No.1 and 2 (as tested). Although much of the cheaper AyA range is now gone, the company still make some quality boxlocks (and the 20 bores especially appeal to my eye).
Back to the Test Gun
The No. 2 has some nice touches beyond the norm, including hand-detachable locks and gold-line cocking indicators. The action itself, and as noted, is of square pattern. It is worth mentioning that AyA introduced a round bar version of this gun fairly recently which is also attractive. I think my preference is for the gun as tested, however. Round bar guns have to be very expensive to look just right, the square bar gun is an easier proposition for a medium grade gun and may concentrate a little more weight between the hands (though not much).
If one removes the locks one discovers a gun made, essentially, on the Holland & Holland system (more commonly copied than the Purdey-Beesley sidelock because it is simpler to regulate). There are traditional leaf springs to power the tumblers, intercepting safety sears, disc set strikers (which may be removed from the action face to allow for easy replacement of the striker and return spring), and a nicely shaped top-lever. My only criticism concerns the triggers which might have been filed up a little more finely. I might add, however, that it was nice to see that the front trigger was articulated, and that the trigger pulls were crisp and clean breaking at about 3 ½ and 4lbs, front and rear respectively.
The ejector mechanism on the test gun is of Southgate pattern – the preferred pattern of the English gun trade because it is so reliable. It operate on an over centre principle and is commonly paired with both Holland & Holland style sidelocks and Anson and Deeley boxlocks (although early Westley Richards guns have a box ejector mechanism incorporating small V springs).
The barrels on our AyA are chopper lump as seen on all AyA side by sides to my knowledge. This is the favourite of the London Gun Trade as well, of course, and called chopper because the tube and lump which form each barrel look like a chopper in their raw state). The barrels, which have 2 ¾” (70mm) chambers are well presented and nicely finished. There is a traditional concave sighting rib and a metal bead at the muzzles. Chokes are quarter and three-quarter. Forcing cones are quite short (as still seems to be the Spanish norm on side by sides). The gun bears Eibar proof marks at 1370 BAR.
The test AyA has an English style straight hand stock as discussed and an equally traditional splinter forend. I am especially fond of the Holland style diamond grip which has a ridge running down both sides. It feels especially secure and aids good recoil and muzzle control. The stock is made from decent walnut, and the oil finish and chequering are up to standard. The forend has an Anson style button fastener as one usually sees on AyAs. Dimensions of the stock (and bespoke guns may be ordered as well) were 1 3/8 for drop at comb and 2 1/8” for drop at heel. These measurements were ideal for me, I also liked the longer than average stock which was a full 15” with a 1/16” more at heel (not quite enough) and 3/8” at toe (ideal).
I shot this gun with George Juer of the West London Gun Room on the excellent simulated game layouts of his home ground. We parked ourselves on the flush stand and had a lot of fun. This was a well sorted gun to shoot, it had no vices. My notes from the day have just one word – “nice.” That may not sound much, but not all the guns I shoot might be described so. This was a very handy gun to use and, although quite light, did not recoil excessively with normal loads. The well designed stock made it easy to control despite the lack of weight. It would be ideal for all sorts of game and pigeon shooting. It is not cheap - and the fall of the pound is partly responsible - but it’s a solid well made gun that should last a lifetime if properly cared for.