Buying guns as gifts

It’s hard to know what to buy the shooter who has everything; you don’t want to get the wrong tweed and they probably have peg finders, cufflinks and hip flasks piled high somewhere. So how about a gun?

Do they have a shotgun certificate or firearms licence?
Before you even think about purchasing a gun, you need to make sure the person you plan to give it to has a licence. That’s a given, but it bears repeating.

Do you have a certificate?
If you don’t, you won’t be able to purchase the a gun as a gift

However, that doesn’t need to spoil the surprise of giving a gun as a gift. One of the members in Shooting UK’s forum told of how his wife bought him his first gun for his birthday:

“…because she doesn't have a SGC she couldn't collect it. I was given a slip of paper with the gunshop details on it, I went to the shop and there it was, she had been planning it with the shop for about a month.”

As the story above illustrates, you can still put a gun on hold for the person to collect the gun.

If you want to buy a gun privately, rather than from a gun shop, the person with the SGC will need to be present to purchase and receive the gun.

If you’re unsure about the legalities surrounding buying a gun as a gift, please consult your local gun shop who will offer advice. Alternatively, you can post your question in our forums.

What gun to choose?
Picking out a gun is personal and fit is a very important factor that may be overlooked. If you buy a gun that doesn’t fit well, it will need to be modified which will cost more and is something worth considering when shopping around.

An English Side-by-side?
The choice in new side-by-side guns is somewhat limited, since fewer are being made today, but the second-hand market for side-by-sides has huge depth. An English hand-made and finished Webley & Scott 700 in good order, for example, is all the gun you will ever need at £1,500.

At the top end of the market buyers tend to be extremely brand conscious. There are plenty of guns of various ages from Purdey or Holland & Holland around, and these will almost invariably sell well. Guns from Boss tend to be snapped up very quickly indeed, as few of these have been made, and output of new guns has always been very small.

A dream pair?
The first thing that pops into the mind when thinking about the perfect gift for a keen shot is doubtless a pair of handmade English shotguns. As an Aston Martin is to most lovers of gears and petrol fumes, so a pair of sidelocks from the likes of Purdey, Boss or Holland & Holland are to those fond of loud bangs and the whiff of cordite.

Buying a new pair is something of a dream for most shooting men I think, and there is a hefty price tag attached. As long as these guns are properly looked after they will last a lifetime, so buying a second-hand pair is a pretty safe bet.

Something unusual?
It need not have a high price to be worthy of the attention. Many older handmade guns which would be superb to shoot with sell for around £1,000 today. Don’t be afraid of buying an older gun: as long as it is in proof it will be safe.

If in doubt...
The best advice for buying a gun at this time of year is to be adventurous. It is really very difficult to buy a truly terrible shotgun, even if you’re not spending a vast sum of money. If you’re completely stumped for ideas then perhaps just buy something on looks. That way even if the gun only comes out of the cabinet once a year it will look great in the field.

And if you want to give away the surprise, how about wrapping something up in this