By Shooting Gazette's Bill Elderkin
Thursday, 30 June 2011
Turkish shotguns: Turkey looks like it will be the next big thing in gunmaking.
Turkey is of course most famous in gunmaking terms for its wood - more specifically walnut.
We buy all of our stock blanks for re-stocking work from Turkey, as we believe it is the best quality wood you can get.
A lot of people like to talk up French walnut, but in fact the French brought their walnut back from Turkey during the Crusades.
Turkish wood is as good, if not better than French.
If you’d asked my grandfather about the Turkish gun industry he would have been rather dismissive, but there was a long and proud history of gunmaking dating back to the grand days of Ottoman Empire.
In the last 10-15 years more and more Turkish-made guns have started to appear in the UK.
The surge in popularity and success of Italian guns in recent history has no doubt had an affect on the Turkish industry, and you can see much influence of the likes of Beretta in the output of firms such as Huglu or ATA Arms in terms of form and construction.
A few years ago the Turkish guns we often saw looked okay but weren’t up to the build standards we might expect in this country.
However, just as Spanish guns have seen an ever-increasing trend towards good quality, especially through the likes of AYA, we have seen improvement in the Turkish trade.
SEMI-AUTOS MAKE EARLY IMPACT
The most common Turkish guns people are likely to have come across are semi-automatics, such as Hatsan’s Escort.
Most potential buyers will no doubt be attracted by the low price of Turkish guns but put off somewhat by concerns over reliability.
Indeed, Turkish guns seem to be quite a divisive issue for many buyers: one person will say their gun is great and another might say he’d never touch one with a barge pole.
We have a large and busy workshop here in Spalding, and we haven’t seen that many Turkish guns which have needed sorting out.
This is partly to do with the good warranty which English importers tend to provide as well as an upward trend in quality.
Turkish semi-autos going under the names Webley and BSA were the first to be commonly seen in the UK, followed by side-by-side guns.
About two-three years ago we began to see the first best Turkish sidelocks.
They had taken the London nine pin design and copied it, and the finish of the gun and quality of the internal components such as the intercepting sears, hammers, bridle etc. were very good.
However, these best examples seem to be very rarely seen in the UK.
Given the nature of the gun buying market in the UK, it is possible that these guns are being exported elsewhere.
BEST SIDELOCKS ON THE WAY
I have heard rumours that a new Turkish gun going by the name Jenson will soon be imported by Ladd’s Guns.
They will be distributing an over-under sidelock gun in the Holland & Holland five pin style for about £4,000.
There will also be a boxlock side-by-side, and both are good looking guns with very high grade wood and very good finishing.
I have only seen prototypes, but with scroll engraving and a colour case hardened finish, they certainly look the part.
The wood to metal fit looks very good and the internal parts are beautifully polished.
As with any new gun from a previously unknown source there is a need to be a little reserved, but as long as they have got the hardening of the steel right I see no reason for these guns to be anything but successful.
In terms of value for money they will probably be a bit like Spanish guns were in the late 1960s and 1970s.
Back then you could buy an AyA for about £70, when the equivalent English gun would have been about £500-£600.
These new Turkish guns are likely to come in at a comparatively low price under the Italian guns.
Currently a standard AyA boxlock is now on the market for over £3,000, where a Turkish gun in a similar style is likely to be about half the price.
Whenever buying a gun from a Turkish maker you must make absolutely sure it has been through one of the English proof houses, as we do not accept Turkish proof in this country, only our own or that from Germany or Belgium.
There are a lot of independent manufacturers in Turkey, so it is difficult to say if there is one name you should look out for in the future.
Once any of these firms have the support of a large importer the quality of their guns and the size of their output will grow exponentially.
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