The Krieghoff over and under, which has its origins in the USA and was extensively redesigned in Germany, has now received the attentions of the British. It is a gun that even among its admirers, of which I am one, consistently divides opinion as to what it should be. As a Sporter the discussion is largely a matter of weight and for some stock dimensions. While big Ben Husthwaite may wield a 9lb K-80 effectively, some lesser mortals buckle, and so the British distributor Alan Rhone and his team have got together to create something different.
This change however does not include the action, and why should it? The iconic sliding latch top fastening remains the same, as does its weight and size. The trigger, which provides the crispest pulls of any coil spring mechanism, is also retained. It is rather in the area of weight and balance together with stock dimensions that the Alan Rhone team have wisely concentrated their attentions.
As a Trap gun, the options the K-80 provides for the adjustment of point of impact with both the barrel and the rib is invaluable to the Trap shooter in achieving accuracy at range on targets of predictable height. Arguably less useful on Sporting clay targets at every height and angle, the Alan Rhone team decided on a conventional barrel assembly with a middle rib instead of the Krieghoff’s customary floating barrels. A major departure and great care was taken in manufacture to ensure both barrels shot precisely to the same point of impact, a quality not as common as one might think in double barrelled guns. Special attention was also given to the tube’s exterior profiling and as a result the Parcours’ 32” barrels are beautifully light. This changes the whole character of the K-80’s handling qualities. The 32” barrels, which on my test gun weighed just 1.397kg, provided both fast handling characteristics and the steadiness on longer targets a Sporter requires.
Gun stocks both in dimensions and configuration can translate into very different things depending on country of origin and the kind of shooting they are intended for. American manufacturers for example for years produced shotguns stocked with as much as three inches drop at heel. This is undoubtedly a hangover from the influence of German immigrant gun makers – many of whom became the founding fathers of the American firearms industry having brought both their skills and their countryman’s preferences with them. The Americans, a nation of riflemen many of whom saw the shotgun as a utilitarian weapon to be used for pot hunting, accepted this well into the 20th Century.
In contrast the British, who in the 19th century embraced driven game and turned wing shooting into an art, were more sophisticated. The best London gun makers quickly came to understand their wealthy land-owning clients would shoot better with a gun that had a stock high enough to place a good percentage of the shot charge above the point of aim.
Other benefits of the straighter stock are that more of the gun’s recoil is taken at the shoulder rather than in the face, and also more of the target is seen all of the time. This same know-how is built into the Parcours stock, with drop measuring 37mm at comb and 50mm at heel. With the butt in straighter alignment with the axis of the bottom barrel, both recoil and muzzle flip are reduced. It is not by chance that when shooting Sporting clay targets that replicated game shooting became popular, and Sporter shotguns began to be developed, some Brits exerted their influence over the foreign manufacturers particularly in matters of stock dimensions and barrel weight. Alan Rhone and his associates are now carrying on this tradition and as far as the Parcours is concerned with very satisfactory results.
With long barrels and the stock dimensions incorporating the principles I have described, this new Krieghoff handles superbly and shoots equally well. When test firing the gun I purposely took it to shooting grounds that specialised in Sporting clays and coaching for game shooting, as opposed to Trap shooting ranges where the Krieghoff is more familiar. Almost without exception instructors and their customers shot as well with it as I did. Instinctively they recognised the Parcours shared the same qualities of feel, balance and gun fit that originated in English guns and which is seldom found in shotguns from elsewhere. Those familiar with other Krieghoffs remarked that the Parcours felt very different. Of course it does, Krieghoff make great guns of every kind but the Parcours, which incorporates the British dimension, is something very special.