Charles Smith-Jones avers that for the owner of a Blaser F3 Vantage it will be a case of money and cartridges well spent
This shotgun – the Blaser F3 Vantage – is no bargain basement offering, though it certainly represents an excellent example of a modern competition gun with the genuine potential to perform superbly in the right hands. (See also our list of guns for clayshooting.)
It comes, as many good things do, from Blaser Jagdwaffen of Isny im Allgäu, Germany, which started to produce its F3 range of shotguns in 2004. The gun was immediately lauded for its low profile and innovative features. It was designed very much from scratch and owes little to previous models or the ideas of other manufacturers. (Find our list of the best clayshooting jackets here.)
Blaser F3 Vantage efficiency
The hammers of most shotguns are usually cam-shaped and rotate on a central axis to strike the firing pin. Not so the F3, whose hammers strike horizontally, using coil springs that are embedded in channels machined into the receiver, to produce short lock times and decisive strikes. This arrangement, which Blaser calls its Inertia Block System, is not only highly efficient but allows a lower profile than that found in most other over-and-under actions.
Encouraged by the success of its modular R93 bolt-action rifle, which allowed the rapid changing of barrels, stocks and fore-ends without affecting overall component weight or balance, Blaser decided to adopt a similar system for the F3. While most manufacturers of over-and-under competition guns produce receivers in differing weights to accommodate 12-bore or 20-bore (which also handles 28-bore and .410 barrels), Blaser has standardised everything on a 12-bore frame and uses differently gauged barrels of the same length that share identical weights. This means that clay shooters can switch barrels and calibres without suffering variations that may affect their performance.
Yet another innovation is Blaser’s Ejector Ball System in which the ejectors are actuated when the shot is fired and the gun subsequently opened. This not only ensures that resistance is minimised when the gun is closed ready for the next shot, but further contributes to a low profile that enhances an overall design elegance.
The F3 comes in a number of variants and grades, including a game shooting version, but most are aimed at the clay shooter and the Vantage is one of these. A major feature is the significantly raised rib, which offers fast target acquisition and an enhanced field of vision. Peripheral vision is also improved by the flat ramp angle, meaning that regardless of the height or angle of the clay, the shooter is far less likely to be taken by surprise.
There are six stock options, including the adjustable one on the featured gun, and a further three choices of fore-end: traditional English style, Schnabel or a semi-beavertail. The weight of the barrel can be adjusted by up to 170g using balancer weights, and further adjustments can be made using more weight cylinders, which thread on to a rod running through the stock. At just under 8½lb this is not a light gun, but then it is not intended for a day’s rough shooting. It is supremely comfortable to use, fills the hands perfectly and is easily adjustable to fit most requirements; even the trigger is moveable. You would be hard-pressed to find a similar ‘off the shelf’ gun that handles so well.
The woodwork is, irrespective of grade, always highly attractive and perfectly complemented by a simple matt black finish to the metalwork. Further customisation is available from the factory and might involve options such as full sideplates, engraving with game scenes and scrolling, or various degrees of gold inlay. The barrel selector is not, as you might expect, part of the safety catch but is instead a small lever in front of the trigger. The overall build is solid and satisfying to use and this gun has a simple but very understated grace about it.
If you are a dedicated clay Shot looking for a full-time gun, the chances are that you will need to look no further than the F3 Vantage. This is a thoroughly impressive gun that will hold its own in any competition. Inevitably this kind of quality comes at a price, though few would deny that it’s worth paying.
Blaser F3 Vantage Tech Specs
- Configuration Over-and-under
- Choke Multichoke
- Chamber 3in (2¾in in 28-bore)
- Barrel length 32in as standard
- Ejector/non-ejector Ejector
- Safety catch Manual
- Left-hand version Yes
- Weight 8lb 7oz
- Available in calibres 12, 20 and 28-bore
- Cost new From around £7,500, depending on configuration and grade
- Cost used Variable according to finish, but unlikely to be below £5,000 to £6,000
This review was originally published in 2015 and has been updated.
If you are a dedicated clay Shot looking for a full-time gun, the chances are that you will need to look no further than the F3 Vantage