TriStar’s Setter S/T O/U Is A Sweet-
Swinging Smallbore Built To scale.
By Holt Bodinson
Think you’ve seen more 28-gauge shells on the shelves lately? It’s not surprising. This great little load is making inroads in arenas other than skeet fields. In fact, the 28 is nibbling at the heels of lightweight 20’s in many upland coverts. So when TriStar Arms announced they’d begun importing a Turkish–made O/U with a true 28-gauge proportioned frame at a very attractive price, I just had to check it out.
Some call the 28 a magic gauge—a perfect ballistic marriage between bore size and a 3/4-ounce payload, producing patterns all out of proportion to its diminutive size. I’m not the first to observe the charge weight-to-bore size of the 28 seems to produce unusually well distributed patterns.
Some years ago, I tested two identical Ruger Red Labels chambered in 20- and 28-gauge. I compared the patterns produced by Winchester’s AA Sporting Clays 28-gauge (3/4 ounce) and 20-gauge (7/8 ounce) loads of No. 7-1/2 and 8 shot in modified chokes at 35 yards. The patterning target was the HunterJohn Clays Target. If a clay pigeon silhouette had 3 or more hits, I counted it as a dead bird. At the end of the test, I could see no statistical difference in terms of pattern distribution or “clay kills” between the 28 and the 20.
Not only do most 28’s pattern well, most people can shoot them well. They’re fast on target, easy on the shoulder and (hopefully) so light you can spend the whole day afield without feeling like a gun bearer. It’s just about perfect for a beginner shooter.
When TriStar’s 28-gauge Setter arrived, I was impressed. First of all, it’s a good looking gun. The faux engraving panels etched on both sides of the receiver, the top lever and the triggerguard are eye-catching. So is the engine-turned, jeweled monobloc (the jeweling helps retain lubricants in that area of the action).
The ventilated top rib and mid-rib of the 28-inch chrome-lined barrels give the gun a classy look, as do the broad machine-cut checkering patterns on the pistol grip and fore-end.
The barrel selector is contained in the sliding tang safety (above).
Both were a bit stiff. The gold-plated trigger (below) is a nice touch.
The stock is dense but plain-grained Turkish walnut with a high gloss polymer finish (which seems a bit fragile since I put a ding in it without noticing how I could possibly have done so).
TriStar didn’t list any stock dimensions so out came my trusty Brownell’s Pull & Drop Gauge. The length of pull was 14 inches. Drop at the comb was 1-5/8 inches and at the heel, 2-1/2. Those are pretty standard dimensions and will fit a majority of shooters.
The ventilated recoil pad features a hard, rounded polymer insert in the heel to prevent the rubber pad from catching on your clothing as you mount the gun. That’s the good side. The bad side is if you set the gun down on the heel of the pad on a hard surface, the gun may just go skating wildly across the floor. It calls for lightning reflexes and a fast catch. It’s a hard lesson, one I learned years ago.
Rather than a hinge pin, the Setter’s action features sleek, modern trunnions. Just keep them lubricated with grease, and they’ll outlast you and your grandchildren.
The Setter has a single trigger, gold-plated, no less, with the barrel selector switch incorporated into the sliding tang safety. I found the safety and the side-to-side selector very stiff. Come to think of it, the opening and closing of the action was also stiff. I appreciate tight-fitting guns, but it will take several hundred shells to work those parts in.
To keep costs down, the Setter has an extractor, not an ejector––not a problem. You just have to look at the primers to decide which case to fully extract and toss.
A large part of the 28-gauge Setter’s appeal lies in its nimble handling
characteristics and lack of recoil (above). TriStar’s new Setter S/T O/U line-up
is impressive in terms of design, execution and price. It’s an extractor, not
an ejector (below).
Handling & Shooting
The Setter comes with five Beretta/Benelli mobile-style choke tubes in S, IC, M, IM and F. I installed the IC and M tubes and handed the Setter to the distaff side of the family, along with a box of Remington Nitro Sporting Clays load with (3/4 ounce of No. 7-1/2). That was a mistake. She smoked ’em. When it was my turn, she and the range master then tried to “dis” me with some surprise doubles. Mistake! The Setter loves doubles.
I patterned the Setter at 30 yards using the IC tube and the Remington Sporting Clays load. I’m a firm believer in patterning your gun at the ranges at which you’ll actually be shooting. My quail and dove shooting takes place within a 35-yard circle, with many shots within 20 yards or less. The “X” birds received 3 or more shot pellets. That’s a kill. The Setter’s pattern was well distributed with just one patch to the immediate right of center.
Backed by a 5-year warranty and a price of $565, TriStar’s complete Setter S/T line of O/U’s has a lot to offer. But the 28 is something special.
TriStar’s new Setter S/T O/U line-up is impressive in terms of design, execution and price.
The TriStar/Turkey Connection
TriStar has long been a major importer of Turkish shotguns. Today, their line includes semi-autos, O/U’s (including upscale trap models), pumps and the radical TEC 12. This hybrid tactical shotgun can be switched back and forth between pump and semi-auto modes.
In view of their long-standing relationship with the Turkish gun industry, TriStar is well positioned to have their models designed with embellishments not always seen in their competitors’ lines. Their new O/U line carries the “Setter S/T” label. It’s available in 12, 20, 28 and .410 bores, and it’s made by Arthemis.
The more Turkish shotguns I see and handle, the more impressed I am with the country’s gunmaking industry. Turkey is currently the source of every quality level of shotgun—from the finest-grade double or O/U to the least-expensive pump. Along with their excellent shotguns, Turkish designers and manufacturers are also fielding a variety of semi-auto pistols, some of which TriStar also imports.
Setter S/T 28 O/U
Importer: TriStar Arms, Inc.
1816 Linn St
North Kansas City, MO 64116
Action: Over & Under
Barrel Length: 28 inches
Choke: S, IC, M, IM, F (supplied)
Length of Pull: 14 inches
Overall Length: 45 inches
Weight: 7.2 pounds
Stock: Turkish walnut
Sights: Red fiber-optic front bead on vent rib
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