Founded in 1883, William Evans has been furnishing customers with the finest country apparel and shooting equipment for 143 years. "We are still providing a very similar product and service to all those years ago," explains London General Manager Alastair Phillips. "Minor things like legislation, shopfront layout and operations have changed, but all of our guns are built in a very similar way to how they were in the past.”
Over the years, clients have included anyone from gamekeepers to Maharajas, and most famously, William Evans’s patron, The Duke of Connaught. A varied customer base requires plenty of individual attention and technique, meaning each gun is handmade to the customer's requirements. “There is a bit of machining at the start to save some time, but the oil finishing, the engraving, the checkering is all done by hand in almost exactly the same manner as in 1883," says Phillips. "We are still using the same tools, systems and methods because they have always worked and provide the guns with their unique fingerprint.”
To provide the best possible service, William Evans employs two types of expert gunworkers – both gunmaker and gunsmiths – who take two to three years of careful craftsmanship to create a gun from scratch. The former focus on solely on new production, while the latter specialise in repairs and renovations. “We employ a range of gunsmiths across the country who are each best suited to working on different types of guns across a range of manufacture and design," explains Phillips. "When a gun is handmade and incorporates that level of craft, it is much more specialised to repair and replace its parts – a handmade gun has its own identity and uniqueness in design.”
The bespoke process has become a hallmark of quality for the brand, with the William Evans team providing customers with expert advice as well as private fittings to ensure each gun matches the size and shape of the customer's body. Prices start at £57,000, increasing based on levels of engraving, grade of wood (which can be sourced from walnut trees over 200 years old), and other additions such as gold inlay or precious jewels – with options limited only by the customer's imagination. For such a precious purchase, William Evans promise to create the highest-quality product.