John MacNab Supreme shotgun.
The Supreme sports a coin finished silver action with black furniture.
The main feature of this gun is its hand engraving which not only makes it a little more expensive than the Deluxe version, but also gives it an air of individuality.
Mechanically speaking, however, both guns are identical. These guns are actually made in Italy by one of the country’s most respected gunmakers; Battista Rizzini.
The design of the guns follow tried and tested principles with the hammers being hinged from the bottom of the action while the sears are suspended from above.
The mainsprings are captive on guide rods to provide direct power to the hammers but they have a rebounding effect so striker drag is eliminated once the gun is opened after firing.
The trigger works by inertia and needs the recoil of the first shot to reset it for the second.
The sear lifter is connected directly to the trigger and is switched from side to side by a selector button on the safety catch.
This means either barrel can be selected to shoot first.
The safe itself has an auto return facility when the top lever is pushed across to open the gun.
Lock up of the barrels is by a bottom bolt that engages with lumps on either side of the action.
The strikers are substantial and work through the top lever spindle which, by the way, has a hold over button that protrudes from the top of the action face when the gun is open.
Closing the gun pushes the button back, allowing the top lever to come across and lock the gun.
Cocking levers in the bottom of the action are activated as the gun opens by a cam on the fore-end iron and hook directly into the bottom of the hammer.
The levers push the hammer back and are then retained so the gun does not eject unless a cartridge has been fired.
After firing, the cocking lever moves forward to engage the relevant ejector trip, which then makes contact with the action body as the gun is opened.
The coil spring-powered extractor only ejects the fired shell when the barrels are at full gape.
The action frame itself is attractively carved with raised panels to accommodate the side plates, and detonated fences.
In other words the action fences are carved to blend in with the lines of the barrels.
The Highlander Deluxe is the machine engraved version of this duo, which lowers the price considerably, but does not detract from the looks of the gun.
It has a mixture of scrollwork and game scene engraving depicting woodcock and grouse and the Macnab name is also engraved in gold on the belly of the action.
There are a few striking features about the Highlander, one of which is the top rib.
It is unusual to see an over-under gun these days with a solid top rib because they tend to add too much weight to the front of the gun and so upset the balance.
The answer here is to have what Patrick calls a Boss style rib – one which appears to be solid but is, in fact, hollow, so the handling characteristics are maintained.
The rib is also tapered from approximately 7.5mm down to 6mm to give the gun better pointing characteristics.
This profiling also makes the rib appear longer than really it is.
There is a slight weight increase in the gun overall but this has been orchestrated deliberately to make the gun more comfortable to shoot in a ‘hot corner’ when a little extra weight helps absorb the extra recoil.
If the gun is being used on high birds where the smoother handling of a slightly heavier gun is preferable then buyers will appreciate the balance of the Highlanders.
The barrels are 29in long which, in my view, is a good choice because it’s one that will suit most sportsmen whether they’re walking up game, shooting birds at flight or standing on a peg and waiting for birds to be driven over them.
The barrels are made on the mono-block principle and have been chambered for 3in cartridges but I wouldn’t recommend the use of too many magnum loads because the recoil could prove too painful on the shoulder.
The barrels are very well finished, having been nicely struck up and blacked to a deep gloss.
The barrel flats are engine turned which contrasts well with the polished extractors.
That said, the most striking feature of this gun is its woodwork, and in this respect Macnab has not let me down.
It continues to design stocks which incorporate my favourite shape of grip – a small, rounded, pistol grip that fits the hand a treat.
It’s also elegant and flows into the shape of the stock’s body.
A new feature is the long trigger guard and bottom strap which adds to the classic overall look of this gun.
Wood quality on both models is very good with darkish wood and a good figure.
A neat way of finishing the butt has been done by shaping and then chequering with a discreet hole to allow access to the bolt.
The wood finish is attractive and one I would describe as being a light oil finish – easy to maintain with just a little stock oil and wax polish.
The fore-end shape is elegant in a Schnabel style, with a forward button to release the iron from the action knuckle and barrel.
This adds to the looks of the gun and is reminiscent of the best English makers.
This gun has been designed and finished to a specification to compete head-on with game guns like Beretta’s well established 687 EELL.
Only time will tell, but it should give the rest a run for their money.
Overall this Highlander can be described as a very pretty gun which draws a great deal of influence from the best English guns.
Alternative buys could be the Beretta 687 EELL and the Browning Privilege.
John Macnab Supreme shotgun
The hand engraved Supreme retails at £3,450 and the colour hardened Deluxe at £2750.
Build quality: 8
Value for money: 8
Telephone 01989 562459.