Yildiz Professional shotgun
I shall undoubtedly remember 2011 as the year of the semi-automatic shotgun, as every gunmaker seemed to have a model on offer for test.
It is hardly the sort of product one normally associates with famous London names who might get a bit sniffy at the very idea and, anyway, would be inclined to call it a ?self-loading? gun.
I am not sure whether the market is quite as big as the various makes and models available might suggest, but there is certainly less prejudice against this type of gun than in the past.
Quite advanced technology can be used with a semi-auto, and as any fan of this type of gun will tell you, by comparison, the doublegun, with two barrels stuck together, is actually only the crudest form of repeater.
The semiauto is free from many of the constraints of conservative styling associated with a conventional game gun, so quite interesting flights of fancy can be accommodated.
At the same time, there are guns of this type that are fairly restrained ? in fact, some are quite traditional in approach.
On making that comment, I can almost hear the rumbles of disbelief already, as for most shooters, tradition and semi-automatics do not go together.
Yet, they have been with us for more than 100 years and so must have achieved some respectability by now. A good example of this is the Yildiz Professional 20-bore.
The Yildiz has attractive looks, and much of this is due to its conservative styling and the good quality of the wood used for the stock and fore-end.
There are not many semi-autos that sport fine-grained walnut with some dark veining and fiddleback, in addition to an oiled finish and hand-cut chequering.
The drop across the comb is a fairly average 1.1⁄2in to 2.1⁄2in, as you might find on a double gun.
The length of the pull is 14.3⁄4in, which is a bonus, as some semi-autos are often a bit short in this area.
A RELIABLE LAYOUT
The Professional follows a layout that has become very much the standard for a gas-operated semi-auto ? the most obvious feature being the recoil spring fitted around the magazine.
In the older design, a separate spring box was located in the butt with associated linkage, so the new design reduces the number of moving parts, which aids the gun?s reliability.
The carrier or lifter underneath the action, which feeds the cartridge from the chamber up to the breech, has to be in the down position to lock the bolt open.
This is easily achieved by depressing a small catch at the hinged end of the carrier prior to racking back the bolt to enable one to load a cartridge direct into the chamber, making use of the two-plus-one facility (two in the magazine, one in the chamber).
Of course, while doing this it is necessary to remember that the barrel should be pointed in a safe direction and the safety should be applied.
The safety is the usual cross-bolt trigger-lock style, accommodated in the rear of the trigger guard, which, though nicely proportioned, might be a bit on the small side for anyone with large fingers or wearing gloves.
A CHOICE OF CHOKES
The barrel, of a nominal 28in length, is surprisingly slim and chambered for 76mm (3in) cartridges. It is fitted with a nicely proportioned ventilated top rib, brass bead foresight and screwed for multichokes.
A set of five chokes is supplied with the gun, covering a range from full to cylinder, each identified with a simple notch marking.
While appearing plain and simple and of the earlier, short type, they are nicely made and well finished.
Proofing is carried out at the Birmingham Proof House and the gun on test bore superior proof marking.
The action on this gun follows the typical layout of a modern, gas-operated semi-automatic, but it also features a two-plus-one facility.
The trigger guard is fairly small, but well proportioned.
SMOOTH AND STABLE
The simple white lining on the matt black receiver is a neat touch, while the dovetail cut-outs on the top for an optical sight indicate an additional use with rifled slug.
It is certainly stable enough at the shoulder for both deliberate aim and smooth swing.
Weighing slightly less than 7lb, it is not particularly light for a 20-bore, but it is not bad for a semi-auto of this gauge.
Neither is it especially long, being just more than 48in. This is reasonable for a semi-auto and only a little longer than most 30in-barrelled double-guns.
For me, the handling was helped by the reasonably long stock.
Being walnut, it also adds some weight compared with a synthetic stock, and this effectively moves the point of balance back slightly, which makes it feel more comfortable.
Testing not only confirmed this gun?s handling characteristics but also proved its sweetness when firing, regardless of the load being used.
Due to the fact that it is gas-operated it absorbs the recoil, and that characteristic is enhanced by the small amount of extra weight that this gun carries compared with a lightweight game gun.
This is the kind of shotgun that could well be useful to the beginner who might be slightly wary of recoil at first.
The test cartridges that I used included the usual mixture of miscellaneous cartridges that I use just to see how well it would handle them.
They included some ancient paper-cased Eleys, a couple of Holland & Holland Super 20s that had been in my workshop for many years, as well as some more modern offerings.
This gun was a little stiff in operation to start with, which showed its newness, but as testing progressed it fired and cycled without hesitation.
Ejection was positive without throwing the cases too far away, and the trigger pull was quite good for a semi-auto.
A reasonable depth of engagement of the sear is necessary with this type of gun to avoid the possibility of a double discharge, so there will always be a hint of creep.
As for the point of aim, with the foresight bead tucked just under the centre of the target, it threw the pattern a touch high, which in practical terms is about right.
Unfortunately, this took some achieving, as I was carrying out the test on one of the windiest days I have known for a long time, so, through no fault of the gun or the cartridges, not every pattern was as good, or placed as well, as it could have been.
The Yildiz Professional is a neat and handy little gun built on conservative and well-proven principles. It looks good and is an interesting blend of modern manufacturing materials and techniques allied to some traditional practices.
The walnut woodwork and its finish make this semi-auto quite different from the norm.
In addition, this gun is gentle to use and, like most of its type, will ?shuck shells?, as the Americans would say, faster than you can think.
Yildiz Professional shotgun