Mike George selects three shotguns that would make the grade in any field from three extremely confident manufacturers: Hatsan, Browning and Remington
Mike chooses three secondhand shotguns on the market priced from £450 up to £1,050 to help you make your next gun purchase a bargain.
Hatsan Escort Xtreme Max Target Price: £450
It takes a manufacturer with extreme self confidence to advertise a 12-bore semi-auto shotgun as able to cycle loads all the way from 24 to 66 grams. That, to those who prefer the old money, is ⅞ to 2⅜oz. To handle the top weights,in steel shot, the gun has to be a super magnum with a 3½in chamber.
What’s more, a new gun costs around £550 depending on what offers are available, and an aspiring coastal wildfowler on a tight budget couldn’t do better than that. The gun has steel shot proof and he or she could use the same gun for clays or woodpigeons through the spring and summer. It’s hard to imagine a gun in this price range that is so adaptable.
When gunsmith, Jason Harris, tested the then-new gun in September 2014, he made the observation that the owner of a new gun would be advised to “run it in” on loads heavier than 24g until things loosen up a bit. For the owner of a second-hand gun this procedure wouldn’t be necessary, and I would be surprised if a secondhand gun would cost more than £450.
The gun, like most semi-autos, is of conventional gas-fed design, albeit with a clever gas port, and this led Jason to make an interesting recommendation: the best lubricant for the gas piston mechanism is motor oil. His logic was that motor oil, although far too thick and heavy for break-action guns, is just right for gas pistons because it is made to function at high temperature. It also makes for easier cleaning of the piston and cylinder.
I would add that most motor oils contain ingredients which prevent the formation of excesses of ash, should they really overheat.
The Xtreme Max is available from 24, 26, 28 and 30-inch barrels with chromium-plated bores and multichoke tubes, while the action frame is made from aircraft-quality aluminium alloy. Weight is from 7½lb upwards, depending on barrel length.
More details: from the importers, Edgar Brothers. Tel 01625 613177, or visit www.edgarbrothers.com.
Browning A5 Target Price £900+
It says much for the inventive genius of John Moses Browning and his brother Matthew that, up to 1939, all semi-auto shotguns on world markets except an undistinguished Winchester were made utilising one or another of the pair’s patents.
They included Breda, Beretta, Franchi, Remington and Savage. And, of course, guns bearing the Browning name, the most famous of which was the Auto 5. The gun was first made in 1902, and it stayed in production until 2000. Over the years there were many versions for both civilian and military use, and the British Army employed one, mounted on a small remotely controlled vehicle (mainly used in Northern Ireland for blasting the locks off car boots to get at explosive devices within).
The reason for the army’s choice was because the A5 was one of the few semi-autos ever made on which the barrel could be considerably shortened without compromising its performance – because the gun worked on the long recoil principle. In this principle, the recoil moved the whole barrel backwards against a spring, and used this movement to eject the cartridge case and load a fresh one.
The year 2000 marked the end of the old A5, but the famous name was reborn in 2013. Gone was the old and rather clunky long-recoil system, to be replaced by an inertia system somewhat like that used on a Benelli. The new system had several advantages, among them a fast cycling gun with no messy gas piston or cylinder to clean after every shooting trip.
The new gun also had much sleeker lines than the old A5, an over-bored barrel, and came with a guarantee for 100,000 shots. There’s confidence for you! There are several versions, but buyers should be able to get a basic model for around £1,180 new. Therefore, a good second-hand gun should be around £900.
More information: from the importers, BWM Arms. Tel 01235 514550, or visit www.browning.eu.
Remington Sporter 1100 Sporter Target price: £1,050+
The original Browning A5 is the world’s longest lived semi-auto shotgun design, but it was not the world’s favourite gun of its type. That title must go to the Remington 1100.
Its history began in 1960, when the American company decided they needed a modern replacement for what had become two lacklustre models, the gas operated Sportsman 58 and the Model 878. The gas systems on both guns were quirky, with pistons inside the magazine tubes. This feature made them difficult to clean, among other shortcomings.
The task of designing a new gun fell upon the shoulders of Remington’s research department, headed by Wayne Leek. Its brief was to create a gun that was reliable, strong, low in recoil, and with good handling.
The gun that went on the market in 1973 and it succeeded on pretty well all counts. Above all things, the handling set a standard, which is hard to match today. Although there were a few minor quirks, like fragile ejector claws and bolt followers.
The first guns were 12-bore field and wildfowling models, but 16 and 20-bore models followed a year later, plus a 12-bore deer gun for the US market. Competition models for trap and skeet soon followed, and the first .410 came on the market in 1979.
In the late 1970s it was thought Remington’s new Model 11-87 might kill off the 1100, and there was a glitch in the product of 12-bore models, but the old gun somehow refused to die. One of the latest versions is a 12-bore Sporter model with an adjustable stock. The stock and fore-end are made of a synthetic polymer textured to resemble carbon fibre.
The best-discounted price I could find for a new gun, at the time of writing, was £1,285.
This is an out-and-out competition gun, chambered for 2 ¾in (70mm) cartridges. The 30in barrel is over-bored, and is fitted with a 10mm ventilated top rib carrying foresight and mid-rib beads.
The gun weighs just more than 8lb, which may be a little heavy for a Sporter, yet users report the handling to be well up to 1100 standards.
More information: from importers, Sportsmarketing. Tel 01206 795333. Visit www.sportsmk.co.uk.