Weatherby SA-08 Synthetic Waterfowler 3.0 Autoloader, Part One

The camouflage Weatherby Waterfowler 12 gauge 26 inch barrel has a MSRP of $749, with an attractive street price of about $600. Although it is listed with a length of pull of 14 inches on the Weatherby website, my example is a bit over 14-1/8 inches. The SA-08 Deluxe 12 gauge, previously tested, has about a 14-5/8 length of pull. Weatherby is in the process of updating their website and catalogs.

By now, the Weatherby line of autoloading shotguns has a substantial track record, as it was introduced in 1998. The manufacturer, ATA, is not a newcomer to shotguns by any means. Celal Yollu of Turkey started his workshop in 1959, made his first Side-By-Side shotgun in 1967, followed by his first O/U in 1973. Mr. Yollu expanded, moving to Istanbul in 1990. Founding Vursan, he made his first autoloader in 1992. Pistol production began in 1998, and Beretta took an interest in Vursan in 2000, Beretta buying Vursan completely in 2002.

ATA Arms was founded in 1997; the CY series of gas autoloaders is an original ATA design. They have been making pumps since 2000 and inertia guns since 2004, O/U shotguns since 2005. The CY series is essentially the Weatherby SA-08, their inertia gun is the Neos, and their new “shoots everything” gas autoloader is called the Venza. Apparently, ATA exports about 90% of its 60,000 unit per year production and has averaged 24% growth annually.

Consumers have very good reasons to be suspicious of the “importer of the week,” or the importer of the month. The list of import failures grows every year. Have a “Charles Daly”? A Marlin “L.C. Smith”? A Spartan Gunworks / Baikal / Remington? A “Traditions” Fausti? A Savage Milano or Stevens O/U? A Lanber? Perhaps an “heirloom quality” S & W Elite? It is the same old Western Auto or Coast to Coast spec gun treatment. Order a boatload of guns, when they don't sell, close up shop and when parts aren't available, your heirloom might prove to be a far less practical investment than “Fruit of the Loom.”

Many Turkish guns have come and gone, their importers in the United States even more so, but the Weatherby – ATA combination has proved to be a very good one, already continuing for sixteen years. I think it is wise to consider the viability of the importer and the brand, as well as their commitment to shotguns, before you pull the trigger on your wallet.

Currently, the Weatherby Waterfowler is listed as 6-1/2 lbs., 46 inches overall length, 1-1/2 inch drop at the comb, 2-1/4 inch drop at the heel. The actual tested article is a bit heavier, at 6-3/4 lbs. The SA-08 trigger breaks right at 5 lbs., not spectacular, but significantly better than most hunting shotgun autoloader triggers out of the box. The screw-choked barrels accept the Browning standard Invector / Winchoke style. The camo pattern is called “Mothwing® Marsh Mimicry®” and is well-applied.

The action of the SA-08 Waterfowler is the same as the rest of the Weatherby SA-08 12 gauge line-up. Its price point places it between the SA-08 synthetic and the SA-08 Deluxe walnut / blued. The reason to opt for the Waterfowler over the plain synthetic is external corrosion resistance to the barrel, no oil required, while retaining the sling studs, having a generally more attractive gun that offers appeal both to the duck and turkey blind, while still saving a few pesos vs. the walnut / blued SA-08 Deluxe.

Much more to follow in Part Two.


Copyright 2014 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.


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