Hatsan Escort Missione
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- Last updated: 16/12/2016
Apart from the odd foray into slightly upmarket looking models such as the Luxano or the stealthy Magnum Xtreme, Hatsan has for years kept their Escort semi-autos aimed fairly and squarely at those wanting a no-nonsense gasser that’ll do virtually anything asked of it. However, unlike the Luxano that embodied everything that the Turks regard as upmarket, Hatsan has taken the European approach.
Besides giving the Missione an Italian name since at the end of the day the gun, like all Escorts is based on an Italian design, the satin finish of the receiver and the more ornate decoration displays a distinct Italianate flair. Add some seriously impressive walnut into the equation and both looks wise and price wise, Hatsan and the UK importers Edgar Brothers are on a winner. Reason being no other manufacturer can come close to offering a semi-auto 12g that looks this good for the mere cost of £625. Yes, you have read it right, £625 for a gasser that looks and performs like a shotgun worth three times the price.
So what does your minimalist outlay get you I hear you say? Well I’ll tell you, the large black padded travelling case containing everything you need to be on your peg or opposite a sitty tree within minutes of you taking delivery. Firstly there’s the gun that comes complete with some seriously stunning walnut complete with a robust lacquered finish, the Missione still in line with its brethren as a gun designed to take the knocks and perform well in any situation.
There’s also a full set of extended choke tubes plus stock spacers and stock head shims, so allowing for minor adjustments. Please note though, there’s no choke key, these extended tubes locking into place with nothing more than finger tightness. Perfectly matched, the game style stock complete with a soft rubber recoil pad feeds into a big, hand-filling grip complete with two panels of closely machine cut checkering. The pattern then repeats along the diamond shaped panels let into the oversized and wonderfully comfortable forend, an oversized mag cap keeping the gun safely and securely assembled.
Gloss black with a vented stepped 7mm rib the 3” chambered 28” barrel is better described as being 28¾” in length given the fact the extended chokes add just short of another inch to the tube. Fixing into the alloy receiver its here where, besides the woodwork, Hatsan have added the Missione’s true style. Complete with a satin, champagne coloured finish, scrollwork and snipe have been engraved into either side, the deep etching and background colour ensuring each of the birds really stands out. Dovetailed on the top perchance you wish to fit a red-dot sight, as always the usual magazine cut-off has been incorporated on the right-hand side just below the ejection port.
By depressing the short lever, once the chambered round has been fired or racked out of the chamber, the shells in the mag tube remain as is, allowing an alternative cartridge to be loaded up. Keep the cut-off depressed and you’ll shoot one round at a time and have to keep reloading. But by rocking the lever the opposite way, the rounds in reserve once again come into play.
Turn the gun upside down and you immediately see the bolt release that’s incorporated into the shell lifter. This means that once you loaded the first round, the moment you start to push the second cartridge into the mag tube you instantly release the single-claw bolt into battery, a system more usually seen on one of the big American brands. Just to the rear of the lifter sits the gold plated trigger safely contained within a broad, black polymer guard with the cross-bolt safety located within the rear span.
A word of note at this point, in respect of assembling the Missione, otherwise it won’t go together. Firstly make sure the valve and most importantly the rubber O-ring have been located on the mag tube with the bolt locked rearwards and the familiar action slide and spring compressed. Slowly after you’ve release the bolt into the battery position offer up the barrel and slide the extension into the receiver and the mag ring and valve over the mag tube. Then as you slowly pull the bolt backwards the barrel will locate; all you then need do is slide the forend into position and secure the entire gun by screwing the mag cap into place.
A few minutes with the Arrow Laser Shot confirmed that out of the box the Missione would shoot slightly high for me. Granted I could have altered it by fitting one of the alternative stock shims but since the gun was on test it was easier for me to adapt. Size wise the gun weighs in at 7lbs 10oz and has a total length inclusive of the choke of 48¾” with drops at comb and heel of 1 15/32” and 2 5/16” with a factory set length of pull measuring 14 9/16” although this can be altered using one of the supplied butt spacers. Weight of pull though is as is, the trigger breaking at 7lbs 4oz, a tad heavy maybe but I quickly got used to it and it’s a good weight for a semi-auto.
Fitting the ¼ choke and loading up with a selection of 28gram Eley VIP Sporting and NSI Uno competition shells, I’ll hold up my hand to admit the first few stands didn’t go quite as well as expected. Reason being that although the gun balances directly beneath where the barrel and receiver come together, the bulk sits fractionally more towards the rear of the gun and therefore in the trailing hand. This meant that the mediocre start was should we say a failure of communication between me and the Escort, a conversation that suddenly got a whole lot more informative.
Basically the Missione needs driving a little harder than your initial feelings suggest especially on crossing targets. Pushed that little bit more with the leading hand and the clays started to break with regularity, a lesson that was to pay dividends on the skeet layout. Once the physicality of swinging the Missione was determined it became one of those shotguns that it was hard to miss with, whilst comfort wise it was actually hard to detect that the Escort had discharged another round, only the breaking clay confirmation that the gun had done its work.
Just like the Magnum Xtreme, the Missione is extremely comfortable to use whilst the handling and movement is excellent. As regards the effort required to swing the gun, whilst it might seem a little slow to start, the balance and weight distribution ensures the gun remains balanced, the line or arch of the swing constant. And although you have to push that fraction more with the leading hand and arm, the gun remains unhurried. Similarly, like all Escorts, the choke patterns are well defined meaning you tend not to need to go as tight as you initially think, ¼ and ½ in most instances all you’re likely to need especially for clay shooting.
If there’s one thing I’ll guarantee about the new Escort Missione it’s that it attracts more than its fair share of onlookers. To a man or woman, everyone wanted to know what it was, were stunned by the walnut, were even more impressed after they’d shot it themselves and couldn’t credit the asking price. No matter how you view the new Missione it looks the business and once you’ve shot a couple of stands with the gun, you’ll wonder how you managed to miss the early clays, the fault in this instance most definitely mine.
I make no bones about the fact I like Escort semi-autos, for me personally I’ve never shot a bad one and I’ve always shot well with each and every one of them. They’re tremendous value for money, have done anything and everything I’ve every asked of them, have absorbed the recoil of the most insane cartridges, shrugged off horrendous weather and delivered some excellent scores around the layouts.
The beauty of the new Missione is that it’s the entirety above but with some serious panache and elegance thrown into the mix. Hatsan have ensured that no detail has been overlooked, the gun visually outstanding whilst still embodying everything that’s made the Escort range of semis as good and popular as they’ve rightfully become. Likewise, once you looked at and handled the Missione and checked with your dealer that the price tag is actually correct, you’ll wonder why you bothered even considering looking at anything else!