A gun with pedigree. The Cogswell & Harrison Windsor game gun is a solidly-built, relatively simple gun that appeals to the mass market, says Jason Harris
Cogswell and Harrison have been crafting guns since 1770, after a few years of uncertainty the brand has started producing luxury, yet affordable, Shotguns and rifles under new ownership. Their latest shotgun the Windsor is available in both 12 bore, 20 bore and 28 bore.
Exceptional value for a new gun with 28 inch multi choke barrels.
See review below
Cogswell & Harrison (C&H) is a company with a wealth of history. It can be traced back to 1770 and is the oldest gunmaking firm to have evolved out of London. I use the word “evolved” because C&H has gone through many changes in its long history. More so since the mid-20th century and is now owned by the Brennan family who, while being based in Ireland, have a registered office in Hertfordshire.
C&H is probably the largest gunmaker to have started in London. There are a number of C&H shops in some of the best known London streets, including the Strand, Piccadilly and New Bond Street. To support this, there were factories for mass production of guns and cartridges, as well as shooting grounds.
Historically most famous for side–by-side shotguns, C&H made rifles, pistols and even signal pistols and flare guns. Air rifles, air pistols and even a few bicycles have also been made. I doubt there are many gunsmiths who won’t have at least one of C&H’s older guns somewhere in their workshop.
No one can be sure how many C&H guns were made, but it is almost certainly more than 100,000 in total. C&H has archive records going back many years; unfortunately the records are not complete because a couple of fires have destroyed some of them.
Both fires (some 30 years apart) were catastrophic for the business. Many buildings, machinery and contents of guns in manufacture as well as customers’ guns, projects in development and paperwork were all lost. On top of this the insurance only covered about half the estimated loss, which ran into many tens of thousands of pounds. It is a great testament to the company that it survived these tragedies.
Of all the guns C&H made, it made very few over-and-unders (OU). When I say very few, it may have been one sidelock O/U and one boxlock style O/U back in the years each side of World War II. It seems it may have taken about 10 years to build them because of the war intervening.
Of course at this time O/U guns were viewed with some suspicion by many traditional gameshooters. There was less demand for this style of gun and the men making them required different skills. But today even the greatest gunmakers would not survive unless they were making O/U guns.
The Cogswell & Harrison Windsor
With this in mind, C&H has introduced an affordable O/U called the Windsor. Available as both a game or Sporting gun – here we have the game gun. In the past C&H has made guns for other makers and also had guns made for them. The Cogswell & Harrison Windsor is made in Italy where there is the technology to make guns in volume at value-for-money prices. The Windsor is a single selective trigger with the selector button being in the middle of the safety catch, moving left to fire the top barrel first and right for under barrel first. The mechanism is inertia operated, so needs the recoil of the first shot to set it for the second. But this is quite lightly set so will sometimes trip itself when dry fired onto snap caps.
The safety is auto returned, which is preferred in the UK on a game gun.
The mechanism is best described as a trigger action and has the hammers pivoting in the bottom front of the action, directly powered by a coil mainspring – one on each side. These springs are captive on rods so the hammers rebound slightly once they have struck the back of the firing pin. This allows the firing pin to retract and not get stuck in the primer, which makes the gun so much easier to open.
The sears are suspended above the hammers in the top strap of the action frame.
The barrels hinge on trunnions, or stub pins, set into the action frame wall at the knuckle.
Lockup is provided by a full-width bolt at the bottom of the frame below the breech face.
The gun is relatively plain, but this is a gun designed to be used rather than cherished. If you want a best quality C&H, it can be done. C&H will still make bespoke guns, but obviously these are a different thing with the best sidelock side-by-sides starting around the £60K mark, which is not unreasonable for such a gun. But to get back to the Windsor, what we have here is a solidly built, relatively simple gun that appeals to the mass market – much the same principle as C&H had more than 100 years ago when it was building side-by-sides guns for all corners of the globe.
There is some engraving though, which is nicely done in a traditional style with some scroll work and a pheasant on one side and a duck on the other. There is a partridge on the underside just behind the Cogswell & Harrison legend. The furniture; top lever, safe button and trigger guard, also the fore-end iron are all finished black to give contrast to the silver action. The trigger itself is gold-plated.
To bring the gun bang up-to-date, the Windsor has 3in or 76mm chambers and carries the special steel shot proof mark, so steel wildfowling loads are no problem. The chambers and bores are chrome-lined, which makes the gun sturdy in adverse conditions.
There is a standard flush fit multichoke system with a set of five tubes and a key.
Barrels are nicely struck up with a deep gloss black. The top rib is approximately 7mm parallel and is ventilated with matting to reduce glare and reflection. The side ribs are solid as expected on a field gun. There is a small brass foresight.
The ejector system has directly sprung extractors, with trips dovetailed into the monoblock. The ejectors are engaged by wings on each cocking bar, which sets the trips when the cocking bars are pushed forwards by cocking the gun.
In the back of the fore-end iron is a cam, which pushes the cocking levers back when opening the gun; this in turn re-cocks the gun. The cocking bars are captive to the hammers so that they move backwards and forwards as the hammers fall during firing and back during cocking. The reason for this is so that the ejectors are only engaged and made to work when the gun is fired and not every time it’s opened.
The woodwork is fairly plain, but that’s not surprising considering the price of the gun and its intended use. The wood is finished practically with a light oil finish that will be easy to maintain.
The length of pull is a shade over 14½in or more precisely 370mm. There is a thin wooden butt plate on the back end, which has been laser-etched with a picture of a gentleman shooter in a top hat. I don’t know that it will provide much grip in the shoulder, but it’s a different idea.
The chequer patterns are a fairly standard design to suit the gun and provide positive grip. The fore-end shape is Schnabel and will suit most shooters’ hands. The stock is cast right slightly for right hand at approximately 3mm. The drops are 38mm at comb and 59mm at heel. This is a little on the low side for my taste, but is fine for those who prefer a flatter sightly gun. The Windsor is available with left-hand stock if required.
The weight of the gun is slightly over 7lb 5oz, which considering this gun is 30in is very reasonable for an O/U gun intended to be carried most of the time. The gun is available in 28in as well, which will obviously be a fraction lighter still.
The gun comes in a solid ABS case with combination locks, spare choke tubes with key and a tin of spray oil.
Overall this is a good gun for the money. And the Cogswell & Harrison name does add some value to it. C&H has such a rich history and was almost certainly the most prolific gunmaker in London. Few, if any, of the great gunmaking names are still owned by their original families and C&H has been through more different ownerships than most. But it reminds me of great estates; they are never really owned, but are looked after by custodians that preserve them for the next generation and hopefully improve and add to them during their watch.
Build quality: 8/10
Value for money: 8:10
Overall verdict: 8/10
THE COGSWELL & HARRISON WINDSOR GAME GUN
- Price: £1,125 (12-bore).MF Sporting can be seen to be cheaper
- Available in 12-bore, 20-bore and 28-bore with 28in or 30in barrels.
- Comes with five internal chokes.
- 3in steel shot proof chambers.
- Available in right or left hand walnut stock.
Read more at http://www.shootinguk.co.uk/reviews/shotgun/cogswell-harrison-windsor-game-gun#B3iIJVD3Apz0fuKp.99