You can't miss if you invest in a quality Shotgun

By: Simon De Burton

In the age of low interest rates, sporting collectibles are a sure-fire way to get a return

Sporting guns are high on the list of targets for “passion investors” who, with interest rates at an all-time low, prefer to put their money into beautiful, highly prized collectibles.

A “sporting gun” is usually any classic English or European shotgun designed for hunting game, from the early hammer guns of the 1860s to the sidelock ejector design, introduced in the 1890s, which is still in favour today.

The best are made from the finest materials, with elaborately engraved metalwork. The most sought-after are English models such as Purdey, EJ Churchill, Holland & Holland and Boss & Co. Italian names such as Fabbri and Luciano Bosis are also highly regarded.

Gleneagles 2017 | Purdey
Image courtesy of Gavin Gardner

One man who knows them inside-out is the sporting gun expert and specialist auctioneer Gavin Gardiner, who has been in the business for more than 25 years

"With interest rates being so low, people can justify liberating their savings to buy a sporting gun which, in the worst case scenario, will provide no return on investment but lots of fun – and, in the best case scenario, will provide a significant return as well as lots of fun,” he says

“Plenty of people are buying guns at £30,000 and above, with some even spending up to £200,000. But, perhaps surprisingly, it is in the lower price areas, around the £1,500-£2,500 mark, that we are seeing the most activity.”

So where to invest? "If I had £20,000 to play with, I'd be tempted to put it into a good shotgun by one of the great British makers such as Purdey, Boss or Holland & Holland,” Gardiner says. “As with all areas of collecting, quality and condition are key to value, but buy a great gun in great condition and it’s difficult to see how you could go wrong."

Gleneagles 2017 | Rigby
Image courtesy of Gavin Gardner

Barrel condition is especially important, he adds. "The barrel must be 'in proof' [ie, it must not have been honed beyond the correct tolerance] and pitting, dents or other marks should be avoided."

Generally, a matched pair of guns is worth double a similar, single gun. Prices range from £500 for a good-quality, well-used English shotgun to £30,000-£40,000 for one in fine condition by a leading maker.

The secret of buying a good sporting gun is to go for the best quality and condition. Although well-known names such as those mentioned are safe bets, it is also worth considering equally good quality guns by lesser-known English makers (such as Henry Atkin, Stephen Grant, Joseph Lang), which are generally more affordable.

Don't be tempted to try to save money by buying a gun that needs restoration – the cost of returning it to good condition will inevitably exceed its value.

If in doubt, seek expert advice and, if buying at auction, ask the opinion of a saleroom specialist such as Gardiner, who will stage his next auction at the Gleneagles Hotel, Auchterarder, Perthshire on August 28, 2017.

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