Pete Moore considers the Hatsan MP-A semi-auto shotgun and wishes he had a time machine
In the good old days of… I’m using that expression far too much lately, guess it must be my age. But it’s an evident truth that some of the equipment coming out today would have gone down a storm years ago. So let’s stick it in reverse and consider Practical Shotgun (PSG)! A discipline once and truthfully described as - the most fun you can have with your clothes on. In a nut shell it consists of steel plate targets and the shooter legging around various courses of fire; woodland, urban and standard exercises, knocking them down as quickly as possible with a repeating shotgun. What are the common denominators here? A high magazine capacity, the ability to reload quickly and a gun that perhaps gave more than a passing nod to its more combat-orientated cousins.
In truth you could do it all with a standard sporting semi or pump, but all that black plastic, pistol grips, big mags etc. was impossible to resist. These days PSG still has a following but not perhaps as much or as fanatical as it was back in the early 1980s when it all started. However, since that time more new guns have come out than ever before including two box mag types and a host of what I would term as purpose-built models. What we have here being a civilian variant of the Hatsan MP-A.
Hatsan needs little introduction as they are Turkish and were I think the first company to produce a well-made and seriously cheap semi-auto. Called the Escort they went down a storm in the UK with all manner of shooters. The chassis is identical to the sporting models with its self-regulating, gas/piston drive system and multi chokes. Differences are obvious so starting from the back let’s count them.
The only thing missing is any way of fitting a sling, which is a definite oversite!
Standard features include a cross bolt safety at the rear of the trigger guard and a bolt release catch integral to the shell lifter; similar to the Remington 1100. The major differences between this gun and the dedicated military/police (MP-A) is the obviously shorter barrel lengths (18 and 20”), the various muzzle attachment (flash hider or door buster) and the lack of sling points. Barrel length is the limiting factor as at 24” it’s really a tad short to make the gun attractive for those looking for a hi cap, general use semi, with the iron sights being very dictatorial and only of use for slug ammo. Plus as they are integral to the rail they cannot be removed…
Quick and simple
Like any good gun the Hatsan is simple to operate! The bolt automatically locks open after the last round has been fired or it’s empty. To load you can drop the first cartridge into the ejection port and press the bolt release catch to chamber it. Conversely you can start with the bolt closed, fill the magazine then cycle the action to get the first one chambered then top up the mag.
In terms of capacity you get a payload of six or seven (+ 1) depending on COL. For example you can get seven 2 ¾” shells in the mag with one up the spout. Quite useful is the magazine cut-off. This as the name suggests interrupts the feed so allowing you to unload a round from the chamber and substitute it with a different type. For example if you are out in the field and see a boar it’s a simple matter to eject the birdshot and drop in a round of slug. In this mode the bolt stays to the rear and has to be manually released by pressing in on the rear/centre of the shell lifter. Likewise the cut-off has to be manually de-selected.
The gun ran reliably over a range of ammo types – bird, light and heavy buck shot and 12-gauge slug. Recoil was acceptable, but with no integral counter measures it was a bit noticeable with the heavier loads. Reloading is fast and easy with nothing to press or push, apart from the bolt release if you run dry. The pistol grip stock layout is a personal favourite as it gives superior control; certainly in fast fire exercises. I am not convinced by the ammo storage in the butt as I found them stiff and awkward to remove.
The red/green, fibre optic insert sights give good contrast, fast acquisition and easy line-up, but for your average PSG course of fire where you will be using bird shot on plates, not a lot of use. Here a basic pin-type is more practical. However, they will come into their own on slug stages; equally you could fit a red dot sight as an alternative. Again good for that sort of work, keeping it in the family I used an AimPoint Micro, which suited the Hatsan very well.
Overall for those wanting a dedicated PSG gun the Hatsan is hard to beat, certainly at the price. Plus the addition of a 26 or 28” sporting barrel would turn it into a useful, Sect 1 field shotgun, again something that would not break the bank!
|Barrel||24” (3” chamber)|
|Capacity||6/7 +1 depending on COL|
|Prices (inc VAT)||£639|
All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates