I had the pleasure of spending a few hours with Elkhart Lake, Wisconsins own Hugh Lomas. I was getting a custom gun fitting, and asked him if he wouldn't mind a very quick question and answer session. For those of you who don’t know, Hugh was a Birmingham trained gun maker, and an absolute wealth of knowledge of all things firearms. He still maintains some of that English accent,and is just one heck of a great guy.
Q: What gauge is your favorite and why?
I have to go with the twelve gauge, a typical English approach. A decent twelve gauge, 2 and ¾ inch capability, is the most versatile gun around. I can still fire 7/8 ounce of shot, I can fire a 1 and 3/16 or 1 and 1/4 shell with the right powder. It gives me a broad spectrum of loads and typically it’s a gun I can carry all day at 6 and a half pounds and under.
Q: What are you feelings on choke, specifically referring to grouse?
If were talking strictly about grouse, I don’t think that your first barrel can have to little choke. Grouse and woodcock go together and that first shot at cylinder will kill anything, but having said that if you wanted to take that same gun across the Mississippi river and hunt out west, improved cylinder/English improved cyl (5thou of choke) is the MOST effective choke and it increases your pattern from 40% of the load to 50% of the load which is a 25% increase in shot density in your main circle.
Q: What’s the biggest mistake modern shot gunners make?
Shooting way to tight of choke, it’s an easy fix.
Q: Box lock or Side lock?
A box lock is my preference, certainly lighter and more affordable. You’ve got a gun in price range you don’t have to worry about. Side locks have a certain aesthetic merit to them, but I do not believe that the mechanical advantages that are assigned to side locks are real. I’m real happy shooting a standard Anson and Deely. The “box lock” itself was a derogatory term invented by the press. In the English trade, the A&D was a Birmingham design, and me being a "Brummie" (Native of Birmingham), I’m very happy and proud of it.
Hugh, is always willing to answer questions and literally does everything from building custom guns, to machining new pieces for borken ones. Here is his contact info for anyone interested