By Ed Carroll
To hear the story, you might think that Kevin Kelly has a bit of a Midas touch when it comes to setting up Italian shotguns for the American buyer. Kelly, founder of the eponymous Kevin’s Guns and Kevin’s Fine Outdoor Gear & Apparel, the Thomasville-based emporium of the Southern sporting lifestyle, has a long history of success bringing in shotguns from Val Trompia built to his team’s design and bearing his name. None has achieved the success of the affordably priced Golden Quail.
Kelly’s quest for the Golden Quail began about three years ago and sprang from his observations of buyers’ behavior with his guns at higher prices, both in his gunroom and online. “I need to build a $2,000 over/under that works,” he said at the time, as a gun that could hit that entry-level price point and be sold “off the rack.”
Through his longstanding relationship with F.lli Poli—which had been building the other guns in Kevin’s Plantation Collection—he was introduced to a gunmaker that had done a lot of outsourced manufacturing for several large Italian firms. After about 18 months of development and fine-tuning from a prototype, “I made 125 of them,” Kelly said, “and I sold most of them before they ever got here.”
Those first guns pre-sold at $2,195—not bad for an attractive, no-frills Italian boxlock in 20 or 28 gauge with nice wood, a choice of 26″ or 28″ barrels, tasteful laser engraving and three gold-inlaid quail. The Golden Quail comes with five choke tubes and can be configured with interchangeable leather recoil pads as inexpensive options that alter the standard 14½” length of pull to a range from 14″ to 15½”. A ladies/youth model is also available. Grade 3 Turkish-walnut stocks feature neutral cast, a round-knob semi-pistol grip and a satin finish. The 20-gauge with 28″ barrels is listed at 6 pounds 2 ounces.
The success of the initial run of the Golden Quail prompted an order for 80 to 90 more, with some changes in the works. Kelly has added a .410 to the line as well as lightweight, alloy receivers available in each of the three bores. The price has increased to $2,350.