Alex Flint investigates the Japanese Miroku MK60 Universal Sporting Grade 5 shotgun that seemingly ticks all the boxes.
Most who have considered buying a new shotgun will have looked at over-unders made by the holy trinity of Browning, Beretta and Miroku. Once hugely popular, Miroku has slipped into slightly quieter times in the UK in recent years as Beretta has become the most desirable brand to be pulled from gunslips on the clay ground and in the field.
Given that Miroku shotguns are essentially Brownings in everything but name, the perception is perhaps that one should overlook the Japanese manufacturer in favour of the original, better known American gun maker. However, a huge number of Browning shotguns are manufactured in Miroku’s own factory in Nankoku on Shikoku, the smallest and least populous of Japan’s four main islands.
And while it is true that Miroku shotguns do not innovate in any great way over their American cousins, it would be a grave mistake to consider them in any way inferior. Indeed, having tested the MK60 Universal Sporting, I would go as far as to say anyone overlooking a Miroku shotgun for any other gun at all really should think again.
The Japanese firm has been producing firearms since 1893 and has been selling its excellent shotguns based on Browning actions since the 1960s. Early on Miroku was better known for its skeet and trap guns, moving into the elusive ‘sporter’ space in the 1980s and selling guns just as suitable for breaking clays as taking game.
This Miroku MK60 features a full body pin and with its 32” barrels and 3” magnum-proofed chambers it is a well-equipped gun for just about every sporting situation.
The barrels on Miroku shotguns are always well constructed and this shotgun is no exception. They are over-bored throughout their length to noticeably smooth out recoil even with heavier loads. Chokes are fixed at 3/4 and 1/4 and are plenty tight enough. Some buyers with a penchant for fiddling between stands might consider having multichokes fitted, but the majority of competent shots should get on with the gun off the shelf.
Wood to metal fit is excellent across the gun and finishing is generally very good. This Miroku MK60 Grade 5 model features lovely drop points carved into the wood of the stock adjacent to the action. The gun is extensively engraved with an attractive floral pattern and though it will have been carried out by a machine it does give the impression of some hand finishing, having a good depth to it. There is also a silver oval on the bottom of the stock for your initials to be engraved.
The wood used is American walnut, also known as claro walnut. American walnut is always well figured – in this case with flame and star effect on the stock – and tends to be a deep red colour. It is also, however, a little more brittle than Turkish walnut so you should always look for a good straight grain in the hand. Moreover, any alterations will require more care to be taken.
In the hand the gun really comes alive, feeling supremely light and mobile without being skittish. You might expect its 7.5lb weight and 32” barrels to be wearing in use or to make the gun feel unbalanced; instead the Miroku is a joy to use and compares extremely favourably with other guns tested on these pages.
The full pistol grip on the Miroku MK60 is particularly excellent, being a good shape for those with larger hands. As it is a full pistol grip there is no slip from your little finger on straight driven shots as you can find on guns with a rounded pistol grip.
Although it sits in a very busy market place, it really would be a crime to go searching for a new over-under and to ignore this gun. For those concerned about price for a gun without the cachet of a big name, there is a cheaper Grade 1 model available. Though this will doubtless shoot just as well as the gun on test, I am not sure I would like to compromise on its good looks. The extensive engraving and deep, well figured wood really suit the chunky but handsome lines of the gun.
Mechanically the MK60 Universal is comparable to any Browning you would care to mention, but you will not find it easy to find a new over-under of similarly good looks from another maker for anything like as competitive a price. Indeed, this unassuming mass-produced over-under shoots better than some guns we have tested at more than three times the price.
In the field
This gun really is a revelation. Early impressions are somewhat underwhelming, since the gun comes in a cardboard box, but once in the hand it is instantly clear the Miroku MK60 is a great gun.
It is just beautifully balanced, coming straight up into the shoulder with ease and swinging totally naturally.
The instructors at Grange Farm provided me with a variety of targets and the Miroku shotgun was more than up to the task of each, feeling light and moving in lovely clean lines with very little effort.
I soon got used to having two sight beads on the rib, trigger pulls felt crisp and recoil was dealt with beautifully. Ejection was excellent and the gun gives a good wide gape when opening for reloading without springing back, which can be a real problem with over-unders.
For any reader doubting my enthusiasm for this gun, I would implore you to get out onto the clay ground and give it a try. The Miroku MK60 is good looking and truly excellent to shoot. It feels as though it should be considerably more expensive than it is.
View from the gun shop
Bill Elderkin casts his expert eye over the Miroku MK60 Universal Sporting Grade 5.
For those looking to fit multichokes, I would recommend Teague or Briley. A good dealer will organise the fitting of multichokes, and both makers will fit the chokes individually to the internal bore measurements of the gun. A well-fitted set of multichokes should not alter the balance of the gun. Since this Miroku shotgun is likely to be used on a variety of targets and shooting styles, they could be a good option. There is an 8mm rib that you could use for both clays and game.
More unusually, it features a midpoint sight bead on the rib. When shooting, the idea is to create a ‘figure of eight’ with the two sight beads when the gun is properly mounted. This will give you two thirds of the shot pattern above the sight beads and one third below. However, you must be careful not to look too much at the gun instead of concentrating on the target. If you wish, the second bead could easily be removed.
The fore-end is of the Deeley edge variety, with the ejectors in the fore-end. There is a selective single trigger that allows for barrel selection only when the safety catch is not in the forward position. This is useful as it means you won’t be able to catch the mechanism halfway.
The gun is set up for game shooting and so comes with an automatic safety mechanism, though this is easily converted by any good gunsmith. The plastic butt plate is a little ugly and the toe can be somewhat sharp, so I would recommend having the gun properly fitted and asking your gunsmith to build a matching wooden butt plate.
Excess trigger travel between shots can be a problem, though this can be rectified. The gun has good ejectors and coil springs in a tried and tested design.
Superb – I have not tested a better handling gun. Lovely balance gives very natural handling and it is easy to forget the shotgun has 32” barrels. It is bigger by design but doesn’t feel its weight and handles recoil beautifully.
Looks and finishing:
Very good. Well-executed engraving, handsome lines and attractive wood. Good wood to metal fit. The only real letdown is the plastic butt plate.
A simple and proven design. The Browning action continues to stand the test of time and is famously reliable.
Value for money:
A good price for an excellent gun.
An excellent gun