Among the many celebrated models in Spanish maker AyA’s stable is the No. 56. First built in 1941, it has become a longtime favorite of live-pigeon competitors. So it hardly was surprising that when Sportarm, based in England’s famed West Country, decided to create the ideal high-pheasant side-by-side, it chose the Model No. 56 as a starting point.
Sportarm’s website offers a little about the inspiration of the new gun, which it calls the Dominus: “With many of our clients using English ‘Live Pigeon’ guns for shooting large, tall-bird days, it became clear that there was a gap in the market for a more affordable model.”
The rage for high pheasants—where birds typically are driven from strategically planted holding crops across deep valleys, where the guns are situated—has generated its own challenges. Ultra-tall-bird shots often plump for a 32-inch-barreled 12-gauge over/under capable of digesting the “roman candles” that pass for long-range shells. The Dominus employs a frame that is wider and heavier than normal and features a side-clipped action. This is a gun that won’t rattle your dentures when firing 34-gram shells. It is available with 30- or 32-inch barrels, a length of pull of 15 inches (unless specially ordered), a straight-hand or Prince of Wales grip, and a silver or color-cased action. Prices start at £24,950 ($34,150).
Sportarm worked closely with AyA and British importer ASI to develop the Dominus. Sportarm also provides a special-order service for sports seeking their own engraving, stock measurements and walnut choices.