Category Archives: Shotgunner

High-Tech Shotgun Ammo

Maxstop And DDupleks Maximize The
Effectiveness Of The 12-Gauge Defensive
And Hunting Shotgun.

Innovations in ammunition power the shooting industry. Some developments are particularly intriguing because they’re radical, unique and highly effective, yet, haven’t realized their true market potential. Two brands I have been working with recently are Maxstop and DDupleks. Maxstop is, in essence, a reintroduction of the Polyshok round once restricted to law enforcement and military agencies years ago. Not anymore.

Under the Maxstop label this unique defense loading is now available to the public. The radical hunting and target slugs produced by DDupleks, a firm located in Latvia, were once impossible to find in the United States, but the company has now partnered with Century Arms as an importer, so hopefully the availability of the brand is secure.

Maxstop uses the term “impact reactive projectile” to describe their product. It’s strictly a 12-gauge self-defense round which is designed to remove the threat while minimizing to a high degree any possible collateral damage. There’s nothing quite like it in terms of performance which is graphically depicted on the company’s website.

Here’s how it works. The 540-grain projectile is composed of three components. There’s a soft plastic, unitized wad column consisting of a gas seal, which fractures into eight stabilizing wind vanes upon discharge, a cushion crush section and a shot cup. Contained in the shot cup is a charge of free-flow shot. Capping off the shot cup is a hard polymer toadstool, which the company calls an “actuator.” The projectile is a complete ballistic system.

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The innovative Latvian-made, Century Arms-imported DDupleks shotgun slug (above) line is
finally gaining a toehold in the USA. Maxstop ammunition (below) is designed to terminate
the threat while minimizing collateral damage. It does so quite convincingly.

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The projectile is designed to “transfer a highly disruptive, radial energy discharge into the first target it encounters” while dumping or dissipating its energy and thereby minimizing collateral damage beyond the target. Three characteristics of the projectile make this possible.

Free-flow shot is an ultra-fine shot manufactured by the same company that makes the Lawrence brand shot for handloaders. If you had to give it a numerical shot designation, it would probably rate about No. 16 shot. Free-flow shot has been used to manufacture radiation protection pads used in dental offices, and I understand it has also been used in the walls of “safe rooms” to eliminate eavesdropping. While the shot column functions like a solid projectile at the moment of impact, it’s dispersed radially and because of the low mass of individual pellets, looses energy rapidly.

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The secret is in the use of fine, free-flow shot (above) as fine as sand encapsulated inside
a capped polymer wad. Such shot is about the size of No. 16. In tissue, free-flow shot pellets
are dispersed radially creating massive wounds, and minimal penetration beyond. Upon hitting
its target, the Maxstop gas seal (below) fractures into eight stabilizing wind vanes.

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The plastic toadstool capping off the shot cup is rammed into the shot charge at the time of impact and disperses it radially. At the same time, the super soft polymer shot cup rolls back upon itself allowing the shot to be dispersed at an angle of 90-degrees from the point of impact. The plastic toadstool was developed by Polywad years ago as a spreader component for its loaded ammunition as well as a reloading component. It’s appearance in this shell is no surprise since Jay Menefee, president of Polywad, lead the development of the original Polyshok shell as well as many other innovative shotgun shells you see loaded by major companies and indeed loads the Maxstop round under license at his factory in Georgia.

In performance, the Maxstop round will instantly incapacitate a human threat with the round opening up within 8 to 10 inches of penetration and creating a massive wound channel. When fired through automobile windshields or doors, the round behaves much like a shaped charge, penetrating the barrier and setting up a highly focused pressure wave delivering a blunt trauma blow to anything 2 to 3 feet beyond the barrier. Because it behaves differently on different targets, it’s been called a “smart round.”

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Maxstop is accurate. At 25 yards (above), the round produced 3-shot groups
measuring 1-1/2 inches, and the group at 50 yards was 3 inches (below).

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Suitable Guns

The Maxstop round is designed specifically for 14- to 18-inch-barreled, smoothbore shotguns with cylinder or improved cylinder chokes. Rifled barrels will shred the projectile and back-bored barrels or barrels with ports or ported chokes will compromise the round’s performance.

What really impressed me with the round was its accuracy. From an 18-inch cylinder bore, open sighted, Remington 870, the Maxstop delivered 3-round groups of 1-1/2 inches at 25 yards and 3 inches at 50 yards. Trajectory was virtually flat. Felt recoil was half that of a standard buckshot round. Velocity recorded 10 feet from the muzzle was 1,028 fps.
The Maxstop ammunition is $54.99 for a box of 25 and $11.99 for a 5-round pack. This is one of the finest home defense and urban shotgun rounds ever developed to end the threat while minimizing collateral damage. It deserves a serious place in your battery.

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The DUPO28 (above), a lead free, diablo-styled slug featuring 6 tissue-cutting petals, which
open up on impact and can break free averaged 1-7/8 inches at 50 yards. The MONOLIT28, a steel
Diablo-styled slug galvanized to prevent corrosion, does not deform and averaged 2-inch groups
(below). Both groups were fired at 50 yards.

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Slug Power

DDupleks, Ltd. is a shotshell manufacturer in Riga, Latvia, specializing in high-tech slug ammunition. They’re finally getting a toehold in the United States market thanks to a partnership with Century Arms. Century sent me two different 2-3/4-inch 12-gauge loads called DUPO 28 and MONOLIT28. Both loads feature a 28-gram projectile (approximately 1 ounce) at 1,483 to 1,520 fps churning up roughly 2,040 ft-lbs of muzzle energy.

The DUPO28 is what I term a “buzz-saw round.” It’s a lead free, Diablo-styled slug featuring 6 tissue cutting petals that open up to 1.18 inches at the nose of the slug upon impact. It creates a massive entrance and interior wound channel, and if the slug encounters heavy muscle, the petals fly off as secondary projectiles. It can be fired in any choke and in rifled as well as smoothbores, but back-bored barrels are not recommended. I tested the DUPO28 in a Savage Model 210, rifled slug gun mounted with a 1.5-5X Weaver scope. At 50 yards, my 3-shot group measured 1-7/8 inches. Average velocity 10 feet from the muzzle was 1,483 fps.

The MONOLIT28 features a steel Diablo-styled slug galvanized to prevent corrosion. Being steel, the slug does not deform and being lead free, it doesn’t contaminate game meat. One of its outstanding qualities is its stability through brush and cover, due in large part to its shape, non-deforming material and ideal center of mass. At 50 yards it placed 3-shots in 2 inches at an average velocity of 1,520 fps. Again, it’s suitable for any choke, smooth or rifled bore.

All the DDupleks slugs feature polymer, bore-riding and bearing surfaces so there is never any contact between the slug and the shotgun bore.

Twelve-gauge slug loads are available in 2-3/4- and 3-inch cases loaded with 28- or 32-gram slugs and in a variety of field types, including one frangible target round. The DDupleks line also includes slug loads for the 16 and 20 gauge and the .410.
Holt Bodinson

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Century Arms
430 South Congress Ave, Suite 1
Delray Beach, FL 33445
(800) 527-1252
www.centuryarms.com
www.ddupleks.com

MAXSTOP IRP
1826 B Portsmouth St.
Houston, Texas 77098
(716) 997-4352
www.maxstopirp.com

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The Evolving American Semi-Auto

Remington’s New V3 Field Sport 12 Gauge
RedEfines The Self-Loading Field Shotgun.

Remington has been turning heads in the semi-auto shotgun world ever since 1963 when it introduced the shotgun designed “to make any shooter a better shot,” the Model 1100, which dominated the gas-operated shotgun market for the next two decades.

Designed by Remington engineer, Wayne Leek, the Model 1100 achieved a reduction in “perceived” recoil of 40 to 50 percent by delivering three, short recoil impulses to the shooter within microseconds, thus flattening the recoil curve. The design also included a gas system moved outside the magazine tube and closer to the chamber where gas pressures were more consistent and higher, resulting in a cleaner system. Its only limitation was the Model 1100 was a 2-3/4- or 3-inch gun, a problem addressed by Remington with the introduction of the Model 11-87.

Then in 2010, Remington’s semi-auto line went through a major redesign with the introduction of the VersaMax featuring a completely new gas-handling system.

Located below the chamber, is a compact VersaPort gas block fitted with two pistons, which drive the bolt assembly to the rear upon firing. The VersaPort system self-regulates the gas pressure depending upon the length of the shell being fired by way of a series of small ports drilled through the bottom half of the barrel chamber.

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Remington Staff Engineer Vince Norton was the design genius behind the new V3 12-gauge.

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The VersaPort gas system is simple, controls recoil and is ideally located.

In the VersaMax model, which can handle 2-3/4-, 3- and 3-1/2-inch shells, there are seven ports along the chamber wall. When a 2-3/4-inch shell is fired all seven ports are exposed and feed the resulting gas into the gas block and its pistons. Firing a 3-inch shell results in only four ports being exposed and available for gas transfer. With a 3-1/2-inch shell, only three ports are open.

The VersaPort design also moderates recoil by venting off gas right at the chamber. This means excess, high-pressure gas is bled off immediately, reducing recoil and minimizing piston fouling. In fact, if absolutely necessary, it only takes a couple of minutes to pull both pistons and clean them and the gas block cylinders in which they operate. It’s an ultra low maintenance system.

The VersaMax shotgun line has been popular, especially with waterfowlers. Yet, it’s a large gun and expensive with pricing ranging from $1,400 to $1,700.

Mike Vrooman, Remington’s Senior Product Manager for shotguns, decided a lighter, field-sport model, using the advanced VersaPort gas handling system and priced more competitively was a doable project. The compelling idea was to design a lighter, more compact, multi-purpose shotgun that would appeal to upland hunters, waterfowlers and recreational target shooters alike. He assigned the project to staff engineer, Vince Norton.

Unveiled late last fall was the result—the American-designed, American-made, Remington “V3 Field Sport” model in 12-gauge. That’s “V” for VersaPort and “3” for a 3-inch chamber. Having had the opportunity to shoot the V3 in a trap and sporting clays environment, I’m here to report Remington achieved what it set out to do. The V3 is a versatile and dynamic handling shotgun.

The V3 is both more compact and lighter than the VersaMax. The length of the VersaMax receiver is 9.27 inches while the V3 has been shortened up to 8.36. The weight of the VersaMax is 7.7 pounds plus, while the weight of the V3 has been held to 7.2 pounds in both wood and synthetic-stocked models. The V3 also features a light contour barrel without a barrel extension and a rotating bolt head.

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The V3 uses a barrel without a long extension (above) mated to a rotating bolt
(below) to provide excellent cartridge control and reliability.

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Because of the VersaPort’s location (above), the geometry of the V3 fore-end is
superb. The V3 stock is shim adjustable for drop at comb (below).

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After shooting a 100 or so rounds through the V3, two qualities of the new gun impressed me more than any other. It’s dynamic handling qualities and is reduction in perceived recoil.

By shortening the receiver and having the VersaPort gas block directly beneath the chamber—and not 9 to 10 inches—down the barrel (a feature of many competitors’ guns), the weight of the gun is better distributed between the hands and the fore-end is made slimmer and trimmer, providing that hands-in-line, hand-to-barrel relationship so important to accurate shotgunning.

In short, with either a 26- or 28-inch barrel, the V3 is a fast pointing, smooth swinging shotgun which will be equally at home in the field, on the water or over the course.

When shooting trap, we were firing Remington STS 12-gauge target loads. From the V3, they felt like light 20-gauge loads. I turned to Mike Vrooman and asked if, by any possibility, there were any 3-inch loads on the field. A few minutes later, he handed me a box of Remington, 3-inch Nitro Steel waterfowl loads (1-1/4 ounce at 1,450 fps). If you had blindfolded me and handed me the V3 secretly stoked with those 3-inch mags and then asked what I thought of the recoil, I would have responded that they felt like your average 2-3/4-inch loads, certainly not like smoking 3-inch mags. The VersaPort system is really proving to be sensational.

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Holt found the V3 to be a dynamic handling shotgun and easy on the shoulder.

As you read this, Remington’s new V3 shotguns should already be in your dealer’s racks. At this time, there are six models of the V3 available featuring either 26- or 28-inch ventilated rib barrels. There are four models being offered with synthetic stocks in either black, Real Tree APG or Mossy Oak Shadow Grass camouflage and two models with walnut stocks.

The innovative V3 Field Sport should be well received by a variety of shooters. Its mechanical simplicity, dynamic handling qualities, recoil control and pricing make it a very attractive package. The American semi-auto just keeps on evolving and getting better with every passing season.
By Holt Bodinson
Photos By Sam Shohot, Remginton

V3 Field Sport

Maker: Remington Outdoor Company
870 Remington Drive
P.O. Box 700
Madison, NC 27025
(800) 243-9700
http://gunsmagazine.com/company/remington-arms-co-llc/

Action: Semi-auto, gas-operated
Gauge: 12-gauge, 2-3/4 and 3-inch
Capacity: 3+1
Barrel Length: 26- or 28-inch
light contour, vent rib
Choke: Rem Choke tubes
Length-of-pull: 14-1/4 Inches
Drop-at-comb: 1-1/2 -inches
Drop-at-heel: 2-7/16-inches
Overall Length: 47 or 49 inches
Weight: 7.2 pounds
Finish: Black oxide or camouflage
Stock: Walnut, synthetic, Sights: Twin bead, Price: $895-$995

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From Turkey, For Dove

Stevens’ 555 20-Gauge Import Proves
Itself A Sleek, Lightweight Upland O/U.

To those who can remember when guns were sold largely through hardware stores Sears & Roebuck and Montgomery Ward, the name, “Stevens” has a magic ring to it. Founded in Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts, in 1864 by Joshua Stevens, the Stevens Arms and Tool Company was, by the turn of the century, the largest sporting arms manufacturer in the world. The company had 1,000 employees and a plant occupying 275,000 square feet of shop space.

Famous for their lines of single shot, tip-up pistols and single-shot rifles at every level of quality and price—including the famous Stevens-Pope line of Schuetzen match rifles—the company also invented the .22 Long Rifle cartridge in 1887 (possibly the company’s most enduring achievement).

At the beginning of WWI, the New England Westinghouse Company acquired Stevens, renaming it the “J. Stevens Arms Company,” and used its production capacity to build Mosin-Nagants for the Russians and Browning machine guns for the Americans. At the end of the war, Savage Arms Corporation bought Stevens from Westinghouse and refocused the company’s direction toward the production of shotguns rather than single-shot pistols and rifles, which were no longer in demand.

It is reported that by 1926, the J. Stevens Arms Company was the largest shotgun manufacturer in the world. Among its keynote innovations was the Model 520, America’s first slide-action hammerless shotgun. In 1936 Stevens ceased being a separate company and was absorbed as a division of Savage Arms.

Under Savage, the Stevens name developed an excellent reputation for reasonably priced, well-designed, well-built shotguns.

SG-0215-4A

The slim pistol grip (above) is a real plus for shooters
with small hands. The fine checkering pattern (below)
shows the quality of the Turkish walnut used in the Stevens 555.

SG-0215-4B

I suspect a Stevens single-shot shotgun was the first smoothbore a majority of young hunters coming of age in the 1940’s and 1950’s carried afield. A couple of years later, they may well have graduated to a Stevens bolt-action or pump shotgun. And later as adults they may have ended up with a Fox/Stevens SxS.

While the Harrington & Richardson and New England Firearms brands have pretty well taken over the single-shot shotgun market, Stevens (by Savage) has recently been importing affordable, Turkish-made SxS’s and O/U’s under the Stevens name.
For several years, the lines included the Model 512 Gold Wing O/U and the Model 612 Gold Wing SxS. The new line this year is called the Stevens 555. Initially introduced in 12-gauge, the 555 line now includes a svelte 20 I’ve had the pleasure of working with during the September dove season.

The more Turkish shotguns I see and handle, the more impressed I am with the Turkish gunmaking industry. Turkey is currently the source of every quality-level of shotgun—from the finest-grade trap gun to the least expensive repeater. It’s remarkable really how fast the country has come on-line as a hotbed for innovative shotgun design and modern production practices. The Stevens 555 is a perfect example of this happy state of affairs.

My first impression of the 555 20-gauge was how light it is. In fact, with its 26-inch stackbarrels featuring ventilated top and side ribs, it tips the scales at only 5-1/2 pounds. The weight savings is made possible by scaling the receiver to proper 20-gauge proportions, using trunnions rather than a full-hinge pin as the pivot point, and machining the action from aluminum. The trunnions are steel inserts as is the face plate on the standing breech, and there’s a solid steel underlocking lug. It’s a smart, modern and durable design, precision-machined and well fitted. There’s no slop in the action, but neither is it stiff.

The “true 20” platform results in a shallow frame measuring only 2.3 inches from the bottom of the frame to the top of the standing breech. This, plus the upswept line of the Schnabel fore-end, minimizes the distance from the bore axis to the palm of your leading hand. This all-important, hands-to-barrel relationship is the mark of all fine game guns. We call this quality “pointability.” The Stevens 555 has it, and it also balances well—exactly at the hinge point.

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The Stevens name continues to be Savage’s core shotgun brand.

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The firing pin section of the standing breech is reinforced with a steel plate.

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Both top and side ribs of the barrels are ventilated
to enhance cooling and reduce weight.

Featuring straight-grained, but nicely colored Turkish walnut, the stock is eye pleasing with good lines. Length of pull is 14-3/8 inches. Measured with Brownells LOP and Drop Gauge, the drop-at-the-comb is 1-1/4 inches and 2-3/8 at the heel with zero cast.

The pistol grip feels very slim so I measured it as well. It has a circumference of only 4-1/2 inches and is well swept back and open. Small hands will find it exceedingly comfortable. There are simple—yet ample—checkering patterns on the fore-end and pistol grip. The checkering pitch is very, very fine, which speaks well for the quality of the walnut. The butt is capped off with a solid pad. The oil finish is a low sheen, and during the first day of hunting, the stock emitted the memorable odor of linseed oil.

The Stevens features a single selective mechanical trigger controlled by an easy-to-thumb tang safety. The Model 555 has extractors, not ejectors, which is fine for a field gun since fish and game departments (not to mention landowners) frown on empty hulls being left behind.

The 26-inch barrels are chrome lined and fitted with screw-in choke tubes. A neat little locking choke-tube kit is supplied containing 5 tubes (Cylinder through Full), a wrench and, would you believe, foam ear plugs (I like that touch!)

I ran the Stevens through a point-of-aim test before heading to the dove fields, and it was smack on, indicating excellent barrel regulation. For choked tubes, I selected a 4-notched IC for the lower barrel and a 3-notched M for the upper. My dove load was the inexpensive promotional “Estate” label ammunition, featuring 7/8-ounce of lead 7-1/2’s at 1,210 fps.

The dove season in South Central Arizona was not particularly good this year, primarily because grain crops had been replaced by miles of uniform cotton fields. However, there was enough action to keep the Stevens warm and old Steamer busy shagging downed birds.
The Stevens 555 handled exceedingly well in the field. It was easy to hit with. I found the recoil from this 5-1/2-pound gun to be minimal, indicating good stocking.

With a price of $692, the Stevens 555 is a sound value with performance to spare. It’s nice to see this famous old name continue as the core shotgun brand in the Savage lineup.

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The Stevens 555—available in 12-or 20-gauge—is an example of Turkey’s
emergence as a hotbed of modern shotgun production and design.

STEVENS 555
MAKER: Kofs, Ltd.
Isparata, Turkey
Importer: Stevens by Savage
100 Springdale Rd.
Westfield, MA 01085
(413) 642-4262
http://gunsmagazine.com/company/savage-arms-inc/

Action type: O/U, Gauge: 20 (3-inch chambers)
Capacity: 2
Barrel length: 26 inches (ventilated top and side ribs)
Overall length: 44-7/8 inches
Choke: C, IC, M, IM, F tubes supplied
Weight: 5.5 pounds
Finish: Blued barrels, black anodized action
Sights: Ventilated rib, brass front bead
Stock: Turkish Walnut
Stock dimensions: Length-of-pull: 14-3/8 inches, drop at comb: 1-1/4 inches, drop at heel: 2-3/8 inches
Price: $692

By Holt Bodinson

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Three-Peater

Chiappa’s Triple 20.

Chiappa Firearms likes to play with your mind. First, they introduce a revolver firing through the bottom chamber and sports a flat-sided cylinder for comfortable concealed-carry called the “Rhino.” Then they bring to the sporting marketplace, a mean-looking, 3-barreled shotgun with model names like “Triple Crown,” “Triple Threat” and “Triple Tom.”

Yet, I suppose it really shouldn’t surprise us because this same house of fine firearms has also brought us the miniature 1874 Sharps rifle, the Model 1860 Spencer carbine and rifle and the cut-down, holster carried, 12-gauge, 1887 lever-action Winchester shotgun marketed under the “Mares Leg” moniker.

Like Beretta, Chiappa is a family owned group of businesses with their corporate headquarters located in Brescia, Italy. The founder, Ezechiele, or better known as “Oscar” Chiappa, began his gunmaking career with the old Tanfoglio company in the early 1950’s, where he became production manager at the age of 22. Seven years later, Chiappa founded his own company, Armi Sport, in the basement workshop of his home. Working alone at first and then attracting a small workforce of true artisans, Armi Sport became internationally recognized for the manufacture and hand-fitting of high quality, reproduction, muzzleloading arms—a line of firearms which continues to this day.

In 1987, Chiappa’s son, Rino, assumed overall management of the company and nudged the company in the direction of modern production methods utilizing numerically controlled machine tools and CAD/CAM systems. By 2009, Chiappa had established a major North American presence in Dayton, Ohio, where the Chiappa Group currently carries out manufacturing, distribution, warranty service, repairs and custom shop work.

I was fully familiar with drillings, but before I walked up to the Chiappa booth at the 2013 Shot Show, I had never seen a 3-barrel shotgun other than in the literature. The Double Gun Journal once ran a picture of a 16-gauge, 3-barrel by Dickson in which the barrels were joined horizontally. I faintly remembered seeing a picture of a triple-barrel drilling made by Westley Richards for the 1911 Turin Exhibition, and I could imagine some entrepreneurial German or Austrian gunmaker turning out a drilling with three small-gauge shotgun barrels. What awaited me in the Chiappa booth was an utterly, eye-opening surprise.

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Interchangeable chokes give you many options for any hunting situation the Triple
(above) may be called on to handle. The set-firing sequence is, right—left—top. Below,
The sequence simply resets when the action is opened, no matter how many shots are left unfired.

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The Triple I examined in the Chiappa booth was their “Triple Threat” model. It was a 3-shot 12-gauge with short 18.5-inch barrels, weighing just over 8 pounds. It was novel all right, but it looked like a chunky coach gun, it handled like a chunky coach gun and with a price tag of $1,600, I didn’t think it would exactly be a barn-burner in the home-defense market. Nevertheless, I pursued it for review purposes with little result.

Fast forward to the 2014 Shot Show. There was a new face in the booth. There was hope. Jim Eubank had been appointed as Chiappa’s new National Sales and Marketing Director, and he rolled out for me a whole new family of Chiappa Triples. The “Triple Threat” was still in the line, but the line now consisted of six distinct models, five in 12-gauge and one in 20-gauge.

There was the Chiappa Triple Crown, a 28-inch barreled, 3-inch 12-gauge with a white receiver and walnut stock, weighing 8.7 pounds, the Triple Magnum, a 28-inch barreled 3-1/2-inch 12-gauge with a black receiver and black synthetic stock, weighing 8.6 pounds, another Triple Magnum model with an overall RealTree MAX-5 camouflage finish; the Triple Tom, a 24-inch barreled, 3-1/2-inch 12-gauge, decked out in RealTree Extra Green camouflage, weighing 8.3 pounds, and then there was the 3-inch 20-gauge, Triple Crown model with a 26-inch barrels, weighing only 7.6 pounds. That new Triple “20” sporter looked, balanced and swung well. As a Triple, it had some life in it. Eubank said he’d get us a loaner to wring out. Here are my thoughts.

First, the Triple Twenty, like the whole Triple family, is not made by Chiappa. The Triple was designed and currently manufactured by the Turkish firm, AKKAR Silah, located in Istanbul, Turkey. Chiappa is the importer and distributor.

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Point-of-aim was point-of-impact. The Triple is a superbly regulated shotgun
as these 3 shots at 15 yards attest (A). Patterns at 30 yards (B) were well
centered and very uniform. These patterns were shot with Improved Cylinder,
Modified (C) and Full (D).

The Turks have been coming on strong in the smoothbore world. They’re able to produce an attractive shotgun at a very modest price point, and depending upon the grade of the gun, their workmanship is impressive. While its matte-finished barrels are a bit austere, the Triple is nicely fitted-up, polished and finished. It’s not a gun you’re going to have to break in. The break-open action is smooth, and the lock-up is precise and tight.

Looking at the triple barrel configuration, I thought the gun would have a definite weight-forward bias. It doesn’t. The balance point of the Triple Twenty is right at the hinge pin, giving it a neutral and surprisingly manageable level of handling. On crossing shots though, there’s enough mass in those barrels that keeps your swing going and smoothes out your timing and release. It’s an easy gun to shoot, and I smoked clays with it.

The sighting plane is interesting. You’re basically holding a SxS in your hands, but you’re looking down a single barrel mounted with a 7mm ventilated rib terminating in a red fiber optic bead. It’s a great sight picture, particularly if the sight picture offered by traditional SxS’s is not your dish.

The single trigger is mechanical and well adjusted. With each pull, it fires the barrels in a set sequence: right—left—top. There’s no selector switch, no way to modify the firing pattern, and every time you open the action, the trigger sequence is reset. If you’ve thought out your choke selection, the automatic trigger reset really isn’t an issue. The Triple comes with five, steel approved, RemChoke-type tubes from IC through F. Picturing my set-up of the Triple Twenty as an upland gun, I fitted the right barrel with the IC, the left barrel with the Mod and the top barrel with the Full. That sequence worked out well on clays and would be equally effective in the field.

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Once switched to “Fire”, (above) the thumb safety does
not reset to “Safe” when the action is opened.

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The Triple handles like a SxS but offers a unique, single barrel sighting plane.
The gun has a single mechanical trigger. The length-of-pull is 14-1/2 inches
to the end of the thin rubber buttplate.

You could also take advantage of the firing sequence by buying a few extra choke tubes. Let’s say for pheasants, you might choose M-M-F, or for quail over point, IC-IC-M. It’s actually a flexible and useful system when you think of it.

The Triple sports a non-cycling, fast-firing action. It doesn’t depend on hand, gas or recoil energy to function. There are no reciprocating bolts or associated action parts involved, just three cocked firing pins waiting to be released. The Chiappa fires its three shells as fast as you can pull the trigger. That’s fast.

Before I shot my first flying targets with the Triple, I put it through a simple test to check whether its point-of-aim and point-of-impact coincided. Regulating two barrels fitted with choke tubes to the point-of-aim is tough enough so I was especially curious about the regulation of three barrels sporting choke tubes.

I placed a piece of white paper with a 3-inch, black bull’s-eye 15 feet in front of the bench, loaded the Triple with 7/8-ounce loads of 7.5 shot and let fly with the right, left and top. Frankly, I was surprised, pleasantly so, when all three shot loads landed virtually on top of one another. That’s superb regulation of a 3-barreled gun, and as you can see from the well-centered patterns the three barrels of the Triple delivered at 30 yards, that regulation held up at upland shooting distances.

The Triple has extractors, not ejectors, and in the field, that’s the way I want it. I like to recover and reload my cases, and the local gendarmes are more than happy to cite you if you leave your spent hulls spread across the landscape.

One feature of the Chiappa Triple you’ll either love or hate is its tang-mounted safety does not reset to “Safe” when the action is opened.

Another feature of the Triple, which is quite European and quite useful, is a permanently affixed sling stud under the barrels. I can’t count the times I’ve wished that I could sling my shotgun. Chiappa gives you the front stud, but you’ll have to install the rear stud if you want your shotgun sling compliant.

The Triple is well stocked in a plain grade of machine-checkered walnut with a length-of-pull of 14.5 inches over a thin, rubber, recoil pad. I have prominent cheekbones and felt the comb was just a tad high, but that is easily adjusted, and it does prompt you to get your face down on that stock where it should be. The forearm is a thin beaver tail facilitating that ideal hands-in-line, hand-to-barrel relationship so important to accurate and intuitive shotgunning.

Overall, I give the Chiappa Triple Twenty a thumbs-up. Yes, it’s unconventional, but that’s its charm. It does exactly what a good shotgun should do—handle well and place excellent patterns downrange. It does that in spades.

As I write this, there are 31 days left to the opening of the 2014 dove season. I can’t wait to see how well this unique 3-barrel Chiappa and the chap behind it will fill their limit. One box of 25? We’ll see!
By Holt Bodinson

Triple Twenty

Maker: AKKAR Silah
Istanbul, Turkey
Importer And Distributor
Chiappa Firearms
1415 Stanley Ave.
Dayton, OH 45404
(937) 835-5000
http://gunsmagazine.com/company/chiappa-firearms/

Action type: Break-open
Caliber: 20-gauge, 3-inch
Capacity: 3
Barrel length: 26 inches
Overall length: 43 inches
Choke tubes: C, IC, M, IM, FS
Weight: 7.6 pounds
Finish: Matt blue, white receiver
Sights: Red fiber optic front bead
Stock: Checkered walnut
Price: $1,649

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Pumpin’ Out The Power

Mossberg’s M500 FLEX—combined with
Hornady’s “Custom Lite” sabot slugs—is
a black bear buster.

In the annals of shotgun literature, less attention has been given to slugs and slug shooting than any other aspect of shotgunning. ’Tis a pity, because slug ammunition, slug guns and specialized slug barrels have made dramatic advances during the last few years.

If you’ve ever wanted to own a “smack-down stopper” and didn’t want to plunk down your life’s savings on a big-bore double rifle, consider a slug gun. Why? Take a standard 1-1/8-ounce 12-gauge, 2-inch Foster-type slug weighing 492 grains with a starting diameter of 0.730-inch. Then accelerate it to 1,700 fps at the muzzle. The resulting muzzle energy is 3,080 foot-pounds, and it’s still delivering 1,149 ft-lbs at the 100-yard mark with a bullet almost 3/4-inch in diameter.

SG-1014-2

Holt, his M500 FLEX slug gun and one very nice Alberta black bear.

SG-1014-5

The handiest, all-around hunting binocular is a compact 8×30.

Just Run The Numbers

Better yet, take a modern, flat-shooting sabot slug round like Hornady’s 300-grain, 12-gauge 2-3/4-inch load featuring their tough, streamlined, FTX bullet with a starting diameter of 0.500-inch, a muzzle velocity of 2,000 fps and muzzle energy of 2,664 ft-lbs. At 100 yards, the FTX bullet is still clocking 1,641 fps and churning up 1,795 ft-lbs.

Compare those numbers with the standard 170-grain loading in the .30-30 with a muzzle velocity of 2,200 fps and muzzle energy of 1,827 ft-lbs. Out there at 100 yards, the .30-30 bullet is stepping out at 1,879 fps, but its energy has dropped to 1,332 ft-lbs. And its bullet is a mere 0.308-inch in diameter at the moment of impact.

So, which round do you think would be the better 100-yard deer or bear load? Consider this: In Alaska, the almost universal gun-of-choice for up-close encounters with big bad bears is the 12-gauge slug gun.

When I first started hunting deer and bear in slug-only zones, the premier tool of the day was Ithaca’s rifle-sighted, smoothbore Model 37 Deerslayer. The slugs available then were either Foster-type rifled slugs or the German Brenneke slugs (designed around 1898). The only debate among them was whether the 12 or the 20 gauge was the better gun.

The 12-gauge adherents pointed to the smack-down qualities of their big slugs, while the 20-gauge advocates firmly believed their smaller slugs delivered more penetration at longer ranges. Regardless, those early Ithaca Deerslayers shooting those old-school slugs slew a pile of big game.
Fast forward to 2014. Mossberg applies of their versatile FLEX system to the Model 500 20-gauge line, and Hornady’s release of a 2-3/4-inch, 20-gauge reduced-recoil “Custom Lite” sabot load, featuring a 250-grain SST at 1,600 fps.

So I decided to combine these two developments and came up with a plan to morph my FLEX 500 20-gauge—which had been set up for turkey hunting—into a dedicated slug gun and go hunting.

In the month of May, the black bear season was in full swing in Canada. So arrangements were made with Wally Mack of W&L Guide Services in High Level, Alberta. W&L has developed an enviable reputation in the outfitting world based on the quality of their camp facilities, cuisine, professional guides and their consistently high-quality black bears. For about $3,450—plus a modest two-bear license fee—you can enjoy a week of bear hunting you’ll never forget.

Before I left for Alberta, I needed two accessories to change my Model 500 from a turkey platform into an effective big-game slug gun—a fully rifled barrel with an integral, cantilevered scope base and a dual-comb, 4-position adjustable hunting stock. Once I had these, making the switch-over from turkey gun to slug gun literally took only a couple of minutes.

If you’ve never worked with the Mossberg FLEX system—now applied across-the-board to their shotgun, centerfire and rimfire lines—it’s remarkably simple, rugged and versatile. The heart of the system is a tool-less, locking-spline-coupling to connect any of the FLEX buttstocks to any of the FLEX receivers. Essentially, there is a zinc multi-splined stub at the rear of the receiver which mates with a female socket in the wrist of the stock. Locking them together is a vertical, swiveling key attached to the receiver stub, which is recessed into the upper section of the wrist.
To change out buttstocks, all you do is lift up the recessed locking key, turn it 90 degrees counterclockwise, remove the existing stock, insert the new one, turn the key clockwise and seat it down into the wrist of the stock.

Because I was going to shoot slugs (even “lite” ones), I pushed a button release at the bottom of the stock, popped off the existing recoil pad and snapped on a 1-inch pad. Then, because I would be putting optics on the gun, I mounted the high comb pad, which came with the 4-position stock, by merely sliding it in place and locking it down with a recessed Allen screw.

If I had wanted to change out the forearm for some reason, all I would have had to do was to push a button release at the base of the forearm and swing the forearm out and off.

Now the only missing part of my ensemble was optics.

SG-1014-3

Hornady’s 20-gauge Custom Lite slug load provided plenty of penetration on black bear.

SG-1014-4A

The FLEX system allows you to match your stock to the sights (above). A high-comb pad on
Mossberg’s 4-position stock provides perfect eye alignment when using optics (below).

SG-1014-4B

The Glass Equation

The traditional method of hunting bear in Alberta is over bait from a tree stand. Typical yardage from your tree stand to the bait is only 20 or 30 yards, which places a premium on using a scope with a wide field of view featuring a low-power setting. The terrain is flat and densely wooded with mature aspen and spruce stands. Again, when it comes to using a pair of binoculars to help you pick out the important details of an incoming bear ambling in and out of the timber, you need a wide-angle glass of modest power.

The bear scope I borrowed was the Swarovski 1-6×24 with a dawn-to-dusk, adjustable, illuminated red aiming point. It’s a compact scope with a straight 30mm tube. Mine had possibly the most practical power range of any big-game scope made. For most of my time in the woods, I had the Swarovski cranked down to 1X, which offers the fastest sight picture in existence when shooting distances are less than 50 yards. At 1X, you don’t just see a big patch of fur in your scope, you see the whole animal, as well as the trees and brush surrounding it.

Two features I really appreciated in this scope were an extra battery stored under one of the turret caps and the ingenious illumination system, which shuts off to save battery power when your gun is not in a mounted position. For binoculars, Swarovski’s Companion 8×30 was an easy choice. Based on my experience they provide optimum performance for 80 percent of big-game hunting.

Mating the scope to the gun was a cinch using some inexpensive Weaver rings. To bore-sight the 20 gauge (or for that matter, any shotgun or rifle), I used Wheeler Engineering’s green-laser Bore Sighter, which is secured magnetically to the end of the muzzle. It’s fast, accurate and shotgun-compatible.

The Mossberg rifled slug barrel featured the highly successful, cantilevered optics rail permanently and rigidly secured to the barrel. When changing out barrels, the scope stays with the barrel so scope/bore alignment is not affected. Once you’ve mounted your scope on the rail and zeroed it, you’re permanently set with that slug barrel/optics combination.

Hornady’s SST (Super Shock Tip) projectile with a thin jacket, locked-in lead core and sharp polymer tip, is designed to expand rapidly on game. In a shotgun slug sabot, it delivers flat trajectories and high-retained energies. What’s new is their shoulder-friendly, reduced recoil load featuring a 0.452-inch 250-grain SST sabot at a reduced velocity of 1,600 fps under the “Custom Lite” designation. As a comparison, Hornady’s other 20-gauge slug loads feature either a tough 250-grain FTX or 250-grain MonoFlex sabot at 1,800 fps.

Considering most black bears are taken strictly by chance during the deer season, with average deer guns and average deer ammunition, black bears are not difficult to tag with adequate shot placement. Still, going to a reduced-recoil loading with a lighter jacketed bullet at a lower velocity might have proved problematic. As it turned out, it wasn’t.

Accuracy of the Custom Lite load in the rifled Mossberg Model 500 was acceptable. At 50 yards, 3-shot groups averaged 2-1/2 inches, and at 100 yards, 4-3/4 inches. One thing I’ve learned about slug guns is you have to experiment with a variety of loads to find the “sweet spot” between bore dimensions, slug dimensions and slug design.

SG-1014-1

Shots in thick timber tend to be offhand and fast. An illuminated low-end
variable scope—like this Swarovski—gives you an edge.

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Alberta based W&L Guide Services is known for their
camp facilities, cuisine, guides and bears.

The Payoff

Bear hunting in Alberta takes place in the afternoon and evening. In May, at that latitude, you can still read a newspaper outside at 11 p.m., so you’re sitting on your stand from basically 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.

The bear I took was almost an anticlimactic event. When I walked into the stand with guide Shane Wilson a big boar was already there crunching away on beaver carcass bait. The canny bruin immediately sensed us and vanished into the aspens. We backed off the bait and waited. Not more than 15 minutes had passed when I picked up patches of black fur in my 8×30’s, moving through the dense aspen stand back toward us.

The bear was coming in on a direct line to the bait. Turning the scope up to 2X and flicking on the illuminated dot, I concentrated on a small window through the trees and prayed the bear would enter it. It did, and at 30 yards I took a center-of-chest shot. Normally, I don’t like that shot, but when a black bear—or any bear—is ambling directly at you and you’re between the bear and the bait, you do your best.

At the shot, the bear turned, ran about 10 yards and expired. Skinning out the 6-foot, 9-inch bruin, we found the reduced-recoil SST load had—surprisingly—penetrated the bear from stem-to-stern, exiting out the right thigh. So much for any doubts about its effectiveness on black bear.
When I came away from that memorable hunt, I realized what I liked in particular about the gun/load combination I used was my feeling it would be an ideal 100-yard setup for youths and recoil-sensitive adults. Plus the fact it could then be converted in a couple of minutes into an upland bird or turkey gun, and properly fitted to any member of the family.

That’s what the Mossberg FLEX system is all about.
By Holt Bodinson

Swarovski Optik
2 Slater Rd
Cranston, RI 02920
http://gunsmagazine.com/company/swarovski-optik-north-america-ltd/

Hornady
3625 Old Potash Hwy
PO Box 1848
Grand Island, NE 68803
http://gunsmagazine.com/company/hornady-manufacturing-company/

W&L Guide Services
High Level, Alberta, Canada
(780) 635-2230
http://gunsmagazine.com/company/wl-guide-services/

Battenfeld Technologies
5885 W. Van Horn Tavern Rd.
Columbia, MO 65203
(573) 446-3857
http://gunsmagazine.com/company/battenfeld-technologies-inc/

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Ye Olde English Shotgunners

They Left Behind A Treasure Of Written WISDOM.

Some of the greatest treasures in the world of shotgunning literature are the works of 19th century English sportsmen. Historically, the 19th century was a remarkable period. The shotgun entered the century as a flintlock, mutated into a percussion lock and finally evolved into the side-by-side breechloader we know today.

Hunting also took place on a grand scale with bag limits quite beyond modern comprehension. Fortunately, the records and observations on shotguns, shotgunning, game and field ethics by the sporting gentry of the day were uniquely precise, and the literary legacy they left behind is as entertaining and informative today as it was 150 years ago.

A number of classics, still available in reprint form, stand head-and-shoulders above the rest. My selections include the 2-volume Badminton Library series authored by Lord Walsingham and Sir Ralph Payne-Gallwey titled Shooting: Field and Covert (1889) and Shooting: Moor and Marsh, Captain Lacy’s The Modern Shooter (1842) and Colonel Peter Hawker’s Instructions to Young Sportsmen (10 editions, 1814-1854), as well as Hawker’s remarkable 2-volume diary which details his daily hunting and fishing adventures over a period of 50 years. The following are just a taste of the typical excerpts from Shooting: Field and Covert.

(The great party hunts of the 1800’s were driven hunts. Lord Walsingham and Payne-Gallwey explain why.)

“It is now-a-days generally admitted among those who really know what shooting is, and should be, that driving is the neatest, most skillful and most satisfactory way of killing winged game and that it, above all, gives the birds a chance; for an indifferent shot will not bring them down, and, what is more to the point, will not wound them, as he would be sure to do were they flushed under his nose to fly slowly away.”

(And a tinge of snobbery)

“Shooting partridges over dogs is very pleasant for men who only care for seeing their pointers work, and ignore the skill of shooting. If partridges lie so close that pointers can be successfully used in finding them, they afford such simple shots that there is little skill required in killing them. The perfection of shooting demands that the game shall spring up wild and so offer a test of true aiming.”

(Managing the drive)

“A good manager should make it his business to know throughout the day who is and who is not getting a fair or an excessive share of the shooting, and should adjust the balance as nearly as he can … A man must keep his eyes open as much as possible in all directions when shooting is going on. There is no small danger of pheasants falling upon the heads of those who do not keep a good look-out.”

(Sportsmen kept meticulous notes on how many shots they fired, the game taken and the ratio of hits to misses. The amount of game taken by individuals and groups was enormous)

“The largest bag of grouse ever made in a day by one shooter was on the Blubberhouse Moor in 1872, when, on August 27, Lord Walsingham killed 842 birds.

“The late Lord Malmesbury kept a journal of his sporting life, even to the quantity of powder and shot he used, the game he killed each day, the time he was out, the distance he walked and the weather.

“From 1798 to 1840, the total figures were: Shots: 54,987; Killed: 38,221; Missed: 16,766; Days out: 3,645.”

Lord Malmesbury walked “a distance of 36,200 miles” and fired away “750 pounds; 4 tons of shot.”

SG-0814-2

Driven hunts for partridge and pheasants from the
1889 edition of Shooting: Field and Covert.

(The skilled sportsman)

“To a true sporting shooter it is not the amount of game he kills, but the way he kills it; and it is a certain fact that those men who get the very best shooting England can afford take more delight in dropping dead a long or difficult shot that in accounting for a hundred easy ones, which would not be the case if they cared only for the quantity of game they bagged.”

(Hint to beginners)

“It is better to fire a yard too far ahead of a bird flying, or of ground game running, than to fire an inch too far in its rear. In the former case the shot may meet the mark, in the latter it never can. In the former, if it does count a hit it means one in a vital part, the head; in the latter it means a wound in the extremities.

“The endeavor of every shooter should be to strike his game chiefly in the head and neck. This is to be easily done with winged game by practice, as well as with hare and rabbits.”

(Gun safety for the novice)

“More accidents happen by following the game with the gun than by than any other means. If in a flurry when game rises, the young gunner is apt to think only of the game; his one absorbing idea is to kill it. In such a case his eyes and mind lose touch of everything near him save himself, his gun, and the object he means, if possible, to bring down. Round goes his gun as he follows the bird or animal for he cannot be expected to be a quick shot; he sees nothing else, he does not know he is covering with his weapon half a dozen friends and beaters, to say nothing of dogs… he will never become a neat and skillful shot unless he learns to drop his game the moment the gun comes to his shoulder. The only possible exception to this rule is when pheasants are passing straight and high overhead.”
(Managing a hammer gun)

“A young shooter when expecting game should not carry his gun at half-cock… as a rule it is a dangerous habit to cock a gun when game is rising, and has caused many an accident.

“A gun is perfectly safe when carried full-cock if it is not pointed dangerously, and there is no chance of a slip or fall; a careful shooter never points a gun loaded, or unloaded, so that it can injure, or even risk injury to anything but the game he seeks.”

(On shotguns)

“Hot disputes often rage in the shooting papers amongst the advocates of 16-bores, 12-bores and 20-bores, even 28-bores being strongly recommended by some.”

“Many sportsmen advise 20-bore guns—28-bores need not be discussed, as anyone who has experimented with them knows they are foolish toys… it is ridiculous to maintain that they will hold their own with a larger bore.”

“There is no doubt that the ordinary 12-bore is the most suitable and deadly gun the game-shooter can have. A gun weighing 6-3/4 pounds, that fires 3 drs. of powder and an ounce to 1-1/8 oz. of shot is surely all that can be desired.”

(Shot size depends upon the skill of the shooter)

“For grouse, pheasants, wildfowl and ground game No. 5 is unequalled at all times. The shooter who uses No. 5 and No. 6 on alternate days throughout the season will undoubtedly kill his game much cleaner and farther with the former than with the latter, provided he be a good shot. On the other hand, an average shot would certainly find he succeeded much better with No. 6 than with No. 5.”

SG-0814-1

“Quit reading all those old, dusty tomes,” says Steamer the dog. “Let’s go hunting!”

“In ancient firearms the barrels were made of iron… but the plain iron was never suitable for any but heavy barrels. About 1800 an improvement was effected by using old horseshoe nails, which, by reason of their good metal (Swedish iron) and having been well hammered in construction and in use, were elastic and tough. The nails were welded together into a thin, tapering bar, and in that form twisted round a metal rod, the thicker part of the bar forming the breech. These barrels were beautifully turned out by Joseph Manton…”

(Barrel cleaning)

“At the end of the day the barrels should be rubbed through with turpentine, which removes the leading. To keep a gun clean when laid by and not daily inspected: Cover the barrels, outside, with an equal mixture of best paraffin oil and refined neatsfoot oil; stop up the barrels with corks or wads, and place inside each a quarter of a pint of the same mixture, shaking it well up and down the interior. Then pour it back again into a bottle for further use.”

(Finally, the ultimate Nemesis—the poacher)

“His restless, suspicious leer, hollow eyes, alehouse face, and his stooping shambling gait proclaim him at once—not to mention his clothes. Even they tell his trade: the knee-worn trousers, bloodstained and wide-pocketed coat, with often bits of spare snaring wire coiled around the buttons… He drinks and sleeps by day like a great fat cat, and like the cat (who, by the way, is as big a poacher as himself) prowls by night.”

A few remarks about the other books I mentioned. Colonel Hawker’s Instructions to Young Sportsmen, which went though 10 editions from 1814 to 1854, was probably the most popular guide to firearms and general hunting in its day. It’s a good read even today.

Hawker’s diaries in two volumes are a window into the man’s daily pursuit of fowl, fish, game and life in general. It’s remarkable how much time he actually spent afield and on the water, but after you’ve plowed through the 366 pages of Volume 1, his daily diary, however well written, wears pretty thin. Volume 2 is still sitting unread in my bookcase.

Captain Lacy’s The Modern Shooter is more of a gun crank’s book full of period muzzleloading lore and the management of shotguns, rifles and punt guns in the pursuit of a variety of game. All of these 19th century treasures turn up on www.abebooks.com. Happy reading!
By Holt Bodinson

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The Return Of The Red Label

Ruger’s New Redesigned Over/Under
12-Gauge Shotgun Is A Game Getter.

In a brief note in the 1973 Annual Report, Bill Ruger, Sr. reported work had begun on an O/U shotgun and a limited number would be available for sale in 1974. The report was a bit optimistic, and for the next four years, rumors flew around the shooting world as to what the new O/U would look like and what its price might be. In 1977, we got our first look. Spread across the cover of the 1978 Gun Digest were three images of a slim, trim, Ruger Red Label, engraved with gold inlays by Alvin White with a serial number of 81.

It was a marketing ploy Ruger and his close, tweedy friend and editor, John T. Amber, would play on the shooting public a number of times. Picture the first public view of a new Ruger model on the cover of Gun Digest, but report, “We don’t have any further details,” thus whetting the shooting public’s appetite until it was roaring at a fever pitch when the actual product release occurred, which typically was a year or more later.

By 1978, a few Red Labels had begun to dribble out. We were caught by surprise. In a country dominated by the 12-gauge, the initial field-grade Red Label was a 20-gauge. In many respects, it was very European. The low-profile frame was thin-walled and shallow. The standing breech was nicely sculptured. The 26- or 28-inch barrels rode on high-mounted, bifurcated lumps rather than a hinge pin. Locking bolts on each side of the standing breech engaged matching lugs placed at 3 and 9 o’clock positions at the lower barrel. Ejectors were automatic. The chokes were fixed and bored IC/IM, F/M or S/S. The sliding tang safety was also the barrel selector, and the single trigger was mechanical, not requiring recoil for a reset.

The quality of the walnut used in the early years of production was outstanding with excellent figure and color, but the butt was finished off with an unyielding, hard, red, rubber pad. Checkering was hand-cut and crisp. The free-floating, ventilated rib was functional, and the side ribs between the barrels could be unscrewed to increase airflow between the upper and lower barrels.

The price? Hold your hats! Four hundred eighty bucks — of course those were long gone, 1978 dollars. At the same time, the Beretta S55B was priced at $545; the Browning Citori at $462; the Remington 3200 at $750; the SKB at $480 and the Winchester 101 at $580. It was a competitive O/U field, but the Ruger name carries with it definite panache and a faithful following. Shooters who already owned Ruger pistols and revolvers, bolt-action and single-shot rifles and the ubiquitous 10/22’s were drawn to Ruger’s American-made shotgun like flies to honey.

SG-0614-3

The new Red Label has a 3-inch chamber, offering maximum scattergun versatility.

SG-0614-5

As in the original Red Label, the sliding safety also
serves as the barrel selector switch.

SG-0614-4

The Ruger is fitted with a single-selective
trigger and nicely checkered pistol grip.

To understand the gun, you had to understand Bill Ruger, Sr.’s concept of producing high-quality and affordable guns by modern production processes. He observed, “Provided good looks, strong components and sensible design features are employed, there is always room to make a few guns profitably. I felt that Americans deserved a good over-and-under shotgun made by Americans… We put the money into machinery rather than hand labor… Perhaps you could say that, except for engraving, gold inlaying and elegant finish, using machines you can easily surpass the work of the finest person in terms of true mechanical movement, the precision of the apparatus. You have to remember—fine watches are not made by files.”

Over the next 32 years of production, the Red Label was offered in a variety of styles and gauges. The 12-gauge was introduced in 1980 and a 28-gauge in 1985. A stainless steel receiver in 12-gauge was added to the line in 1985. Introduced in 1988, screw-in chokes became standard on all models in 1991. A straight, English-style grip was offered as an option in 1992 as the “English Field” model. There were field grades, sporting clays models, engraved models and even an elegant “Woodside” model featuring walnut sideplates. In 1995, all models were given Ruger’s “EZ-opening” action with rebounding hammers.

In 2011, the Red Label models, then selling for approximately $1,956, was returned to the drawing board to be redesigned for better handling and modern production methods. Bill Ruger Sr.’s comments in the 1978 Annual Report proved prophetic: “As it happened, our profits have not been significant, but we are now rethinking the entire manufacturing concept of the Red Label, and hope to better the profit picture without changing the gun.”

Bill Sr.’s comment was echoed in 2013 by Ruger President and CEO, Mike Fifer, who observed, “We knew we could employ newer technology, improve the design and deliver a better performing Red Label.” They’ve done it while knocking $550 off the old price. The current retail is $1,399 for the new Red Label.

SG-0614-1

Afield, Holt and his pointer took this male Mearns’ quail with the new 12-gauge
Ruger Red Label and a load of Winchester 12-gauge Super Speed Xtra loaded with
1 ounce of 7-1/2 shot.

The “new” Red Label is initially a 12-gauge with a brushed stainless steel receiver. A 20-gauge should be coming out later this year. At first glance, it’s hard to tell it apart from its predecessor. It’s not until you pick it up and swing it and then shoot it, do you begin to feel some of the subtle improvements.

Nothing determines the dynamics more in a stack-barrel field gun than trim barrels and an even balance of weight between the hands. Ruger’s taken some weight out of the barrels and eliminated the detachable side ribs. The result is that the balance point has been moved back approximately 1/2 inch. In spite of a weight of 7-1/2 pounds in the 26-inch barrel model, the new Red Label is a fairly lively and smooth-swinging gun.

Red Labels were never soft in the recoil department, and even my old 20-gauge punches a bit more than it should wearing its rigid, red rubber pad. Ruger addressed felt recoil in the new gun. The barrels are back-bored to the maximum, and the forcing cones have been punched forward to a full 2 inches, which not only helps to moderate recoil but improves patterning as well. Ah, and instead of that red rubber pad, there’s now a soft, 1-inch thick, Pachmayr “Decelerator” pad with a smooth “Speed Mount Heel” insert to eliminate clothing snags as you mount the gun.

Be forewarned though, when resting the gun butt down against a vertical surface, it’s resting on that hard heel insert, and the whole gun will skate out across the floor and crash land the minute you turn your back. My test gun from Ruger came supplied with a pre-crushed ventilated rib, and dollars-to-donuts, that’s how the dinged rib came to be.

The walnut stock is plain-grained and machine checkered. Inletting is okay, although on the test gun the joining of the stock to the rear of the receiver revealed an unnecessary gap or two. Since the test gun was an early production piece, I checked the inletting of several Red Labels on display at the January SHOT Show. The inletting on those guns was much improved, and the gaps gone.

SG-0614-2

The first model of the Red Label was a 20-gauge with a blued
finish and superior wood. Behind is the new Red Label.

Stock dimensions are average for a flat-shooting field gun. The length-of-pull is 14.5 inches, the drop-at-the-comb, 1.50 inches and drop-at-the-heel, 2.50 inches.

Without tearing the gun apart, it’s impossible to see what changes have been made in the internals to facilitate modern production, but Ruger indicates one of the major improvements is the receiver is now a 1-piece casting ensuring consistency and minimizing handfitting. The former receiver was cast in two parts, machined to mate and then welded together and machined again.

A nice touch to the new Red Label is the packaging. The gun comes cased in a fitted, semi-hard, logo-embossed, zipper-closing case with five, steel-shot-compatible Briley choke tubes (F, M, IC, S & S) a Briley choke-tube wrench, gun lock and owner’s manual. It’s a neat package, and if you have an old Red Label, Ruger is more than happy to sell you the new form-fitted case for your gun.

To see how the Ruger would perform in the field, hunting friend Bud Bristow, two pointers, the Red Label and I headed south from Tucson to Mearns’ quail habitat. The Red Label was fitted with a skeet choke in the lower barrel and an improved cylinder tube in the upper. My load was Winchester’s Super Speed Xtra, which throws 1 ounce of 7-1/2 shot at 1,350 fps. It’s a super load for birds over point, and we all went on to have a fine morning of quail hunting at the end of the season.

For Ruger aficionados, the Red Label’s return to the line will be well received. To existing Red Label owners, you might just take a look at what Ruger has done to upgrade and improve this familiar stalwart’s handling qualities. In the meantime, we can’t wait to see the smaller framed 20- and 28-gauges returned to the line.
Holt Bodinson

Red Label
MAKER: Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc.
1 Lacey Place
Southport, CT 06890
www.ruger.com

Action Type: O/U
Gauge: 12
Chamber: 3 inch
Choke: Briley Tubes: f, m, ic, s & s
Capacity: 2
Barrel Length: 26 (tested), 28 or 30 inches
Overall Length: 43, 45, 47 inches
Length Of Pull: 14-1/2 inches
Drop At Comb: 1-1/2 inches
Drop At Heel: 2-1/2 inches
Weight: 7.5, 7.7, 7.9 pounds
Finish: Polished stainless steel and blue
Sights: VR with brass bead
Stock: Walnut
Price: $1,399

Further Reading
Ruger & His Guns by R. L. Wilson, Hardcover, 358 pages ©1996, $50, from: A&J Arms Book Sellers, 4731 E. Cooper St., Tucson, AZ 85711. (520) 512-1065, www.ajarmsbooksellers.com

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The “Bolo” Shell

Advanced Ballistic Concepts’
Multiple Impact Bullet.

Looking ever so much like the shell for a 16-inch naval gun, the Advanced Ballistic Concepts’ Multiple Impact Bullet for 12-gauge shotguns is an intriguing and impressive-looking projectile. In fact, when I viewed the initial video of its deployment downrange, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing was in the realm of ballistic possibility.

Making the observation that 95 percent or so of civilian gun battles occur at less than 21 feet and 93 percent of first shots are misses, Advanced Ballistic Concepts designed their pre-fragmented Mi-4 bullet to separate rapidly into four projectiles upon leaving the muzzle of a rifled shotgun barrel or rifled choke tube. What’s very unique and different about the Mi-4 bullet is the three interlocking segments forming the body of the little shell and giving it its shape are tethered to each other by Kevlar strings as they fly downrange, 120-degrees apart.

Think of a South American bolo. This is a 12-gauge bolo shot with three pieces of tethered shrapnel and a bullet. According to the makers, the three segments, of equal size and weight, open up into a stable circular pattern, rotating downrange with a diameter of 24 inches before reaching a distance of 21 feet, while the detached nose slug bores straight ahead. That’s where the digit “4” comes from in the Mi-4 moniker—four projectiles slamming downrange with a pattern much larger than a conventional load of buckshot could deliver at that range.

By changing the composition of the metal used to form the bullet and its muzzle velocity, Advanced Ballistics Concepts states they have designed both a lethal and a less-than-lethal Mi-4 projectile. The four parts of the lethal design are made of lead for maximum penetration, while the less-than-lethal slug is composed of a lightweight zinc/copper alloy with a lower muzzle velocity to minimize penetration and collateral damage; but keep in mind, even less-than-lethal ammunition can kill. Both slugs are described as bore-safe in 12-gauge tubes.

SG-0414-3

This toughlooking fellow absorbed two hits, and if his chest was an inch
or two bigger, he would have been smacked by all four..

SG-0414-4

Recovered segments show only minor deformation.

While the Mi-4 can be fired in a smoothbore, the results will be inconsistent. The interlocking segments system of the Mi-4 needs the centrifugal force imparted by a rifled shotgun barrel or rifled choke tube to separate the projectiles, accelerate expansion and maintain accuracy.

I was really curious about this slug. Would it open up to 24 inches in 21 feet as the maker claimed? How would a load of No. 4 buck perform at the same range? Would the terminal ballistics of the inefficient-looking projectiles appear to be effective? What would happen if just one piece of the tethered shrapnel hit the target or an obstruction like the edge of a wall or a piece of furniture? Would the bolo pattern collapse and the total shot be compromised?

For precision in testing, I selected a scope-sighted, rifled Savage shotgun rather than a rifled choke tube. For a unique round, you need a challenging target. Our challenging choice was zombies, in both paper silhouettes and a battle hardened, 2-dimensional guy, courtesy of Zombie Industries, the leading zombie emporium. Since I only had five rounds of each type of bullet, I started with the non-lethal round just to get a feel for new ammunition.

At 21 feet, the non-lethal bolo pattern was perfectly centered on the first zombie with a diameter of 24 inches and with the nose slug impacting at the point-of-aim. I was impressed. The round did exactly what the makers said it would. It made four hits, and the connecting strings sliced that target into three equal 120-degree pie sections. I found the remains of the strings just in back of the paper. One bullet segment had hit the dirt behind the target and ricocheted 90 degrees to the left and landed about 30 feet from the target, where it was later accidentally discovered.

SG-0414-1

Advanced Ballistic Concepts currently offers both lethal and semi-lethal ammunition.
The complex structure of the Mi-4 bullet is incredible. Notice the spooled thread
(far left) holding the three petals together.

SG-0414-2

As fired, this is what the Mi-4 looks like as it extends.

Next was the lethal lead projectile at 21 feet. The bolo pattern was again centered on target, with a diameter of 24 inches and with the nose slug impacting at dead center. To compare those results with a 2-3/4-inch load of No. 4 buck, I grabbed my open-sighted cylinder bore Century International Arms Model 87 shell shucker and let fly with a standard Federal load of 34 pellets of .24-caliber No. 4 buck. The No. 4 buck shot at 21 feet produced a small, square 5×5-inch pattern. No comparison.

Next came our foam-filled, plastic, battle-hardened zombie. At 21 feet from the Savage slug gun, the Mi-4 round scored two hits—the centered nose slug and one piece of shrapnel I’m pointing to in the photo. The nose slug passed through 4 inches of foam and the 1×2-inch mounting stake behind the mannequin. The other two projectile segments just scraped some paint off the left and right edges of the zombie’s chest (he’s a small chested guy). Those results lead me to believe if only one piece of shrapnel hits the target, the integrity of the bolo pattern is maintained.

Searching the dirt behind the targets, I turned up two more pieces of shrapnel and a nose slug lying on top of the ground. They looked like they could be reloaded.

Conclusions? I’m not ready to give up my buckshot yet, but as the first round down the tube, the Multiple Impact Bullet may have some invaluable applications. It would be interesting to view a series of ballistic gelatin tests made by the company to determine exactly what these odd looking projectiles do at impact and how far they penetrate at different shooting distances.

Advanced Ballistic Concepts’ interesting website mentions 10 inches of penetration for the three bullet segments, creating crescent shaped wound paths, and 14-inch penetration for the center nose slugs, but unfortunately, the distance-to-target is not specified. When I look at the shape of the holes in the paper targets, some of the segments hit flat on, leaving a complete body profile, while others seem to punch through the paper point-of-base first. The maximum effective range of the round would be an interesting question for the company to address as well.

SG-0414-5b

Zombie No. 2 took a perfectly centered hit with the detached slug as well as the tethered segments.

Advanced Ballistic Concepts is currently marketing both lethal and semi-lethal 12-gauge and .45 ACP ammunition (9mm pending). A 10-round pack of 12-gauge is currently selling for approximately $60 and .45 ACP for $50. They also offer a complete line of 1:35-inch twist rifled choke tubes for every brand of shotgun.
I guess what surprised me the most is this complex, multi-projectile round actually worked and, not only worked, but performed exactly the way Todd Kuchman, President of Advanced Ballistic Concepts, said it would. It’s a remarkable invention. Zombies, beware!
By Holt Bodinson
Photos Ilse Bodinson

Advanced Ballistic Concepts, LLC
8 Columbine Lane
Littleton, CO 80123
(855) 339-5437
http://gunsmagazine.com/company/advanced-ballistic-concepts/

Zombie Industries
12925 Bookprinter Place, Ste.200
Poway, CA 92064
(858) 386-0950
http://gunsmagazine.com/company/zombie-industries/

For web access go to www.gunsmagazine.com/index. Don’t forget to bookmark this page! The Product Index will help you find links to our Shooting Industry as well as links to past and present reviews of products seen in these pages and our sister magazines.

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Dual-Action 12 Gauge

The TriStar Semi-Auto/Pump Tec 12.

One of the most interesting designs in the world of tactical or home-defense shotguns is the dual-action scattergun which can cycle back-and-forth between semi-automatic and pump-action modes of fire. What’s the advantage of such a design? Tactically speaking, it permits the user to fire specialty ammunition like rubber bullets, beanbags or tear gas shells, which will not normally cycle through a semi-automatic action, by simply switching over to the manual pump-action mode. In semi-auto mode, the advantage is the recoil generated by heavy slug and buckshot loads is somewhat moderated. TriStar’s new and affordable TEC 12 is the latest entry into this unique and intriguing world of dual-action shotguns.

The first successful dual-action model I recall was Franchi’s “Special Purpose Automatic Shotgun” better known as the SPAS-12. The SPAS-12 was a gas-operated and pump-action tactical shotgun that appeared in the late 1970s, marketed intensely to military and police units for the next two decades. There was also a civilian version, renamed the “Sporting Purpose Automatic Shotgun” to avoid United States importation restrictions. Very few SPAS-12s were sold on the civilian market, and those that were command premium collector prices today.

The second, and certainly the most successful dual-action shotgun, has been Benelli’s current M3 model. The secret to the M3’s popularity with military and police forces as well as civilians is the utter reliability of the Benelli inertia drive, semi-automatic system.

The three leading semi-auto shotgun systems are Benelli’s inertia drive, gas and Browning’s long and short recoil systems.
Benelli’s inertia drive system, also referred to as the Montefeltro action, is noted for its simplicity since there are only three moving parts—the bolt body, rotating bolt head and inertia spring. It’s also noted for its speed—no shotgun action is faster—for its cleanliness—it’s not tapping off gas and accumulating carbon—and for its versatility, since it can handle most everything from 2-3/4-inch field loads to 3-1/2-inch magnums. The inertia action also weighs so little that shotguns using it are noted for their lightness and exceptional handling dynamics. Popular Benelli models like the Super Black Eagle and the Montefeltro are famous because of their inertia drives.

SG-0214-2

The TEC 12 features the simple and reliable inertia drive. Holt would like a
more substantial operating handle. Atop the receiver is a Picatinny rail.

SG-0214-3A

In the pump mode, the visible locking lugs (above) of the forearm are disengaged
from the barrel ring. For semi-automatic operation (below), the lugs are seated
in the barrel ring, locking the slide.

SG-0214-3B

But all good things finally come to an end, including firearm patents. Benelli’s patent on the inertia drive system recently expired, and TriStar was quick to move to incorporate the inertia drive system in their new tactical and home-defense TEC 12.
TriStar is a well-established company offering an extensive line of imported, affordable shotguns.
Currently catalogued are a variety of O/U, semi-auto, pump and specialty models for trap, sporting clays and tactical applications.
If you’ve ever lusted after a Benelli M3, you’re going to love TriStar’s TEC 12, especially for about a third of the price of an M3. When I opened up that TriStar carton, I thought I was looking at an M3—similar controls, similar function, similar features and dimensions.
With its 3-inch chambered, 20-inch barrel mounted with an extended, ported, cylinder choke tube, black pistol grip stock, Picatinny rail, ghost ring sight mated with a winged, fiber optic front sight, military sling swivels and studs, it’s a mean machine. It’s not headed for the grouse coverts. Brought to the civilian marketplace, it’s designed specifically for home-defense and tactical competition, like the 3-gun event.
After unpacking the TEC 12, I suggest the new owner read the owner’s manual from cover-to-cover to fully understand the process of changing back-and-forth from pump to the semi-auto mode. It’s simple, but the key point is the bolt must be closed when doing so, particularly when changing back to the pump mode to insure the rotary bolt is fully engaged.
The changeover process is simple and quick. At the forward end of the pump forearm is a spring-loaded rotary collar mounted with two locking lugs (the manual describes it as the “selector ring”). In the semi-auto mode, the collar is rotated so the lugs are in line with locking seats machined into the barrel ring. With the lugs aligned, you push the forearm forward and let the spring-loaded collar rotate the locking lugs into the barrel ring seats. The pump forearm is now locked in place and de-coupled from the drive.
To switch to the pump mode, you once again rotate the spring-loaded collar, disengaging the forearm locking lugs from the barrel ring, pull back the forearm, cocking the gun and you’re ready to go.
The only quirk I learned is in either the pump or semi-auto mode, the bolt locks open after the last round is fired, and the bolt release button has to be used to close the bolt.

SG-0214-6

Lightfield’s slugs are noted for their exceptional accuracy in smooth bores
(above). Federal’s 2-3/4-inch No. 4 buckshot load just pounded the 21×24-inch
target (below) at 35 yards.

SG-0214-5

Anyway, the switch is that simple!
As the owner’s manual points out, the pump mode is used for ultra-light or target loads that may not cycle the inertia drive and the semi-auto mode for the heavy stuff—field and magnum loads, slugs and buckshot.
For testing, I first checked the adjustable ghost ring sight for approximate zero by shooting field loads into a target 15 feet away. At that distance, the shot charge makes one large hole in the target and verifies whether or not your point-of-aim/point-of-impact coincide. With credit to the maker, they did. This was done in pump mode, and the TEC 12 functioned just fine with a trigger weight of 5-3/4 pounds.
Thinking in terms of home-defense where 35 yards would be an extreme situation, yet a good distance to check the patterns thrown by the TEC 12 with its cylinder choke, I set my targets at that distance. Switching over to semi-auto mode, I shot Federal’s 2-3/4-inch No. 4 buckshot load and Lightfield Ammunitions’ 2-3/4-inch, 1-1/4-ounce Hybrid EXP sabot slug offhand. The 25-yard black-powder targets I used measure 21×24 inches with a 5-1/2-inch black center bull. At 35 yards, the red fiber optic bead of the TEC 12 fits that 5-1/2-inch bull perfectly, giving you a very accurate sight picture. The targets speak for themselves. The TEC 12 performs, and shooting it offhand, gives you a better picture of how it would perform under field conditions.
The only possible improvements I would make would be to beef-up the operating handle, which is a bit puny and to offer a stock with recoil pads of different thicknesses to enable the owner to adjust the length-of-pull. A pistol grip stock locks you into the set length-of-pull, which on the TEC 12 is 14-1/2 inches. While that length-of-pull is fine in a normally stocked shotgun where you have latitude in the way you position your hands and grip the stock, it’s a bit long for most folks in a pistol grip format, particularly for people of smaller stature.
Overall, I was impressed with TriStar’s TEC 12. It functioned flawlessly when fed the proper ammunition in both pump and semi-auto modes and hammered those targets. Reasonably priced and with a 5-year warranty, it’s a good buy.
By Holt Bodinson

Tec 12
TriStar Arms
1816 Linn St.
North Kansas City, MO 64116
(816) 421-1400
www.gunsmagazine.com/tristar-arms

Action: Inertia semi-auto & manual pump
Caliber: 12 gauge (3-inch)
Capacity: 5+1 (2-3/4-inch shells)
Choke: Benelli-threaded, cylinder, extended, ported
Barrel Length: 20 inches
Overall Length: 43 inches
Length-Of-Pull: 14-1/2 inches
Weight: 7.4 pounds, Finish: Black, Stock: Polymer, pistol grip
Sights: Picatinny rail, ghost-ring adj. rear, winged, fiber optic front
Price: $689

Federal Premium Ammunition
900 Ehlen Dr.
Anoka, MN 55303
(800) 322-2342
www.gunsmagazine.com/federal-premium-ammunition

Lightfield Ammunition Corp.
P.O. Box 163, Adelphia, NJ 07710
(732) 462-9200
www.gunsmagazine.com/lightfield

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Happy Anniversary!

Remington’s 1100 Turns 50.

Announced in January 1963, as the shotgun designed “to make any shooter a better shot,” the Model 1100 would become the dominant gas-operated shotgun for the next two decades. It quite literally took over the trap and skeet markets. Just 9 years later, in 1972, the first millionth Model 1100 came off the assembly line. In 1977, a mere 5 years later, the second millionth Model 1100 was produced and in 1983, the 3 millionth, and the model is still going strong in the Remington scattergun lineup.

Fifty years later, the famous Model 1100 is still
selling well in the Remington shotgun line.

Leading the team that designed the Model 1100 was one of Remington’s most prominent engineers, Wayne Leek, whose name would become associated with other innovative designs like the XP-100 pistol, the rear-locking lugged Model 788 and 540X rimfire target rifle.

The Model 1100 incorporated several design features, which set it apart and above the competition. The most important feature, especially to competitive shooters, was the reduction in perceived recoil. Remington tests indicated that the Model 1100 had 40 percent less recoil than other autoloaders and 50 percent less recoil than fixed-breech guns. How? We’ll let Wayne Leek explain.

The 50th Anniversary Edition is accented with its special
serial number and its engraved, gold-filled receiver panels.

Bob Brister in his excellent book, Shotgunning—The Art and Science interviewed Leek at length about the recoil attenuation achieved in the Model 1100. Leek said, “Let’s take a common hunting load which we’ll say would recoil against the shooter’s shoulder with 25 foot-pounds of energy in a fixed-breech gun. We put that load into an 1100, and the shooter pulls the trigger.

Before the load and gases leave the barrel to create full recoil force, approximately 10 ft-lbs of energy are tapped off at the gas orifice and stored into a moving mass not directly associated with the fixed-breech gun mechanism, namely the action bars, breech-bolt mechanism and action bar sleeve. Therefore, at this instant, the shooter is getting kicked with 15 ft-lbs instead of 25.

“When the action-bar sleeve impacts against the front of the receiver, 5 ft-lbs of the 10 ft-lbs stored in the moving mass are put back into the equation and an instant later the breech bolt, still moving rearward, impacts against the rear section of the receiver, putting back the other 5 ft-lbs, thus satisfying Newton’s Law.”

In short, the shooter receives three separate recoil impulses within microseconds, thus flattening the recoil curve. The result is less “perceived” recoil. To a trap shooter chasing 200 clays, it was a marvel.

The 50th Edition 1100 sports the fleur-de-lis checkering
pattern on the forearm as well.

Other design features included a gas system moved outside the magazine tube and moved closer to the chamber where gas pressures were more consistent and higher, resulting in a cleaner system, less prone to carbon fouling; a well proportioned stock with fleur-de-lis checkering and a bowling-ball-rugged stock finish impervious to the weather and gun oils. The only thing lacking was a gas compensating system that could handle 2-3/4-inch and 3-inch shells. That would come in 1987 with the introduction of the Model 11-87.

So for 2013, Remington has given us an opportunity to acquire a stunning rendition of the Model 1100, commemorating its 50th anniversary. From its special serial number which begins with “1963” to its highly figured stock accented by a bold fleur-de-lis checkering pattern to its machine–cut engraving patterns and gold filled sporting scenes, the 50th Anniversary Limited Edition is already a collector’s prize, and with its 28-inch ribbed barrel, it would make a great looking field gun as well.

Stocked in richly figured walnut, the 50th Edition sports
the original fleur-de-lis checkering pattern.

1100 50th Anniversary Limited Edition
Maker: Remington Arms
870 Remington Dr.
P.O. Box 700, Madison, NC 27025
(800) 243-9700
www.gunsmagazine.com/remington-arms

Action:
Gas-operated, semi-automatic
Gauge: 12
Capacity: 4+1
Barrel Length: 28″
Choke: IC, M, F
Length-Of-Pull: 14″
Drop-At-Comb: 1-1/2″
Drop-At-Heel: 2-1/2″
Overall Length: 50-1/2″
Weight: 8-1/4 pounds
Finish: Blue
Stock: Walnut
Sights: White bead with silver mid-bead
Price: $1,999


Shooter’s Choice Barrel Wizard

The Barrel Wizard morphs from a cleaning rod into a chamber/forcing cone cleaner.

The paper towel patch provides an unusually large surface area for bore cleaning.

The snap cap is also an oil bottle.

The snap cap handle/oil bottle is also a functioning spring-loaded snap cap.

Here’s a neat combination shotgun tool being marketed by that famous emporium of fine gun cleaning and lubrication chemicals, Shooter’s Choice. Combining a precision snap cap and oil holder with an adjustable length cleaning rod and a jag designed to hold rolled up paper towels and standard shotgun brushes, the Barrel Wizard is designed to be carried inside your barrel so there’s no excuse for not having the proper cleaning equipment with you on the hunt or at the range.

Available in 12, 16 or 20 gauge, the snap caps serve multiple purposes. Attached to the 27-inch to 42-inch push button, adjustable, aluminum, cleaning rod they serve as the cleaning rod handle and, when chambered, secure the cleaning rod inside the barrel. Attached to the paper holding jag mounted with a brush, they create a handy chamber and forcing cone cleaner. Finally, when the gasket sealed top of the snap cap is unscrewed, you can fill the body of the cap with a reserve supply of lubricant or preservative.

The paper towel holding cleaning jag is a marvel. For a 12 bore, you take half of a paper towel, fold it in half twice, wrap it around the jag and go to work with Shooter’s Choice Shotgun and Choke Tube Cleaner. The resulting paper towel “patch” is 3/4 inch in diameter and 3 inches long. That’s a lot of surface area in contact with your bore, much more so than a standard shotgun patch. My recommendation is to use the “Viva” brand of paper towels. They’re extra tough, and the sheets on the roll are already scored in half.

One final point is that when carrying the Barrel Wizard inside the bore of a pump, semi-automatic or bolt-action shotgun, you first insert the snap cap into the chamber and then insert the cleaning rod into the snap cap handle from the muzzle end.

A great video at the Shooter’s Choice website shows how the Barnel Wizard System works.
By Holt Bodinson

Shooter’s Choice
15050 Berkshire Industrial Pkwy.
Middlefield, OH 44062
(440) 834-8888
www.gunsmagazine.com/shooters-choice

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