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On test: William Powell Perseus shotgun

PUBLISHED: 10:13 17 October 2012

The Perseus is an Anglo-Italian legend

The Perseus is an Anglo-Italian legend

Mike Yardley

There is quite a trend now amongst some English gunmakers to have guns made abroad to their own specs and have their name put on them. There is no ‘passing off’; everyone knows where the guns originate, and the process has produced some very interesting, if typically quite pricey, models. Something similar, it might also be noted, has been done for a very long time – 100 years plus – but the trade was not always quite so forthright about origin in the past (many a Belgian and Spanish gun having been passed off as British).

In the modern era, after ASI stormed the British market with AYAs in the 1960s and 70s (frank copies of Holland and Westleys), one may note the likes of Gunmark then importing Sabels, Garbis and Arrietas (and marketing them under its own name). J Roberts started bringing in Arrizabalaga and Rizzinis, and William Evan’s successful St. James O/U was made by Guerini. E.J. Churchill is particularly successful at the moment with its house-branded Perazzis, and Purdey makes its Sporter in association with Perugini and Visini (which is 60% UK made but based on a generic Perazzi design). Similarly, William Powell has not only been associated with Arrieta for 30 years but has also more recently developed a range of O/Us made by Battista Rizzini.

So, we come to the test – a William Powell Perseus model, a new British spec’d but Italian-made O/U. It is interesting, though, because unlike many of those mentioned above, it is on sale with an RRP well under £2,000.

First impressions at the price point are very good. The laser engraving, though quite sparse and not especially deep on the coin-finished action, is attractive (with the William Powell name in a tasteful banner on the panelled action walls and a woodcock on the underside). The semi-pistol grip of the surprisingly well-figured stock immediately appealed, and the general presentation of the 12-bore gun was impressive (as was the 20-bore version which I had in hand the same day).

On to the test bench… The barrels are monobloc and 3” (76mm) chambered. Proofed in Italy, they have steel-shot-friendly chokes but are not Fleurs de Lys tested for special steel loads, though this may happen in the future. Meantime, standard steel may safely be fired through them provided, according to Powell, the choke constrictions are half or less. Bores are of typical Italian diameter at 18.4mm.

Some makers are going for larger diameters now because they are associated with reduced felt recoil, but some still associate tighter ones with improved penetration. Forcing cones are of medium length and well machined (like all the metal work on the gun). The interchangeable chokes are of longer pattern and measure 2¾”.

The barrels appear well made in all departments. Striking up, blacking and internal finish are all competent. The jewelling on the sides of the monobloc does not achieve anything functionally, but looks good. The ribs are nicely laid too. You can’t go wrong with a 6mm ventilated top rib on a game gun; it is light and presents a good picture to the eye (internally hollowed ‘solid’ designs are my preference on game guns, but this would be the next choice). Joining ribs are solid as befits a game gun, and there is a good sized and well-centred traditional metal bead fitted near the muzzles which suited me.

The square bar action design is not radical, mechanically speaking. Clearly inspired by both Browning and Beretta, half a dozen Italian makers have been making similar for a generation or more. Studs on the inner action walls near the knuckle locate in recesses in bifurcated (split) lumps on the barrel monobloc. It creates a fairly low action profile – a little lower than a Browning, but higher than a Beretta or a Perazzi, which have their bolting beside the chambers rather than beneath, as here.

Workmanship on and in the coil spring-powered action is all well up to standard. Controls (safety/barrel-selector, top lever etc) are all user-friendly and function well. The spring-loaded ejectors are quite powerful, simple and well proven in mechanical function. Trigger pulls were not bad at all either. The new Rizzini actions made by CNC are a quantum leap or two above those that were made previously of similar mechanical design but on less sophisticated machinery. A gun is all about finish, and the computer revolution has made good finish and tight tolerance much more affordable than it was.

The Perseus is made with a standard stock only. The test gun measures 145/8” for length plus 1/8” at heel and 3/8” at toe. Guns are being re-ordered, however, with 15” stocks as standard which allows more scope for extension and reduction (my own call would have been 14¾” or 147/8”, as 15” can be quite long for game shooting for many). Drop is 17/16” and 21/8” which is very close to my ideal shelf measurement (13/8”, 21/8”) and may, indeed, be better. There is a little right-hand cast.

These are good, sensible dimensions, and the form of the stock is almost perfect too. The semi-pistol grip could not be improved upon much. The schnabel fore-end helps to keep frontal weight down (though I like the Boss style rounded type as well). The stock is finished off with a wooden butt plate that might easily be replaced by a pad if more length is required. I liked the oil finish too and the functional and well cut (by laser) chequering. Shooting Impressions

The Perseus, which weighed something over 7 ½ pounds, shot nicely. It was a solid performer, everything working without a hitch. The inertia block trigger was fine and the pointing qualities adequate with 28” barrels. Here I have to come clean though: I also shot the 30” 20-bore the same day and it was truly delightful! Some will want a 12, and this was a good one, elegant without unnecessary embellishment, but for me, frankly, this design of gun really comes into its own in 30” 20-bore form. It was superbly pointable and willing with lightish 30” tubes, but controllable too thanks to the excellent grip shape. Meantime, well done to William Powell for bringing such good guns to the market at a sensible price. They should sell well.

We liked

- the specification

- the finish

- the price

We disliked

- very little at that price!

Tech specs

- Make: Willam Powell/Rizzini

- Model: Perseus

- Bore: 12 (20 available)

- Chamber: 3” (76mm)

- Barrels: 28” (30 option)

- Choke: multi (5 supplied)

- Rib: 6mm ventilated

- Weight: 7lbs 8oz.

- RRP: £1,795

William Powell Ltd. Tel. 01295 661031, www.williampowell.com

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