Hatsan Extreme Max
By: Pete Moore
The Hatsan Escort has been with us for quite some time and it seems as though UK shooters have an insatiable appetite for the budget auto that still manages to sit close to the top of the best seller list year after year.
The range now comprises 10 guns from PSG to a marine version and everything in between! The latest is the Xtrememax 3 ½” chambered synthetic stocked wildfowler, though to pigeon hole this gun would be close to criminal as it has a lot to offer.
BEAUTY IS IN THE EYE….
Semi-auto aesthetics are something of a marmite affair, people tend either to love or loathe them. Though the Xtrememax does do without any camo pattern meaning that those of a more ‘tweedy’ persuasion are slightly less likely to pass out at the sight of it.
There are very few gas guns that anyone in their right mind would describe as beautiful but the Hatsan does a very good job of appearing “purposeful”, with its two tone synthetic furniture breaking up what would otherwise be a solid mass of black. The step rib barrel also gives it a certain appeal and hints at clay breaking pretensions but in the main it looks pretty much part of the crowd! The black anodised receiver is also fitted with grooves for those wishing to take it across the channel for boar hunting duties on the continent.
The Xtrememax is fitted with Hatsan’s SmartMax Piston system which is claimed to be able to effectively cycle all loads from 24 up to the big hitting 66 gram goose double magnums and it certainly managed to achieve this. Always keen to see just how far a gun will go we also tested some 21gram shells and found that it simply refused to cycle Hulls super soft 67mm cased Comp X. Though would perform intermittently with both the Eley and Express super light loads.
A switch to 70mm cased Rio 21’s saw a dramatic improvement in reliability of cycling due in no small part to the longer case length. Existing Hatsan owners will feel completely at home as little has changed in terms of layout except for one major improvement - the FAST loading system. Older versions could be somewhat awkward to load in a hurry. FAST dispenses with having to use two hands; keeping buttons pressed while trying to load a shell at the same time was never ideal and handicapped the gun when compared to later generation autos. Not know as the Xtrememax can be loaded one handed which in a pigeon hide can make the difference between a good day and a red letter day.
The cross bolt safety is conventional while the trigger is as you might expect on a budget semi – a little long on pull and heavy on weight but those who use it week in week out will soon adapt. A magazine cut off is also fitted for those wishing to cross obstacles with an empty chamber without having to unload the entire tube and the button to operate this is found on the forward lower right side of the action.
DOWN THE TUBE….
The 28” barrel on the test gun was nickel-chromium-molybdenum steel proofed for steel shot to 1200 kg/cm². The bore is chromed, all of which is a good idea for a gun that may well have a hard life in difficult conditions without the luxury of regular cleaning. The barrel is topped with a 7mm; cross milled, stepped, raised rib that does a good job of minimising glare and is neatly finished off with a HiViz bead. Choking is provided by five extended chokes which cover every need from skeet to full. Though as with most other manufacturers the use of steel shot in anything more than 1/2 is a big no no according to the manual.
The furniture shows light grey rubber inserts breaking up both the appearance and the feel. Grip is very good, the soft touch synthetic stock always seemed to do an effective job in its own right, but with the additional grips added it is well and truly welded to the hands even in harsh weather. Recoil absorption is aided by a rubber pad while those not happy with the guns off-the-shelf dimensions - length of pull of 14 ½” and drops of 36mm and 58mm can personalise it thanks to the three butt spacers and four shims to adjust drop and cast.
The Xtrememax comes into its own when you get it out on the range, although some might think its 3 ½” chamber might work against it handling well they would be some way off the mark. That extra weight of metal takes it up to just a shade over 7 ½ lbs which makes it quite heavy for an auto. But that works by soaking up recoil and giving it added stability in the shoulder compared to its lighter cousins that might otherwise prove difficult to control over quicker targets.
As a claybuster it performed very well, and dealt with everything from quick crossers to extreme range battues with aplomb. I might even go as far as to say that if you are looking for a budget clay gun then this might be worth a look. It may not have been designed with it in mind but its attributes make a good bet for those who enjoy ’smoking’ on the weekend. It was designed of course for foreshore and field use and here it is at home. As a pigeon gun it is near ideal being fast enough to shoot and critically to load while that synthetic stock and no nonsense engineering means it’s tough and reliable!
For those who like to dabble in a bit of everything this gun makes a lot of sense, and for the money you really cant go wrong. It’s a bit of a cliché for writers to say that this gun deserves a space in their own cabinet but in this case it’s a cliché that rings true. The Hatsan Xtrememax is most definitely one that ticks all the boxes.
|Barrel||28” 3 ½ ” chamber|
|Action||Semi Auto gas driven|
|Stock||Black synthetic with rubber inserts|
|Weight||7lbs 8 oz’s|
|Chokes||Multichokes (5 provided)|
All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates