Shotgun of the Year: Retay Masai Mara 20 gauge Walnut
It has been many, many years since I have tested a truly excellent 20 gauge autoloader. I'm happy to say that the long drought is finally over. First, let me start off with the Retay Masai Mara basic published specifications.
Retay USA calls the forcing cone “20 gauge optimized,” and I have no idea what that means. Though the weight is stated at 6 lbs. 5 oz., both the camo and the walnut are significantly heavier: the synthetic-stocked Mossy Oak Bottomland, with an over-sized bolt release and speed unloading, weighs right at 6-1/2 lbs. unloaded with a factory choke tube installed: 6 lbs., 9 oz. to be exact. While the Retay 12 gauge chokes use a proprietary thread style, available from Trulock chokes, this 20 gauge uses the Benelli Crio Plus style, also available from Trulock.
The walnut model is a beautiful gun, my example Jet Black 26 inch barrel has a $600 MSRP Grade 4 stock set (above) that is breathtaking. It is also quite a bargain, considering high grade walnut sets for the A400 run $1250 - $1500 alone. The only primary feature not present in the walnut model as compared to the camo version is the speed unloading, which requires an over-sized bolt release that would look garish and out of place on the walnut model. The walnut model as tested is one ounce heavier than the synthetic at 6 lbs., 10 ounces, including a Modified choke tube installed and the installed steel swivel stud.
The standard grade 2 Masai Mara oil-finished walnut stocks (my example, above) are also far better than average. Retay machines their own stocks and does their own checkering all in house.
As with all Masai Mara models, you have all-metal construction, a milled alloy push-button release trigger group and guard, as well as an alloy forearm cap. It is a remarkably well-balanced shotgun with a crisp trigger that breaks just under four pounds. The MM walnut is also strikingly soft-shooting compared to other inertia guns, rivaling some gas guns. That just goes to show what a bit of extra weight and a good recoil pad can do for you. This is one of those rare inertia guns that is suitable not only for upland hunting, but mild-mannered enough for clays duty as well with 7/8 oz. 1200 fps shells. I have only one gripe with this gun: the cross-bolt safety button is too darn small. It is no issue when breaking clays or hunting without gloves in warmer weather, but gloves and this dinky safety button do not get along famously. The safety is not reversible.
Shims are included. As with the camo MM 20 gauge, I needed the 60mm shim set as there wasn't enough drop for me as supplied. Although the Retay manual tells you to use two shims at the receiver and one in the buttstock,that isn't necessary. The plastic shim marked "cast shim" measured .0034 inch on one side and .0025 inch on the other. If you think .0009 inch means something, you can install it, but the cast comes primarily from the metal shim in the buttstock, so I didn't bother with Part #7 "cast shim" as shown on page 20 of the manual. If you do use this shim that I consider optional, it will increase the length of pull by just over two thousandths of an inch.
The MM 20 gauge is very easy and smooth to load, and thanks to the Retay Inertia Plus action, it is the most reliable inertia gun out there. The Retay engineers thought of most everything, for even if the Inertia Plus spring theoretically failed (which it won't) the shotgun is still completely functional. Thanks to the all-steel upper receiver of the Masai Mara, the gun is supremely well-balanced.
of the rarely mentioned benefits of the quick-detachable trigger
guard is aesthetic. If you look at most semi-auto receivers, and you'll
two or four plugged holes, one or two on each side. There is nothing
attractive about plugged holes on the side of a receiver, used as the
trigger groups are pinned in. No such unsightly holes exist on a
Masai Mara . . . it is a very clean looking, pinless trigger group.
Although MSRP prices aren't actual selling prices that are set by the dealer, the MSRP of the basic black MM 20 gauge is $1099, the camo (shown above) is $1225, and the grade 2 walnut is $1250 MSRP.
The Masai Mara 20 gauge walnut is the best 20 gauge autoloader on the market. It is great looking, low maintenance, soft shooting, shim-adjustable, has no Benelli-click, is very easy loading, and is dead-nuts reliable out of the box with anything from 7/8 oz. 1200 fps loads on up, with no adjustments. It also has a crisp, light trigger and all metal build quality. The rib is carefully silver-soldered on, the same method used by Perazzi. That makes it the 2020 Shotgun of the Year quite handily. For those who want camo, the camo editions eliminate any external lubrication and add another Retay exclusive feature: speed unloading that works extremely well.
Congratulations to Retay Arms of Konya, Turkey. You've just accomplished what nobody else has been able to.
Copyright 2020 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.