September 23, 2010
There have been recent years when very little in the way of new happened in the world of shotguns, but 2009 will most definitely not go down in history as one of them. Read on, and you will understand why I believe this is the case.
Quite a few years ago, I bought a No. 1 grade AyA side-by-side shotgun in 28 gauge, and each time I look at the ever-escalating prices in the company's latest catalog, I am reminded of what a great investment I made. I no longer own the new automobile I bought during the same year, but my guess is it now sits all alone in some junk yard while the shotgun I bought continues to increase in value each year. Another AyA I am tempted to invest some money in is the new Anniversary Model that is being built to celebrate the 50th anniversary of that company's presence in the British shotgun market.
A side-by-side ejector hammer gun in 12 gauge, the new Anniversary Model has a forged steel action, a Purdy-style locking system, and chopper-lump barrels measuring 30 inches long and wearing a flat rib. As it should, the gun has double triggers, with the front trigger being articulated. Other features include a straight-hand stock, a splinter forearm--both with British-style checkering--and a receiver covered with fine scroll engraving with gold inlays. If you think this gun is expensive today, just wait and see how much more it will cost 10 years from now.
At a recent trade show, Benelli aroused a lot of curiosity and got plenty of attention in a rather clever way. Inside a glass case that was guarded by what appeared to be a couple of Secret Service guys was an odd-shaped gun case with the word "Vinci" on its cover. The contents of the case? At this time, I can only reveal that it is a totally new autoloader; beyond that, I am sworn to secrecy until after I wring out the gun in the dove fields of Argentina. You'll be able to read my report right here in Shooting Times after I have done just that.
And speaking of south of the border, the Benelli Cordoba earned its reputation for reliability and durability in the Argentine province of the same name. This version of the Benelli autoloader has been around for a couple of years, but the Performance Shop edition is new for 2009. Intended for high-volume shooting--3,000 rounds and more per day--its barrel has a lengthened and highly polished forcing cone and is overbored to a diameter of .733 inch for the 12 gauge and .627 for the 20 gauge. The gun comes with color-coded and extended chokes from Briley in Skeet, Improved Cylinder, and Modified. Other features include a Briley EZ bolt-release mechanism, black synthetic stock with ComforTech recoil reduction system, and two forearm caps--one standard weight, the other for smoothing out swing and follow-through by adding 6 ounces to the front of the gun. Barrel length is 28 inches, and nominal weights are 6.7 pounds for the 20 gauge and 7.7 pounds for the 12. But you don't have to travel to Argentina to enjoy the Cordoba. It is equally useful and just as much fun to shoot in the hunting and clay target shooting fields right here at home.
Described by Beretta as Q-Stock, the stock of the new 12-gauge SV10 Prevail over-under can be removed by using a supplied tool to reach through the bottom of the grip to turn out a threaded fastener. This eliminates the necessity of removing the recoil pad for stock removal, an especially handy feature to have if the stock is wearing the optional Kick-Off recoil-reduction system. With the stock removed, the same tool can be used to remove the entire trigger group from the receiver for cleaning. Several trigger components are machined from titanium, something seldom seen on anything but high-grade target guns. The Optima-Bore barrels have 3-inch chambers, wear ventilated top and side ribs, and come with five screw-in chokes ranging from Cylinder to Full. Barrel lockup is handled by a pair of conical-shaped longitudinal locking lugs.
Also worthy of note are a safety capable of manual and automatic operation and a rust- and wear-resistant nickel-based protective finish on the receiver. Nominal weight is 7.7 pounds.
Not long back, I wrote about Browning's new Maxus gas-operated autoloader in Shooting Times, and while I won't repeat myself in full here, I will mention a feature or two for the benefit of those who missed my previous report.
For starters, the Maxus is replacing the Gold in the Browning lineup of shotguns. Its most recognizable feature is the lack of the ever-familiar screw-on magazine cap, which holds the forearm in place on other shotguns. The forearm of the Maxus is attached by a latch up front that also accepts a quick-detach sling swivel. A feature I like--and one that should be on all shotguns--is a magazine cut-off, which first appeared many decades ago on John Browning's Auto-5. Another great idea is the new Turnkey magazine plug, which is easily removed and installed with the aid of an automobile ignition or door key. The Maxus also features the Speed-Load Plus system. You can buy one with 3-inch or 3½-inch chamber, and the over-molded synthetic stock and forearm come in all-black or Mossy Oak's Duck Blind camo.
Connecticut Shotgun Mfg. Co.
Not many double-barreled shotguns are made in America these days, but those at Connecticut Shotgun Manufacturing Company are, and they include the Winchester Model 21 and the Fox side-by-sides. Both guns are the real deal and not reproductions.
Latest from this company is the RBL Professional, a 20-gauge side-by-side with 24-inch rifled barrels built specifically for shooting sabot slug loads. The barrels of the gun are easily regulated by its owner to shoot a particular load to the same point of impact at 100 yards. Open sights consist of a windage-and-elevation-adjustable leaf attached to a quarter rib at the rear and a ramped gold bead up front. The receiver is machined from a billet of Type 8620 steel and has a case-hardened finish.
Standard features include double triggers, automatic ejectors, splinter forearm, and a buttstock with either a pistol grip or a straight grip. Additional-cost options include single-selective trigger, beavertail forearm, assisted opening, higher grade walnut, and Leupold 1.5-5X Vari-X III scope with quick-detachable mount. The RBL Professional is also available on spe
cial order in a two-barrel set with one pair rifled and the other smoothbore.
Several years ago, I was one of the first to hunt with the Renaissance over-under. That particular gun was in 28 gauge, and I was quite pleased with how it reached out and grassed Texas bobwhites. The latest version is the 20-gauge Sporting, and while it is obviously intended for clay target shooting, its 30-inch barrels make it an extremely smooth-swinging gun on doves.
The ventilated rib is tapered and has a green fiber-optic bead up front. An adequate coverage of floral scroll engraving on its stainless-steel receiver, nicely struck barrels with a blued finish, and a bit of contrasting figure in the oil-finished walnut stock and forearm are quite pleasing to the eye. In addition to a height-adjustable comb, the stock has the relatively new Twin Shock Absorber recoil pad. Optional interchangeable pads in three thicknesses are available for shooters who wish to adjust the standard length of pull of 14.5 inches either shorter or longer. Nominal weight is 7.4 pounds, and extended choke tubes in Cylinder, Improved Cylinder, Modified, Improved Modified, and Full are included in the package.
When it came to a shotgun for the uplands, my father was an L.C. Smith man, but his favorite waterfowl gun was the Ithaca Model 37 pump gun. Dad liked his Model 37 for a number of reasons, not the least of which was that its bottom ejection eliminated the need for an opening in the side of the receiver, making it more weatherproof than side-eject guns. Over the decades, the grand old Ithaca pumper has gone through some hard times, but it is now being manufactured in all its glory by the Ithaca Gun Company. Receivers are precision-machined of steel for standard models and Featherlight versions, and receivers for the Ultralight are aluminum. The ventilated ribs of most guns made today are either brazed or soldered to their barrels, but since the process can warp the barrel--not to mention the potential failure of solder joints--the rib of an Ithaca shotgun is mechanically attached to lugs machined integrally to its barrel.
The latest is the Model 37 Featherlight in 28 gauge, which just happens to be my favorite shotshell for most upland wingshooting. The stock and forearm are black walnut in three grade options ranging from A to AAA. Receiver engraving ranges from affordable and nice enough to be appreciated by most of us to more extensive coverage replete with gold-filled pointing dogs and flushing quail on the highest grade gun. Barrel length options are 26 and 28 inches, and weight is about 6¼ pounds.
Also new is the 12-gauge Model 37 Home Defense with either 18½- or 20-inch barrel and a magazine capacity of four rounds for the former and eight rounds for the latter. All metal has a Parkerized finish, and the stock comes in wood or synthetic with a Pachmayr Decelerator recoil pad.
As other news from Ithaca goes, I am told the company will be introducing an over-under shotgun that will be manufactured entirely at its Sandusky, Ohio, plant. The prototype I examined was quite nice, and while I was asked to not reveal its price, I'll just say it will be surprisingly affordable and leave it at that for now.
The most interesting news in side-by-sides from Merkel of late is the Model 1620 Combo, which comes with two sets of 28-inch barrels: one in 20 gauge, the other in 16 gauge. The chokes in both sets of barrels are fixed at Improved Cylinder and Modified, although the 20-gauge tubes can be special-ordered with Skeet and Improved Cylinder. The latter is an excellent choke combination for hunting ruffed grouse during early season before the trees have shed their foliage and shots come either right now or never.
The Model 1620 boxlock action has the Greener crossbolt lockup, and its silver-grayed receiver is finished in a combination of case-coloring and scroll engraving. Other features include double triggers (as God meant for a double to have), ejectors, automatic safety, and your choice of pistol or English-style wrist. Nominal weight is a feathery 6.3 pounds.
The style of stock with an extended grip was originally built for tactical guns used in military and law enforcement circles, but turkey hunters have become fond of it too, mainly because recoil generated by heavy loads is partially absorbed by the weight of the hand and arm before it reaches the shoulder. For quite sometime now, Mossberg has offered that type of stock on some of its pump guns, but I believe the 12-gauge Model 930PG Turkey is the first autoloader from that company to wear one.
The 930PG Turkey's 24-inch ported barrel has a 3-inch chamber, and it wears a ventilated rib with fully adjustable fiber-optic sights. The receiver is drilled and tapped for the mounting of a telescopic or electronic sight. Magazine capacity is five rounds, and nominal weight is 7.5 pounds. Finish options are either a black synthetic stock with a blued barrel/receiver or everything clad in Mossy Oak's Obsession camo pattern.
After decades of dominating the slide-action shotgun market with the Model 870, Remington is introducing a space-age version of that gun called the Model 887 Nitro Mag. All exterior surfaces of its steel receiver and barrel are protected from the elements by a thick coat of polymer called ArmorLokt--and I do mean thick. Adding the coating to a 12-gauge barrel increases its diameter to about the same as for a barrel in 10 gauge. In addition to eliminating the possibility of exterior rusting, the coating on the barrel should go a long way toward protecting it from being dented the next time you drop it on a rock in the field. Also made of polymer, the 887's ventilated rib is actually an integral part of the barrel armor.
Available in 3- and 3½-inch versions, the 28-inch barrel comes with a Modified screw-in Rem-Choke. Magazine capacity is four rounds. The 887 has quick-detach sling-swivel posts fore and aft, and its synthetic buttstock and forearm have no-slip gripping surfaces. Other features include Remington's extremely effective Super-Cell recoil pad, fiber-optic front sight, and twin steel action bars, the latter inherited from the Model 870. Nominal weight is 7½ pounds; finish options are black and Mossy Oak Obsession.
A new addition to the Rossi family of entirely affordable single-shots is the Trifecta. As its name implies, the gun comes with three interchangeable barrels in 20 gauge, .22 Long Rifle, and .243 Winchester. Respective barrel lengths are 22, 18.5, and 22 inches, and in addition to being drilled and tapped for scope mounting, the two rifle barrels have fully adjustable fiber-optic sights.Stock and forearm are laminated wood, and the entire outfit stows neatly into its own soft carrying case. This one is just the ticket for the hunter on a tight budget who is in need of a single firearm that's capable
of taking a pheasant on the wing, dropping a gray squirrel from a tall oak tree, and harvesting a supply of venison.
Cowboy action shooters who must defend stagecoaches from those dirty, stinking, dry-gulching varmints in black hats will be thrilled to learn that the Stoeger side-by-side Coach Gun is now available with a nonselective single trigger (right barrel always fires first). Two versions are available: plain-Jane with standard-grade walnut for simple cowpokes and Supreme with AA-grade walnut for the fancier dudes.
Barrel length is 20 inches, and weights are 6.4 pounds for the 20 gauge and 6.5 pounds for the 12 gauge. Chokes of the standard gun are fixed at IC and Mod, while the fancier gun bucks tradition with screw-in chokes with the same constrictions (Cylinder, IC, Mod, and Full are available at extra cost). But you don't have to dress up in an expensive costume to own the Coach Gun; its compact overall length of 36.25 inches makes it an excellent candidate for personal defense in the home or campsite.