By Jason Harris
Monday, 10 September 2007
This Lanber Sporter shotgun is the latest to come from Spanish shotgun gunmaker, Lanber.
In some ways the Lanber Sporter could be described as the sliced white bread of sporting shotguns - there's nothing absolutely exciting about it, but it's always there, always dependable.
You know exactly what you are going to get for your money.
From time to time a baker might just change the colour of the bag occasionally to spice things up, and that's essentially what has been done with this latest version of 'old faithful'.
The gun has evolved mechanically and aesthetically over the years to the point where the internal workings are about as good as they're going to get. From a looks point of view, however, there is always something that can be improved and given a fresh image.
At a glance the latest Lanber Sporter has become a little plainer than its predecessors. The previous model had a fairly full covering of scroll engraving but this one doesn't.
Yet who cares? At the end of the day a gun designed primarily for clay shooting doesn't need to look as glamorous as its game equivalent. That said, it still has to appear attractive, or at least easy on the eye. And the new Lanber, despite its plain look, certainly achieves this.
Forward of the side panel, the area before the knuckle and around the pivot of the action frame carries a degree of scroll work, as does the top lever and the top strap. The belly of the action has a fuller covering of scroll and the top lever, trigger guard and fore-end iron have been blacked to match the barrel so that the furniture contrasts well with the overall look of the gun.
Mechanically this gun is virtually identical to the previous model but the makers have now fitted a set of replaceable stub pins for the barrels to hinge from. It has never been a problem to re-tighten a loose Lanber in the past but this is a very useful new feature and will further enhance the longevity of the gun. It will also make a gunsmith's life a lot easier should it ever become necessary to re-tighten the action!
The action frame might no longer be covered with engraving but it does sport raised side panels that draw the eye - these contrast nicely with the engraved maker's name which is highlighted in gold lettering.
The change to replaceable pins appears to me to have been inspired by Beretta, but this is hardly surprising when you consider that both makes are distributed in Britain by the same company - GMK of Fareham. Over the years there has been a great deal of collaboration between GMK and Lanber to produce a Spanish gun that fits the needs of the British shooter so well.
At one point the job of breathing more life into the handling qualities of the Lanber Sporter fell to former World and British Sporting champion Barry Simpson, when he worked for GMK.
Much of Barry's input still survives in this new model but a number of subtle changes have moved things along to enhance the package even further. Most obvious to me is the shape of the Schnabel at the front of the fore-end wood.
It has been pushed forwards a little which makes it look so much more elegant. Not so long ago the Lanber was treated to an oil finish on the woodwork but this has been replaced by a light varnish, or lacquered finish.
My view is an oiled finish is the most appealing, and certainly the most durable of all, but the finish on this gun does afford a good level of protection to the woodwork. It could always be stripped off and the gun oil finished if that's where your preference takes you.
Overall wood quality is as good as I would expect on a gun of the price and, I have to say, I've seen worse on guns costing far more money than this.
The stock carries a machine cut chequering pattern which is both quite traditional and affords a good level of grip. Length of pull is 14.3/4in which includes a 3/4in thick recoil pad that's smooth to shoulder but then has ribbing to grip when the gun is fully mounted.
The heel on this pad has been nicely rounded to reduce the chances of it snagging on the jacket when it's brought to the shoulder.
Mechanically the Lanber Sporter follows traditional principles, with the hammers being powered by coil springs from behind. The sears engage with bents in the top of the hammers and are suspended from the top of the action frame. There is no rebound to the mechanism but, as the top lever is moved over, a cam pushes the hammers back slightly allowing the strikers to retract and ensure the gun can open easily.
The trigger mechanism works on similar lines to a Browning/Miroku, with a spring loaded connector coming up from the trigger to meet the sears and pick up each one in turn. Re-set for the second shot is achieved by inertia from the first shot.
Barrel selection is achieved in much the same way as the Beretta with a rocking button set in the middle of the safety catch. If you prefer, the non-automatic safety can be turned into automatic mode by simply fitting a rod between the top lever spindle and the safety itself. The safe button is quite large on this gun and makes for a very positive selection.
The gun is re-cocked by independent rods running through the floor of the action frame which are pushed back by a cam on the fore-end iron as the gun is opened. These cocking levers work independently of each other and also pick up the ejector work after the gun has been fired.
Lanber has decided to stay with the same barrel set which are made to the monoblock system and sport standard diameter tubes. For some reason they have not gone down the back-boring route but, who knows, maybe that's something which will come sometime in the future?
The top rib has a central channel and is slightly tapered down its length which has the advantage of achieving slight weight savings as well as giving an optimum sighting picture with the illusion that the barrels appear slightly longer than they are.
The foresight takes the form of a small white strip and the magnum proofed 3in chambers have been proofed to handle the widest range of cartridges possible.
The choke system comprises standard length, flush-fitting multichoke tubes with five multichokes being supplied with each gun - cylinder, 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 and full.
Over the years the Lanber has changed a great deal, both mechanically and from a handling point of view. There have also been many improvements to looks of the gun and all these things have been of benefit to the gun and perhaps more importantly, its user.
This latest version does improve the gun still further and apart from back boring and fitting extra long choke tubes, there is little left to be done in my view.
BARRELS: Sporter - available in 28 and 30in versions with flush fitting multichoke tubes. Tubes are chambered for 3in cartridges and both the side and top ribs are ventilated.
ACTION: Single selective trigger boxlock design with non-automatic safety catch. Recoil operated.
STOCK: Length 14.3/4in with fairly standard drop at comb and heel. Wood is finished with a 3/4in rubber recoil pad.
As our thoughts turn to Christmas and all it entails (Boxing Day shoot, anyone?), Shooting Gazette is here to take the stress away from the festive season. So away with the endless present lists, hangovers and wrapping paper for a moment and straight into our sack overflowing with great guns, gamekeeping, gundogs and reviews, including…
Britain's biggest & best shooting magazine - January 2013 - £3.60 PLUS - subscribe before Christmas to get a free gift!
Don't miss this week's issue of Shooting Times (on sale Wednesday 4th December)! Simon Whitehead visits the set of the TV show 'The Burrowers' to find out how a television production company filmed inside a rabbit warren? For all the latest news, views and great features - buy your copy today!