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The slim and splendid five-storey red brick Holland & Holland factory, built in 1898 by Henry Holland, may be found in the Harrow Road not far from London’s Paddington Station. It now stands proudly in isolation but continues to serve its purpose for the manufacture of the very finest craft-made guns. The late 1800’s were still in the days of gas lighting hence the need for tall windows and high ceilings to make maximum use of natural light with the engravers always favouring North light.
More than one hundred years later there seems to have been little change other than new windows and a fresh coat of paint. It is not until we look inside that the differences become very evident. Built in the days of overhead shafting and belt-driven machinery, this state-of-the-art Victorian ‘technology’ has now been replaced by the new. Today you will see CAD stations (for computer aided design) used to define the functional detail of every gun down to the most exacting tolerance, and CAM stations (for computer aided manufacture) to generate the thousands of programmes required to drive the latest high-tech machine tools.
Gun author Michael McIntosh wrote ‘ If Michael Angelo had a jackhammer he would have used it to great advantage yet his finished sculptures would still be and look the same beautiful works of art’. This is equally true for traditional gun manufacturing. While machines were always used whenever possible, for example the drilling and honing of barrels, today we use the most modern equipment available to produce high quality components.
Yet this precision still relies heavily on all the traditional gunmaking skills to achieve the very ‘Best’. Barrels are hand-struck to a flawless and perfect form, actions and their components are filed and fitted with great precision and stocks are hand-shaped and immaculately chequered to the most elegant effect. Depending on the model, from 650 to in excess of 1000 hours will be invested in the making of every single gun. No part of a Holland ‘Best’ will interchange with one of another gun as each and every part is painstakingly fitted to ensure perfection. Combine these abilities with the quality of steel available today, and it will come as no surprise that we believe we are building the best guns ever.