Hatfield’s $225 12-Gauge Auto
Has “Hit” Written All Over It
By Holt Bodinson
Remember those Hatfields, who were always fussin’, feudin’ and fightin’? Well, they’ve gone from feuding to gunmaking. In fact, you might remember some of their products—their svelte muzzleloading rifles or featherweight 28-gauge doubles. A prominent member of the family, Ted Hatfield, has spent a number of years in Turkey, assisting Turkish gunmaking firms in refining their product lines for international sales. He now serves as director of product development and marketing for UTAS-USA.
Hatfield’s latest products bearing the “Hatfield” label are a well-designed 12-gauge semi-auto and a folding 20-gauge single barrel. When he showed the two shotguns to Walmart’s purchasing staff, Walmart bought Hatfield’s entire 2016-year production of both models. Why? Because Walmart can price the semi-auto at $225 and the single barrel at $99 and can still make a reasonable profit.
Hatfield’s folding, single barrel is strictly utilitarian, but the Model SAS 12 autoloader is remarkable not only for its price, but for its innovative action.
The leading semi-auto systems are gas, inertia drive and long-and-short-recoil. Well, now there’s another—a hybrid. I’ll let Ted describe it:
“It’s a gas assist/inertia operating system. The gas piston moves only 1 inch and kicks the bolt body rearward. There’s no bolt carriage with action arms, driving ring, etc. Consequently, with reduced friction and less mass, the bolt flies rearward easily, ejecting the spent shell and then is propelled forward by a Benelli-style return spring to pick up and load the next round. With so few moving parts the gun works incredibly well and will shoot anything from light loads to 3-inch magnums.
As to the styling of the SAS 12, it’s totally out of the $225 shotgun league. If you handed me the SAS 12 without telling me how much it costs, I would say it had to be the product of a high-end Italian design house. Notice the sculpted walnut fore-end with gripping grooves aligned along the barrel where they should be. Then there’s the progressively thickening palm swell ending in a sweeping, elevated radius just forward of the receiver. While the fore-end checkering pattern isn’t radical, the laser-cut, recessed diamond pattern is distinctive looking and very “grippy.”
Holt and Steamer (above) found Hatfield’s SAS 12 to be an impressive bargain.
Hatfield’s SAS 12 and Federal’s new Gold Medal Grand ammunition (below) proved
a deadly combination in the dove fields.
Maybe the most interesting design motif of all are the three textured horizontal lines which appear first at the rear of the fore-end, are carried across both sides of the receiver flats and end as three short lines at the beginning of the pistol grip.
(I know I’m beginning to sound like an art critic, but overall, the SAS 12 sports some very unusual and eye-catching lines normally associated with shotguns carrying a far heftier price tag.)
According to my Brownells gunstock pull-and-drop gauge, the Turkish walnut buttstock has a 14-inch LOP with a drop of 1-5/8 inches at the comb and 2-5/8 at the heel and is finished off with a 1-inch ventilated rubber recoil pad.
The receiver of the SAS is machined from 7075 aluminum and is treated with a high-gloss anodized finish matching the black chrome finish on the 28-inch barrel. The barrel itself has a full-length vent rib and sports a 3-inch chamber and chrome-plated bore. The gun comes with three screw-in choke tubes—IC, M and F. The trigger pull on mine averaged 7 pounds measured with a Lyman electronic gauge.
How did the SAS shoot? The first thing I always check is to see whether or not the point-of-aim and the point-of-impact coincide. Often they don’t. Some of the worst offenders in my experience have been pumps and automatics with interchangeable barrels and screw-in choke tubes.
The POA/POI test is simple. I use Hunterjohn’s Clays target with a center aiming point in red surrounded by flying clays (actually a plain sheet of paper with a 4-inch aiming point drawn in will do just fine). Select the full tube, place the target 15 feet from the edge of your shooting bench. Then select any load handy, bench and aim the shotgun like a rifle, taking a center or 6 o’clock hold and shoot. The result will be a ragged shot hole in the target plus one or two holes punched through by the wads. Your POA and POI should coincide. With my test SAS 12, they did.
Holt used Hunterjohn targets to pattern the SAS 12. Each “X”
indicates a dead bird—meaning three or more pellet strikes.
The second test is a simple patterning test, using the load and distance you’ll most likely be shooting. For the upland hunting I do, I like to place The Hunterjohn Clays patterning target 30 yards out and shoot it with a load of 7-1/2 shot. The 126 clays in the target are roughly the body size of our smaller game birds. If I can achieve a 30-yard pattern with 3 or more pellets in most of the clays in the core 20-inch area with only minor patchiness, I’m a happy hunter.
On hand for testing and for some dove hunting to follow was Federal’s new Gold Medal Grand Competition shotshells packing 1-1/8 ounce of hard No. 7-1/2 shot with a rated velocity of 1,235 fps.
The Gold Medal Grand features a solid base wad for reloading longevity, a “Soft Cell” 2-piece wad to reduce perceived recoil and a “PrimerLock” head for improved rigidity and enhanced primer sensitivity. If the SAS didn’t perform, it wouldn’t be the fault of the ammunition!
As you can see from the target shot at 30 yards with a Modified choke, the “X’s” indicate dead birds (3 or more pellets) while the “0’s” indicate scratch hits (2 pellets). Hatfield’s SAS 12 produced nice patterns.
After the range session, it was off to the field with my dog Steamer for a late-season dove hunt. Between Steamer, Hatfield’s $225 semi-auto and Federal’s Gold Medal Grand ammunition, the hunt couldn’t have gone better!
Federal Premium Ammunition
900 Ehlen Dr., Anoka, MN 55303
P.O. Box 771457
St. Louis, MO 63177
Hatfield SAS 12
Maker: UTAS (Turkey),
Hatfield Gun Co.
1247 Rand Rd.
Des Plaines, IL 60016
Action: Gas assist/inertia
Gauge: 12 (3-inch chamber)
Barrel Length: 28 inches (vent rib)
Overall Length: 49 inches
Choke: IC, M, F tubes supplied
Length of pull: 14 inches, Drop at comb: 1-5/8 inches
Drop at heel: 2-5/8 inches
Weight: 7-1/2 pounds
Finish: Black anodized, black chrome
Stock: Walnut, Sights: Red bead front
Price: $225 (Walmart)
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