William Evans’ business has flourished for 133 years thanks to its policy of combining high quality and craftsmanship with affordability and value for money. We found out more from Alastair Phillips, General Manager of the company’s shop in St. James’s Street, London.
Providing clients with exceptional quality and value for money was the cornerstone on which William Evans founded his gun making business in 1883. Initially catering for the professional classes by offering London-quality guns at affordable price, the company subsequently became world-renowned for its hand-built sidelock and boxlock side-by-side shotguns, bolt-action and large-calibre double rifles.
Today, still driven by that ethos, William Evans enjoys an enviable reputation amongst those ‘in the know’ as the place to go for everything to do with shooting and the countryside. Still at the cutting-edge of retailing its shops, in St James’s Street, London and at the National Shooting Centre in Surrey, stock an extensive range of new and pre-owned sporting guns to suit every quarry and budget. They also offer everything that the country sportsman or clay target shooting enthusiast could possibly need, including sophisticated country clothing and game shooting/stalking attire from leading manufacturers.
As always, discrete, well-informed staff are on-hand to offer advice and help clients make the perfect choice. This personal approach appeals to clients who prefer to deal with a relatively small, bespoke gunmaker which treats them as individuals rather than buying from a large ‘corporate’ gunmaker where they are just one of the crowd. Once a William Evans client they remain very loyal, the descendants of several families who purchased guns in the early 1900s still return them for routine servicing.
Built on quality
London’s gun makers thrived during the 1920s and 1930s and at that time William Evans was one of 30 or so in the St. James’s and Mayfair areas, its craftsmen producing around 200 shotguns and rifles each year. The majority were based on boxlock-style actions by Webley & Scott in Birmingham, a company synonymous with high quality, reasonably-priced sporting arms.
Today, as one of London’s few-remaining independent English gun makers, William Evans offers a range of models which cater for all requirements and budgets.
Commissioning a Best London Gun is the ultimate experience for anyone with a passion for shooting and each year William Evans hand crafts a small number of these completely bespoke sidelock models, which range upwards in price from £57,500 (excluding VAT) for a side-by-sides and £71,000 (ex. VAT) for an over-and-under. In keeping with tradition, William Evans’ best sidelock game guns are still hand-made using only the finest materials and take 24 to 30 months to complete. At each stage they are critically examined to ensure the very best in craftsmanship in line with the company’s reputation for excellence.
At less than half the cost of a traditional ‘best’ London sidelock, the William Evans ‘Pall Mall’ is a hand-crafted seven-pin, self-opening sidelock shotgun which is made to the client’s personal specification in the classic English style. Designed to William Evans’ blueprint and manufactured in consultation with the company’s highly-respected Spanish partner, Grulla Armas, the Pall Mall combines the latest high-tech engineering with centuries-old finishing processes applied by British craftsmen. Available in all calibres, from 12-bore to .410, the Pall Mall costs from £15,450, exceptional value for a luxury-grade product.
‘The Connaught’ range commemorates William Evans’ historic connections with former loyal client, HRH The Duke of Connaught, and its excellent quality and value has attracted numerous new clients to the brand. A five-pin sidelock which takes the company back to its gun-making roots, this model is made to William Evans’ demanding specifications by Grulla-Armas. Available with a square or a round action, they cost from £8040 and £8240 respectively.
William Evans’ recently-launched ‘Connaught Premium’ was created for those who aspire to a new, fully-bespoke, very high-quality sidelock side-by-side shotgun from an English gun-maker, but at an affordable price which represents excellent value. Positioned between ‘The Connaught’ and ‘Pall Mall’, the ‘Connaught Premium’ is priced from £11,845, including a case. As standard, it features tight Boss-style scroll engraving and a highly-figured walnut stock/fore-end, but clients can have it made to their exact requirements, even custom engraving to their own design (subject to individual pricing).
The St James over and under is noted for its elegant lines and combines state-of-the-art engineering with bespoke features and traditional finishes which are the mark of all William Evans guns. This model provides an excellent opportunity to acquire a piece of William Evans history which will last for many years.
William Evans recently launched its range of ‘SL’ sporting rifles. Manufactured to its high specifications and standards by Danish firm Schultz & Larsen, which like William Evans was founded in the 1880s, the ‘SL’ is based on the Schultz & Larsen Ambassador, regarded by many as the ultimate hunting rifle. Very competitively priced, the ‘SL’ is available in Grade 1, Grade 3 and Grade 5 versions retailing at £2450, £2850 and £3250 respectively.
William Evans shops are located at 67A St James’s Street, London SW1A 1PH (Tel: +44 (0) 20 7493 0415) and The Old Armoury, National Shooting Centre, Queens Road, Brookwood, Surrey, GU24 0NY (T: +44 (0)1483 486500. Further details at www.williamevans.com