This is a shotgun I picked up a little over a month ago from Corwin-Arms, a Canadian Internet firearms retailer based out of Kamloops, British Columbia.
This is yet another in a long line of Turkish manufactured shotguns that have come onto the Canadian market over the past number of years. I have to admit, I’m a bit of an easy mark for these guns. As a general rule, they provide a very good value for the money, and sometimes it’s nice to drop a relatively small amount of money to get a new bangstick to take out to the range or the field.
Now, I’m not going to claim that every Turkish gun I’ve bought over the past few years has been a knockout success – in fact, one or two have been outright lemons – but on the whole, enough have been great guns, and all of them have been at fantastic prices, so I figure I’m ahead overall.
Initially, these were retailing for $477cdn, and that seemed to be a reasonable price for what was being presented. But apparently, they weren’t moving, so Corwin-Arms (the importer and sole retailer, as far as I can tell), knocked the price down to $317cdn.
For that kind of money, I was more than willing to take a risk on a semi-auto hunting 12 gauge.
The fit and finish on the wood, and overall, is really nice. The checkering is laser etched, and fairly well done. Provides a nice grippy feel without being sharp or “cheese gratering” my hands. Laser etched checkering darkens the area checkered quite noticeably, and this might offend some of the old school purists. But if you want hand cut checkering, you’re in the $1500 and up bracket of shotgun, and that’s a different beast entirely.
For me, I’ve kind of grown to like the look of laser cut checkering. It provides a nice contrast, and makes the rest of the wood and grain really “pop out” visually.
The receiver itself is an interesting mix of contrasts. The upper portion of the receiver is a matte black finish, that appears to be some form of powder-coating. This is a durable, no-nonsense finish on a part of the gun that is susceptible to a abuse, and it will likely hold up quite well. The bottom plate has a high-gloss black finish, and provides and interesting accent that’s not too eye catching. It’s an interesting detail. The bolt and carrier are a high shine – not sure if this is plating or just a highly polished bolt group. Altogether, it’s very snazzy looking.
The Duck stamping on both sides of the receiver is a nice flourish as well. Subtle, but noticeable. The matte finish of the upper receiver blends well with the finish on the barrel, and the metal trigger with a high chrome polished finish ties in well with the high polish bolt.
Taken altogether with the wood furniture, it provides for a nice, classic looking gun, with some interesting accents that avoids being gaudy. If you have a penchant for old school wood and blued steel guns, this will fit the bill, a gun that will look good in the field or the trap range, without any over the top bling.
A nice, thick, solid rubber butt pad finishes everything off. I prefer the look of solid rubber but pads, as opposed to the ventilated ones, and I also think black looks nicer than the red rubber pads you see on some guns. But that’s a matter of personal preference. You’ll either like the look of it, or you won’t.
Take-down for cleaning and transport is, of course, dead simple. With the bolt closed, simply unscrew the mag cap, pull off the forend, and remove the barrel. From here, you can get at everything you’ll need to clean for regular maintenance. I didn’t pull the bolt and carrier, but this is the same type of gas system you’ll see on almost any Turkish semi-auto, or a Weatherby SA-08, and there are no surprises or complex fiddly bits to deal with.
(NB: This is just a random case I grabbed from my garage, the gun does not come with a case)
My two (very minor) aesthetic beefs with the gun are both in the trigger housing. The trigger guard is polymer, and has some odd striping at the front. Personally, I would prefer metal and could do without the horizontal stripes. It just looks kind of odd to me. The other is the cross-bolt safety, which is a bright red all the way through, and triangular in shape. Again, this just looks odd to my eyes, and seems a bit out of place on an otherwise classically styled gun.
Neither of these is a deal breaker for me, just a couple of things I would have done different.
Shooting and handling:
First off we’ll go with handling and ergonomics. The balance on this is very good. Empty, my “two finger hold” (the place were I can rest it on two fingers and the gun balances itself) puts one finger on the forend and one finger on the receiver. With the mag fully loaded with 4 shells, and one in the pipe, the balance moves slightly forward with both fingers on the forend, and my rear finger just barely douching the receiver. This makes for a well balanced gun, easy for one handed field carry, and swings and points very naturally when shouldered.
I found the butt-stock and grip well proportioned for me. I’m tolerant of a fairly wide range of length of pull, and I didn’t measure it, but this is a full sized gun and fit very naturally. For reference, I come in at 6′, and as a general rule, if a gun has an adjustable stock, I tend to have it maxed out. While I can shoot shorter-stock guns with reasonable comfort (think SKS or CZ 858 length of stock), longer stocks are more enjoyable for me, and this fits within that category. The cheek rest is nice, and I found it very natural to bring the gun up and get a cheek weld and clear sight line down the rib to the bead.
Things like comb, cheek rest, and length of pull can be a very personal thing. This wasn’t a “perfect fit” for me, but it isn’t a fitted gun. It is, however, a “very good” fit for me – as good as any off the shelf gun has been.
When it came time to shoot it, a couple of things surprised me – in a good way.
First was the trigger. This has a far better trigger than I’ve come to expect from Turkish shotguns. It beats the pants off the trigger in my Hatsan MPA, or my mag fed Asena shotgun. It’s quite crisp, breaks where it’s supposed to, has a good field weight pull to it (I’m guessing in the 5lb-6lb range). It was smooth, crisp, and has a nice tactile reset to it when you let off pressure after firing a shot.
And then there was the recoil. Now, keep in mind all I did was go through a box of 7.5 high velocity target loads, but I’ve also been shooting my Hatsan and Asena mag fed a fair bit lately (getting ready for 3-gun season), so I’m fairly tuned in to the differences in 12 gauge recoil at the moment. I’ve also put in some practice with my Winchester Model 50 lately.
Now, comparing this gun to a Model 50 might seem unfair. The Model 50 is semi legendary as one of the smoothest, softest recoiling 12 gauge semi-autos ever made. I own two of them, because they stopped making them in the late 50’s, and I can’t bear the thought of one of them failing at some point and not having one to shoot. As a reference point, I find the 12 gauge Model 50 as easy on the shoulder as a 20 gauge Weatherby SA-08. Yes, they are that smooth.
Now, the Asena ZR7-RC isn’t at that level. But it is getting close enough to it that it at least makes me think of that shotgun. A lot goes into felt recoil – weight of the gun, the type of gas system, weight of the bolt and carrier, effectiveness of the butt-pad, angle of the comb… Etc. Etc. When compared to my Hatsan, or the Mag Fed Asena… This Asena had me thinking of my Model 50 instead. It has a smooth, long recoil impulse, that pushes you more than it slaps you. The other two mentioned Turkish guns aren’t hard recoiling guns, but they do have a slight “sharpness” to them that’s noticeable. If I stripped these guns down and weighed components, I have a suspicion I would find that the bolt and carrier group are a little bit heavier on the ZR. And, of course, it’s a night and day difference between this and the single shots I’ve been using a fair bit lately.
This gun, I could take to the trap range, and blow through a case of shells in an afternoon, and not have any regrets about it the next day.
And the balance and point-ability are very good. Not fitted gun good, but very good nonetheless. If I was missing shots, I wouldn’t be able to blame the gun (although I probably will anyway – because you always need to keep a pocket full of excuses when you’re shooting against a buddy).
This is a nice, well put together gun. It looks sharp, feels and handles nice, and its easy to shoot. Shooting it well is really all on the shooter here – if you’re being fair, you’re not going to be able to blame the gun.
It isn’t perfect, and I do have a couple of quibbles with some of the details. But at this price point, I have far less concerns about it than I would with a lot of other guns that go for a couple hundred dollars more.
I can’t comment on reliability or long term durability – because I just don’t know. That’s something you can only really know once you’ve shot a gun for a few years and put thousands of rounds through it. There’s nothing about that jumps out and says to me “oh, well that’s going to fail,” but guns have surprised me with hidden flaws before.
All I can say is I took it out, loaded it up, and ran through a box of target loads without any issues. Not jams or stovepipes or failures to feed. As far as I can tell, this won’t require the typical “Turkish Semi-Auto Break In Period” that a lot of us have come to expect and gotten used to.
It just ran. Right off the bat and without issue.
And so far? Very happy with it.
I might return with an update in the fall to let you know how it’s been running. But the truth is, quite often these are limited run firearms, and by the time I get around to writing an update, there’s a good chance they’ll all be sold, never to be seen new in box again.