The Weatherby SA-08: A Slender Semiauto

weatherby-sa-o8-shotgun-1

Shotguns, to me, appear to be very temperamental objects. For instance, I struggle with over-under shotguns — just can't consistently break clays or drop birds — but shoot semiautos well enough to avoid embarrassment, and I feel right at home with side-by-sides. There's no sense to it — thank goodness scattergunning is still a certifiable dark art.

Here's another anomaly from the predictable. For whatever reason, I've never found a 28 gauge that I don't adore. Except for their appetites, that is. They have costly tastes and — at least under my care — seem to go through quantities of fodder all out of proportion to their petite frames.

More predictably, courtesy of light recoil and responsive handling characteristics, when I have a 28-gauge fieldpiece between my fists, I tend to break clays and drop birds, even tough birds, as though I'm a real shotgun shooter. I've yet to try the 28 on ducks, but pheasants I shoot at with the classy little shotshell frequently drop — always to my surprise — like bricks from the sky. I've had shotgunners far more knowledgeable than I attempt to explain the phenomenon scientifically — some bore diameter versus shot column mumbo jumbo — but clearly, I'm experiencing some perfect-gauge mojo.


Disassembly is simple. Unscrew the magazine cap, draw the fore-end off the magazine tube, pull the barrel out of the receiver, and slide the gas valve out of the barrel ferrule.


One really adverse attribute that all 28-gauge shotguns share is the deplorable fact that shells for them are ridiculously expensive. Another is that affordable 28-gauge shotguns are rare. Weatherby, however, has just closed that argument against the classic quail caliber resoundingly with the new Weatherby SA-08 Deluxe.

The Weatherby SA-08 Up Close

Built on a true-to-28-gauge-size frame, the Weatherby SA-08 Deluxe offers outstanding ergonomics, advanced design characteristics, and lovely appearance for $849. Clad in well-finished select-grade walnut that sports 22-lines-per-inch checkering, the Weatherby SA-08 28-gauge is available with either a 26- or a 28-inch, chrome-lined barrel with a vented top rib and brass bead. A lengthened forcing cone reduces the moderate recoil of the 28 to ridiculously low levels and enhances pattern consistency downrange. Three screw-in chokes — IC, Modified, and Full — are included with every shotgun, along with a gauge-versatile choke tube wrench.

The barrel breech is well fitted into a CNC-machined, aircraft-grade alloy receiver, which is nicely finished with glossy black anodizing. Edges of the feeding port are rounded, as is the front of the loading gate, basically eliminating the potential for mangling your loading thumb.


08-shotgun-weatherby-sa-3

In order to keep operation as simple and streamlined as possible, there are only three fire controls: charging handle, safety, and bolt release button.

Internal operation is classic and time-proven. Two different valve sleeves enable the owner to set up the shotgun for use with either light or heavy loads. Swapping out the sleeves is as simple as screwing off the magazine cap, lifting the fore-end off the tubular magazine, pulling the barrel (with the valve sleeve encapsulated in the gas port ferrule) off, and lifting the installed sleeve out and dropping the other in. I've shot every 28-gauge load I could get my hands on, and the little Weatherby SA-08 has run flawlessly with them all.


Cleaning is also simple, by virtue of the easy disassembly and accessibility of the operating parts. The bolt is chrome plated, allowing it to shrug off heavy fouling and making it easy to clean with a pass of a rag. Likewise, the trigger group drops out and brushes up with ease.

Screw-in chokes in IC, Modified, and Full accompany each SA-08 Deluxe, along with a gauge-flexible choke tube wrench.

Although I do most of my hunting with the magazine plug installed since confrontations with game wardens make my stomach unreasonably jumpy, the Weatherby SA-08 Deluxe 28 gauge holds four plus one shells with the plug removed — and it removes more easily and quickly than any other I'm familiar with. Simply screw off the magazine cap, hook a fingernail under the nail-type head of the plug, and draw it out. Replace the magazine cap and get back to shooting. Where legal, having extra shells on tap can be a very real advantage.

Shootability in Spades

Like most shotgun triggers, the trigger on the Weatherby SA-08 has a slightly spongy feel, but it's actually quite shootable — not too heavy and not too spongy. As measured by my Lyman digital trigger gauge, it averages 4 pounds, 10 ounces.

The Weatherby SA-08 Deluxe 28 gauge is lightweight, only 5.5 pounds, so it's easy to tote through the grouse woods all day long. It avoids the whippiness common to very light shotguns, courtesy of a weight-forward balance, yet the fore-end is slender and long. The grip is open yet supportive.

weatherby-shotgun-08-sa-5Four different shims are included with each shotgun. They offer various amounts of pitch so that the owner may adjust the drop of the stock to properly fit his or her physique; one shim may be inserted to add cast — right or left, depending on the way the shim is installed. On my shotgun, I've removed the standard, neutral shim and installed the one giving the most possible drop as well as the shim that adds cast.

Some shooters maintain that shotgunning is a science, but this little 28 gauge contends that there is plenty of art and maybe even a little magic involved. It's beautifully built, takes ergonomics to a level of perfection, and reliably turns clays to clouds of dust and drops even wild-flying birds like stones, leaving only puffs of feathers floating against the sky.sa-weatherby-shotgun-08-6

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

All About .300 Blackout

All About .300 Blackout

The .300 Blackout is here to stay, and we take some time to look at new technology surrounding this cartridge. Next, we pit subsonic rivals against each other before stretching the legs of this CQB round out to 600 yards from a short 9-inch barrel.

Tactical Solutions Introduces New X-Ring Takedown SBR Rifle

Tactical Solutions Introduces New X-Ring Takedown SBR Rifle

Keith Feeley of Tactical Solutions sat down with Michael Bane at SHOT Show 2018 to talk about the new X-Ring Takedown SBR .22LR rifle.

Pinging Steel At Over A Mile Away

Pinging Steel At Over A Mile Away

Big bore semiauto or a lever gun? We look at the futuristic .450 Bushmaster and how it compares to the tried and true .45-70. ISS Prop House gives us the rundown on the guns used in Enemy at the Gate. We ping steel with a .300 WinMag at over a mile.

Hornady 6MM Creedmoor

Hornady 6MM Creedmoor

Tom Beckstrand and Neal Emery of Hornady highlight the 6MM Creedmoor ammo.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

A half-century in the making, the new DGX Bonded is Hornady's best-ever dangerous-game bullet. Ammo

Danger Tamed: Hornady DGX Bonded Hunting Ammo

Joseph von Benedikt - May 23, 2019

A half-century in the making, the new DGX Bonded is Hornady's best-ever dangerous-game bullet.

Improved bullet ballistic coefficients lead to greater performance and accuracy downrange without upping blast and recoil. Here's why. How-To

Improved Ballistics a Key to Accurate Long-Range Shooting

Rick Jamison

Improved bullet ballistic coefficients lead to greater performance and accuracy downrange...

Crimson Trace enters the riflescope business with the Crimson Trace CTL-3420 4-20X 50mm. Optics

Review: Crimson Trace CTL-3420 4-20X 50mm

Joel J. Hutchcroft - April 29, 2019

Crimson Trace enters the riflescope business with the Crimson Trace CTL-3420 4-20X 50mm.

The Remington Model 700 PCR is a long-range rig built for punching paper, ringing steel, and hammering hogs, deer, and coyotes. Rifles

Remington Model 700 PCR Review

Sam Wolfenberger - April 15, 2019

The Remington Model 700 PCR is a long-range rig built for punching paper, ringing steel, and...

See More Trending Articles

More Shotguns

A side-by-side double barrel shotgun is much more than a fashion statement. The type has been a practical choice for hunters for more than 180 years. Shotguns

Why Side-by-Side Double Barrel Shotguns Survive

John Barsness - September 17, 2019

A side-by-side double barrel shotgun is much more than a fashion statement. The type has been...

Browning's Citori Feather Lightning is back, and it's ideal for sporting clays and upland bird hunting. Shotguns

Browning Citori Feather Lightning Over-Under Shotgun Review

Layne Simpson - March 11, 2020

Browning's Citori Feather Lightning is back, and it's ideal for sporting clays and upland bird...

The newest version of Beretta's A400, the A400 Xtreme Plus, autoloader employs all the latest in high-tech shotgun evolution. Shotguns

Beretta A400 Xtreme Plus Shotgun Review

Steve Gash - February 01, 2019

The newest version of Beretta's A400, the A400 Xtreme Plus, autoloader employs all the latest...

It's a great time to be a gun guy or gal because firearm manufacturers are gleefully inventing, refining, and adding cool extensions to their lines. In shotguns, this means more purpose-driven special models and variations. As you'll see, new offerings range from sexy sub-gauge over-under field guns in 28 gauge and .410 Bore to advanced-capability, home- and personal-defense scatterguns. Here are my selections for the most interesting new shotguns. Shotguns

10 New Shotguns for 2020

Joseph von Benedikt - July 08, 2020

It's a great time to be a gun guy or gal because firearm manufacturers are gleefully...

See More Shotguns

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Shooting Times subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now