Charles Smith-Jones says there is much to admire in the Blaser F16, not least a substantial gun for the price
There is no doubt that Blaser caters for a higher end of the market and there was considerable excitement when its new shotgun, the Blaser F16, was launched in this country in 2016.
The F16 is different to the earlier F3 – itself a highly regarded shotgun with a loyal following – in many respects. It is considerably less expensive and clearly priced to attract the customer seeking a better quality gun without paying too much for it. Blaser boasts that it has the lowest profile receiver in its class, allowing for a correspondingly low centre of gravity. It is offered in two versions: Game and Sporting.
The two can be easily distinguished by a silver logo on the former and a red one on the latter. Anyone hoping for a 20-bore version, however, is going to be disappointed, as the F16 comes only in 12-bore with 3in chambers.
Blaser F16 features
The F16 is packed with innovative features. One shared with the F3 is the barrel selector, a small black button that is located in an unusual position in front of the trigger but, despite this, is practical, easy to use and intuitive once you are familiar with it.
The trigger is set at 1,650g; its position is fixed on the Game model but can be adjusted to alter length of pull on the Sporter. A clever trigger blocking system means that even if the gun is jarred, it is protected against accidental firing. The ejector springs cock on opening, making it easy to close but not difficult to open. One benefit of this proven system is that there is no danger of spring fatigue while the gun is stored.
Both the Game and the Sporting models come in a basic gun-metal grey finish to the receiver; if you want extensive engraving you will need to dig deeper and buy an F3, but there is no denying that the F16 remains an eye-catching gun with stylish, sleek lines. The underside of the action is slightly rounded, which, combined with the low centre of gravity, ensures a comfortable hold.
In addition to the different logo colours, models can also be distinguished quickly by the illuminated red barrel bead of the Sporting compared with the more conventional nickel silver one on the Game. Additionally, both models are available in a variation that Blaser calls the ‘Intuition’, with a stock tailored to fit the female form.
Optional extras include an adjustable comb and balancing systems for the stock and the barrels, enabling the user to tailor the gun to their exact preferences. The stock balancer consists of an internal threaded rod fitted with either one or two adjustable weight cylinders, while the barrel balancer has weights that sit flush between the barrels under the fore-end, which can be used to add varying amounts up to 170g (6oz) to the barrel weight, not something that a game shooter might want to carry around all day but of great potential value to the clay shooter looking for that perfect set-up.
There is also a choice of wood grade, and left-handed stocks are available. The flush chokes (there is no fixed choke option) can, on request, be upgraded to Briley Spectrum extended chokes, which can be changed by hand if the wrench – supplied on delivery – is not available.
Although certainly no entry-level gun, the F16 compares favourably against competitors costing twice the price, offering both superb quality and excellent handling. It has been around only for about five years and there probably won’t be many used examples on the market, so if you come across one you may have to make your mind up fast as it will be unlikely to remain available for long.
Blaser F16 measurements
The stock measurements for the F16 Game are as follows:
- Length: 14¾in
- Drop at comb: 1⅜in
- Drop at heel: 2⅙in
- The cast is ⅛in at heel
These measurements are fairly good, but some people could find the drop a little high. The pad is a simple rubber pad that is about 5/8″ thick. If you need a longer stock this does leave you the ability to extend with a thicker pad. I would certainly advise on paying for the wood upgrade. The barrels on the Blaser F16 Game gun come either 28 or 30in with three briley multi-chokes as standard. The Sporter, weighing 7lbs 14oz, comes in either 30 or 32in with five multi-chokes and has a barrel weighting system as standard, so you can balance the barrel weight to your specification by adjusting a couple of Allen keys.
The bores measure 18.6mm, with the 3inch chambers and having very long combs to reduce the recoil. The side ribs are solid with a top rib that has 9mm to 7mm taper to it.
The F16 is a shotgun built to a very high standard. Blaser group certainly has made a shotgun that will last.