Celebrated as the finest event in the world for discerning game-shooting enthusiasts, The World Gunmakers Evening returns to London on Thursday 17th May.
A repeatedly sell-out event, the evening sees the world’s best gunmakers come together in Knightsbridge’s splendid Jumeirah Carlton Tower to offer a selection of unrivalled guns, hospitality and demonstrations by master craftsmen. Guests will meet some of the industry’s most respected individuals, learning more about the pieces they create over champagne and canapés.
We at Wingfield Digby caught up with event organizer Chris Horne (also Managing Director of the acclaimed GunsonPegs.co.uk) and Alastair Philips of exhibiting gunmaker, William Evans. Read on for their exclusive insight into the event…
Describe The World Gunmakers Evening in three words.
CH: Unique, sophisticated, craftsmanship.
How did the idea for WGE come about?
CH: We realised that, to our knowledge, there was no other event where you can see all of the best gun brands in one place, not to mention the associated brands who exhibit. Deciding your next bespoke gun should be a well thought out decision – one that a Game Fair doesn’t lend itself too well to, with lots of trekking between stands and many makers not attending. The World Gunmakers Evening centralises this, while also allowing guests to enjoy champagne and canapés.
What do you feel chiefly sets apart British made guns from those made overseas?
AP: History, industry tradition and quality. The British gunmaking industry has created guns for the most notable leaders and members of several countries aristocracy - thus giving it the reputation it deserves. We still make some of the finest in the world - to order the best gun in the UK today is a very special and unique experience.
However, we recently collaborated with Perazzi of Italy to create the made-to-measure William Evans St James – an outstanding gun in engineering, look and design. When we were looking for a partner for an over and under shotgun, Perazzi was the number one. Client feedback suggested that the main reason for shooting an over and under was reliability; Perazzi shines in this area.
2018 marks the sixth instalment of The World Gunmakers Evening – a testimony to its success & popularity. Is there anything different to expect from WGE this year?
CH: We have some fantastic new brands this year, including; Bonhams, Ian Coley and William Moore & Grey. There will also be some incredible product launches from the likes of Purdey, Perazzi and William Powell. It’s been hugely gratifying to hear that brands are now planning launches around this exclusive event.
AP: From William Evans, we’ll be presenting our core gun lines – bringing 5 or 6 to demonstrate our range. We can’t wait to be on stand to personally answer queries, discuss options and allow clients to compare products in situ.
What do you enjoy most about The World Gunmakers Evening?
CH: When the doors open at 5:30pm, you know that there is little more you can do to effect the night – so the pressure is off somewhat! Seeing smiles on people’s faces and hearing laughter from around the room makes you realise that all of the hard work building up to the event was worth it.
AP: The completely direct, personal contact that clients gain from us, the gunmakers – we view it rather like a Q&A session where clients can view and compare various different models, and get instant responses to their queries.
What makes London the ideal location for The World Gunmakers Evening?
CH: London’s accessibility, with good train links and airport access, ensures that The World Gunmakers Evening is the most accessible, exclusive and intimate location for a demonstration of exceptional gunmaking talent and artistry. London also happens to have some fantastic hotels and we’ve been lucky to have kept the event in the Jumeirah Carlton Tower, Knightsbridge for the last 4 years, overlooking Cadogan Gardens and Sloane Street.
AP: The same points go for our William Evans location in nearby St James; as well as the experience. From the moment you enter the St. James’s area, with the delights of long established shops like Berry Bros & Rudd and the entirety of Jermyn Street, you feel you’ve gone back in time. Likewise, the area’s top clubs (from Whites and Boodles to the Carlton Club and RAC) brings us some very loyal clients who have been visiting for decades. I think the William Evans shop at No.67a perfectly reflects London’s old world charm and experience.
What is your favourite shooting memory to date?
CH: My favourite shooting memory (or memories!) have been when three generations of the Horne family have shot together in the same line. My father, grandfather and I all out on a day’s shooting, often ending up all cleaning our guns together with an open bottle of single-malt.
AP: Tricky to choose! One of the main reasons I entered this trade back 20 years ago was my love of shooting, so I feel very lucky to have had many great memories out in the field. A particular favourite was when I was guiding/loading for someone on their first pheasant day. The transition from nerves of what to expect, to finding his feet and realising his ability and completely getting 'the bug', was great.
Favourite Wingfield Digby product?
CH: It has to be the animal motif belts! The guys in the office absolutely love the pheasant and stag belts, and at £35 they are exceptionally well priced!
Wingfield Digby Canvas & Leather Animal Motif belts, view range here
Wingfield Digby Guinea Fowl Feather & Glass Tray, buy here for £70
The World Gunmakers Evening
When? 5.30–9.30pm, Thursday 17th of May 2018
Where? Jumeirah Carlton Tower, Knightsbridge, London
Tickets? £75 (includes Champagne & canapés)
Click here for further information.