Blaser F3 shotgun
A few years ago, had you asked anyone to name a German-built shotgun, chances are they would have said either Kreighoff or Merkel. Then, quite suddenly, everything changed. The German firm of Blaser, known primarily for its rifles, came up with an absolute winner of a clay-shooting gun.
What’s more, they recruited no less a person than John Bidwell to advise them on dimensions and handling characteristics. John, who took a gamble when he switched to the new gun from his favourite Brownings, put it all together then used it to win the World FITASC Championship in the veteran class for two successive years.
Suddenly, people were taking notice of the Blaser. It was here to stay on the British market, as a worthy competitor to both Browning and Beretta. As you will see, it is a gun with many innovative technical features, and an interchangability of components which reflects well on the standards of precision to which it is built.
Who makes it?
Blaser Jagdwaffen GmbH, whose factory is at Isny im Allgau, a town in Germany’s south-eastern Baden-Wurttemberg area. The company also builds some very fine sporting rifles and that curious mainly Teutonic combination, the drilling – a side-by-side shotgun with a rifle barrel either underneath or on top.
How adaptable is it?
Buy a Blaser F3 sporter and you have one thing in mind – winning competitions in the sporting disciplines. You wouldn’t really want to use it for anything much else, although you could use it for game with one of the interchangeable barrel options.
How does it work?
If we say ‘like nothing else on earth’, then we mean it as a compliment, because the action of the Blaser shows some really innovative thinking. Even the way in which the barrels lock to the low-profile action is different to most. The barrels hinge on stub pins, a conventional enough feature, but lock-up is achieved by the barrel lump dropping into a cut-out in the action floor, where it engages with a full-width bolt. If the gun should ever shoot loose, the barrel lump can be replaced – it is a separate part fitted to the bottom of the barrel monobloc and can be removed with a hexagon key.
Building on Blaser’s rifle experience, the mechanism has been designed to deliver a very fast lock time – that is, the time it takes between releasing the trigger and the firing pin indenting the primer. This has been achieved by employing hammers which run in a horizontal plane, with the hammers and firing pins in exact line with the centre-lines of the barrels. The only other shotgun on which we have ever seen a feature anything like this is the Swedish-built Flodman, which is no longer imported into the UK.
Powering the hammers are coil springs running in tunnels, which provide good reliability as the can continue to function when broken. The unusual hammer features have also provided the gun with extremely crisp trigger pulls.
Re-cocking is performed by cocking rods in the action being forced back by cams in the fore-end iron when the gun is opened. The single, selective trigger is set to the second barrel by a mechanical system rather than the usual recoil-driven inertia mechanism, but there is an inertia block which performs another function. It prevents the shooter firing an involuntary second shot due to the recoil of the first. The barrel selector is a button with a fore-and-aft movement fitted just in front of the trigger blade. The trigger is adjustable to suit the size of the shooter’s hands.
The safety, with the thumbpiece in the conventional position on the top strap, has an intercepting feature which prevents an accidental discharge should the gun be dropped.
The ejection system is something different yet again. When the gun is fired, separate pins emerge from the breech face. The tips of these rods engage with holes in the front face of the ejectors, where they depress a steel ball which sets up the ejector to operate when the gun is opened. The breech face is removable, and therefore easily replaceable. A true left-handed top lever is available at extra cost.
– Barrel sets of 28, 30 and 32 inches are available, all weighing exactly the same, weight savings being made by careful profiling of the longer tubes. It is therefore possible for an owner to buy two separate barrel sets – say a 28 for skeet and a 30 or 32 for sporting – and have the gun balance exactly the same in both configurations.
– All are multichokes, with choke tubes by Briley.
– Internally chromium plated, and all have 3in (76mm) chambers.
– Longer than normal forcing cones, and are mildly over-bored at 0.735in.
– Side ribs are solid and the top rib is ventilated.
– Standard length of the pistol-grip stock (with the trigger in the middle position) is 14.6in, with an option of 15.4in at no extra charge.
– Standard drops are 1.1/2in and 2in at comb and heel respectively, with an option of 1.6 and 2.2in at no extra charge.
– No extra charge for left-handed versions, but there is for non-standard lengths and drops.
– Can also pay extra for an adjustable comb.
– Stocks can be fitted with extra weights to tune the balance of the gun.
Weight is around 8lb, depending on specification.
What the tester thought
Sporting Gun tested a second-hand Blaser F3 in December 2005. It scored an amazing 9 out of 10 in all categories: build quality, handling, styling and value for money. High points listed included the quality of engineering, the easy interchangability of barrels, stocks and internal parts, and handling.
The tester commented: “The F3 is one of those guns which will continue to raise interest for some years yet. It is extremely well-built and has already proved itself capable of winning world-class titles.”
A bit difficult to quote, as Blaser were in the process of changing their UK importer at the time of writing. Expect to pay over £2,200 for the basic gun.
The Beretta 682 Gold E, the Beretta DT10, and the Browning XS are all firmly in the frame
Alan Rhone (01978-660001) has been nominated as the new Blaser distributor for the UK.