What is a shooting jacket: crafting a shooting jacket that’s unique to you

A traditional shooting jacket is a classic example of British style and expert tailoring. However, you might be wondering if this jacket has a place in a modern gentleman’s wardrobe. 

At Phillip Alexander Bespoke Tailors, we believe that an expertly crafted shooting jacket is a must for country gentlemen. It makes an elegant alternative to a sports jacket or coat, particularly when out hunting, shooting, or simply taking a walk in the beautiful British countryside. 

In this guide, we’ll cover:

  • What is a shooting jacket?
  • The history of the shooting jacket 
  • The Norfolk jacket
  • Modern and traditional shooting jackets 

What is a shooting jacket?

A shooting jacket is generally considered to be a type of sports jacket that’s designed specifically for shooting. Traditionally this jacket might have been worn for hunting, clay pigeon shooting, and other shooting-based sports. Nowadays, it can also be worn recreationally as a functional and sophisticated piece of country attire. 

Several elements set a shooting jacket apart from other types of suit jackets:

  • A special cut-out at the shoulder and back area of the jacket is designed to allow full freedom of movement when positioning and aiming your gun. They typically also have a double vent or action pleats at the rear of the jacket to allow for further movement and flexibility. 
  • Another typical feature of this jacket is the deep front pockets designed to hold enough ammunition for a busy day of shooting while keeping them easy to access. These bellows pockets typically have buttons or fastening straps to ensure the cartridges don’t accidentally fall out. 
  • Some jackets might feature a gun patch to rest your rifle while out shooting. This protects both the wearer and the jacket from the butt end of the rifle. Elbow patches are another common addition to enable the wearer to crawl if the situation requires it. 
  • Modern jackets might have a waterproof or water-repellent coating to help protect you from the elements while outdoors. Other popular modern additions include fleece-lined hand warmer pockets or a storm collar, which can be turned up to protect you further. 
  • Traditionally, men’s shooting jackets are made from tweed due to its warmth, breathability and the fact it offers a good standard of protection from the weather. However, other fabrics are sometimes seen. 

The history of the shooting jacket

What we consider a shooting jacket originated from the Norfolk jacket, which had a much simpler design and a comfortable fit to allow men to shoot and aim freely. The Norfolk jacket was allegedly invented in the mid-to-late 19th century by Henry Fitzalan-Howard, the 15th Duke of Norfolk (hence the jacket’s name). The jacket was then popularised by the Prince of Wales, who would become King Edward VII. 

Another theory surrounding the jacket’s origins and name also exists. This theory states that the jacket was first worn by the Earl of Leicester, Thomas William Coke, in the 1820s while hunting on his 43,000-acre Norfolk estate (giving the jacket its name). The jacket style was then adopted and popularised by the future king, George IV, 

As far as evidence goes, the shooting jacket was first seen when it was worn by the Rifle Corps of the Volunteer Force in 1859. Originating in Norfolk, this jacket style gained popularity over the following decades, where it was worn for rural activities such as hunting and fishing. By the 1890s, these jackets started to be worn outside of hunting pursuits and were a common sight around town.

The Norfolk jacket

The Norfolk jacket was the first jacket designed for shooting, hunting and other rural pastimes. Nowadays, the term Norfolk jacket and shooting jacket are sometimes used interchangeably. Shooting jacket is a broader term that might refer to traditional tweed shooting suit jackets, modern technical shooting coats, and everything in between.

A Norfolk jacket is a loose-fitting, single-breasted tweed jacket. Typically, there are box pleats on the back and front to allow for movement and flexibility while shooting. It can include a full or half-belt for a comfortable fit. Like all shooting attire, it features oversized front pockets for cartridges and other hunting accessories. 

Modern shooting jackets

As advances have been made in the fabric industry, modern shooting jackets have become more technical to help protect wearers from the elements. Some modern, quality shooting jackets include a GORE-TEX liner or Teflon coating to make the garment waterproof and able to be worn in all weather conditions. These jackets are designed exclusively for outdoor pursuits rather than recreational wearing. 

Some modern shooting jackets have moved away from the traditional suit jacket design and more closely resemble a parka or waterproof coat. These jackets may feature waterproof materials, a concealed zip, and a lack of lapels. They may be referred to as shooting clothing or men’s shooting coats to distinguish them from more traditional designs. 

Traditional shooting jackets

The traditional style of shooting suit jacket, such as a Norfolk jacket, is not a thing of the past. A well-made shooting jacket crafted by an expert tailor is a work of art that looks stunning when out shooting, strolling over the countryside or at a special event. Made from warm tweed, a shooting jacket is the perfect piece of country clothing to reach for when you need a hardy jacket to protect you from colder temperatures.

The beauty of a traditional shooting jacket is that it can be worn both inside and outside depending on your needs and the occasion. You can wear your shooting jacket with a button-down dress shirt for a business casual look or pair it with a wool jumper for a more relaxed feel. No matter how you style your shooting jacket, you can be sure that you’ll look as dignified as a gentleman should. Choosing a bespoke shooting jacket means you can customise every element to craft your ideal garment that’s unique to you.

Bespoke shooting jackets by Philip Alexander 

When it comes to choosing your perfect shooting jacket, it can be difficult to know where to start with so many options available. Working with experienced tailors to design your dream shooting jacket means you’re guaranteed a jacket that surpasses your expectations. 

At Phillip Alexander, we’ve been crafting tailored suits and jackets for over a hundred years. From dinner jackets to shooting jackets, our world-class tailors can create a garment tailored to your personal preferences and sense of style. Your shooting jacket will fit you perfectly, ensuring you’re comfortable all day long, whether you’re wearing it shooting or for a special event. 

With locations in Cheshire and Savile Row in London, we offer a wide range of services, including bespoke and made-to-measure shooting jackets.  

Bespoke shooting jackets 

Our bespoke service offers you the very best of British tailoring. Handcrafted using expert craftsmanship and high-quality materials, a bespoke shooting jacket is the best option for the distinguished gentleman who wants full control over the look of his garment. 

The bespoke tailoring process involves precise measurements and multiple fittings to ensure the perfect fit. Our master tailors will be on hand to guide you through the process and ensure that you get a shooting jacket that’s both functional and stylish. You can choose from our huge range of fabric samples and adorning details to craft your perfect jacket!

Made to measure shooting jackets

Our made-to-measure service offers you significantly more control than purchasing an off-the-peg shooting jacket, but your jacket will be ready in less time and at a lower cost than our bespoke jackets. 

We use a combination of machine work and handcraft to produce a beautiful and practical shooting jacket in around two months. This service uses fewer fittings to reduce the time frame, but you can rest assured that you’ll get a well-fitting, expertly-made shooting jacket designed according to your specifications. 

Book an in-person or telephone consultation to discuss our range of bespoke or made-to-measure jackets.