Hands on EJ Churchill’s Hercules Review
After seeing EJ Churchill’s new Hercules at the British Shooting Show it was a gun we just had to shoot. The first thing that took us was the extended engraving from the side plate action to the extended engraving up the forend. The quality of the wood was also excellent, It’s well figured and the one on show was almost a perfect fit. Once in the hands, the grip is comfortable and it feels instantly balanced and proportional.
We arrived at EJ Churchill’s early doors to get out on the ground as quickly as possible. Walking through the gun rack the Hercules was easy to spot. In a rack of Berettas, Blasers and Brownings the Hercules stands out immediately. The quality of the wood is punching well above its price point, compared to the comparatively priced Beretta DT11 there’s no question into which one has a better figure. When picked up, the palm swell isn’t aggressive and it feels like you’re holding it rather than gripping it. With more and more manufacturers opting for an aggressive palm swell this a nice change. Turn the gun over and you notice the engraving extends from the action down the pistol grip to an engraved grip cap. These are subtle touches that set the Hercules apart from the other guns at this price point.
When we shot the Hercules in June we hadn’t fired a shot since the end of the previous season. We were a little apprehensive that we’d forget how to read patterns or stop the gun as we looked to see if we’d hit the target. Frustratingly, the first stand was the quartering going away bird followed by an incoming driven bird. Neither of these were the lazy teal that we were hoping for but it’s hard to say let’s look for another stand! Before we knew it the first pair were broken and the gun felt natural, allowing instinct to take over and instantly allowing more confidence. The next stand was from the tower and again everything felt comfortable and while not perfect they were typical mistakes.
How did it perform
We visited Churchills to touch base with a friend looking to buy his forever gun. He’s owned his 687 Beretta EELL from some time but decided he wanted something special before entering in to retirement. He’s always wanted a pair of guns and now seemed the perfect time to it! Naturally, he went back to Beretta to look at what’s available to him and his options looked like a pair of DT11’s and the new SL3. Both of these are brilliant guns but in his own words, “The Hercules just doesn’t put a foot wrong”. This is a statement that resonated with all that were there. Every stand felt more and more approachable and the Hercules gave you more confidence shot after shot. When compared to what’s available at this price point there was nothing else that felt quite the same. For the friend in question, it felt unreasonable to spend the additional money to go from his 687EELL to the new classic, especially when Churchill’s Hercules is also a completely bespoke fitted gun from the factory, which isn’t the case with the competition at this price point.
The old adage of “don’t meet your heroes” was in our mind on the way there. After seeing the Hercules on Churchill’s stand at the NEC it looked excellent, but there was a worry that it may not shoot as well as it looked. However, any such concerns were instantly dispelled as we hit the first stands. The Hercules is light, nimble and feels natural in your hands. Visually, depending on what you like the engraving may not be to your taste but we love it! Thankfully the bold engraving is backed up by strong performance and will be right at home on a game shoot. We hope to be back soon to compare the SL3 and Hercules side by side before the orders made.