If you are keen on shooting, no doubt there will have been a time when you’ve allowed your idle mind to daydream of visiting the top gunmakers all over the world before configuring your own bespoke shotgun or rifle.

The fantasy sees you ditching normal life and spending months touring Italy, Spain and England drifting in and out of plush showrooms, browsing oak cabinets and knocking back espressos in leather chairs while chatting with craftsmen until you finally sign on the dotted line. This fanciful road trip allows you to meet the gunmaking artisans – the barrel makers, actioners, lockmakers, stocker, finishers – and get a real feel for the personality of the brand and of course handle the guns themselves.

The reality for most of us is sadly quite different. Modern life means we are time poor, so the idea of visiting multiple gunmakers in person will not be possible. And for this particular transaction, video calls don’t quite cut it. For something like a shotgun or rifle, an old fashioned face-to-face meeting is needed.

However, there is a simple solution to this quandary: head over to The Game Fair, which is being held 28-30 July at Ragley Hall in Warwickshire. Celebrating its 65th anniversary this year, the event’s central exhibit is Gunmakers’ Row which, for three days this summer, is home to numerous heavyweight gunmakers from around the world including Holland & Holland, Beretta, William Powell, John Rigby & Co, Longthorne, Boss, EJ Churchill, Rizzini and AYA.

Here’s our pick of the gunmakers you’ll want to check out in the flesh:

Best British gunmakers


For more than 187 years, London gunmaker Holland & Holland has built fine British guns and rifles. Time-honoured gunmaking skills and state-of-the-art machinery combine perfectly to instil quality and artistry into every shotgun and rifle.

Each element of the gun – the barrels, the action, the stock and the engraving – is a masterpiece in its own right, requiring many hours of painstaking work to achieve perfection.

For instance, the standard Royal Scroll pattern takes 150 hours’ work to complete for each gun and the Classic Acanthus, 240 hours. The Royal sidelock is undoubtedly its flagship piece. As well as being a thing of great beauty, it has been an inspiration to gunmakers worldwide.

Square Mile's gun of choice: Royal Bespoke London Best S/S sidelock, from £120,000 exc VAT. Stand number J924.



Established in 1775, Rigby is the third-oldest gunmaker in the world. With its reputation built on duelling pistols, fowling pieces, blunderbusses, long-distance match rifles, and double and magazine rifles and cartridges that became international icons, the Rigby name is synonymous with fine and collectable firearms.

Today, the cult British brand has a loyal following around the world.

Its iconic Rising Bite shotgun – which Rigby recently reintroduced after a break of 100 years – is characterised by the unique patent action, well regarded for its strength.

Square Mile's gun of choice: The Rising Bite bespoke S/S sidelock, from £99,500 exc VAT. Stand number J1044.



Founded in 1812 by Thomas Boss, Boss & Co was acquired in 1891 by one of the firm’s employees, a gunmaker called John Robertson who helped to establish its reputation by patenting mechanisms such as the Boss single trigger, the Boss ejector and the over-and-under barrel configuration.

In its entire 206-year history, Boss has produced little more than 10,000 shotguns and rifles, because every part is meticulously hand crafted at its workshops in London.

Today, Boss & Co is owned by American billionaire Arthur DeMoulas. He arrived in 2015 with a commitment to maintaining levels of craftsmanship but he also had a vision to see Boss expand its scope and make a wider variety of shotguns and rifles.

Square Mile's gun of choice: 1812 Edition ambidextrous side-lever shotgun. Stand number J1042.



Since 1802, William Powell has been a trusted name within the gunmaking industry. Now owned by Mark and Christine Osborne and based in Oxfordshire, the gunmaker specialises in just shotguns.

There are seven models in total – two side-by-sides and five over-and-unders – all of which are steel shot proofed. Made in Italy and hand-finished in the UK, the range is designed by the in-house gunroom team.

The Viscount is their flagship side-by-side game gun and is fully customisable. For those wanting to put their new shotgun to use, the Osbornes also run a sporting agency, William Powell Sporting that works with some of the most prestigious estates in Britain.

Square Mile's gun of choice: The Viscount bespoke S/S sidelock, from £13,000 inc VAT. Stand number J1064.



Longthorne shotgun

This family-run Northamptonshire gunmaker is headed up by precision engineer James Longthorne Stewart who oversees its range of English shotguns.

James’ wife Elaine looks after marketing and their daughter Chloe looks after the brand’s distinctive engraving designs.

A relative newcomer to the British gun trade, Longthorne was established in 2010 and launched its first shotgun at The Game Fair that same year.

Today, it manufactures English-made sporting shotguns and rifles with unique globally patented barrel technology using a single piece of steel or titanium ensuring strength, lightness and excellent handling.

Square Mile's gun of choice: Berkley sidelock with titanium barrels, from £78,037 inc VAT. Stand number KJ929.



EJ Churchilll The Crown

After first-class pigeon shot Edwin John Churchill established his eponymous gunmakers in 1891, the brand has steadily grown to where it is today.

Churchill’s early reputation rested on live pigeon guns, which he soon abandoned in favour of 25in-barrelled batons.

Sold as XXVs, these guns provided him with a unique selling proposition that, in the absence of a proprietary action, convinced many shooters to switch brands.

One who did was The Prince of Wales who ordered a pair of Best Premier quality sidelock ejectors with signature XXV barrels in 1930.

Today, E. J. Churchill is based in Buckinghamshire with Sir Edward Dashwood and Rob Fenwick at the helm. It offers everything from affordable English-style machine-made shotguns made in Spain and Italy to bespoke handmade English shotguns costing six figures.

Square Mile's gun of choice: The Crown English style S/S sideplate, £7,995 inc VAT. Stand number J940




Established in 2017 by engineer Gerry Coulter, Manor & Co is the newest gunmaker to arrive on the scene in Britain.

A specialist at manufacturing aftermarket parts for obsolete Rolls-Royce engines and jet engines, Gerry utilises aviation technology and materials when making rifles and shotguns.

A keen game shooter, he enjoys making guns with rare and obsolete calibres like the 10-bore shotgun.

Based in Pall Mall, Manor & Co uses the finest high-grade wood and top-quality German barrels, and also features finely detailed London style engraving including intricate gold inlays, highly detailed wild fowl or game engraving, all painstakingly worked on by some of the top hand engravers.

Square Mile's gun of choice: 10 bore S/S shotgun, from £18,000 exc VAT. Stand number J1037.


Best European gunmakers


Beretta shot gun

Beretta holds the impressive distinction of being the world’s oldest industrial dynasty.

And when you consider the wealth of knowledge and experience that has been handed down through 15 generations of gunmakers, over five centuries, it is little wonder that they produce some of the world’s best shotguns.

Distributed in the UK by GMK, the Italian gunmaker has recently launched its top-end SO10 EELL model which is marketed as the pinnacle of shotgun craftsmanship and the crown jewel of the brand’s London gunroom.

Square Mile's gun of choice: SO10 EELL O/U – touted as the brand’s ultimate masterpiece, from £102,950. Stand number J918.



Rizzini shotgun

Founded in 1966, the Italian gunmaker’s ethos is one of making use of state-of-the-art machinery to refine the gunmaking process.

Today, Rizzini continues to use the latest techniques and tools to make its range of over-and-under and side-by-side shotguns.

Rizzini has been distributed in the UK by A.S.I (Anglo-Spanish Imports). Edward King has worked closely with the gunmaker to develop models with the sort of look and feel that the UK market demands, whether that’s game guns or sporting clay models.

They’re clearly doing something right, as according to a recent census, Rizzini is the sixth most popular brand of shotgun among British game shots.

Square Mile's gun of choice: Grand Regal Extra S/S sideplate with round body action, £11,140 inc VAT. Stand number J932



Aya Model Nº 1 Round Action ‘de Luxe’ custom

The initials AYA stand for ‘Aguirre y Aranzabal’, named after the Spanish founders of the gunmakers, Miguel Aguirre and Nicolas Aranzabal back in 1917.

Whether you pronounce it ‘ay-why-ay’, ‘ay-er’ or ‘eye-er’, everyone in the shooting world will know what you are talking about – the name is synonymous with the best guns to have come out of Spain in the last hundred years.

Today, AYA offers one of the most complete ranges of side-by-side shotguns on the market, from workhorse boxlocks to the finest sidelocks. AYA also offers an impressive bespoke service capable of delivering the most personalised requirements.

Square Mile's gun of choice: Model Nº 1 Round Action ‘de Luxe’ custom, £43,200 inc VAT. Stand number J932