Boxall & Edmiston 'Yardley Model' Over and Under Review
It is not often that I get the chance to write a gun test about a gun that I have played a major part in bringing to the sporting market, but that is the case with the Boxall & Edmiston over and under. It is presented here in its 'Yardley Model' form, so any attempt at objectivity would be absolutely futile! The hands are held well up. You might say this disqualifies me from testing it. Normally, I would agree, but this is more than a conventional gun test this month. I want to tell you the story of the gun. I have no intention of hiding anything from you and I am certainly qualified to tell you about how it came about and some of the issues that B&E now face as it goes into production. It's an interesting tale too – a new English over and under at a price that, though not cheap – from just under 11k – is not necessarily a lottery job either.
Where to start? Once at at a Game Fair a while back, I wandered onto the Boxall and Edmiston stand. I admired the side by side boxlocks that they were cleverly making using new technology. They were not only manufactured using the latest thing in 5 axis CNC but they were beautifully engraved too. The standards of workmanship and design were truly first class as, indeed, one might expect of a partnership between Peter Boxall, late of Holland & Holland and Jaguar, and James Edmiston the former owner of Sterling Armament (most famous, of course, for their sub machine gun).
Anyway, the conversation went something like this: “Hi boys, these are really nice guns, I like a nice side by side, but have you ever thought about making an over and under”. “Well, we have, it was what part of the business plan but we have not got round to it yet.” We seemed to hit it off, meantime. So after, a preliminary meeting or two, it was agreed that I might supply B&E with some ideas. My basic suggestion was for a Boss-bolted gun with bifurcated lumps and trunnion hinging with a mechanism powered by v springs but without any detachable trigger lock (as seen in some Perazzis and most Kemens). I wanted simplicity, strength through the grip and great trigger pulls. I also suggested a rounded action bar because it looks elegant and cuts down on weight potentially.
I sent Pete a couple of old guns for discussion, one a simplified Spanish copy of a Perazzi, the other an Italian prototype that was never made as far as I am aware. It had much English influence in it (as do most Italian OUs). As soon as he got these, he was off! He burned midnight oil at his computer screen and quickly had a design for discussion. It is a credit to him, that there was very little wrong with it, essentially, it is the gun you now see in the pictures. But, I should add that this is not the final production form of the B&E over and under, though close to it. I suggested a change to the trigger plate, and Peter added a cover to cocking limbs in the middle of the action bar (so all you see now is smooth metal when you look down – not the cocking mechanism itself). Peter designed an inertia trigger too (though a mechanical one is now being developed) and a clever ejector system set high that could operate efficiently in round bar action.
On the stocking front, I got to work with my friend Manuel Ricardo making the first prototype (hence the plain wood in the pictures) in Portugal where I took one of the barrelled actions for development because Manuel is a fantastic craftsman who works at speeds that no one else in the world can match. Let me emphasise, though, that this is an entirely English made gun, I only went out to Porto because we were working to a time table and I knew that Manuel would get the job done in time. I had a very clear idea of what I wanted, a classic comb shape with good taper, just a little fuller than the average side-by-side (something more like a pigeon gun) with a semi-pistol grip of ideal proportion and radius and a Boss style rounded forend. Pete himself worked on another barreled action with master stocker Peter Roland in the UK. When the two were eventually compared, remarkably, the stocks were almost identical though this was one aspect of design we had not discussed much.
The gun looked beautiful and handled extremely well. I am not going to say that there were not some teething troubles, that is all part of R&D. The devil, in any new design, is in the detail. Pete had to get the trigger and ejector function spot on and issues like gape just right. The barrels are monobloc, but almost invisibly jointed. They are fixed choke (but Teagues are an option). The prototype shown has no conventional rib (something seen on some Boss and early Browning guns) my own preference, however, is for a 'solid' taper (which will be the standard offering and is by far the best pattern for a field gun).
The gun weighs something just over 7 pounds depending on barrel length and wood. 7- 7 1/2lbs. Is an ideal range for an over-and-under that might be used on game or clays. The standards of finish are excellent. There is much more hand work here, B&E have a policy of using traditional British craftsmen as much as possible both with regard to barrel making and as far as finishing the gun is concerned. This not just a machine made gun. Much traditional bench work goes into it as well. And, interestingly, the laser engraving itself is a two week job of itself. What does it shoot like? Very well, but we have not finished tweeking it yet. Ask the question again once 10,000 cartridges have gone through it and details of balance, weight distribution, and boring have been finalised. Pete meanwhile is a perfectionist with regard to anything mechanical. With his experience of the Holland & Holland sporter, and as maker of many parts for the British gun trade out of the B&E workshop, he wants the new gun exactly right in all departments, and he will get is so. There is no second best at Boxall & Edmiston.
Make: Boxall & Edmiston
Bore: 12 (20 bore in development)
Barrels: 30” (28-32” options)
Chamber: 2 3/4” (70mm)
Rib: ribless (solid taper rib as no cost option)
Weight: just over 7 lbs
RRP: £12,900 for basic colour hardened gun and £14,200 for fully engraved