Blaser F16 Sporting
Bruce Potts looks at a highly innovative over-and-under, the Blaser F16…
Blaser are known for their innovative designs and highend quality rifle systems that are more on my radar but a new Blaser F16 shotgun landed on my door that really intrigued me. Launched earlier in the year at the British Shooting Show, this new Blaser was dubbed the ‘affordable Blaser’, but with all the features, not just a cut-price wonder. What Blaser have done, as many companies have, is to limit the range of F16 models available to allow for cheaper manufacture.
There are two models, ‘Game’ with a silver logo inset and ‘Sporting’ with a red logo distinguishing it. Mechanically 12 gauge only is offered, although a 20 gauge would be lovely and there is no auto safe facility at present. You only have the option of multi choke and no fixed choke and standard wood grade is 2.
Into the action
Blaser have a knack of making a new quirky design very stylish with little outward frills, rather its sleek lines camouflaging all the mastery inside. The action has a very slim, low-profiled look, becoming popular these days, that give the F16 a very aerodynamic appearance. It is narrow and its half-round scalloped action top flows into the forend and stock to provide a visual unity. You also have a reduced barrel opening due to the shallow depth of the action, which in turn contributes to the overall look but more importantly allows for speedier and easier reloading.
The action is made from steel and grey hardened coated for a long-lasting, durable use with a tried and tested twin hammer system cocked by opening the barrels. Lock-up is maintained by bifurcated bolts locking into the barrel’s Monobloc. Ejectors only cock at their full extent once the F16 has been fired, ensuring best reliability and strong ejection of the cases when the action is opened.
As stated, the safety is nonauto and very smooth to operate, none of the notchy movement like on other shotguns, so it’s very good. It also blocks the trigger to stop sear engagement and a secondary function is to avoid accidental let off when, if the F16 is dropped, it locks the hammers; reassuring and well thought out.
One feature I really like, and is a duplicate of the F3 Blaser shotgun, is the barrel selector. It is a small black button tucked away in front of the trigger blade but very easy to operate. The trigger is very un-shotgun like, more like a stalking rifle with 3.75lbs crisp let off weights to each, with a non-adjustable Game model and the Sporter having adjustment for trigger blade position to alter the length of pull.
Grade 2 is the standard, and though rather plain in colour and overall figuring, is fine for this price range, although upgrades are available and would be a preferred option. The forend is very well-shaped with a nice rounded form and well-executed chequering. It has a great locking catch system that is sited in the front lip of the forend, so there is no visible catch that sits where the supporting palm rests. It makes for a neat, fast, secure and far cleaner and better-looking forend.
The butt stock is large with a long, raked pistol grip and chequering with a very good tactile palm swell. There is a 1.5-2-inch drop at the heel and length of pull of 14.75-inches with a slight right-hand cast.
The butt stock has an internal balancer system, which is a threaded rod inside the stock that can accommodate up to three weights and can be set and locked in varying combinations and positions to alter the weight and balance of the stock. This, in conjunction with the barrel weights, allows a very individual and customised F16 to your needs, not Joe Blogs.
12-gauge only and 3-inch chambered, the barrels have an 18.6mm bore diameter, so not over bored and thus more fibre wad friendly. This Sporting model had five chokes and is magnum steel proofed but up to ½ choke unlimited steel shot size but with ¾ or above then restricted to No 4 pellet size. You have a choice of 30- or 32- inch; I had the 32-inch model.
The forcing cone is long to avoid increased recoil and the barrel material is cold forged and chrome plated for longevity and uniformity, which contributes to impressive shot patterns.
The barrel balancer system is interesting, allowing the addition or removal of weights to the barrel mid section under the forend. This allows the weight and thus overall balance of the F16 to be fine-tuned to the individual shooter or style or type of game encountered. They are not included and are extra. Each weight is 42.5g or 1½oz, so a maximum of four fitted allows an addition of 170-grams.
The tapered rib from 9mm to 7mm is for better, all-round vision, especially on an over and under gun, so you can pick up the next target quickly.
In the field
The F16’s sleek, low-profile design is much more than good looking, it achieves a faster swing and continued lead from its lower centre of gravity to weight ratio. The Sporting 7lbs 8oz weight is reassuring and not cumbersome, being steady in the shoulder to deaden the 12g recoil, yet lively enough to swing on target and follow through correctly.
This is how the cartridges performed for testing: The Eley Superb load is really designed for the competition shooter to maintain a very dense even spread to the shot but still retain effective clay breaking abilities at long range. It is equally good for pigeons. This No 7.5 shot 28-gram load has a plastic wad and maintains a good degree of pellet protection and tight patterns. At 30-yards with the ¼ choke fitted, (I know it’s a bit open but I wanted to see good dispersion) we had 285 pellets hit the 44-inch board, with 205 in the outer region and 80 No 7.5 shot within the 15-inch centre. The Blaser F16 threw superb, even patterns from its barrels with these Superbs.
The Eley Pigeon utilises a payload of 30-grams of No 6 shot, with a 2¾-inch case and plastic wad. It uses the CSB clean powder for good ballistics and extended kills, helped by the six-star crimp closure. The Blaser F16 with the ¼ choke gave a wide spread of shot, with a total of 244 pellet strikes and 72 within the inner 15-inches, a few holes but still good. I then tried the same with a ¾ choke fitted at 30-yards and now, as expected, I had a higher 270 pellet count, denser patterns, with good, even spread and 85 pellets within the inner circle. Great load this one.
The Lyalvale Express Supreme Game is a 30-gram load of No.5 shot, so less pellets overall than the Eley Superbs but hit hard with the increased shot size. However, at 30-yards and ¼ choke for flushing pheasants and rabbits, it gave a 161 total pellet count with only 28 pellets within the central 15-inches and quite sparse and 133 around the periphery.
Nicely spread from the F16 barrels but you would be better off with a smaller shot size for a better coverage for pigeon.
Another triumph from Blaser, offering a more affordable shotgun without any short cuts that performs like a thoroughbred. At £2738, it’s not really an entry level gun but a good way to get a Blaser brand. The F16 not only looks very modern, sharp and streamlined, it also performs and handles extremely well. A little heavy maybe for some but its balance and swing negates the weight and reduces felt recoil significantly. Patterns were very good and even with a variety of loads and case ejection was positively exuberant.
I can see this model becoming very popular and probably with more options too.
|Model||Blaser F16 Sporting|
|Barrels||30- or 32-inches (on test)|
|Overall length||49.5-inches with 32-inch barrels|
|Chokes||Five chokes included|
|Stock||Walnut grade 2|
|Sights||Red bead fibre|
|Distributor||Blaser Sporting Ltd www.blaser-sporting.com|
All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates