First impressions: 4/5
There is nothing subtle about this gun whether it’s the deep and beautifully executed scroll engraving, its imposing frame or its solid pick up; it has real presence. It’s a handsome rather than pretty gun with the translation of its latin name meaning “master” appearing on first impressions very appropriate. After reading the brief I was expecting it to feel weighty at a little over 8lb and it did but also well balanced and purposeful.
Design, build and functionality 4/5
This is another collaboration from SportArm and AYA with this brief addressing their customer desire for a high-quality side by side focused on the growing demand for high and extreme pheasant shooting. They used the AYA Model 56 as their base and then redesigned it so you could happily shoot big cartridges whilst maintaining looks, balance and handling. Its available in 12g with 30” or 32” barrels, choked Full & Full with the standard stocks measure 15” unless specially ordered, the action can be silver or colour-hardened.
Field Test: 5/5
I took this gun straight to the high tower on the clay ground as this is clearly its designated home and where it should show off what it can do. It took me quite a few clays to get used to its feel and balance, not because it was unwieldy but because it has a unique feel. I think it’s a gun you would need to get used to especially if coming from a traditional side by side game gun or a lightweight over and under. However, if you were used to a long barrelled or weighty over and under I think you would feel completely at home instantly. After a disappointing personal start with clay after clay sailing by unharmed something clicked and I understood the personality and feel of this gun. I found this gun needs to be handled with real intent and purpose and as per my initial thoughts it’s not a subtle gun and therefore should not be shot in a subtle way. Once I realised this the clays starting breaking with my accuracy increasing rapidly with the gun handling the recoil of real variety of cartridges with no issues.
Value for Money 4/5
This is a high value offering from Sportarm but they are not making any excuses about the price and are unwilling to compromise on quality and design in their pursuit of achieving the brief. It should be noted that in comparison to an English “live pigeon” gun from a decent maker then the prices actually looks very good value. The chances are that for potential customers money will not necessarily be the main factor and this gun would slot beautifully into a cabinet as part of a selection of guns each with its own clear purpose and speciality.
This gun is definitely not trying to be a “jack of all trades”, it’s very much designed to be a master of the tall pheasant/partridge whilst staying a very desirable gun and maintaining value for money compared to the competition. Given that brief you can’t say it does not succeed. This gun is not going to have mass appeal or sell huge amounts of units but that is not was it was designed to do. For that lucky sportsperson who is a side by side enthusiast and can justify different guns for different types of shooting then I am sure it will be a much prized and well-loved addition to their cabinet.
Available with 30” or 32” barrels, choked Full & Full Standard stocks measure 15” unless specially ordered Available with silver or colour-hardened action