A look at three second-hand, low recoil guns
Buyer’s brief: “I have been looking at Turkish guns, and they seem to offer great value for money. Problem is, although I am over six feet tall and I'm broad across the shoulders, I do suffer from recoil. What do you recommend?” Jack Stimson, Lincolnshire.
• MAX PRICE: £650 • TYPE: Don’t mind • MAIN PURPOSE: Club sporting clays and pigeons from a hide • PREFERRED MAKE: Anything Turkish.
It surprises me that sensitivity to recoil seems to have little to do with physical build. I’ve met guys built like Jack who find recoil painful, and also skinny guys like me who don’t seem to suffer at all. It’s not that I don’t bruise when shooting heavy loads, but I don’t notice the bruises until I’m in the shower when I get home, and they go away quickly.
There are obvious cures like making sure the gun fits and is mounted properly, and soft rubber butt pads can be fitted – although they can snag on clothing when trying to mount the gun quickly. If Jack sees to these matters, I can recommend three possible answers to his problem when it comes to gun choice.
The first is to buy a relatively heavy gun – weight shouldn’t be a problem to a man of his build, particularly as he won’t be walking any distance with his gun at either of his preferred sports. Heavy guns really absorb recoil.
The second solution would be to shoot a semi-auto, because the mechanism, particularly in gas-fed guns, seems to soak up recoil. You don’t need the third shot that a semi-auto offers in clayshooting, but it can be very useful when decoying pigeons.
The third, and my least-favourite solution, would be to shoot an O/U of game gun weight, but to stick to light cartridges – right down to 21g, if necessary. Although cartridges suitable for pigeon shooting in loads of less than 28g are hard to find.
This gun, in its adjustable comb form, sells at around £900 new, so it should be possible to find a second-hand gun within Jack’s budget. I would go for this rather than the slightly cheaper fixed-comb version, although I would get a coach to help me set up the comb height. I’d then leave the height adjustments alone unless something proved to be drastically wrong.
With 30-inch barrels, which I would recommend rather than the shorter 28, the gun weighs 8lb 5oz. That’s heavy for a sporter, which I prefer to weigh around 7¾lb, but the weight should kill recoil and a big chap like Jack should be able to handle it. Five flush-fitting multichoke tubes are supplied, along with a key and a hexagon key for adjusting the comb.
The gun has a relatively simple mechanism, with a shallow action and monobloc-construction barrels hinged on stub pins. The bores are chrome-lined and chambers are three inches. The gun, proofed in England, has steel-shot proof so Jack would be able to use it for duck shooting, should he wish. Top and side ribs are ventilated for lightness and heat dissipation.
Within the action, hammers are hinged from the floor and sears hang from the top strap, while main springs are coils running on guide rods. The action frame is made in one piece, without a removeable trigger plate, and this adds to the overall strength of the gun.
The exterior of the action is in a matt silver finish, and the engraving is one minor point I don’t like – it shows a clay whizzing through the air. Why is it that clays featured in engraving always look to me like flying fried eggs? The wood is attractive and nicely proportioned, and the Schnabel (German for beak) fore-end is of the profile I prefer on a sporter or O/U game gun.
ATA Venza semi-auto
When former Sporting Gun gunsmith Jason Harris tested a new version of this gun, he favourably compared its trigger mechanism and bolt design to the late and much lamented Beretta 300 series. This was praise indeed, for the whole series – and the A303 in particular – was one of the toughest and most desirable designs available 35 years ago, and only lost out by a whisker in the handling department to the immortal Remington 1100.
If anyone thinks of ATA as a relatively new gunmaker, then it may come as a bit of a surprise to learn that it has been in business in its native Turkey for 60 years. It makes a large range of semi-autos, as well as O/Us.
The gun illustrated has a khaki-green finish to its action, although there are options in black, bronze and grey. Material for the action is an aircraft grade of aluminium alloy, with the black versions anodised and the other colours finished in a baked-on process called Cerokote, which was developed in the USA for use in the defence industry.
Mechanically, there isn’t a lot to say about the gun except that it is a typical gas-fed three-shot semi-auto, although it does have a clever mechanism to cut the recoil of heavy loads. Barrels available are 26, 28 or 30 inches, with three-inch chambers and steel-shot proof.
Versions are available with wood, camo and synthetic black stocks and fore-ends. Five choke tubes are supplied, and a set of shims for altering drop and cast.
Clay pigeon shooting: I am 14 years old and have just got hooked on clay pigeon shooting. As a present…
The Huglu company is even older than ATA, having been in business for around a century. I can recall seeing one in the 1980s, although it was some years before the guns were imported in numbers. Importing is now handled by ASI, a firm that has established a great reputation for AYA guns from Spain and, more recently, Rizzini from Italy.
The 103DE is a plain and simple O/U, and there are second-hand versions available in the £400 to £450 range, so if Jack decided to take this option he could use the rest of his budget to lay in a good stock of cartridges.
The mechanism is what I used to call “typically Italian”, but with the rapid growth of the Turkish gun industry I suppose I had better now call “typically Mediterranean”. In other words, a shallow action with barrels hinged on stub pins.
The only disadvantage I can find for Jack is the gun’s weight. It tips the scales at just 7lb 4oz – in other words, a typical O/U game gun weight – so Jack would have to find some cartridges with a light recoil – which would be easy for his clay shooting but more difficult for his pigeons.
I cannot understand why cartridge manufacturers seem so reluctant to load 24g (⅞oz) cartridges with No.6 shot. I once persuaded one of Britain’s smaller cartridge loaders to run me off an experimental batch of 1,000 – they were brilliant. But nowadays I can’t find any listed, although you could shoot pigeons with readily available 24g No.7 trap loads.