A pretty little gun, with gold birds standing out on the black action body, this Italian-made model is fast, light and pointable, says Lewis Potter
Is appearance important? Of course it is, especially when it is your shotgun, your pride and joy, whether family heirloom, sought-after second-hand model or brand new “just out of the box”. But beauty is always in the eye of the beholder and what suits one owner may not appeal to another.
There are certain basics that most shooters appreciate such as well-blacked barrels and walnut with nature’s subtle swirling patterns, good chequering on the stock and even a silver oval bearing some long-forgotten family crest.
In general, something shiny tends to do well in the attraction stakes and, in recent years, there have been a lot of brightly finished actions. It is true that, on side-by-sides, the Old English finish was sometimes a polishing job to remove the last of the worn colour-case-hardening and produce a not-unattractive uniform look. However, usually if you wanted modern shiny Italian guns you had the greatest choice. It therefore came as something of a surprise to receive for test a shotgun made in Italy for a UK company that was presented in an exceptionally non-shiny form.
It is a handsome shotgun, the gold birds standing out against the black action, but eye-catching rather than garish; I found it most attractive on first acquaintance. The Vogue model is a revival of a name used for a limited edition deluxe model in the 1980s and for anyone not too fond of this smart raven-black finish, there are always other Lincolns.
The Vogue is light but, such is the balance, it feels much lighter than the 6lb 3oz recorded on my scale and, with this gun’s 28in barrels, it is very fast in the handling department. Having said that, it does not fall into the category of the kind of gun that is superb in the hands of an expert but a little “frisky” for the average Shot because it is still stable and pointable.
With a length of pull on this gun nudging 14¾in, it will suit many potential owners and, even it if proves a little long for perhaps a younger Shot, it is better to shoot with a stock slightly longer than shorter.
The degree of decoration is not immediately obvious because of the smart black action, but there is quite a lot of detail when you look closer. The birds on both sides of the action body and the forward extension of the trigger-plate are probably visible, to the eagle-eyed admirer, from 50 paces away. However, it is only when you handle the gun that the pleasing scrollwork surrounding the panels sporting the “bird life” can be really appreciated. This form of decoration also extends to the top-lever, top strap and trigger-guard with bordering and matted panels on the fences.
The chequering on the stock and fore-end is crisp and follows fairly conservative patterns, while the walnut on this gun is strong-grained and attractive with a hint of fiddleback in the butt. The blacking on both barrels and action is, as you would expect for a Lincoln, excellent and unblemished. The narrow “file cut” top rib shouts game gun and the finish to the barrel selector and square chequered panels on the safety button are both attractive and very practical.
As one would expect, this little Lincoln is a conventional break-open over-and-under with the barrels hinging on trunnions (or hinge discs). A full-width locking bolt engages with dual bites just below the bottom barrel chamber and the ejectors are permanently sprung with, as is often the case with these guns, fairly strong springs fitted, guaranteeing clean ejection.
Built on the monoblock system, the chrome-lined barrels have solid side ribs and a ventilated top rib fitted with a traditional brass foresight bead. Screw-in chokes come as standard covering a range from cylinder to full and 3in (76mm) chambers are standard. The handbook lists both US/European choke designations and the British (and original) version. There is no need to do mental acrobatics converting, for example, improved modified to three-quarter choke.
The lockwork is also conventional and fairly typical of this sort of over-and-under shotgun. The hammers are mounted on the trigger-plate and powered by helical mainsprings, while the sears hang from the top strap. Second barrel selection is operated via an inertia block but will also fire on mechanical selection alone, which is always a bonus.
Also, the lockwork incorporates what the old Birmingham gunsmiths used to call a range — that is, an arm that pushes the safety to the “on” position while disconnecting the trigger mechanism from the sears when the gun is opened.
Lincoln Vogue on test
The morning was one of those blustery cold days, spitting with rain, which came as something of a shock after such a mild October. Still, testing must go on, and really it was little different to some shoot days, so perhaps a valid added element to the testing.
Cartridges were chosen mainly on the basis of a discussion between two friends on the merits of more choke versus bigger shot loads for reasonably high birds when using a 20-bore. So we settled on quarter and half-choke but 28g and 30g loads for most of the testing, which, in “old money”, qualify as 16-bore shot loads. Cartridges used on test included Eley VIP Game, Gamebore Pure Gold 20, Hull ProTwenty for that bit of pre-season clay practice, Lyalvale Express Special 20 and Sipe RC 20. The sweetest loads in this light gun were the Hull and Lyalvale 21g and 25g loaded cartridges.
Recoil was more noticeable with the 28g and 30g shot loads but, when it comes to felt recoil, there is a world of difference between shooting from a static position at a pattern sheet and swinging at a bird with a bit of adrenalin in the system. However, while fairly immune to recoil, I think going as far as 3in cartridges would spoil an outing with this dinky game gun.
Everything worked well. Point of aim was with the foresight bead just on the “bird”, the trigger tripped the sears very precisely and the ejection of empty cases was as strong as anticipated. Both barrel selection and safety operation were very positive.
PATTERN SHEET 1: Shot at 30 yards, quarter-choke, cartridge Eley VIP Game, 28g No. 5 shot, fi bre wad. This pattern represents a very tight quarter-choke concentrated in the middle.
PATTERN SHEET 2: Shot at 30 yards, half-choke, cartridge Sipe RC 20, 28g No. 6 shot, fibre wad. Surprisingly, the pattern with this cartridge showed an overall spread not dissimilar to the quarter-choke but measuring as a true half-choke pattern.
This kind of result does show the value of pattern testing with different cartridges to suit an individual shotgun.
Conditions: cold, blustery wind, spitting with rain.
The Lincoln Vogue has also been reviewed by Sporting Gun. See what our sister magazine had to say about it.