William Powell Side by Side Development
The story so far…
In early 2017 we were informed that Arrieta, our Spanish manufacturing partner, was shutting down. Arrieta had been building our continental side by sides since 1992 and our then current range since 2008.
We took this as an opportunity to look in detail at our current range and what we were bringing to the market. We believed that there was a demand for a new generation of side by sides, one that was built for the future of shooting, and in July 2017 we started the design work. The aim was to create two guns, a boxlock and sidelock, that handled like a classic William Powell, was capable of comfortably shooting high performance steel and offered fantastic value for money.
We searched worldwide for a new manufacturing partner and met with numerous organisations, eventually establishing that there were only a few suitable gunmakers that had what we were looking for. After much thought, we turned to Battista Rizzini, based in the Brescia region of Italy, the current makers of all of our Continental Over & Under shotguns. Months of meetings, correspondence and design concepts ensued, and in the summer of 2018, we received our first prototype.
The prototype was very much still in the early stages of development, but we liked what we saw. There were some big changes to be made in order to meet our brief; developing affordable, beautifully handling sides by side that were built for the future. Our master craftsmen spent hours adjusting and refining the action and stock.
Further alterations to the design followed, as we started to work on the two different models that we wanted to create. In January 2019, we took our adjusted designs to Rizzini and explained how we wanted to move forward with the build, creating both a boxlock and a sidelock. Although different in appearance, finish and cost, these guns would have the same objective; they were to be future proof, traditional values merging with modern production techniques, and of course steel shot proofed. The first, and more affordable, was the boxlock model. A very attractive gun that would feature deep cut scroll engraving on decorative sideplates. This was to be known as the ‘Sovereign’. The second was to be our premier side by side, a true sidelock with an even more traditionally English feel. Decorated in a classic rose and scroll engraving and featuring highly figured Turkish walnut woodwork, this was to be known as the ‘Viscount’.
Development continued in a quest to perfect the design. No detail was too small, and in August 2019 our hard work and dedication was rewarded, as Rizzini brought our vision to life. The first production guns arrived in the UK; a 12 and 20 bore version of the Sovereign and a 20 bore version of the Viscount.
The handling, mechanics and the balance were all exactly as we wanted them, but we still needed to get the styling right. We felt it was essential for these guns to be classically beautiful and look traditionally elegant, as William Powell is built on over 200 years of English gunmaking heritage.
In October 2019 we produced a detailed report on each of the guns, focusing on refining stock measurements and minor finishing touches to heighten the aesthetic qualities of the stocks. Teardrops, long trigger guard (tang), stock chequering and finish were just some of the things considered. The final specifications were sent back to Italy to be scanned and measured, ensuring that the changes we had made could be replicated on both models without issue. Once confirmed by Rizzini, production continued, and they are set to be launched at the 2020 Game Fair.
In January 2020, with both guns finalised we launched our marketing initiative. The first step was to utilise the time we still had in the season and to put the guns to test on a pheasant day at St Marys Loch. Not only were we double checking the way the guns handled, we also took full advantage of a day in the field to produce new promotional films and photographs of the guns in action. This was followed shortly afterwards with studio photography, advert concepts and marketing ideas ahead of the launch. The first glimpse the public will have of these guns will be on the 1st May, with a full page appearing on the back of BASC magazine, backed up with strong social media coverage. These items will gradually gather momentum as we get closer to the launch on the 18th September at the Game Fair, to be held at Ragley Hall, Warwickshire.
On the 24th February, the Steel Shot announcement was made that rocked the shooting community and cartridge producers. Whilst we were very aware that at some point there would be pressure to ban lead in the UK, hence the production of these future proof side by sides, this did come much quicker than we had anticipated. However, our guns are fit for purpose and we will be the first to respond to the changes ahead with a complete range of steel shot proofed side by side shotguns, suitable for all customers regardless of budget.