Mike George looks at three semi-autos - but which of the three should be avoided?

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Mike George picks out three second hand semi autos that you should look out for on the second hand market. He has previously chosen his three favourite second hand Sporters, second hand value for money shotguns and second hand European shotguns.

Remington CTI target price is hard to say

Second hand semi autos

Most second-hand guns have something to commend them, and even one that’s had a really hard life, yet is still in proof and safe, may be worth buying if the price is right. So it is rare indeed for me to suggest that a particular gun might best be avoided.

Make no mistake, the Remington CTI was, and is, safe. That’s not the point: the fact is that the suffered a problem that is not exactly rare among semi-autos. It was cartridge- sensitive. Not just a little bit, but a lot.

The gun was introduced in 2006, and Remington said it was made to celebrate 100 years of auto-loading shotguns. It has to be admitted that the concept was great, and one of the big selling points was that the gun ejected spent cases through the loading port underneath the action. This meant that “empties” tended to fall around the shooter’s feet rather than get thrown out to the side.

This feature alone made the gun a rarity. Among various advantages, trap shooters could use one without showering the competitor at the next peg with smoking cases, and there was no need for a special version for left-handers.

Sporting Gun first tested the CTI in 2007, and gunsmith Jason Harris found that loading and cycling the mechanism for the second and third shots was notably brisk with CCI loads, but other brands were troublesome and one left a case jammed in the gun. It was a failing that caused the gun to be withdrawn from sale after just three years on the market. During that time even an “improved” Mk2 version failed to fully address the problem.

To its credit, Remington modified customers’ guns to Mk2 specification free of charge, but in the mass market of the US in particular, the damage had been done.

This sad history is totally untypical of Remington’s excellent series of semi- autos, which includes the 1100, the 11-87, and the Versa Max.

How much is a second-hand CTi worth? It’s hard to say because, at the time of writing, there were none on the UK market, although one gun shop was trying to sell a new Mk2, which must have been on the shelf for around seven years, for just short of £1,350.

More information: The UK Remington importer is Sportsmarketing, Commerce Way, Colchester, CO2 8HH. Tel 01206 795333. The website www.sportsmk.co.uk lists the new guns currently available in the UK.

Benelli Black Eagle 2 target price £900+

Second hand semi autos

If you want a tough semi-auto for wildfowling or pest control duties, then a Benelli Black Eagle 2 could well be the way to go.

On the second-hand market there are two alternatives: the basic Black Eagle 2 (as illustrated), which has a 3in magnum chamber, or the up-rated Super Black Eagle 2 with its 3½in super-magnum chamber. There are variations of both guns, mainly concerning barrel length and stock material.

If you choose to buy a new gun, then a camo version of the Super gun costs around £1,700, and a version with a black synthetic stock is nearly £100 cheaper.

The first Benelli I ever shot, back in the 1980s, was a delightful little 20-bore with a handsome wood stock, and that was how I got a liking for the maker’s then- unique auto reloading system.

It works on inertia, and in operation the only major moving part is the bolt. What’s more, it’s a turning bolt, so at the moment of firing it is positively locked. I’ve been smiled at over the years to comparing the lock-up to that of a Kalishnikov AK-series assault rifle – but it’s true.

All the Black Eagles you are likely to encounter are multichokes, and the most popular barrel length is 28in. Bear in mind that all semi-auto actions, no matter what the operating principle may be, are longer than those of break-action shotguns, so a 28in barrelled auto has a sighting plane similar to that of a 30in break-action.

The technical specifications of the different versions of the Black Eagle vary a wee bit, but in general stock length is 14½in, with drops adjustable with shims. That’s a point to remember when buying second- hand: make sure all the shims and choke tubes you need are present with the gun.

Ventilated ribs are usually 8mm wide, with a red bead foresight close to the tip. As with most semi-autos, the loading trapdoor and trigger mechanism drops out for easy cleaning.

Benelli used to be an independent company, but it is now a part of the Beretta family.

More information: From the Beretta importers, GMK of Fareham, Hants. Tel 01489 579999. You can check on the extensive Benelli range on the website, visit www.gmk.co.uk.

Beretta UGB target price £1,500+

Second hand semi autos

When Beretta introduced the prototype UGB at the 2004 Grand American, the US’s biggest national trap competition, it was a semi-auto the like of which had never been seen before. It was a break- action, which sounded to most folk like a contradiction in terms.

Among many innovations, the “break” feature meant the gun could be carried around with the action open, just like an O/U, so that all could see that it was unloaded. To many, this was seen as an important safety factor, although there was a faction which thought the design was addressing a non-existent risk. After all, semi-auto accidents are extremely rare – in the UK at any rate.

Be that as it may, Beretta forged ahead with the design, and the first general market versions didn’t appear until 2008. Why the name? One Beretta website says that UGB stands for Ultimate Gun Beretta, but there’s also a strong rumour that it was really named after the company’s president, Ugo Gussalli Beretta. Whichever version is correct, the concept just had to work or there would be trouble with the boss!

Nowadays the gun doesn’t appear on the website of UK Beretta importer GMK, although the latest version, the UGB25 Xcel, does have a slot on the manufacturer’s European site. There are a few new guns for sale here, at prices not that far short of £3,000, while second-hand prices, for both Sporter and Trap versions, are around the £1,500- plus mark.

The gun is technically interesting for several reasons other than the “carry it broken” feature. For instance, it works on a short recoil principle rather than being gas fed. This does not mean that the mechanism is complex, and the gun is said by owners to be easy to strip and clean. Owners also will not get a problem with hard-set carbon in gas ports or pistons and cylinders.

The gun is a two-shot, loaded through a side port while spent cartridge cases are ejected through the bottom of the action.

Stock length, comb height and cast are all adjustable, and there is an optional recoil reduction system, which adds about 1lb to the weight. All this means that the UGB is a pure competition gun.

More information: The UK Beretta importer is GMK of Fareham, Hants. Tel 01489 579999. You can check on the current Beretta range on the website, visit www.gmk.co.uk.