Cheap v. Best Guns, With General Advice on the Purchase of a Gun By Sir Ralph Payne-Gallwey
Now a word concerning cheap guns—those sold, for example, at about 15£. In the first place, it is impossible to turn out a gun at this price with profit, and at the same time employ the best workmen and materials, or to spend one tithe of the care and time over its manufacture and shooting that a good gun- requires. The barrels consist of inferior metal, and they are bored and ground and fitted by second-rate artisans; they have little time wasted upon them, and are rarely shot at the target, save as an experiment to see if they will shoot at all true or evenly; for they have to be made too fast and sold too cheap to allow of time or money being expended on their performances or finish.
The locks and fittings and breech-actions are made of common iron; and so long as these work in a rough-and-ready sort of way, delicate adjustment is discarded, as requiring too great an outlay of time and cost. The stock of such a gun has little care bestowed upon it; for in this line of gun-making a hundred stocks in the rough may have to be made into a hundred finished ones to avoid a loss. These stocks are often bought in a cheap market, improperly seasoned; hence the gaps that appear in cheap guns round the edges of the metal fittings after a short exposure to hot or cold weather. Even when the gun is first bought, on close inspection cracks may frequently be discovered in the stock filled in with paint and varnish, and pieces of wood put in here and there to replace bad material.
To put it plainly, the above class of gun is made to sell, and not to last; but is, nevertheless, quite good enough for the shooter who knows nothing of what a gun should do, or of its manufacture. For such a man could never realize how it were possible that the breech-action alone of a good gun can cost as much as an entire gun of inferior make in its finished state; and yet such is the fact.