Reader Question: Turkish Shotguns and O/U Advantages


Your opinion on Heavyweight #7 loads was confirmed at this years event in Milwaukee. The Federal Booth was promoting this year's latest and greatest but when I asked him about availability of their Heavyweight #7 loads the Rep was very helpful. Turns out he was with their R&D team and said their Heavyweight #7 loads are absolutely the best load there is for Turkeys, Ducks, Pheasant, Geese you name it, apparently the small cross sectional area and density that gives this load it's good aerodynamics also means that it penetrates well.

So SKB was there with a full line of O/Us, SxSs and SAs all made in Turkey as was CZ but I have admit that I'm put off by the bad experience I'm having with my CZ912. It's been back to CZ for warranty work twice and it still won't reliably cycle anything (light OR heavy) that I've tried. 

You panned the  CZ 912 but weren't so rough on the Weatherby SA-08 or Girsan, maybe I got a lemon but at the moment I don't just trust Turkish Guns. I'm sure some are better than others but all these Turkish Guns seem to have the importers name on them not the name of the Turkish Mfger so how does a buyer tell anything about the quality if the product hasn't been honestly reviewed by an unbiased source such as yourself? Price point? I.E., the higher the better the gun? Or is it just buyer beware.
What's your opinion on the use of O/U's for hunting is there any real advantage or is beyond having two different chokes just elitism.

Many thanks for your efforts.  Honest Opinions are hard to come by.

Spring, Texas

Hello Ray,

You've asked some very good questions that come up more often than you might think. The country of origin, strictly speaking, doesn't mean a whole lot. At one time, the Japanese were said to be incapable of innovation or quality, rumored only to be capable of making cheap A.M. radios or perhaps a moped on a good day. That was “conventional wisdom.” Of course, things have changed, and they are among the world's leaders in optics, electronics, automobiles, trains, and so forth.

Good shotguns can be built in a lot of places, as long as you have the same level of raw materials, equipment, and operator skill. Yes, both the Weatherby SA-08s (above, more models to be tested soon) and the Girsan MC312 did surprisingly well. The only unknown with Girsan, at the moment, aside from the small number of models (the MC312 12 gauge is their only shotgun) is the parts and service aspect.

With Weatherby, it is an easier answer: reputation. Weatherby has a very valuable, upscale, and powerful brand name in the industry, dating back to 1945 when Roy E. Weatherby founded Weatherby, Inc. You have the legacy of Roy Weatherby, the non-profit Weatherby Foundation , and a brand name to protect.

Above, one-time Kansas farmboy turned successful firearms entrepreneur, Roy E. Weatherby, with his bride Camilla and daughter Diane, from about 1952.

Weatherby is not going to do a thing to hurt their brand, a brand they are very proud of founded in center-fire rifles. As a result, they are picky about what they sell, and do quality control and rejection of product at the plant level, in Turkey. Representatives of companies totally unaffiliated with Weatherby have repeatedly told me that “Weatherby was the best” at managing what they import. As far as I can see, Weatherby is very serious about the shotgun market, and their recent hiring of Jason Evans (formerly Vice President of Commercial Sales at Benelli USA) is further evidence of their commitment to the shotgun market.

I can't tell you anything much about what is going to be labeled as SKB. The IS 300 inertia target shotgun has been talked about on and off since August, 2013, yet even now (February, 2014) they have no working website of any value. The “old SKB” of Japan has been gone for four years by now and whatever it is that might be imported in the future by Guns Unlimited of Omaha, it is way too early to tell. It looks like they are still struggling to get things going. An inertia "target gun" gives me a real headache just looking at it, but I've been wrong before. It certainly has nothing to do with an SKB sticker on the box.

Past performance is not indicative of future results, but the shotgun market isn't for dabblers. Consider Charles Daly, Traditions, the Remington "Spartan Gunworks," the Turkish guns imported by S & W, the Turkish O/U and SxS guns imported by Savage Arms: all vaporware by now. To me, it just makes good sense to consider the reputation of a company, its financial stability, and its commitment to the market segment it is entering. A bad reputation isn't worth protecting.

The O/U is far cheaper to make than a SxS, more room for the action, and barrel regulation is supposed to be easier, as upon firing a SxS wants to pull itself apart. Then you have a single sighting plane, and a second quicker shot as the lower barrel, normally fired first, is set lower in the receiver and has less muzzle rise, particularly in a lighter hunting gun. I certainly wouldn't call an O/U "elitist" or luxury, at least not compared to a nice, used Holland & Holland Royal Deluxe Side-by-Side that can run upwards of $100,000. That's a lot of pesos to drop into the duck pond.

Good O/U models have excellent triggers, excellent balance and swing, can reliably fire anything that you can stuff into a hole, with mechanical triggers they can “cycle” popper loads, reloaders love them for no hull-chasing is required, and back in the days of cardboard hulls, they were considered more reliable as a loaded shotshell's ability to feed is of little importance with a double.

As far as an O/U “advantage” while hunting, no advantage if you are trying to drop that third dove, duck, or pigeon. As far as two chokes, that couldn't be an advantage unless you do what most do not do: pattern your gun at the ranges you want to shoot at with the hunting shells you want to use. Even then, the advantage is along the lines of “if you say so.” For hunting selection of a barrel, only two triggers makes this practical. It is even worse than that with the low-profile safeties found on Beretta's and other stackbarrels. With cold or gloved hands, all they do is save evil communist Chinese ring-necked pheasant's lives. I think they make hunting safer for cock pheasants more than anything. Pheasant and wild rice under glass is a great dish, but it loses something without the pheasant.

If I've assumed my normal Illinois dove hunting stance, which is something along the lines of standing in the middle of a field looking like an idiot, the batch of doves crossing at 50 yards doesn't help me if I have an O/U that throws Mod / Full, for the change I'd really prefer (Full / Full) isn't happening.


Copyright 2014 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.

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