By Douglas Tate
Who hasn’t fantasized about the ideal double? We all have ideas of what makes a perfect gun, yet few of us ever will put those ideas into practice. One who did was British gunwriter Gough Thomas—whose actual name was Godfrey Thomas Garwood and who served as the editor of Shooting Times and wrote several books on shooting, guns and cartridges. In 1947 Thomas ordered a “best” sidelock from Henry Atkin on the understanding “that you guarantee that in respect of materials, workmanship, finish and shooting qualities, the gun will conform to your highest pre-war standards.” Now Atkin Grant & Lang has recreated the Gough Thomas gun.
According to the company: “We decided to make a brand new version of the famed Henry Atkin spring-opener, as we wanted to recreate the delight and pleasure that Gough Thomas obviously felt both owning and shooting his gun.” Thomas was an engineer, but moreover he was an ardent thinker about what made good guns great. His 12-bore was built on a Beesley-style action with longer-than-usual forcing cones, which he believed promoted shorter shotstrings, and 27-inch barrels, which he appears to have thought helpful for the older gentleman getting onto game.
The new gun is not a slavish copy but is “inspired by the original,” according to the maker. “Our new Henry Atkin has 29 inch barrels and a 155⁄8 inch stock to suit a more modern market and allow for bespoke alterations to be made once the gun has found an owner.” I asked about other ways in which the new gun differs from the original. “The original gun is recorded in the Henry Atkin ledger as having 2½ inch chambers,” said Rachel Draper, Atkin Grant & Lang’s gun coordinator. “Our Henry Atkin has 2¾ inch chambers. The original gun was choked ¼ and ¾, while the new gun is choked Full and Full.” In his correspondence with Atkin, Thomas suggested that the action should be blacked and then burnished, while the new gun features traditional color case hardening. The engraving is Dave Tallett’s take on Purdey’s extra-finish pattern and is identical to the original, featured on the dust wrapper of Gough Thomas’s Gun Book, which Thomas thought a “bold design with real artistic merit.”
So you could go ahead and express yourself creatively and order your dream gun. Or you simply could buy this Gough Thomas-inspired gun, which at press time remained available for £49,995 (about $68,000).