Four grand and upwards buys you a podium-ready Sporter that will steal envious glances, and hopefully a few wins, from your clubmates.
Back in our November 2020 issue we featured ‘Sporters under £4,000’, which successfully demonstrated that, even on a limited budget, you can buy a gun more capable than many of us will ever need.
But, as those of us with burgeoning gun collections will testify, need and want are two very different things. The £4,000 mark is, at the time of writing, roughly the level at which the big guns in the market start rolling out their premium models for us to drool over.
So, we asked Rupert Haynes, gunroom manager at EJ Churchill, to explain exactly what you’re getting for your money when you invest a significant amount in your dream gun.
“Up to £4,000 you get really decent guns, such as the Beretta 694 and Browning 725,” agrees Rupert. “These are commercial clay guns that have some great technical features but they are made to a price. Beyond that you start getting into Krieghoff K-80, Blaser F3, Beretta DT11 and Perazzi territory. These are truly technical, podium-winning guns.
“Guns like the Krieghoff K-80, Blaser F3 and, to a certain extent the Perazzis, are modular guns, which means you can swap out many of the components at will. The beauty of a modular gun is that you can easily tailor it for different disciplines but the recoil behaviour and trigger pull will remain familiar. You don’t have to keep getting used to different guns with their quirks and idiosyncrasies.
“These brands have invested heavily in the best manufacturing tech and equipment to ensure, for example, that their cold hammer forging is not only excellent but consistent from one gun to the next, day in and day out.
“Materials – both steel and wood – will be finer quality than their less expensive counterparts. And, of course, you can keep spending by specifying more beautiful wood and other cosmetic embellishments such as engraving.
“Most importantly, fit and finish will be superb, which is testament to the degree of hand assembly these guns will have seen during manufacture. They will have been put together by skilled gunsmiths exercising great attention to detail.”
Blaser F3 Competition
RRP from £7,196
The modular F3 is a versatile gun that’s competitive across a number of disciplines, including Sporting, Compak and Olympic Skeet. Blaser has continuously fettled the F3, moving it ever closer to perfection. It’s now a sturdy, solid-looking gun that exhibits exactly the right balance of steadiness and manoeuverability.
A large part of its appeal is the huge number of options that can be specified. It’s easy to get carried away on Blaser’s online configurator and end up with a gun twice the price. Or more…
Barrel lengths: 28″, 30″ 32″. Weight from 8lb
Perazzi High Tech Sporter
RRP from £10,500
Think of the High Tech as a modern interpretation of the MX8, just a smidgen wider and heavier, with a lower centre of gravity. These changes are to improve handling and recoil management – like an MX8 but more planted.
One of the joys of choosing a Perazzi is the Perazzi Experience. You get to visit their team of gunsmiths – every part is handmade or hand finished – in Botticino Mattina to choose from thousands of options to make a Perazzi your very own.
Barrel lengths: 26¾”, 279/16“, 283/8“, 29½”
RRP from £12,475
The Krieghoff K-80 is a handsome gun. The K-80 is beautifully engineered and devastatingly effective in the right hands.
The K-80 is a modular gun with a high-quality forged steel receiver at its heart. Hand finished, the receiver has a top-latch that secures the barrels at the optimal leverage point. This solution provides a strong lock-up and makes changing barrels straightforward. The K-80 isn’t limited by discipline – it can be anything you desire.
Barrel lengths: 28″ 30″ 32″
Beretta DT11 Sporting
RRP from £8,275
The DT11 is Beretta’s flagship boxlock competition gun, so it’s no surprise that workmanship is top notch. Because it has a wider receiver than its predecessor, the DT10, many find it more stable and better handling.
These feature Beretta’s robust cross bolt locking mechanism and a removable trigger unit. The Steelium Pro barrels are profiled to diminish felt recoil, improve shot patterning and reduce muzzle flip on the second shot.
Barrel lengths: 28″ 30″ 32″
Longthorne Boxlock Sporter Deluxe
RRP from £16,995
Rather than go down the traditional route of soldering together two tubes along a central rib, Longthorne machines its barrels from a single 27kg billet of steel. Most this steel is precisely machined away leaving, a light, strong and exceptionally true set of barrels.
Longthornes are infinitely customisable – you can specify any option imaginable – and a factory gun fit is also included in the price.
Barrel lengths: 30″, bespoke
The Purdey Sporting Clays Gun
You’re going to have to stump more than four grand for this Purdey, but life’s not worth living if you can’t treat yourself.
It was co-developed by Purdey’s in-house team with Don Currie, Chief Instructor of the US National Sporting Clays Association (NSCA) and respected gun fitter.
The Sporting Clays Gun is a fully bespoke dream gun that’s limited only by the depth of your pockets.
Barrel lengths: bespoke
Caesar Guerini Invictus III Sporting
The slightly more expensive Invictus III shares all the technical characteristics of the Invictus series, famously the replaceable hinge pins on the barrel that enable easy restoration of the locking system, and builds on them.
The Invictus III includes Caesar Guerini’s fore-end action control system that enables the owner to adjust a screw in the forend that either tightens or eases the tension.
Barrel lengths: 28″ 30″ 32″
RRP from £5,000
This is a fantastic competition gun that oozes quality. The drop-out trigger features titanium coated components for greater durability and, like all Zoli shotguns, has a fine tolerance ‘Bolt Boss-type’ locking system. Barrels are silver soldered, affording softer, gradual recoil.
One of the many optional features worth considering is Bilanx, Zoli’s distinctive balance system. Most manufacturers place weights in the stock, but Bilanx uses a nifty, fully-adjustable insert fitted in the pistol grip.
Lengths: 28″, 29.5″, 32″