Hatsan Escort Magnum Xtreme
By: Mark Stone
Soft & Gentle
Well the new Hatsan Escort Magnum Xtreme has certainly taken its time in arriving on these shores, but the wait has been more than worth it! The new Xtreme gas powered semi-auto not only sets new standards but a 12 bore that should become a serious cause for concern for the competition. Why? Because it’s an absolute gem and I’m now going to tell you why.
Box of delights
Available in two distinct guises namely wooden furniture or the synthetic version as tested, the new Xtreme certainly looks different, the bright Technicolor box leaving you in no doubt, proclaiming in vivid tones as to what’s different about the Xtreme compared to what went before. Inside besides the gun of your choice you’ll also find one of the most comprehensive handbooks I’ve yet seen, along with a small black box that contains a crucifix choke key, a full set of flush-fit multi-chokes plus a selection of stock shims and butt spacers that allow you to alter the stock length along with drop and cast.
The next new feature is the fact that the 28” chrome lined, steel proofed barrel now has a vented and stepped 7mm cross-cut rib, the elevation starting atop the 3” chamber and culminating at an almost imperceptible flare to accommodate the chokes along with a bright green high-visibility bead. The black, anodised aluminium Ergal aircraft alloy receiver, complete with integral dovetail, will be familiar to existing Escort owners. The usual magazine cut-off is located on the right of the action just below the ejection port.
The all black checker surfaced trigger blade sits within a black plastic guard with the cross-bolt safety situated to the rear, the only bright work being the boltrelease that is situated within the shell lifter, the two items working as one. The bolt is Hatsan’s familiar one piece, single claw affair that automatically locks in the rear position once the last round has been fired or the unit is drawn back by hand using the extended handle.
Like most shotgun innovations, the Xtreme’s party piece only becomes visible once you remove the forend. Located in the usual place around the magazine tube (that also houses the action slide and spring) and sourcing gas from the two angled ports situated inside the top of the barrel ring, the ‘Smart Valve’ intelligence comes from a circular leaf spring that runs around the lower or rear section of the valve. The amount of gas generated, that varies dependant on load size, determines how much of the valve’s piston is opened and therefore how much compression the leaf spring is subjected to. The more gas means more spring compression which in turn makes the system work the cyclic process in a more aggressive fashion, less gas means more gentle overall internal movement. This means that the valve works out how much gas there is and how much it needs to use to cycle the gun, the end result being no adjustment needed by the shooter and a gun that reduces its own recoil. Sounds a little complicated but take it from me, it works really well.
Made to measure
When it comes to getting synthetic stock dimensions right Hatsan leave the rest standing. Although you can alter it for many the factory setup will be more than adequate, drops at comb and heel of 1 9/16th and 2 7 /16th with a 14 ½” length of pull, measurements that allow for a more raised head stance and inkeeping with the new stepped rib. The amount of cast is neigh on perfect for most shooters whilst the full sized stock and meaty, nicely angled grip make the Xtreme comfortable to mount and shoot from the off.
The forend is slightly longer than normal whilst being a good, rounded handful with finger grooves running along each side. What is obviously different is where the checkering would normally by. Instead of the usual stippling, panels of soft rubber ‘quilting’ are inlaid and offer a safe, secure grip along with an agreeable to the touch texture.
All the hallmarks of a winner
If I had to make a negative comment it would be that the 5lb 7oz trigger pull is a tad on the weighty side although it must be said that its more than predictable, pleasantly crisp whilst those of us who wear gloves will find it favours the leather clad finger especially well. Weighing 7lbs 8oz and balancing beneath the chamber, the Xtreme displays neutral characteristics over the entire overall factory set length of 48” with the bulk settling in the leading hand. A pre-shoot session with the Arrow Laser Shot confirming the Xtreme’s flat attitude, the slightly different raised head position and the gun’s smoothness of swing. Likewise, the Xtreme looked exactly where I did and felt good in between the hands, the gun coming perfectly to the shoulder time after time. In other words, this new Escort had all the hallmarks of a winner before I’d chambered the first load, the other task being a quick squirt of Ballistol around the bolt to add an initial splash of lubrication.
With a hundred sporting as the initial outing, plus pockets full of 28g Express Supremes and World Cups and a ¼ choke installed, it was time for the Xtreme to prove itself. And prove its efficiency and capabilities it certainly did, the new ‘Fast’ loading system getting the rounds into the gun in double quick time. All you need to do is hold the gun on its side and drop the first round into the ejection port, the act of pushing the second round against the shell lifter/bolt release combo instantly loosing the bolt that in turn slams into battery, chambering the first shell with outstanding enthusiasm.
As the first pair of birds shattered, the Xtreme highlighted just how far this new Escort has developed; four more pairs and the difference was remarkable. The speed the action cycles is outstanding, whilst the gun’s ability to neigh on eliminate recoil results in you actually wondering if the chambered cartridge has actually been discharged.
Ninety rounds later and the Xtreme had seriously impressed both me and those who asked if they could try the gun for themselves, each and every one of them walking away commenting that they couldn’t believe just how soft shooting the gun actually was, the sensation more akin to shooting 24 or even 21 gram loads. Similarly, feeling balanced just holding it the Xtreme’s initial physical messages became even more pronounced whilst shooting, the gun drifting effortlessly between targets, the handling allowing the muzzle to seemingly stir the air as it was directed in the desired direction.
In the field
The test of any semi-auto such as the Xtreme is its ability on live quarry. Heading down to my favourite squirrel and crow area, and jacking the loads through 36 grams all the way up to 50 grams, it was only these big 3” magnums that started to make their presence felt and even then it was nowhere near what I’ve come to expect. And yes, just like it says on the box, the Xtreme will happily cycle 24 grams the physical effect of firing the gun none existent. The other physical aspect that’s also well worth mentioning is the soft rubber quilted inserts. These slightly sticky to the touch panels gently lock the gun into the hands gloved or otherwise, even a rainy evening outing confirming that when you pick up the Xtreme, that’s where it stays.
All in all the new Escort Xtreme is what’s best described as one hell of a gun. To say Hatsan have got it right is an understatement, the gun’s nicely made, the fit and finish certainly isn’t bad and it’ll stand up to endless abuse. If you don’t believe me then let me tell you about an earlier Escort Magnum my friends at Bond & Bywater own. A Section 1 ten shot, apart from the occasional oiling of the receiver when it gets dry, the gun has never been cleaned or stripped in over four and a half thousand rounds and it still shoots like a champion. These semi-autos don’t speak for themselves, they shout!
It’s no joke
Time was when Hatsan’s range of Escort semi-autos were looked down upon to a degree they tended be regarded as something of a joke. Then as now both the existing Escorts and the new Xtreme are to all intents and purposes a copy of a well known Italian make and it used to be a case of ‘is that the best you can afford’. Take my word that whichever Escort you buy, times have changed… The Xtreme is tangible proof that you don’t need to spend four figure sums to get yourself a modern, up to date semiauto stacked with features.
My predictions over time have been proven correct, Turkish shotguns have finally become genuinely appreciated, Hatsan’s range of Escorts more or less being at the forefront as to the reasons why. Whilst there are numerous current owners who are now true converts, I will now once again predict that at £630 or thereabouts, the Xtreme will add significantly to the growing band of Escort shooters. And bear this in mind, if the Xtreme calls enough after four or so year’s hard use then you’ll have had some seriously cheap shooting with a shotgun that withstood everything you threw at it. Add into the equation that you’ll still get a trade-in bid against a new Xtreme and Escort ownership becomes an even more attractive proposition.
There’s a phrase that describes any good deal as ‘it’s a no brainer’. These four little words could well have been coined especially to describe Hatsan’s new Escort Magnum Xtreme, a gas-powered semi-auto that really does deliver in every way whilst being serious soft on your shoulder and your wallet. GM
|Name||Hatsan Escort Magnum Xtreme|
|Action Gas powered semi||auto|
|Calibre 12||bore / 3” Chamber|
|Barrel 28||inch multi – choke|
All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates