Lanber Sporting De Luxe shotgun
After importers GMK had firmly established the Beretta brand in the UK, they scouted European markets for a gun they could sell in the £450-£500 range. That was the sort of money a whole new generation of shooters – mainly clay enthusiasts – could afford to pay for a first gun.
But instead of taking their shopping trolley for a walk around Italy’s Gardone gun-making area, as had so many competitors in the era, they went to Northern Spain – the Basque country. Spanish gunmakers already had a reputation for building some very fine English side-by-side look-alikes after the Birmingham trade went into terminal decline, but what else could they offer?
GMK found Lanber, who had an over-under that fitted the bill. What’s more, the Basque gunmakers proved they were prepared to listen to what GMK (or rather Gunmark, as the company was known at the time) thought a Sporter should be.
So successful was the venture that, as the Lanber developed, it became the top-selling shotgun in the UK, thanks partly to a sound basic design and to a process of continuous improvement in which World Sporting champion, Barry Simpson, then working for GMK, had more than a little input. In a nutshell, it became a properly thought-out Sporter, and not a slightly modified game or trap gun.
Nowadays there are four Lanber models to choose from – the Field, the Field De Luxe, the Sporting De Luxe (which is nearest in specification to the gun illustrated here), and the Sporting Gold De Luxe. But however refined some of the Lanber models may have become, they all still comply with the original philosophy of providing a well-designed gun at a distinctly affordable price.
Who makes it?
The gun is made by Lanber Armas SA, who have a modern factory in the small town of Zaldibar, in the Basque country’s Bizkaya region. If you can’t find it on the map, it’s not far from the major city of Bilbao. Bizkaya means Biscay (as in Bay of) in the Basque language, while Zaldibar translates as ‘valley of the horses’, according to our encyclopaedia. The company, which has been going for about 40 years, makes over-unders, and some very attractive-looking semi-autos we don’t see much of over here.
How adaptable is it?
How adaptable do you want it to be? For many people this is their one and only gun, and it fits the bill just fine.
How does it work?
Like all good mechanisms, that of the Lanber is very simple, yet it has evolved a bit over the years. The top lever spring, originally a leaf spring down the bottom of the action, has been replaced by a coil spring in the conventional position near the top. The firing pin retaining mechanism has also been modified, so the pins are easier to change, and the safety spring, which at one stage in production Lanber changed to a fragile wire component, has now been returned to its original and reliable flat spring configuration.
Hammers are pivoted at the bottom of the action, and are driven by coil springs running on guide rods. Sears hang from the top strap, and are lifted by the single, selective trigger. Transfer to the second barrel is by a recoil-driven inertia system, and initial barrel selection is achieved by side to side movement of the safety thumbpiece.
Jointing is on stub pins set into the action walls at the front, and these pins are replaceable with oversize components should the gun ever shoot loose. Locking is by a full-width bolt running along the action floor and locating with a bite at the bottom of the barrel monobloc. There is also a Beretta-style locking pin for the top lever. This pin protrudes through the breech face above the upper firing pin, and releases the top lever and bolt as the gun approaches the fully-closed position. It is a feature which helps avoid wear on the barrel lumps and bolt tip.
The ejectors are powered by coil springs running directly beneath the legs, and operate as the gun fully opens.
The exterior of the action is highly polished by means of Lanber’s pulse plasma-nitriding technology, which gives a great level of strength and protection to the steel. Neat engraving completes the picture.
– The new Sporting Deluxe features three-inch chambered, chrome-lined, 28 in or 30 in barrels with a wide rib and flush fitting multichokes as standard.
– The Lanber was one of the first guns on the UK market with multichokes, the first having protruding, knurled collars. Early barrels also had distinctly flared muzzles to accommodate the tubes, but in line with the current practice of most manufacturers these bulges have now been slimmed down.
– Huge advances to the Lanber’s balance and handling were made when Barry Simpson (who now runs his own gunshop in Newmarket) spent a few days at the factory around 20 years ago. Primary work was on the stock, which was slimmed down and the pistol grip improved.
– A modern Lanber has a stock length of 14.1/4in at centre, with drops of comb and heel of 1.1/2 and 2.3/8in respectively.
– Early Lanber stocks were varnished, but they are now oil-finished – another concession to the British market which is clearly so important to them.
– A hard rubber recoil pad with a rounded heel is fitted.
– The fore-end on modern guns has a Schnabel profile.
Weight is around 7.3/4 lb – just right for a sporter which may be expected to do a bit of everything.
What the tester thought
Sporting Gun tested a second-hand Lanber Sporter in November 2004. The gun scored 7 out of 10 for build quality and styling, 8 for handling, and 9 for value for money. It received praise for price relative to quality, reliability, and good spares back-up: “Not a lot to go wrong with this gun, but if they do break down they are easy to work on and repair’, was one of the comments.
The Sporting De Luxe has a recommended retail price of £735. Field models start at £615.
If you are buying new, guns from Lincoln and the Browning Medallist will be in the starting line up.
From the importers, GMK Ltd, Fareham, Hants, on 01489-579999.