Five notch-marked choke tubes lie on the workshop bench. Nothing unusual about that, you might say; the majority of new guns are multi-choke. These, though, are noticeably different, dinky little things, ½in in diameter by 1½in long, smaller than the end of my little finger.
Nothing is new in the gun world, but screw-in chokes for the diminutive .410 are generally regarded as something of a specialist item, which means the gun will be fairly expensive or you have to do an after-market modification. However, with the Yildiz range of over-and-under .410s we move into the realm of the affordable multi-choke mini-gun.
The .410 over-and-under Yildiz is one model of a range with either 26in or 28in barrels, and variations include extra decoration and fancy grades of wood. Even more interesting is the option of ejectors in the SPZME. And, for someone who rates good looks as important, there is the SPZME Special Lux, hand-engraved, with sideplates and especially good walnut.
Tailored for the young Shot
On test is the non-ejector model, the bottom of the range but by no means a basic gun. Whereas at one time it used to be common to make these small guns by cheaper means, that is not so with the Yildiz SPZM. It is just like a larger gauge gun scaled down, incorporating the same attention to detail, quality of fit, parts and materials.
It has pleasing, clean lines and the 26in barrels fairly well balance the boys (or girls) length of stock. At 13in length of pull, it is well suited to a youngster, while the drop across the comb runs from 13/8in at the tip of the comb to just about 2in at the heel. Even the curve of the pistol grip is suitable for smaller hands. This gun has been designed with the young Shot in mind and I am pleased to find a gun that has been tailored for the new generation of shooters rather than one that is simply a cut-down adults gun.
Attention to detail
The wood is, as we have begun to expect from Turkish makers, of a quality better than the price range would suggest. On this gun, the fairly dark stock incorporates blaze, fiddleback and veining. The fore-end is a good match for colour and density, all highlighted by the oiled finish.
It is possible, by holding the stock at an angle to the light, to identify traces of very fine lines that are indicative of hand-finishing. Even the chequering shows, under a magnifying glass, tiny marks nicked into the first borderline and subtle changes around the grip produced only when hand-chequered.
Wood-to-metal fit is very good, which means the machining is absolutely spot on or there has been a bit more handwork just to finish off. Whatever the truth of the matter, it all points to a gun that has been put together properly.
In contrast to so much hand-finishing, the decoration of the alloy action body, triggerguard and top-lever is of the high-tech laser type. Each side of the action is a mirror image of the other, with fine scroll work and a panel depicting two enthusiastic partridges taking flight.
On the bottom of the action body are mores crolls and a partridge being retrieved by a dog, which, by the slightly mad look in its eyes, must surely qualify as some sort of spaniel.
A lesson in lockwork
It would seem that Yildiz never stops improving its designs. The lockwork in this little gun is neatly made and well thought out. In layout it follows the industry norm of a modified trigger-plate action with most of the lockwork mounted adjacent to the trigger and the sears suspended from the top strap. However, with this design there are no separate action body parts: the body, top strap, trigger-plate and rear pillar are machined from the solid, so it is probably best described as a boxlock.
The bent of the hammers is this makers rather novel half-moon cut-out, while the lifter that contacts the sears to release the hammers is in the form of a cage engaging with the safety button/barrel selector. A single trigger is fitted to the lifter by means of a screw pin and a similar pin and sleeve secure the safety button against the safety spring. A bar, or what an English maker might call a range, is the link between the top-lever spindle and safety button to provide an auto-safe. Even the dowel pins holding all the essentials in place have nicely polished, rounded ends with not a roll pin in sight. This really is a lesson in how this type of lock should be put together.
Simple but effective
Chambered at 76mm for 3in cartridges, the barrels sport a part-ventilated top rib and matching side ribs. Nicely blacked and superior proofed in Birmingham for steel shot, they are of the familiar mono-block construction.
The plain extractor lies in the form of a stirrup between the barrels with long side arms projecting forward to push against lugs at the front of the action walls for extraction on opening. As usual with this design, the barrels hinge on cut-outs at the front of the breechblock rotating against hinge discs (or trunnions) in the side of the action. Locking is provided by a full-width bolt engaging in the bite below the bottom barrel. It is all very simple but effective.
As for those little choke tubes, each is notchmarked but, bearing in mind this could be a beginners gun, with no indication of what they might mean. The handbook simply states: Lines on choke tubes show choke sizes. One line is the narrowest choke. Choke sizes enlarge as the number of lines increase. I am not sure whether keeping it that brief is best for the tyro or if a bit more information might be better. The rest of the handbook covers safety and basic measurements quite well and includes the details of the two-year guarantee.
Economy and sophistication
Out on the pattern plate, a certain degree of concentration was required to overcome the effect of a short stock being used by a six-footer. This was overcome by holding right at the top of the fore-end with the leading hand and pushing the shoulder forward to meet the butt.
Trigger-pulls are just a little long, though both pulls are very reasonable weights at about 4½lb regardless of the sequence used. The auto-safe snicked back neatly into the on position each time the gun was opened and this came as something of a surprise to my assistant on the day, who did not expect such sophistication from an economy gun.
Extraction is, of course, by finger power, so there are no problems in that department but, as is not unusual with many similar designs, barrel selection with the safety button had to be performed precisely to engage properly. As for reliability, it was fed with Fourten (2in) cartridges, the 2½in Fourlong and 3in Magnums, sometimes with mixed loadings. I am glad to report that the gun never missed a beat, the mechanical changeover never failing to trip over and select the second barrel if shooting top to bottom or vice versa.
Patterning was quite fun as being able to swap chokes is something of a luxury on a .410. The whole range of five chokes was tried with different loads and the results were surprisingly good. I always carry out testing for .410s at 20 yards and, with the little 2in cartridges, the almost polite cough of discharge was muted compared with the sound of shot and wad striking the pattern plate.
The 3in Magnum had more of a bark, but in a gun weighing 4¾lb, any recoil was not noticeable.
A grown-up gun
When I started shooting in the late 1950s, most of the available .410s were worn and shaky with bores like Victorian factory chimneys we could not afford anything better. Only a few years ago there were offerings on the market that still consigned the economy .410 into the category of cheap and rather nasty. This little Yildiz is certainly one gun that changes all that.
It is a grown-up gun in everything but size, and any youngster who starts with one of these should count themselves very lucky.