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CRAFTSMANSHIP ELEGANT ENGINEERING PHOTOGRAPHY ANDREW MONTGOMERY Clockwise from left: the royal scroll takes 150 hours to engrave; engraver Allen Greenwell at work; stocking foreman Jason Schofield reveals the precision mechanism of the detachable lock; Richard Moir with a finished shotgun; Schofield measuring the stock Like a bespoke Range Rover, each Holland & Holland shotgun is crafted for an owner who knows good things are worth the wait. A madeto-measure order with the London gunmakers will take about two years to fulfil. That’s because these tools are made by hand. Just 40 craftsmen work in the original steel-framed 19th-century factory. They have been making shotguns and rifles here since 1898. “The process of making a shotgun goes through six stages,” explains Russell Wilkin, the technical director. “First there is machining. This is where we take the raw material – large cylinders of steel to work the beginnings of barrels and blocks of wood to create stock blanks. Every part is made from scratch here. These then move to the barrelling floor, where the steel is forged into barrels. This is followed by actioning, which is building the mechanism. The fourth section is stocking, crafting the stock [the held part] of the gun, then polishing and engraving, and finally finishing. The guns are then tested according to UK standards before they are ready for their new owners.” Producers like Holland & Holland are the gunmakers’ equivalent of a Savile Row tailor. A gun is not simply made, but sculpted to your exact measurements. The size, shape and curves will be designed to you exactly. In luxury technologies, world-class design is more than skin deep. While the engineers behind Terrain Response in your Range Rover make the incredibly complex feel effortless for the driver, so too does the master stocker of a Holland & Holland shotgun make the intricate mechanics of the lock and stock appear seamless. Stocking foreman Jason Schofield locks a shotgun he is making to reveal how it slides shut with reassuring precision, akin to closing a Range Rover door. Two steel mechanisms have been fitted exactly to mirror image inlays in the walnut wood of the stock. Using soot smoke, he is able to determine where he needs to shave wood until the fit is exact. It’s a precision piece of work that will take him several weeks for each gun he makes. “You have to work with wood so carefully,” he explains, “because once you’ve removed a piece, it can’t be added back.” Allen Greenwell has been an engraver since apprenticing from school. “Every engraver has their own style, a bit like handwriting,” he explains. “Jewellery engravers work with softer metals, but we work in steel with inlayed gold. As a result we use higher carbon steel tools that are harder than the metal they are cutting. The standard royal scroll is 150 hours’ work, but clients can request bespoke game scenes or pictures that can take up to 350 hours or more. The top engravers are in high demand with waiting lists stretching several years.” Holland & Holland has made guns for everyone from Theodore Roosevelt to Larry Hagman. Many of its clients are repeat buyers building unique collections. The classic Holland & Holland gun is the .375. It’s capable in virtually any situation. However, requests can push the limits of the possible. One client asked for a .700-calibre gun. It was judged near impossible. “It weighs about 8kg and shoots a heavier, slower 1,000-grain bullet. The cartridges alone cost around £70. Totally unnecessary but it’s the universal desire for things bigger, louder, more powerful,” says Wilkin with a smile. While .700s set a client back £300,000, the average for a bespoke Holland & Holland shotgun is around £70,000. These are more than sporting tools. They are heirlooms. 41

 

Land Rover

Onelife - October 2018

 

Land Rover’s Onelife magazine showcases stories from around the world that celebrate inner strength and the drive to go Above and Beyond

Land Rover has always stood for the freedom to go anywhere and the ability to do anything when you get there. The latest issue of Onelife salutes this spirit, transporting you across the world in celebration of adventures ranging from the exotic to the everyday – from a town in the Indian Himalaya where classic Land Rover Series Is and IIs reign supreme, to Ireland's stunning County Donegal where seafarer Monty Halls enjoys family fun with a Discovery

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