Category Archives: Product Reviews

Introducing Custom Sporting Mats and Hides

It goes without saying that we at Firearms UK love firearms and shooting, so we are keen to bring to your attention any company or product we feel may be of interest to you as firearms owners and shooting sports enthusiasts. This times its the turn of Custom Sporting Mats and Hides a family run business based out of Essex, specializing in sporting goods for the shooting fraternity.

Products and Prices

The company have numerous product lines, offering something for everyone; including shooting mats, pellet pouches and gun bags. All products are made in house using top quality materials as shown by an array of stunning product photographs.

Custom Sporting Mats and HIdes 27th December Price List

Price List (27/12/13): All prices include delivery

The standard shooting mats have four sections so when folded the dirt and mud is inside away from your clothes, they measure 29″ x 68″ when out flat. Manufactured from hard-wearing 1000d Cordura fabric they are water-resistant and all seams, handles, etc are all double stitched using a very strong thread. The covers do not come off but are easy to clean with a damp cloth and have even been known to be cleaned with a jet washer!

The bean bag seats are also very popular and are made out of the same high quality materials. Two sizes are available, the HFT bean bag and the larger FT bean bag. They can be made with a pocket on the front or without, whichever is preferred. The HFT bean bag measures approx 18″ x 17″ and is £27 without pocket or £29 with pocket. The FT bean bag measures approx 20″ x 19″ and is £38 without pocket and £40 with pocket, they can also be made to customers own requirements.

A small selection of pellet pouches are available which can be made in any colour with a lanyard or belt loops. The single pouch costs £5.50, the small double pellet/mag pouch is £10 and was featured in Shooting Sports Magazine. The large pellet/mag pouch is priced at £15.

Man aiming an air rifle through a small camouflage hide

In addition to mats and pouches, they also offer hides!

Rifle bags and pistol cases were added to the product range in 2013 and are proving very popular. They are custom made to suit your own measurements and are available in a variety of designs and colours.


The standard shooting mats come with the company name and contact number embroidered on them, but a personalized embroidery service is available at an additional cost, and may be especially useful if you are purchasing as a club or to commemorate a special occasion. The mats measure 29″ x 68″ when laid out flat but can be custom made to your own size requirements.

Gun bags are priced on the requirements of the customer so they don’t have a set price, all bags are priced individually. If you require a gun bag please get in touch with Custom Sporting Mats and Hides for a quote.

Take a look at the gallery for some examples.

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Company History

The husband and wife team behind Custom Sporting Mats and Hides, being keen shooters themselves also run an airgun club and it was here where their business first began by making bean bags for their Essex shooting club. It went down so well they were soon asked if they make shooting mats. After a a lot of research in to different types of fabric and foam, they came up with the mats you see above.

They pride themselves on quality and only use high quality materials. The business has been going from 2010 and is run out of their family home in Essex. Now specializing in gun bags, they were the main supplier of leather bottle covers for Daystate, with the first one to be seen on the REDRANGER special edition rifle.

More Information

Custom Sporting Mats and Hides is run by a family of air rifle shooters, who also run their own gun club… so if their fabulous range of products isn’t enough to tempt you into getting out the credit card, perhaps knowing that you will be helping to support a family who loves the sport just as much as you do will!

More to their range… rugby tops and polo shirts can now be ordered with your name or club logo on, please get in touch for quote.

custom logos and embroidery on polo shirts and rugby tops

Based in Rayleigh, Essex you can reach them via their website contact page by e-mail or by phone on 01268 655179.

Custom Sporting Mats and Hides also have their own Facebook page please pay them a visit and invite your friends to take a look at their products.


The ABC of Rabbit Control, DVD Review

Erika was recently fortunate enough to win a DVD entitled ‘The ABC of Rabbit Control’, kindly donated to the Pest Control UK group on Facebook; in return for her good fortune she will provide a review of the DVD bellow.

My general thoughts are that the video is very clear, easy to understand and is professionally presented; so don’t be fooled by the debatable quality of the DVD sleeve insert :-). The subject is covered in detail and is divided into sub topics beginning with an introduction to the various tools available for rabbit control. The tools are then discussed in more detail and demonstrated so that you are familiar with how to use them and how to select the most appropriate tool for your own circumstances. The DVD finishes with an “in the field” demonstration showing traps being setup and baited ready for use and highlights some of the damage caused by the rabbits.

Particularly interesting for myself was the tunnel trap and the ferrets because I am less familiar with these methods in comparison to the live catch traps and other methods mentioned. Having an opportunity to see the traps deployed in the field with the intricacies of where to place the traps discussed is also a very valuable portion of the video which I found to be engaging. If you are new to traps they are covered in great detail, with the various types explained; how and where to set them is covered as well as some historical points.

I am informed the DVD is “a bit dated now”, though it is still available on their new ‘Discount Pest Control’ website, where it is currently available for only £5.99, a bargain for any budding pest controller or someone with their own rabbit problem. On their website you will also find a collection of “live catch” traps which they make themselves.

The ABC of Rabbit Control DVD

This DVD is available from Discount Pest Control

PSA: Sling Swivels

This is a public service announcement (PSA). When purchasing sling swivels please ensure you check the quality of manufacture, it is no use saving a few pounds on the cost of a more expensive version when they can break and trash your much more expensive firearm. When it comes to installing them, take care and ensure they are installed correctly and securely before you trust them to your rifle or shotgun.

We are making this PSA because we have just become aware of multiple cases of failures via Facebook.

Review: Browning Maxus

I have always had a love of Browning firearms. I’m not sure where this interest has come from perhaps just from the ergonomics and aesthetics of the firearms or perhaps it is the fantastic reputation and innovation that has been shown by John M Browning and the company over the centuries. Unfortunately due to the sad state of affairs of UK firearms law I have thus far never been able to own or fire many of the firearms from this legendary name. It was with my interest in Browning firearms that  I was drawn towards choosing Browning Shotguns for my first purchase.I had shot clays for a few years but only fairly recently did I apply for my SGC.

I can remember being in the shop looking at all the guns when I picked up a Browning 525 O/U(which I will talk about in another article). The length and balance of the gun was perfect for me so I decided to purchase it. However I was also very keen to purchase a semi automatic shotgun and that is when the Maxus caught my eye. It stood apart from the others in the shop due to the eye catching finish and of course the “quick release” fore end.

I picked it up and again was amazed at how well it seemed to fit my frame as well as how light it was.  I left that day £2,500 lighter with 1 almost new 525 and a brand new Maxus  and I will never look back.

My particular model is the Maxus Sporting Carbon Fiber (pictured) which features a synthetic stock and forearms, aluminium receiver and coated steel barrel with a ventilated rib. It is chambered for 2 3/4″ -3″ magnum and is proofed for steel shot. In all it weighs in around 7lbs

Maxus Sporting Carbon Fiber

Browning Maxus Sporting Carbon Fiber

This was a favourite when participating in my first rough shoot as I felt it would be more forgiving of the wet(although with good maintenance this shouldn’t be an issue). The Dura-Touch® coating on the stock and fore end is also designed to aid in stopping heat loss as well as improving grip in wet conditions. Very much appreciated I can tell you!

The Maxus has many excellent features such as the quick release fore end which I have already mentioned but also a speed loader and a magazine empty.

The quick release is quite an innovative feature that aids in stripping down the gun for cleaning and maintenance. It functions similarly to the fore end on a traditional over under. You simply push a small button in and flick a lever up and the fore end simply slides off. This allows the rest of the gun to be stripped down.

Quick release mechanism for Browning Maxus

Quick Release Mechanism

To remove stock press button

To remove fore end press button

Pull lever out and slide fore end off

Pull lever out and slide fore end off

The speed loader is simple in operation and an excellent feature.  It allows you to leave the gun and magazine empty whilst walking but allows you to be ready to fire almost immediately if quarry presents itself unexpectedly. The principle of operation is simple. You leave the breech locked open and the magazine empty, when you load the first shot into the magazine it is immediately feed into the chamber and the breech block closes over ready to fire thus saving vital seconds fumbling to load directly into the breech.

The only down side to this feature is you cannot have 2 rounds in the magazine with the breech left open as they automatically feed into the chamber. Some models do feature a magazine disconnect which allows you to leave the breech open and have cartridges in the magazine.

The magazine discharge is another handy little feature on the Maxus which saves a bit of time and messing about. Just inside the magazine feed there is a little spring tab sticking out. If you wish to empty your gun you simply push this tab in and the cartridges will automatically feed  out of the magazine into your hand.

Browning Maxus Magazine Discharge

Magazine discharge (tab arrowed)

The Maxus also features Browning’s Power Drive Gas System. According to Browning this system ” has been designed to be more reliable in all conditions, fire a wider selection of loads, reduce recoil and cycle shells faster. The new Power Drive gas piston features large exhaust ports that effectively dump gases faster on heavy loads, while the piston has an approximately 20% longer stroke for superior reliability with light loads.”


Maintenance of the Maxus is very easy. The entire gun can be stripped down in less than 20 seconds(Faster with practice) after removing the quick release fore end the barrel, piston,spring and breech block to be removed.  I lubricate all moving parts with a light oil. Grease has been recommended to me for the breech block but I am going to monitor the effectiveness of this as I am wary of any grease getting turned into grinding paste.

Disassembled Browning Maxus

Disassembled Maxus showing barrel, magazine tube, gas piston and forend. Breech block is still in receiver

Browning Maxus Breech Block

Breech Block. To remove, cocking handle must be pulled out and breech closing button must be pressed to let breech slide out

After a lot of shooting you may also wish to clean the inside of the magazine tube out and lubricate it. This is fairly simple to do but if unsure you should always go to a professional gunsmith. To open up the magazine tube there is a little spring pin that must be pressed in whilst applying torque to the end cap. Once the pin is pressed in the cap should screw off as normal. Be careful when nearing the end of the thread as there is a very long spring inside under tension. When doing this I place a rag over the end cap and wear a pair of safety glasses.

Re-assembly is simply the reverse process. When putting the spring and end cap back on you may need assistance. Also the spring pin will need to be pressed in to allow it to screw in correctly.

Although I am a relatively new shooter I can say I am very happy with my choice(s) for my first shotguns and can see many years of happy reliable use ahead of me. The Maxus is ideal for new and experienced shooters alike. It is light, low recoil, accurate, reliable, easy to look after and most of all FUN!