Tessa Waugh meets the managing director of world-renowned British gunmaker Holland & Holland.

‘An English gun is an elegant-looking thing,’ notes Daryl Greatrex, managing director of world-renowned British gunmaker Holland & Holland.

‘What we’ve done over the years is to be innovative in terms of design to make the modern shotgun as efficient as it can be, at the same time as making sure that the aesthetic side is pleasing.’

That quality runs deep. ‘It’s not only to do with the engraving and the lovely wood,’ Mr Greatrex adds. ‘If you open up a Holland & Holland gun, it’s just as beautiful and well-executed inside as it is on the outside.’

The London-based firm, which was established in 1835, has initiated an apprenticeship scheme to encourage young people into the industry and currently employs about 40 craftsmen in its Kensal Green factory.

‘We start with specialist action makers, who make the mechanism of the gun. Then, there are barrelmakers, stockmakers, engravers and someone who specialises in test shooting the gun to make sure it’s accurate,’ Mr Greatrex elaborates.

‘The guys in the finishing department attend to the final aesthetic, polishing the stock and components and making sure everything works as it should. They ensure that when you open the gun, it makes that wonderful clock sound and that the trigger pull is nice and crisp.’

At present, Holland & Holland’s most popular shotgun is the Royal over-and-under model, and 50% of customers still buy pairs of guns.

‘When it comes to a maximum price, with precious metals and current engraving techniques, the sky’s the limit,’ attests Mr Greatrex.