In the US we tend to think of live-pigeon guns in the narrowest terms. We mostly think 12 gauge. But what about smallbores? Mike Louca of Watson Brothers, in London, is making the case for a 28-gauge. Competitive live-pigeon shooting has been banned in Britain for 100 years, so why this gun now? Louca, an ex-Purdey craftsman, owns Watson’s, a firm long famous for its side-by-side sub-gauges. We asked him what provided the inspiration for his new smallbore.
“What kicked all this off really is my fascination with pigeon guns,” he said. “Ask me my favorite? It has to be a Purdey pigeon gun built anytime from the mid-’20s to the mid-’50s. I have one in at the moment with 32-inch barrels and an elevated ventilated rib.” The Watson Brothers 28 features many of the elements we associate with the pigeon ring, from a beavertail forend to a pistol grip, sideclips and a wide flat-top rib. It also has the Louca signature coffin-shaped round-body action and Martin Smith’s oak-leaf carving straddling the action and extending down the 29½” Full-choked barrels. It is priced at £65,000 (about $75,000).
“Why did I make it?” Louca said. “Really, I just fancied shooting with one. There is a crowd out there shooting game with 28-bores, but if they had the option of a 28 side-by-side pigeon gun, they would have all that extra stability with the pistol grip, beavertail forend and stippled wide high rib to bring down the 40-yard birds with heavy 32-gram loads squirting out of a smallbore.”