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Second-hand small-bore shotguns – what to buy?

A shoot close to my home allows me to walk around with my gun and shoot pest species on days when the keeper is absent. However, a shoulder injury means I can no longer shoot my 12-bore and I am thinking of buying a 28-bore or a .410. I have a bit more than £1,000 to spend, so what do you recommend? Mike George advises

Beretta A400 28-bore semi-auto

Beretta A400 28-bore semi-auto

A second-hand 28-bore or a .410?

With more than £1,000 to spend on a small-bore shotgun, either a 28-bore or a .410, our reader has plenty of scope. In fact, he could buy a new gun if he so wished, particularly if he looked at the Turkish market. If he chose to buy a nearly-new Turkish O/U, he would have lots of cash left over for ammunition and a spell with a good coach to make sure his new gun fits him and enables him to place his shots accurately, bearing in mind that he will be using a very much reduced load compared to a 28g or 30g 12-bore cartridge.

And therein will lie the secret of comfortable shooting for Jim, because recoil is a product of projectile weight, velocity and gun weight – and the diameter of the barrel has nothing to do with it. With a 28-bore it is possible to shoot a 28g load, which would hurt him more than the same load in his 12-bore. He would be happier with a 20g, or maybe even less. The .410 would be a bit more forgiving, with a maximum load of 20g or less.

Whatever gun Jim chooses, he would be well advised to buy a few single boxes of cartridges in various weights and experiment to see which gun/cartridge combination suits him best before he starts buying ammunition in bulk.Beretta A400

Beretta A400 28-bore semi-auto

I will be spending all of Jim’s money with this one, because the gun seems to be holding its value well and is currently commanding prices of £1,000 to £1,100 on the second-hand market. It’s also a refection of the fact that the gun wasn’t introduced onto the UK market until 
2014, so any second-hand gun isn’t 
going to be that old and will not have 
fired that many shots.

Why a semi-auto? Well, the third shot is always handy when doing pest-control work and this is a really elegant little gun. It weighs 5¾lb, which is a full 2lb lighter than the average sporter, and 1½lb lighter than the average 12-bore O/U game gun. So it should be a delight to carry around Jim’s shoot. And, being a semi-auto, the recoil should be lighter than with a conventional, break-action gun.

Mechanically, the gun is a typical Beretta gas-fed semi-auto and I was interested to note that in Jason Harris’s review of the  Beretta A400 he recommended lubricating the gas piston with motor oil because of the lubricant’s resistance to high temperatures. Some manufacturers recommend running gas pistons dry but Jason said that although the oil turned black, it was easy to wipe off every time the gun was cleaned.

The gun is a multichoke and comes with a set of multichoke tubes and shims for stock adjustment. Make sure the latter two items are present when buying a second-hand gun. The relatively high, ventilated rib adds to the gun’s elegance, as does the well-presented stock and fore-end.

The gun has a soft rubber recoil pad that doesn’t snag on clothing when it is mounted. The receiver is in a non-reflective satin finish.

Yildiz 410 shotgun

Yildiz .410

Yildiz .410

Here’s another Turkish offering, which is much more sophisticated than the Huglu – and more expensive, too.
But, like the Huglu, it is built on a proper .410 action, which keeps everything nicely in proportion.

I’m sure we have all seen .410s built on 20-bore actions, which results in barrels with over-thick walls, particularly at the chamber end, and an exaggerated spacing between the tubes towards the muzzles. They’re just plain ugly, which the Yildiz is not.

Unlike the Huglu, the Yildiz .410 illustrated is an ejector, although there are non-ejector models to be had. It’s also a multichoke, so lightly-choked tubes can be put in for close targets. It has a mechanical switch to the second barrel, too.

The action body is in an aluminium alloy, with a steel insert in the breech face to take the recoil, and the gun works on conventional over-and-under principles, with a bolt running along the action floor to engage with a bite in a shallow lump under the lower barrel.

Overall, the gun looks like a scaled-down sporter. The stock terminates in a hard plastic butt plate and there is even a short-stock version available for young shooters.

Huglu .410

Huglu .410

Huglu .410

Huglu was among the first of the Turkish gunmakers to dip a toe into the UK market and the company’s range of simple, sturdy guns at highly affordable prices remains quite impressive.

The thing I like about the Huglu .410 gun is its 
sheer simplicity. It’s a non-ejector, so Jim wouldn’t be groping among the nettles 
and brambles to pick up his cartridge cases, and it’s also a fixed-choke, choked ¾ and full. This may seem excessive, however, 
as most .410s are quite tightly choked to make up for the fact that there aren’t that many pellets in the pattern, so you don’t 
get big gaps.

Chambers are 3in (76mm) and the tubes have been subjected to magnum proof. The safety is automatic and the switch to the second barrel is not reliant on the recoil of the first shot cycling the mechanism, which is another plus point for me.

Simple though the gun may be, I find this model to be quite attractive, with the action body and sideplates having a colour-hardened finish. The woodwork is quite attractive, too, and the second-hand price of well under £500 should hardly make a dent in Jim’s budget.

Yildiz .410 shotgun review

One of the attractions of the Yildiz .410 is that it’s built on a scaled down action to suit its;…