John MacNab Woodcock shotgun.
With the Woodcock, MacNab are in 20-bore territory.
I wouldn’t say there is necessarily a gap in the market for a gun of this type, but it is certainly a welcome addition to those that are already on the market.
This latest model is made by Ugartechea in Spain to a specification laid down by Macnab.
The name Ugartechea is one that’s known to a lot of sportsmen here because their guns have been on our market for a number of years now, and often in a variety of guises.
Most notably the company made the popular 600 series of Parker Hale shotguns – and that was more than 20 years ago.
The Woodcock follows the general pattern of an English style of gun with a straight hand stock and splinter fore-end.
The stock dimensions are along British lines as well with a drop of around 55mm at heel and 35mm at comb, allowing the gun to shoulder well and giving the user a clean sighting picture down the concave rib.
The stock is cast off about 6mm for the right hander.
Length of pull is just over 15in and the gun also has a little more than half an inch extra at the toe.
The effect of this is to pitch the gun up a little more when the gun is in the shoulder – a desirable trait for anyone shooting driven game.
The stock may be a little too long for some people but generally speaking most shooters actually benefit by having more length of pull on stocks sporting a straight grip.
The angle of the hand goes some way to dictate this. From a gunsmith’s point of view of course it’s preferable to have plenty of wood to play with should the customer ever decide to have the stock shortened to fit.
Wood quality is a little plain on this gun but is a nice deep colour and the grain is straight through the hand where most strength is needed.
It’s nice to see that the stock and fore-end have been given an oil finish that’s not too glossy and is easy to maintain.
The chequer pattern follows traditional lines and has been nicely executed.
The action frame is coin finished in a dull silver colour and it has been given a good covering of bold rose and scroll engraving.
The rest of this gun’s furniture – trigger guard, top lever, safety button, fore-end iron and tip – carry a small amount of engraving and have been finished in black.
The mechanism is robust and simple sporting a proven and conventional double bolt and corresponding bites on the barrel lumps to achieve a strong lock up between action and barrels.
The gun appears to be well jointed with plenty of bite to bed in over many seasons of use.
It breaks open cleanly to leave a good gape and doesn’t bounce back on the cross pin thereby forcing the user to pull down on the barrels in order to load the gun.
An auto return safety catch has been fitted to the gun and this is activated in the usual way when the top lever is pushed across during reloading.
The lockwork is simple, yet strong. At first glance the gun appears to be a bar action sidelock with a vee spring forwards of the hammer or tumbler.
This is a deception because the spring peg at the forward end of the lock is in fact a dummy and the hammer is powered by a coil spring from behind. Ultimately this is a more reliable way to spring the gun though it takes something away from the ethos of gunmaking.
The trigger pulls are crisp as you’d expect on a sidelock and there is also an intercepting safety sear should the gun be dropped or jarred.
The cocking limbs run forward into the fore-end iron where they pick up the ejector work.
And it’s nice to see that the makers have stuck to convention here by using Southgate type ejectors. In these, a vee spring works against the back of a kicker that is tipped by the force of the cocking lever as the gun is opened after firing.
At the point of full opening the kicker is pushed over the fulcrum point of the spring where it then strikes the extractor leg sharply, forcing it up quickly and throwing the spent cartridge case clear of the chamber.
The ejector mechanism is re-cocked by the closing action of the gun and this is the reason why some ejector guns are always harder to close once they’ve been fired and opened – particularly so when both barrels have been fired.
The barrels have been made from chopper lump forgings which is the commonest – and strongest – way to make barrels for a side-by-side shotgun.
Macnab has chosen longer barrels for this gun and a buyer can take his pick from 29in or 30in.
In my view this is a good choice for a 20 bore because the longer barrels makes the gun steadier to swing and improves its pointability quite noticeably.
The barrels are generally well put together, but a bit more time spent fine boring and striking off the metal would enhance the assembly quite considerably.
The blacking work to the barrels and on the furniture is very good, being a deep glossy black.
Overall weight at 6.1/4lb doesn’t exactly put this gun in the super lightweight class but the little bit of added weight actually helps absorb recoil and makes the gun very comfortable to shoot.
A little more attention to detail is needed on this gun before it becomes a ‘must have’ buy – especially at the current asking price.
If the test gun is anything to go by then the makers should look to improve on the woodwork and barrel finishing.
An alternative buy would be the AYA No.2.
John MacNab Woodcock shotgun
Build quality: 6
Value for money: 6
Telephone: 01989 562459