How does the high quality Yildiz SPZ ME Special Lux from Turkey compare to other shotguns?
This Yildiz SPZ ME Special Lux was first reviewed in September 2014
Probably the best known Turkish gunmaker, Yildiz has been quietly finding success on British shores in recent years by producing basic, reliable and very cheap shotguns. Indeed, when buying a new .410 shotgun today it is very likely you will be looking at buying a Turkish product. The Yildiz SPZ ME Special Lux .410 on test this month, however, is a rather different proposition, being a stunning hand-engraved over-under at a startlingly low price.
Based in the city of Burdur in south-west Turkey, Yildiz produces an impressive 45,000 shotguns per year in its high-tech factory. All parts are made in-house on an array of computer-controlled machines and the guns are built and finished by hand. The firm produces a huge range, from over-unders and side-by-sides right through to semi-automatics, and it exports 95 per cent to 65 different countries. Clearly, Yildiz is a much bigger player in the global shotgun market than many would give it credit for.
Looking at the Yildiz SPZ ME Special Lux, it is not difficult to understand why this firm has thrived over the past 40 years – it is a stunning little gun. The quality of the wood, with lovely figuring and a rich, deep colour, along with the general fit and finish makes the £2,200 price point seem faintly ludicrous. When the hand-engraving is taken into account it seems absolutely astonishing.
We tested the Yildiz SPZ ME Special Lux in .410 form with 28-inch barrels, but this model is also available in 28, 20 and 12-bores with barrel lengths ranging from 26 to 30 inches. These are top of the range Yildiz guns and are usually available only by special order, with an engraving style chosen by the customer from a range of patterns which are then applied by hand. As such, you will not be getting a truly custom gun but frankly when they look as good as this at such a low price, who cares?
First impressions are very good, with the gun being presented in a hard plastic case providing plenty of protection, with the barrels and receiver enclosed within smart fleece sleeves. The gun really is a stunner. The engraving pattern has been well chosen from the 26 available designs, with a lovely acanthus covering almost all the metal parts including top strap, trigger guard, fore-end iron and the fore-end release catch.
The hinge-pin has an attractive rose-style pattern and the visible internal parts have a lovely engine-tuning style polished finish. The tulip fore-end and pistol grip suit the lines of the gun, which, even in this small bore size, have a certain masculine appeal. Reactions to the gun from customers in the Elderkin & Son shop was extremely positive, with many commenting on the quality of the wood and engraving, and being somewhat taken aback by the surprisingly low asking price. The wood really is lovely, though if you are yearning for something a little more special you can opt for the top quality grade five wood, as opposed to the grade four wood on our test gun.
The Yildiz SPZ ME Special Lux is not without some minor aesthetic issues. The checkering is quite coarse, and the safety catch, while operating positively, looks a little at odds with the rest of the gun, as if it has come from another model. The red plastic sight bead is a little ugly too, and the plastic butt plate feels hard and unrefined. But I can’t say any of these minor niggles have an impact on the overall impression and you could easily alter them if you wished. And while the gun clearly has been beautifully hand-engraved, it has been quite cleverly applied to give an illusion of depth.
With three-inch chambers and multichokes safe for use with steel shot, it is a versatile and useful gun. I would suggest trying to get hold of one in a larger bore size, as in .410 guise it is perhaps a little short, and since the pistol grip is a large and comfortable thing in my hands, it would probably be too much for a youngster or a lady shot. The lines of the Yildiz would translate well to a 12 bore, for example, and with its superb engraving, wood and fine finishing, it would be the envy of your fellow guns in the field.
For stockists of the Yildiz SPZ ME Special Lux contact Entwistle Guns on 01772 718048 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
View from the gun shop with Bill Elderkin
This gun is built on quite simple principles to a high standard. The quality and scale of output from Turkish gunmakers right now is quite reminiscent of the Spanish gunmaking boom of the 1960s and 1970s. Yildiz is among the best known Turkish makers, along with Huglu, and I can see these guns becoming more and more popular.
The SPZ is a side-plated gun with a single selectable trigger which operates on a purely mechanical system rather than on inertia. This gives good, crisp trigger pulls and allows you to fire the second barrel even if you have a misfire on the first, however you do have to be a little careful of involuntary double discharge with this system.
On the plus side, this simple design means there are fewer moving parts, so less can go wrong. A more straightforward design is also a lot easier for a gunsmith to maintain and repair.
The gun has an alloy action with steel inserts in the action face, which should be quite strong; previously the quality of hardening of the steel was a worry in Turkish guns. This should be no problem today, however, and Yildiz offers two years warranty as standard on the metal parts.
But the real star of the show is this gun’s looks. It appears to be an absolute bargain given the quality of the engraving and finishing. Though you aren’t getting a custom design, there are plenty of options to choose from, and the engraving is particularly well executed. It’s like having a beautiful painting by an unknown artist – the work is still exquisite no matter who was behind the brush.
So in conclusion I would say the gun brought a smile to our faces and, at this price point, it is an extremely impressive and surprising gun at a relatively low cost. Well worth a look…
In the field with the Yildiz SPZ ME Special Lux
Weighing just over 5lbs 4oz, the SPZ is light and came to the shoulder well. For me the stock was perhaps a little short, so it was not always well placed in the shoulder, but it moved beautifully and was very easy to keep on line. The hard plastic butt plate was very grippy and I would probably replace this, which would also deal with my only real complaint about this gun – its rather pointy toe.
Ejection was strong and the Yildiz was comfortable in the hand. Though there was a little more movement in the trigger than I would have liked when the gun was unloaded, the actual trigger pulls were crisp and satisfying.
The real surprise, however, was the almost total lack of recoil. Instructor Bruce Marks and I put some fairly heavy loads through the Yildiz at Grange Farm Shooting School and found the kick-back to be almost unnoticeable. This meant the gun was usable over long shooting sessions and this, together with its lightweight, makes it ideal for use on clays, or during those really busy mid-season drives.
The Yildiz also came into its own when snap shooting, its lightweight helping you to move and shoot the gun quickly and fluidly. Overall this is a very impressive package, feeling entirely solid and shooting very well.
Scores for the Yildiz SPZ ME Special Lux
Engineering: A very simple design, but well executed. 7/10
Handling: Swings and mounts very well and recoil is dealt with brilliantly, though perhaps a little more weight and length are required. 8/10
Looks & finishing: Not without faults, but for the price, absolutely outstanding. 9/10
Reliability & customer service: Few problems reported and there is little to go wrong with them. 8/10
Value: You are getting a huge amount for your money, for this up and coming gunmaking brand. 8/10