A Year with a Pair of Randolph Sporters

A Year with a Pair of Randolph Sporters

It’s fair to say I do a reasonable amount of shooting.

It revolves around shotguns, and my discipline of choice is generally English sporting. However, during the season I’m partial to a bit of pheasant, and I’m lucky enough to be part of a syndicate back home in Wigan.

If you’ve read any of my other blogs, you’ll also know I get the chance, occasionally, to participate in a few driven days. These are often surprises I’m rarely- if ever- prepared for.

The one bit of pre-shoot preparation I do, however, is ensuring I have eye protection. Wherever I am, the clay ground, the partridge drive- up a mountain in Wales- I insist on wearing protection.

There’s one issue with this. I’m as blind as a bat- I mean, can’t read text a foot from my face blind, which means I wear a big pair of glasses. There aren’t many options for a blind man who wants ballistic eye protection.

In this regard I’m lucky that I work at York Guns- importers of Randolph Ranger Eyewear. Randolph produce a range of shooting glasses with a choice of Carl Zeiss ballistic lenses, and some of their range can be provided with prescription inserts.

At the start of this year I took advantage of my employee discount (I’m not good enough to be a “sponsored shooter”) and acquired myself a pair of Randolph Ranger “Sporter” frames with a set of clip-on lenses.

I had them glazed, which, with my prescription, was akin to glazing the Empire State Building.

When I first put them on, I wasn’t even sure it was worth it.

To explain a little, for the past three years I’ve worn the same pair of glasses. My eyes have adapted to said glasses as much as the glasses have adapted to me. They’re misshapen, scratched to hell, and probably the wrong prescription now.

Popping a completely new, crystal clear lens in- especially in such big frames- was nausea-inducing.

£200 deep into these things, however, I decided to “cart on”. To give my eyes time to adjust I drove home in them (not the smartest of moves) and arrived in Wigan with a shiny new pair of glasses, ready to be adored by my loving family for my excellent choice of eyewear.

“It’s Eddie th’eagle!” -My brother

“Nah then feller, as’t thi left Top Gun?” -My Father

“What the hell are those?” – My brother’s girlfriend

Even my dearest mother laughed at me.

It’s probably ironic to say that I hadn’t considered the optics of the situation. A glance in the mirror did confirm that, indeed, I looked like I’d just arrived from an Elton John impersonation. The reason for this is Randolph’s heritage as a company; they made their name supplying sunglasses to the aviation industry, and one could say their trademark “style” is the big ‘aviator’ lens type.

Boy do they work, though. I went with Medium Yellow, Light Modified Brown and Dark Purple lenses to cover a range of bases. They basically stay in the boot of my car, now- Randolph boxes are sturdy, padded things- and I’ve carried them o’er hill and down dale. They’ve been to Scotland with me; seen freezing rain on a flight pond in Wales; picked out partridge in the mist of a Billinge morning. I wore them to the last competition I ever shot- and won- as a student.

It’s hard to overstate the value of the field of view these things provide. Despite my heavy prescription, the flat “aviator” style and money I invested in a thin lens grind provide minimal distortion. Tracking quartering targets from the edges of your vision is a dream with these glasses; Combined with the Medium Yellow lens very little went by unnoticed on my last Simulated Driven day.

I’ve come to rely on these Medium Yellow lenses for my day to day shooting, as it seems to heighten the contrast of greens and bring clay targets into sharper focus. The modified brown lens works well rough shooting, stopping glare and picking out game and fowl against green backgrounds. The dark purple I’m less sure of, at the moment. It’s supposedly great for bright, blue sky days- which I’m sure it is.

We just don’t often have those in Wigan.

Randolph lenses also provide serious peace of mind. I’ve been clipped by enough broken clays at certain grounds to insist anybody shooting with me always wears a hat and eye protection. I’ve also seen Randolph lenses take a shotgun round at 10 yards (#6s shot) so I’m fairly confident they’ll stop a clay.

The way they look comes in handy, too. There’s nothing as disarming to a new shot or competitor in a uni club as expecting to shoot with a Pilla-wearing, Krieghoff-shooting, skeet-vest sporting “all the gear no idea” kind of bloke and coming face-to-face with Eddie the Eagle and his Browning Auto. It breaks the ice, so to speak, and removes a lot of the tension or nerves people feel on competition. It helps not to take yourself too seriously!

After a year with these things I’m impressed. Have they made me shoot better? Probably no more than a good pair of sunglasses, or a big pair of distance specs.

They definitely reduce the strain on my eyes on a bright day, though. They also deal with glare far more effectively than any other standard sunglasses I’ve tried. The protection they provide is priceless.

I’m so impressed I’m toying with the idea of getting a different set. We’ve just received a “Black Friday” special set of XLW frames (slightly less serial killer vibes) and as a wraparound frame without inserts they’re light, more comfortable than my Sporters and provide an even better field of vision. They’re also bloody cheap for what they are.

That will involve getting contacts, though, and I’m not one for jabbing stuff into my eyes.

I should wrap this up by giving a bit of advice for anybody looking at Randolph gear. If you want something to work, out-of-the-box, without a massive outlay, the Phantom 2.0 kits are perfect. Stylish and lightweight with the same Zeiss lenses as the main units, they provide protection and purpose at a reasonable cost.

The best choice for shooters who need a prescription lens has to be the Sporters; prescription inserts are available for other frames, but due to the “wraparound” lens style they *can* distort and you don’t get a massive amount of eye coverage. Sporters cover a large area and while they’re not the most attractive of things they’re perhaps the most versatile, able to be used as a normal set of glasses.

As for leg style, it’s personal preference; I use Cable frames (the long, curl-around-the-ears style) due to the heavy lenses and fear of them falling off. They pull the frame tight to the shooter’s face and immobilise it, perfect for rough shooting. “Bayonet” frames are the most traditional, sit lightly on the ears and seem the least fatiguing to wear. They’re probably best used for clay shooters who’ll be removing their glasses a lot, or not partaking in anything particularly physical.

As for lenses, that could be a blog post all in itself. Randolph have a section on their website here: https://www.randolphusa.com/re-ranger/selecting-right-color-lens/ that is particularly useful. If you’re picking your own, a good guide is what Randolph include in their Phantom 2.0 & XLW kits. Medium Yellow seems to be a common choice, and HD Copper acts as a good all-rounder. I’ve also yet to see a Randolph Kit that doesn’t include the Light Mod Brown lens choice.

If you need advice, there’s no substitute for simply asking, however. Most of our staff use Randolph Glasses (see my colleagues modelling their XLWs above). There’ll always also be one of our championship-winning Sponsored shooters on hand to provide opinions on their own favourite.

I spoke to Ed Lyons, at Flint & Partners– who we’d always recommend for glazing and prescription work. I asked him to give me a full breakdown of the costs for producing a set of glasses like mine, and he was only too happy to help:

“So these are ballpark RRP figures:

Inserts do not need a safety material as the outer shield acts as the impact resistant part. We use the best CR39 lenses with a special antiglare coating called HiVisionLongLife – this has a two year warranty against scratches – these are £120 per pair.

There are cheaper lenses too of course from £59 for the cost conscious. The above can apply to the Sporter too but only if the over clip shields are used – if not, they do not reach the appropriate safety standards.  In these cases we use a tougher material and clear lenses start at £260. Tinted lenses with an antiglare coating are £310 and the best treatments (anti static, water and oil repellent) are typically a £50 supplement.”

For example, with the gear used in this review:

  • Randolph Ranger Sporter Frame-Only 62mm
  • Brushed Pewter Cable 160mm RX: £160.00
  • Medium Yellow Lens- 62mm: £72.95
  • Modified Brown Lens- 62mm: £115.00
  • Dark Purple Lens- 62mm: £72.95
  • Glazing: £120

Total: £540.90

Top Five Guns Under £600

The season is open and a wide range of quarry is now up for grabs. You’re new to the sport, you’ve been shooting clays all summer, and you’ve now got the opportunity to grab some meat for the pot. Be it rough shooting, wildfowling, or even pest control- you need a new gun, an all-rounder ready for anything. The issue is, just like everyone- money is a bit tight.
Lucky for you, the lower-end market is growing, consistently, and you’ve now got a range of good-quality firearms to choose from. We’re here to give you our opinion on the best choices available right now.

Top 5 Guns Under £600

Catma 505-NM/505-TRP

New to the UK Market, the Catma 505 series represents a truly competitive choice. With a double-bite locking action, high-quality 4140 Steel barrels, and hard-wearing Turkish walnut stocks, these guns are a lasting, quality option. Equipped with all the features you’ll ever need: 3” Magnum, Steel proof chambers with a full set of multichokes. Single, selective trigger. The 505-TRP is unique on the market: the cheapest new Over & Under with a fully adjustable comb.

A touch heavier than the other options on this list, the Catma 505 series swings well and looks the part. The smooth Schnabel-esque foreend on the 505-NM is accentuated by a rich hand-rubbed oil finish. With all this for only £455 (Or £495 for the adjustable comb version) the 505-NM is a serious prospect for someone just getting into the sport.

See it here: https://yorkguns.com/shop/catma-arms-505-trp-adj-30-m-c-black-action/


The ATA SP series has probably been around long enough now to be considered a “Mainstay” in the British shooting community. Built and marketed to compete specifically with the ever more expensive Beretta Silver Pigeon series, the ATA shares similar design and traits with Beretta’s flagship model. Every publication under the sun has reviewed these things, and there isn’t much left to say. Solid, fully featured, and reliable.

The ATA SP model might be a little “clumsier” than the inevitable comparison to Beretta, but they’re well balanced and well refined as a sporting gun. Deep, detailed chequering and a simple but attractive action style means the ATA SP looks the part on the clay range and a driven day.

See our examples: https://yorkguns.com/shop/ata-arms-black-sporter-12b-28/

KOFS Sceptre

The alternative to the alternative. Aimed squarely at competing with the Yildiz SPZME model Over/Under, the KOFs Sceptre is serious value for money. The alloy action and slim-line woodwork gives a far less “Hefty” feel than the ATA or Catma shotguns, but might come at a cost of durability down the line. Finished with a superb hand-oiled Turkish walnut, and an attractive floral scroll engraving, KOFs shotguns bring a touch of class to the lower-end of shotgun manufacture.

Well balanced, although as a light, short gun these things have a tendency to “Poke” at targets rather than swing through. A well finished, comfortable gun that makes a worthy start to any shooting career. Chrome lined, 3” Magnum multi-choke barrels are a real plus.

Web: https://yorkguns.com/shop/kofs-sceptre-sxe-12b-30-game-m-c/

Mossberg Maverick 28″

Finally, something that isn’t Turkish! Mossberg’s Maverick Manufacturing division produces their more affordable shotguns, but don’t let the name fool you- these are every bit as rugged and durable as the standard 500 series. If you’re looking for an all-rounder, a gun for all seasons and all reasons, this is the thing. There’s a reason Mossberg is the most popular pump-action shotgun in the world. 3” Magnum chamber, multi choke, steel proof and all the other trimmings.

Dual extractor bars, steel action frame and a polymer trigger group mean these guns will last a lifetime. Drag it through a rough shoot? No problem. Wildfowling in an estuary? Perfect choice. Cracking a few clays? Easy. They might not be the most stylish of guns- but if you need something dependable by your side, there’s nothing better. Because of the modularity of the Mossberg platform, they’re also infinitely customisable to your own needs.

Web: https://yorkguns.com/shop/mossberg-maverick-cp88-12b-28//

Hatsan Escort 28″

Back to Turkey again. The Hatsan Escort is ubiquitous. When first released, the Escort struggled with reliability problems and poor manufacturing quality. Now past their fifth generation, consistently re-designed and product improved, the Escort is a stalwart contender for a real ‘people’s gun’ in the way the Ford namesake is a ‘people’s car’. The bog-standard gas system in the Hatsan is reliable, when kept clean, and handles a superb range of cartridges well.

Again, the Hatsan is a superb choice as a cheap option for all disciplines. Don’t take it on a driven game day, mind. It seems everybody has used or handled one of these guns before, and for good reason. Available in synthetic or wooden stocks, from Wildfowl to Sporting Clay variants, there’s an Escort for everyone.

Web: https://yorkguns.com/shop/hatsan-escort-12b-28-m-c-semi-auto/

The Wildcard

You’ll struggle to find a new gun, under £600, from anywhere but Turkey nowadays. If you’re hankering after something a little more Western, with a big name behind it, you have to look at the Used market. Our current best example of the “Buy used” philosophy is a true Belgian made Browning B27 for only £495.00

Sure, you don’t get multichokes, 3” magnum chambers, or years of warranty. But what you do get is the warm, fuzzy feeling that somewhere in Ogden, Utah, John Moses Browning is sleeping a little more soundly in the grave knowing that his B25 action design is still being enjoyed. What you also get is a tried, tested and proven gun that- when new- was worth far more than the current asking price. That means it’s finished, balanced and built to a far higher standard than a new gun for which the materials cost is something akin to your monthly food bill. Guns were built proper back then, and this little Browning is no exception.

Click Here to See it!

If it’s not a browning you’re after, this applies to a whole host of other guns. Winchester 96 and 101s in particular fetch an asking price far below their build quality and features list. Want something Japanese? Try an SKB! There are hosts of used options out there.

There are, of course, other opinions and other options out there. For our money, however, these are the best of the bunch. A final note on all of them, too- due to the nature of the market and the affordability of these guns, there are always deals to be struck and bargains to be had. Don’t be afraid to be a bit cheeky!

Driven Clays & Side By Sides

Driven Clays & Side By Sides

I’ve never really been a fan of Side-by-Sides. A controversial view, yes, but I don’t think it’s an uncommon one. I grew up around old-english and “English style” boxlocks in the Anson & Deeley vein. The first gun I remember handling was an AYA No4, the ubiquitous Spanish gun that seems to have found a place in almost everyone’s cabinet. My dad’s Webley 700, a 1962, straight hand stock 28” barrel game gun developed almost mythical status with me and my Brother, Ben.

When I eventually got my grubby, heathen hands on the thing I can’t help but say I was disappointed. I couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with it, it didn’t fit me, it was too light, all the excuses. Ben seemed to take to it like the proverbial duck to water. This, as with all sibling rivalries, nettled me somewhat, and looking back this might’ve been the start of my irrational fear of anything parallelo.

Not for lack of trying, mind.

I recently acquired a W.C. Scott Live Pigeon gun that seemed to tick all of my boxes- more weight, longer barrels, a higher comb. Still no joy. English guns have never had that “Click” with me that my old Brownings have.

For driven game, I use the closest I can- an SKB Model 200E, manufactured in the same factory as later Auto-5 Magnum Barrels. With a pistol grip stock, a thicker foreend, raised rib and good, heavy barrels, this Japanese gun is as far from your traditional “English” side by side as you can get. Thus, when I finalised plans for a “Full experience” day with Driven Clay Company Lancashire- comprising partridge, grouse and mixed drives- only one gun sprung to mind as “essential”. The Model 200E would be my gun for the day, appearing traditional but with all the mod cons I’d come to appreciate.

Such plans, however, often and quickly go awry. I’d booked the day for 14 people, two teams of Seven. The initial idea had been for one team of “Students”, or current and previous members of the UYCPSC, and one team of “Old hands”, friends and members of the local syndicate. A couple of drop-outs left us with one team of Five and one team of Eight. Oh, and a shooter without a gun. The old SKB was therefore loaned to a member of the student group, and an “Old hand” volunteered to help even up the teams. I had a back-up gun- probably the most inappropriate thing for this scenario- but as I’d been wildfowling the day before all I had was my Browning Auto-5 Magnum, a 3” chamber 32.5” barrel monstrosity that weighs almost 9 ½ pounds.

Reader, I suffered for my actions. Chris tailors the difficulty of his clay traps during a drive- so the more you shoot, the more are thrown. The Magnum gave good account of itself on the first drive, simulated partridge over a bank, but boy did I struggle.

Swinging, firing, and loading 100-ish rounds over 10 minutes is a stamina challenge with anything. With something designed for the occasional flurry of shots at a skeen of geese, it was a nightmare. If all shooting was like this, I certainly wouldn’t be as portly as I currently am.

I caved. After loading for a syndicate pal, Dennis, on the next drive, I meekly consulted my ol’ dad…

“Grouse drive next.”
“Can I borrow the Webley?”
“Oh. I suppose. Have you got a glove?”

Turns out exposed metal gets hot, who knew? The Webley in question wasn’t his old straight hand piece. This particular gun sported a Prince of Wales stock, something I’d spotted in the racks at York Guns when I’d first arrived here. You’re never short of Christmas presents for shooters when you work in a gun shop!

I won’t say the experience converted me. I still don’t think that an “English Style” side by side is right for me. However: stood between those sticks, with my dad loading for me, clays coming in at what felt like head height, from odd angles and strange directions, I understood.

Those light barrels, the “Twitchiness” I’d felt before became a liveliness needed to jump from one target to another. The unforgiving lack of buttpad meant no snags or hold-ups transitioning from loading to mounted. Perhaps most importantly, the over 4lbs weight difference between it and the Magnum meant that by the end of the drive- despite singed hands- I wasn’t cramping in pain.

After this we stopped for lunch, consisting of pastries and some superb sausages, the recipe for which will be featured soon. The remaining drives were excellent, being based in the same area as we’d shot on the “Taster day”. The magnum came out again as I’d recovered my strength, but I turned back to the Webley on the final drive, blattering some rapid crossers from peg 1.

Chris, as always, was a superb host. Accommodating of our group’s oddities, easy going with our drop-outs, and always safety conscious, Driven Clay Company Lancashire continues to impress me. The experience really is tailored to you, to budgets and proficiency, and you can tell he’s got a real passion for the service they provide.

As for Side by Sides, I’m glad I gave the old English guns another look. This was as close to their “Natural environment” as I’ll probably ever get, and I’m settled enough with my A-5 that changing now would cause all sorts of hassle. As a trained Historian, I’ve always seen their value as artefacts, tracing evolving tastes, production methods and even the changing social make-up of shooting in Britain. From the individual pieces created by town blacksmiths in the early 19th Century all the way through to the almost-but-not-quite “Mass produced” Webleys of the 60s and 70s, they’re representative of a tradition and history I feel we’re losing nowadays.

I’ve developed an appreciation of their value to the shooter now, too. It’s a real shame just how much the old English Boxlock has dropped in price, but it represents a superb opportunity. I see people so often buying modern, 20b Over & Unders for game, stuffing them with the heaviest cartridges they can buy, then complaining about recoil. People chasing low weight and high birds seem to miss the obvious: the 2 ¾” Chamber, tight choked English side-by-side.

With more versatile shot weights available, more velocity achievable, and a light weight, easily handled, smooth loading gun tied to traditional lines and real retro credibility (for less than £500!), the old English side by side should still be a real contender for people’s affections. It’s a crying shame they aren’t. With lobbying for a ban on lead shot intensifying, we might very well be watching the death of these guns for the common man.

I guess what I’m saying is give Boxlocks a Chance.

Driven Clay Company Lancashire is:

Boasting 9 different locations and 60 different drives across the beautiful Lancashire countryside.

Webley and Browning shotguns purchased through York Guns Ltd

Photography credit: Chris Brindle, Driven Clay Company Lancashire

Simulated Driven Experience | Driven Clay Company Lancashire

Simulated Experience: Driven Clay Company Lancashire

The “Simulated Driven” phenomenon has been growing in popularity and exposure recently. Primarily intended as a way of ‘practicing’ for big bag days or experiencing them without the cost, the “Simulated Driven” model is being seized on by numerous operators, big and small. It is becoming increasingly common to see actual game estates running these days- a way of utilising their land assets for profit in the off season- while smaller outfits hop from place to place, setting up shoots for landowners or syndicates.

It was the latter that I attended last Sunday, organised by Driven Clay Company Lancashire, run by Chris Brindle. I saw his “No Frills- The Quarry” event advertised on Facebook that purported to be in an area not five minutes’ walk away from my Parents’ house in Wigan.

I was, naturally, intrigued, so after a couple of enquiries I put together a relatively short-notice team of five; Me, two shooters from the UYCPSC (Beth and George), and two from our local syndicate, my father included.

The day was advertised at £55 per head and promised 3 drives of 250+ ‘Birds’ over “The Quarry”. Our entry was organised over Facebook and Chris was really open and helpful with any queries I had, so all looked promising! This included safety questions around the Dreaded Semi Auto, as I intended to take my old Browning Double Auto for at least one drive. All fine, said he, as long as it’s flagged and slipped between drives.

The day arrived and- as per usual- one of our Students was late. The assembled 15-or-so people and our gracious host, Chris, were easygoing about the whole thing, despite my embarrassment.

The day proceeded like this:

3 Drives with Seven Pegs, with 3 teams of Seven (Five for us). The next team along would, if wanted, load for the first team, and vice versa. Back for light refreshments and then out again between drives.

Our team shot last, due to our latecomer- but it gave us a good opportunity to assess how the clays were presenting. The superb variety from a well-hidden and fully-stocked set of traps gave something sporting for every ability. The first drive was well paced, and on stand One the Double Auto’s slick side-speed-loading system let very little get past. A fast crosser almost overhead was the main challenge, curling back in such a way as to be unnoticeable for pegs further down the line.

After having to crawl through nettles hunt high and low for my spent cartridges, I decided to swap to my Rizzini Aurum 20b for the last two drives. The sheer volume of targets presented provided the perfect opportunity for a little bit of troubleshooting with this gun- Firstly, it had been away for repair, and needed testing, and Secondly, I’d often had trouble with gun mount on true driven days.

With a reliable loader helping me run god knows how many rounds through the little 20b- scalding my fingers on a couple of occasions- these drives proved the perfect test. The day ended on a massive high as I stood Peg Seven, where it seemed the traps were firing constantly. I’ve only ever been involved in something similar once before- a superb flush at Bodidris Hall- and the feeling, that rush of meeting an overwhelming challenge, everything working almost on instinct, certainly still applies to clays.

As I’m always trying to drag new people into the sport, and our experience day impressed me so much, I’m currently organising another day in October pitting the old ‘uns against the young ‘uns in the UYCPSC. A full Simulated day with Driven Clay Company Lancashire comes to £129, including Elevenses and a full set of drives, so it’s seriously good value.

To sum up, I can, honestly, see this being the future of our sport. The pressure from environmentalists and “Conservationists” will only increase, despite the evidence- and Simulated Driven shooting, while not quite the same experience could provide a valuable, more easily defensible outlet for sport shooting. It’s still social, powder still gets burned, and it’s remarkably good practice, sharpening the eyes and reactions.

However- and this is a big “However”. So much of value would be lost. I trained as a historian and ‘heritage’ practitioner and the traditions of driven game shooting are of cultural value. Our landscape has been shaped by it, our popular conceptions moulded by it. Tangibly and Intangibly, the rural heritage of Britain is related to shooting game, and the practices facilitating the sport. Being involved in any way has so many benefits. Simulated Driven shooting in its own right is a superb sport, an immensely enjoyable, challenging discipline- but it is a simulation.

Besides, as my dad would say- “Tha con’t eyt clay pidguns”

Driven Clay Company Lancashire is:

Boasting 9 different locations and 60 different drives across the beautiful Lancashire countryside.

Rizzini and Browning shotguns purchased through York Guns Ltd

Photography credit: Beth Linnane/David Farrimond

Browning Rifle Experience at WMS Firearms Training

Our newest colleague, Jill, recently visited WMS Firearms Training in Ceredigion, Wales, for a Rifle experience day with Browning International. An experienced rifle target shooter herself, well known for her work with the York Railway Institute, we thought Jill would be the perfect choice to represent York Guns and cast a keen eye over Browning’s rifle selection…

Here, in her own words, is Jill’s experience at the Browning day.

Hi David,

“On the day of the Browning shoot, we were picked up from the hotel in Browning cars. We started shooting at 100 Metre using the Browning T-Bolt in 22 Calibre.”

(Part of the ‘message’ of the day was to show the results that could be achieved with standard rifles and standard scopes at range. Andrew Venebles, Lead instructor at WMS and Managing Director, is also a firm believer in burning as much powder as possible with a small-bore, low-recoil rifle before moving onto the Bigger stuff)

“We went on to use the Browning X-Bolt and Winchester XPR in .243 and .308. These all used a standard Kite scope and Winchester ammunition. Andrew provided firearms coaching that was particularly useful for those that were new to rifle shooting.”

(It should be noted here that Jill, for health reasons, has a pretty unique rifle shooting style and mount. When confronted with this, he thought it best to… leave her to it.)

“Beginning at 200 Metres, we then moved onto 1000 Metre targets. The rifles proved really effective and proved Andrew’s point about just what can be achieved with Standard guns, scopes and ammunition. Taking into account the weather conditions, we were all able to hit the targets- from newbies to properly experienced shots.”

(The day was capped off with rapid-fire shooting on a Running Boar target with the straight-pull Browning Maral rifle that Jill has since described as “Lightweight” and “Really good”)

“Overall the day was a big success. We had a great day, made good friends and I was able to skive off work spend the day doing my favourite thing, shooting. A big thank you to all at Browning and WMS firearms training for having us”

(The day was, it seems, really well attended, with everyone from industry veterans to modern media outlets participating)

I can’t think of a better way to spend a day off work than shooting big rifles at long ranges in the beautiful Welsh countryside. Again, a big thanks to Browning Europe  and WMS for hosting the event. They really did provide an excellent experience for all.

Look out for more from Jill soon!

Images: Jill Foulner

Words (Mostly): Jill Foulner

Editing: David

WMS Firearms Training Ltd:


01947 831869

Fettling an Umarex Rifle with Chris Garner

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about the airgun community while working for York Guns it’s just how vast a range of expertise and knowledge is out there. I’ve also learned that no matter what the subject or item in question- airguns, shotguns, rifles- people love to tinker. People “tinkering”- in sheds, factories, shops across this country- has resulted in some of our most interesting inventions and innovations.

With the success of the Umarex Cowboy Rifle we were contacted through our website by one such innovator- Chris Garner, who told us about his efforts re-barrelling smoothbore CO2 pistols with quality rifled barrels to gain increased accuracy with pellets. Here, in his own words and pictures, is his process:

Hi David,

Okay do not know where I am going with this, as I like to ‘tinker’ and if it helps people out there then great and yourself as a Co.

Attached images are of Sat/Sun Tinkering and end results. BB being the first picture obviously or a pretty pointless conversion! Latter image is with pellet and there is a 100 shots in there until the Co2 ran out as you will note the drop off shots below the black outer.

If you are wondering the two at approx. 10 o’clock position these were the first two shots after fitting the barrel and the rest after a bit of ‘tweeking’.

This process is not easy as I say if you are considering doing the same as the outer barrel casing is okay but the inner is misaligned in casting or was on my example! So it needed tender care filing and reaming out to give the required straight bore to house the new one.

Had to turn the whole length of the new barrel after the ‘Twiddly’ bit’s at the receiver end to fit down the casing and fit the existing aluminium receiver end housing.

Interesting! The way I approached this was in such a way to utilise the existing set up and seal as I wanted to be able to return the gun to its original state if I ‘fouled up’!!

I used the 12mm dia x 635mm Weihrauch unchoked barrel, that at 20+ meters provided good results. Rested test shots both BB (pic 1) and Pellet (Pic 2) with RWS field pellets (so not the lightest). I’ve not got around to Chrono test yet but perhaps this weekend maybe but as Easter might not be considered PC!? I think the pictures speak for themselves!

The pictures  below show the distance I use practicing and Peacemakers are way better using 586 barrels at same distance. Rested obviously. Blued example already came with a rifled barrel via Umarex but very light rifling!

Changed as then a known factor as have 4″ 6″ & 8″ 586’s similarly converted my 2.5″ 4″ and both 6″ ASG Dan Wesson’s so all shoot the same. Simples!! I am then the weakest link ie the human factor!

As you can see, with work, diligence and skill, little rifles and pistols such as the Umarex Peacemaker or Cowboy rifle can be turned into practical, accurate little garden guns. I asked Chris about what else he’d converted, and his chosen barrels for the task. I’ve come to appreciate the goldmines of information some people are in this industry, and Chris is one of them.

His conversions have included:

4x Umarex Colt Peacemakers:

Barrels used as a first conversion irrespective if rifled originally or not- I used a known common denominator- the Umarex S&W 536 6” barrel. I I have the S&W “family” of which had proved reasonable accuracy at the 50 – 60ft I shoot. (Tests me, tests the pistol, as they’re not really target pistols etc.)

Umarex Winchester Rifle Legends & Walther Winchester

Weihrauch 635mm length turned down, as shown above, to length which leaves 150mm of barrel left to ‘tinker’ with. Only negative is the amount of twist in the rifling to the shorter length etc. With the Walther Winchester- I must have had a bad one here as it used to fire high and at 1 -2 o’clock irrespective and I have had similar reports elsewhere.

Cheap barrel in my mind and probably Far Eastern (sorry not PC!) again converted and used Weihrauch 635mm- left the same spare cut off to tinker with. Changed the sights here also as it came with cheap plastic rear sights. Why plastic? Expensive at £343.00 originally but I picked up Second Hand at approx.£160.00 mint as original owner had complained after a few weeks- about inaccuracy funnily enough- high and right!

Also, not shown in the pictures:

ASG Dan Wesson Pistols:

Converted 2.5”, 4” &  6” with the same Umarex 586 as all at the time were BB (apart from the 6” but converted anyway) 2.5” & 4” all converted prior to rifled versions being made available (new Style cartridge rear loading). Dan Wesson barrels in my mind have a faint hint of rifling and therefore do not have much impact on the pellet re twist/flight- Now proven!

2x Umarex Schofield Revolvers:

At present on both are an ex BSA Meteor barrel as needed the diameter to achieve and mill a ‘haunch’ for the through pin to act on as a stop. I am looking to redo with a Weihranch barrel and fashion a new bush/ANO method to achieve similar results. Sadly the off cuts mentioned above are not long enough as you need approx. 7”- 7.5” to play with. Bad maths on my part!!

The shame of all of the above is that you can achieve reasonable accuracy/results from a ‘plinker’ if you have a reasonable barrel in there in the first place. The one vital bit in all of this is the quality of the rifled barrel plus the Ammo used. I use RWS Superdome field line 0.54g 8.3gr in everything. I cannot quantify the human factor though!

So there we go. Not your average Saturday afternoon project and certainly not something to be attempted by the faint of heart! Serious gains can be made by someone with the time, patience and skill to attempt a conversion like this. For the rest of us, however, the Umarex Cowboy Rifle certainly does its job well enough. Here’s hoping sometime in the future they release a rifled version!

Image Credits: Chris Garner

Main text and Conversions: Chris Garner

The Crabtree Competition

Spring is a busy period for University shooting as it falls before any major exam periods.

This week, then, our sponsored team, the University of York Clay Pigeon Shooting Club visited their Age-old rivals, the University of Lancaster, at Crabtree Shooting Ground. This excellent ground is situated in the truly beautiful landscape between the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District.

The day was eventually won by the Liverpool University team, a testament to the talent on display on an extremely challenging layout in particularly difficult (windy) conditions. If anyone is looking to test their skills on Sporting Clays, we can’t recommend Crabtree enough. Lancaster beat York this time around, with their shooters taking Male and Female High Gun. It’s still all to play for, however, as the teams will face one another again at Roses 2019.

Despite their age-old rivalry, these teams have always shared a commitment to engaging and developing new shooters, whatever their needs or situation.

York Guns has supported the UYCPSC for over half a decade now, and we’ve seen many members come and go from many backgrounds.

At the Lancaster competition, both sides displayed this commitment. Many of the York members this time around have only recently started shooting. They did, however, post respectable scores with the tutoring support of the club. Similarly, we live in a time when shooting needs to be reaching out to new audiences. Presenting a modern, inclusive and conscientious image, both teams delivered in spades.

Both sides played host to superb female shots, enthusiastic and driven members who have taken up valuable roles of leadership within them.

As a sponsor, we have helped the UYCPSC invest in equipment that has made them more accessible to everyone. From Beartooth Cheekpieces to stylish, embroidered Jack Pyke Gilets, Hull Cartridges and lightweight semi-auto shotguns, York Guns and the University of York Clay Pigeon Shooting Club work together to cater for different gunfits, tastes and needs.

It is important not just to pay lip-service to addressing the developing needs and audiences of our sport. Do your research, think critically about what you’re doing and always ask “How can we do this better?” The results will speak for themselves. We’re proud to support these active, engaged young people as they continue to make shooting a Sport for All.

Image Credits: Header: Sherwin Robinson, Body: David Farrimond

Crabtree Clay Shoot is located at:

Crabtree Farm, Crabtree Lane, Cow Brow, Carnforth LA6 1PJ


Easy Pheasant Curry

Easy Pheasant Curry

With the Game season over and freezers full we’re all looking for new ways to use our favourite quarry. This recipe comes to me from my dad- who I assume got it from somewhere else- and is perfect as a flavourful, simple dish to satisfy everyone.

As this is a family recipe and subject to taste, don’t expect precise measurements- experiment, play and see what suits you best.


Here’s what I used to make a Mild curry for my student household:

  • Butter
  • 1x Brown Onion
  • “An Amount” of Garlic
  • 4x Pheasant Breasts (Chopped)
  • Mild (Or Medium) Curry powder
  • 1x Red Pepper
  • 1x Green Pepper
  • 1x Tin Chopped Tomatoes
  • 1/2 Tin Coconut Milk
  • Sharwood’s Mango Chutney

The best part? All these ingredients cost less than a fiver to feed four people.


Brown your Onion and Garlic in oil with a knob of butter. Throw in your chopped pheasant, frying in a medium to high heat. Take care and don’t burn your pheasant.

When browned, mix in your curry powder. I used about half a pot of the stuff added over the course of cooking, but again, this is one of those “personal preference” things.

When the curry powder has coated and coloured your pheasant, mix in the chopped peppers and tomatoes. Stir and let this cook for a bit, and the resulting sauce should be a dark orange. Mix in your coconut milk (about half a tin will do) and over the next 10-15 minutes stir in Mango Chutney to taste.

Your curry should have a mild spice and a very fruity flavour, complimenting the rich flavour of pheasant well. What I love about this recipe is how cheap it is, how much of it can be done “By eye” with no complex ingredients or preparation, and how it accounts for the potential dryness of fried Pheasant.

Best served with Basmati Rice for a good base that will absorb the sauce.

The York Cup

At York Guns we’re always doing our best to get young people into the shooting sports.

To do this we support small clubs and societies from York and the surrounding area. It’s why we’re proud to sponsor the University of York Clay Pigeon Shooting Club and support them in their endeavours. This included, most recently, their annual York Cup competition.

Graced with glorious weather and excellent attendance, with representatives from Hull, Nottingham, Lancaster and Durham Universities. Twenty-four shooters from York, including Alumni, attended, therefore making this well organised and challenging competition a wholehearted success. It is a testament to the genuine care and dedication of the organisers, and to the enthusiasm of young people in our sport today.

As a 75 Bird sporting competition, capped off with a 100-bird team flush, there was something for everyone.

A hand-picked variety of targets provide a superb mix and tests of different skills, from quick loading to technical shooting.

The day also had something for gun connoisseurs, too. University competitions host shooters from a range of backgrounds, abilities and people with a range of tastes, and therefore provide a unique range of guns. Ancient Browning Auto-5s made an appearance. Greener GPs and Remington 1100s saw action. Numerous Mirokus, Brownings, Berettas and even the odd Mossberg that have previously graced our shop floor proved effective on the sporting layout.

The University was well represented in the standings, with York Alumni taking High Gun and Best Flush Team.

Nottingham University took a well-deserved win on the 75-bird sporting layout. Their President Georgina Barratt also shot superbly to win Ladies’ High Gun.

Prizes were provided by the University Club, with York Guns donating a pair of Howard Leight Electronic Ear Defenders as the team prize. It makes us proud to see so many participating in and enjoying shooting in a safe, professional manner. These people are the future of our sport and we hope to see more successes in the future.