The perfect shooting jacket is like a holy grail that the big brands in country clothing have been striving to create for years. Advances in fabric technology mean that the choices available have become more diverse and complicated in recent times, with no one brand or style having really got ahead. Given that a good shooting coat can cost upwards of three hundred pounds, and lasts many years, buying a coat is a big decision and you don’t really want to get it wrong, so to help you out we’ve attempted to condense some of the key things to look for into a simple guide for you.
The first thing to consider is the type of shooting you are going to be doing, and for most people that probably means a mix of ‘standing gun’ and more active ‘walking gun’ perhaps mixed in with a bit of beating and working the dog. Straight away this presents the key problem; a really warm jacket for the standing gun or a lightweight jacket for the more active shooter. Ideally you’d have 2 jackets depending on the day, but with most of us opting for one jacket for all conditions you have to make a choice.
My recommendation is to go for a jacket made of a lightweight yet durable outer material, with either a thin quilted or wadded lining, that isn’t too warm or heavy, and make sure that it is big enough to slip a good fleece under on colder days. Steer clear of tweed as the weight is likely to make it cumbersome on more active days. Musto’s GWCT jacket, Barbour’s Sporting Lightweight and Harkila’s Edward Jacket all fit into this category nicely.
The next thing is an easy one; it must be waterproof and also breathable. Cheaper fabrics and wax that aren’t breathable could mean you’re as wet in side as outside on a warm yet wet day, as all the trapped sweat has no way to escape. It’s also worth investing in a jacket made of a top-end breathable fabric, as the level of breathability and also durability tends to be compromised in cheaper jackets. Gore-Tex is still the benchmark name in this area, and all 3 jackets named above incorporate Gore-Tex fabric technology, however there are other good membranes on the market such as Seetex.
The next thing we’ll look as is cut, and again this one is relatively easy if you want a traditional look, because a relatively conservative, straight cut, three-quarter length template dominates the majority of shooting jackets in the UK. Some of the Scandinavian brands such as Harkila and Seeland, have good waist length options, but these tend to be more popular with stalkers than traditional game shooters. The key thing in the cut is that you have plenty of freedom of movement across the shoulder, to allow you to swing the gun, and also that the sleeves are long enough. Depending on how broad you are across the shoulder different jackets suit different people best, but one jacket that seems exceptionally good on all builds is the Chameau Cheveney thanks to a cleverly cut action back.
Having all the main features sorted it is then down to the little details, and any good shooting jackets should have the following:
- Generous bellow cartridge pockets with retaining clips that hold them open to allow rapid reloading.
- An internal zipped security pocket and ideally at least a couple more for your hip flask and other bits and pieces.
- The option of a stud on hood. Whilst most people don’t use them, on a wet day they are great.
- Cross over poppered storm front, to prevent the rain getting through the zip.
- A good, deep storm collar with front fastener, again to keep out the rain.
- Storm cuffs, that grip to the wrist and prevent a gale blowing up your sleeve as you raise the gun.
With all those in mind you shop hopefully be able to pick out a jacket that does the job for many years to come.