It really is a matter of which gun fits best, says Mike George, who selects three value- for-money second hand shotguns

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Mike George has previously picked out the best second-hand European shotguns, high grade guns and Sporters, now he is back with his top three value for money second hand shotguns ranging from £1,000 to £1,800+ from Miroku, Browning and Zoli.

Miroku MK70 target price £1,000

Value for money second-hand shotguns

If I describe the MK70 as the second- best Miroku ever, it’s just me airing my prejudices, because I do like fixed-choke Sporters and game guns. So, for me, the MK60 would be the gun to buy if I was just taking up the sport, but I guess most people would go for the 70 because it’s a multichoke.

A well-conditioned second-hand MK70 is certainly one of the guns I would recommend to anyone taking up shooting on a relatively tight budget. It’s tough, reliable, tolerably elegant, and its only serious rivals most experienced shooters would recommend for a man with £1,000 in his pocket would be an old-ish Browning or any of the 600-series Berettas. It really is a matter of which gun fits the shooter best.

The current new price of the MK70 is generally anywhere between £1,360 and £1,400 for a Grade 1 version, depending on your luck with which dealer is offering the best discount at the time of purchase. There is a Grade 5 version which is more money (in fact, quite a lot more), but the difference between the two is merely cosmetic – although the “posh” version is certainly good looking.

The MK70 is mechanically similar to Browning guns from the 325 onwards, which are broadly similar to John Moses Browning’s immortal B25. In other words, it has a rather tall boxlock action with all the features stacked neatly one on top of the other, with the bolt running along the action floor and the barrels hinged on a full-width pin.

As you would expect in this price range, the main springs are coils running on guide rods, while hammers are hinged at the bottom. Mirokus, like the similar Brownings, (made in the same Japanese factory) which have crisp trigger-pulls and balance well.

Mirokus have few vices, and repairs are generally not too expensive. One point to watch for on older guns is cratered tips on the firing pins, particularly on the bottom barrel pin, which does the most work. The complete set of main and ejector springs doesn’t cost a fortune.

There are quite a few different versions of the MK70 on the second-hand market at the moment, and prices vary hugely, but our target price of £1,000 should but a relatively recent Grade 1.

More information from any of the many Browning/Miroku dealers in the UK, or visit www.browning.eu/miroku

Browning Cynergy Sporter target price £1,250

Value for money second-hand shotgun

I was accused of being quite rude about the Cynergy when I first looked at it, not long after its introduction in 2004. I asked whether it was a stylish gun built to suit the sophisticated tastes of the 21st century shooter, or something Mr Spock might stash aboard the Star Ship Enterprise in case his fazer went on the blink and those pesky Klingons got stroppy again.

I really was referring to the gun’s revolutionary appearance, because it looked different to any other break-action Browning introduced before or since. The jointing looked as if it had been fitted back to front, with the knuckles on the fore-end iron rather than on the forward end of the action block, and the gun didn’t hinge on either stub pins or a full-width pin, but on quarter-circle projections inside the action walls mating with similar-shaped cut-outs in the barrel monobloc. The only other vaguely similar jointing I had ever seen was on the very rare Swedish Flodman, which hasn’t been imported into the UK since the 1980s.

And the jointing wasn’t the end of the innovations. Within the action there were no conventional hammers, the coil mainsprings propelling the firing pins forward by levers. Browning claimed a lock time of 1.8 milliseconds, which is fast by anyone’s standards. And the trigger’s transfer to the second barrel was via a mechanical system rather than one dependant on recoil – always an advantage in my book. In their current advertising, Browning claims the gun is ready for its second shot in 1.9 milliseconds, which I suppose is just what you need if you are Superman!

And, finally, the first guns had a weird- looking recoil pad, although conventional stocks and pads soon became available.

There was a small glitch in the early production run. A component in the safety/barrel selector mechanism didn’t work as well as it might, but Browning soon put things right and modified existing guns free of charge. There have also been a few other design updates along the way.

Nowadays there are just two models of Cynergy on the UK market: the Hunter, which has a conventional wood stock and recoil pad; and the Sporter Black Ice, with a stock made of an engineering plastic and that strange-looking but efficient recoil pad. The Black Ice is around £2,000, and the game model is usually a little cheaper.

More information: From any of the many Browning dealers in the UK, or visit www.browning.eu.

Zoli Kronos target price £1,800+

Value for money second-hand shotguns zoli

The Zoli could rightly be thought of as one of Europe’s better guns, so why isn’t it rivalling the higher-class Berettas and Brownings, or the Perazzi? It could be that the importing history has been a bit hit- and-miss over the years, although things should be more stable now the marque is in the experienced hands of Edgar Brothers.

It certainly isn’t to do with any dodgy quality issues, because the guns are well- designed, strong and reliable. They also handle well, and a typical offering is the Kronos, with new guns coming in at around the £3,800 mark. However, there are so many different specifications, including Sporters and Trap guns, that this figure can only be regarded as a general guide.

There’s also a big range of the company’s Z-series guns, including the Sport, Extra, Extra High-rib and two Z-ambassadors. It’s far too big a range to list here, but well worth a look on the Edgar Brothers website. However, back to the Kronos.

Most shooters will consider it a pure competition gun in its Trap and Sporter formats, and I think this is the cheapest shotgun with a drop-out trigger available anywhere in the world.

The trap model is suited to all the relevant disciplines, while the Sporter could be used for Skeet as well, but it is a bit heavy for field shooting – except on an occasional basis.

The action of the gun is typically Italian in design, with a very strong lock-up. The drop-out trigger mechanism is not removed with a button or catch, but requires the slackening of a grub screw with a small hexagon key. This feature makes the action extremely easy to clean, without the need to remove the stock. It also means that the coil mainsprings would be simple to replace, should the need arise.

Another nice touch is that the trigger is adjustable in the fore and aft plane, and the weight of the trigger pull can also be adjusted with a key – something that most manufacturers don’t trust owners to do for themselves.

The action is a strong, steel forging and locking is with a two-pronged bolt, which engages with bites in the rear end of the chambers aligned with the centre line of the bottom barrel. A bottom lug below the rear of the chambers engages with a recess in the action floor. Ejectors, as is normal with Italian guns, are spring-loaded.

More information: From the importers, Edgar Brothers, tel 01625 613177, or visit www.edgarbrothers.com.