Cheap v. Best Guns, With General Advice on the Purchase of a Gun
By Sir Ralph Payne-Gallwey
Few recognize the skill and completeness exemplified in a modern gun; and many shooters, I really believe, would never do so unless they were condemned to shoot for a season with the weapons of their forefathers. There is a class of shooters who merely look upon a gun as a machine to kill with, and do not in the least realize the care, expense, and anxiety bestowed on its construction. These are the people who declaim against guns being needlessly expensive if they cost over a very moderate sum. Knowing nothing of the outlay required to produce excellent workmanship, they fancy a cheap gun of 15£ is, or ought to be, as good a weapon as one of 45£, and, making no allowance for first-class material, clever, and therefore costly, artisanship, they cannot see why the lower-priced article should not be as good as that which costs double, and vow it is ' that rascal the gunmaker' who pockets the balance.
To the casual observer there is hardly any perceptible difference in appearance and handling between a fairly well turned out gun and a really first-class one that costs nearly, if not quite, double. Such a man puzzles his brains as to wherein lies the superiority of the expensive over the cheap weapon; for the one apparently works as well, shoots as well, and looks as handsome an article, as the other.*
* The real truth of the matter is, that the majority of men who patronize cheap guns rarely give them such a test of endurance as would determine their merits, if any. A cheap, rough gun may last for many seasons if it is put to no more severe strain than 300 or 400 shots a year entail. For this reason a 15£ gun may meet all the requirements of the sportsman who uses it; and the latter is quite right to purchase his gun to suit his purse and his sport, but is not justified in swearing by all his gods that, because his 15£ gun suits him, and stands without damage a small amount of wear and tear, it is equal for all practical purposes to a high-class weapon. If the 15£ article experienced as much work as is usually bestowed on a best gun, it would soon be evident which was the better of the two!