Wednesday, 25 August 2010


About a year after Paul had his chrome Zabalas done, he happened to sit next to a girl who worked at Swarovski. They got chatting and he asked her whether the crystals could be put on a gun. She put him in touch with Jonathan Bullas at Crystalroc, based in London, the recommended applicator in Europe for Swarovski crystals.

"We used 2,820 crystals on each gun, which equates to 48 man-hours," says Jonathan. "The glue was specially made to withstand heat of up to 250°C, so they won't come off even if the barrels heat up."

Now, I will be completely honest here. I am a stickler for etiquette and tradition on the shooting field and was not prepared to find these guns at all attractive but, to my surprise, I found myself admiring the workmanship. The gold ones truly are a one-off - quite extraordinarily flash and incredibly tactile. Because the crystals are not all over the barrels but just along the rib, on the trigger guard and the sideplates, it's actually quite an attractive, dainty design. It's not everyone's taste but if you want to cause a stir, dipping your shotguns in molten gold is the way to do it.

Paul has a friend who took one look at his chrome-barrelled guns at a charity day a couple of years ago and wanted to order a pair for himself. He also loved the idea of incorporating Swarovski crystals along the rib and has commissioned a pair for next season. He wishes to remain anonymous but tells me: "It's so amusing and a completely alternative way of looking at it. It's at the opposite end of the scale to all the heavily engraved old English guns. I am going to commission a black crocodile skin case for them, with a black velvet interior, incorporating a silver cigar box." A friend of theirs has also ordered a pair, complete with crystals, and the plan is to re-model a violin case specially for them.

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