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Double Barrel Hunting Reviews Shotguns

Mossberg Silver Reserve II Review

by Joseph von Benedikt   |  September 18th, 2013 0

Prewar British double-barrel fowling pieces represent the pinnacle of side-by-side shotguns and, according to some aficionados, the pinnacle of gunmaking as an art. Almost all side-by-side scatterguns built since then draw on some element of British design, and Mossberg’s new Turkish-built boxlock Silver Reserve II shotguns are no exception. I have had the privilege of examining, shooting, and reviewing samples of Mossberg’s new upland guns in 20 and 28 gauges.

I’m not an expert in the finer points of side-by-side shotgun design and jargon, so I consulted Shotgun Technicana by Michael McIntosh and David Trevallion liberally as I disassembled and examined the new Mossberg guns. Clearly, the Silver Reserve IIs combine traditional elements with modern manufacturing techniques, and they also offer some concessions to contemporary shotgunning, such as removable/exchangeable choke tubes.

While “chopper lump” barrels—wherein each barrel is forged integral to half the locking lump, and the two lumps are then wedded together—are all the rage in fine fowling pieces, such are time consuming and expensive to manufacture. Here’s where I found one of the most dramatic departures from traditional design: The Mossberg Silver Reserve II barrels fix to the action via a locking lump that is one integral piece with the chambers. The chambers, rib extension, and locking lump are all machined from one solid hunk of steel that’s 2.50 inches in length. Into this are secured the rib and the individual barrels, which—in reduced diameter—extend clear through the block to the rear face of the chambers.

I’m not savvy enough in side-by-side durability to render an opinion on how this method of construction will affect long-term performance. Internally, the chambers appear to have fairly clean machining, and the rear of the barrel faces lock up nice and square with the receiver face. The flat rear surfaces of the barrels are nice and square, but do retain plentiful machining marks.

The Silver Reserve IIs are not ejector guns; rather, they are extractor guns, obliging—or allowing, depending on your viewpoint—the shooter to pluck the partially extracted cases from the chambers manually.

Like almost all side-by-sides, the barrel and forearm assembly pivot around the hinge pin via the “hook,” a semicircular cut in the front of the locking lumps. Lockup is achieved through two “bites,” which are square-cut notches in the lump that are engaged by a sliding locking plate activated by the thumb lever. The thumb lever itself and a slender rib extension combine to form a sort of pseudo top fastener where it has the greatest mechanical effect.

Though stiff—as new guns tend to be—the SRIIs break open smoothly. The thumb lever, safety/selector, and trigger guard are blued; the action is left in the white and machine engraved with full-coverage scrollwork. Thankfully, the engraving pattern is fine in nature and unobtrusive rather than deep and coarse. The fences (the round-backed surfaces that form the rear of the standing breech) are stippled rather than engraved.

The nonautomatic tang safety does double duty as barrel selector. With the slide in the “Safe” position, it may be clicked to the left to fire the left barrel or moved to the right to fire the right barrel. It functions smoothly and positively.

Compressing the internal hammersprings is accomplished the traditional way through a union of the rear of the forearm iron where it mates up with the knuckle at the front of the action. Cocking levers protrude from the front of the knuckle and are captured by square holes in the forearm iron, and rotating the shotgun from the locked to the open position causes the levers to compress the springs.

SRIIs feature a single, mechanical trigger. Since it is not an inertia-shift design, no recoil is required to shift from the first to the second barrel. In other words, if the first barrel happens to be empty, or you experience a dud, you don’t have to whack the butt with your palm to get the sear to shift so that you can fire the second barrel. Just squeeze; the second barrel will fire.

Reliable they are, but no one would accuse the sample guns tested for this report of having clean, crisp, or light trigger pulls. I’m sure they’ll smooth up and become lighter in pull weight with use, but from the factory the 20 gauge’s first pull weighed in at 6 pounds, 8 ounces; the second at 7 pounds, 4 ounces. The 28-gauge gun’s trigger pulls measured 6 pounds, 13 ounces and 5 pounds, 15 ounces.

The finish of the barrels doesn’t exactly glow, but the bluing is nice and even, and the polish is adequate. Unlike many side-by-side shotguns that are fitted with interchangeable choke tubes, the SRII barrels do not have an obvious step up in diameter to accommodate the threaded tubes. Rather, they simply flare slightly toward the muzzles, almost like a nice set of swamped barrels. A small silver bead is affixed near the end of the rib.

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