Hatsan semi-auto practical shotgun
Pete Moore revisits Hatsan’s MP-A semiauto shotgun, which offers the practical-type shooter a true out of the box option
It’s an evident truth that some of the equipment coming out today would have gone down a storm years ago. So let’s consider Practical Shotgun (PSG)! A discipline once and truthfully described as - the most fun you can have with your clothes on – genius! True PSG has been going since its inception in 1981 but has splintered into a number of areas from the NRA’s Target Shotgun to three-gun matches, where the smooth bore is used alongside other gun types and calibres to create a challenging and exciting multiple discipline event. Targets are primarily steel plates but with Section 1 ammo (slug) on appropriate ranges paper, scoring targets are also used. These days and over the last three decades, the weapon of choice has been a semi-automatic and though pumps were popular in the old days, they are no longer main stream!
With this in mind a purpose-built practical gun requires a number of special features not found on its more sporting relations. What are the common denominators here? A high magazine capacity, the ability to reload quickly and operate controls efficiently, with a build that promotes both ease of handling and operation, as on some stages you can be chewing through a lot of ammo quickly! Though some might disagree, the more combat-orientated designs are what I always favoured; coming from the box with hi-cap magazines, extended controls and pistol grip butts etc.
In truth you could do it all with a standard sporting semi and many do as a Section 2 (2+1) capacity is normally a lot easier to obtain and can be used for clays and game too. But all that black plastic, tactical furniture, big mags etc. is seductive. 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 box mag types and a host of what I would term as purposebuilt models.
Hatsan needs little introduction, as they are Turkish shotgun manufacturer and were I think the first company to produce a well-made and seriously cheap semi-auto. Called the Escort and later Escort Magnum with a 3” chambering, they went down a storm in the UK with all manner of shooters! Their practical gun, the MP-A, is based on their military and police range, and uses an identical chassis to the sporting models with its self-regulating, gas/piston drive system and multi chokes on the Magnum action. The major difference for the UK market was the mandatory, 24” (shortest) barrel length allowed by British law that is pushed up to 24.75” including the multi choke.
BUILT TO SHOOT
So here’s the spec: The black synthetic butt shows a rubber-covered pistol grip layout and a cut-out for two spare (just in case) shells rear right, plus a decent recoil pad. The receiver has a full-length Picatinny rail with integral ghost ring sight, along with an extended cocking handle and magazine cut-off switch. The black synthetic forend is longer than normal, with a pleasing belly to it that offers a fuller hold and an integral Picatinny rail at 6 o’clock for lights and lasers etc. Unusually, the magazine tube is onepiece and offers a capacity of approximately 6-7+1 (given shell length) a hollow collar screws over this to retain the barrel/forend. The 24” barrel offers a 3” (magnum) chamber, chrome-plated bore, ramped/ protected front sight with red fibre optic insert and a set of long, finger tightened multi chokes. You might think why bother for PSG; but and given the ammo you are using, they can help with longer shots as to keeping the pattern tight and with enough energy to knock a steel plate over! The only thing missing is any way of fitting a sling, which is a definite oversight for a PSG gun!
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. The 24” tube and iron sights limits its use to PSG-type shooting only. However, longer, sporting barrels are available and the rear Picatinny rail and sight assembly can be removed. So the addition of say a 28”, vent rib, multi choke barrel would make the MP-A into a hi-capacity field gun, which are also popular with hunters!
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, I had a surprise. As I said, the payload is 6/7+1 depending on cartridge length. For example you can get seven 2 ¾” shells in the mag, with one up the spout. However, after dropping one in the chamber and pushing the first two up the mag tube I could not get the third one in, much to my surprise! Taking off the forend showed the magazine tube had been crimped so restricting this gun to a 2+1 and despite all its tacticool looks it was a Section 2 shotgun. A call to the importers informed me that both Section 1 and 2 guns are available.
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 and lengths – bird, light and heavy buck shot and 12-gauge slug. In terms of weight I found that 28-grams loads were entry level, I tried some 24 and 26-grams cartridges and they did not fully cycle the action. Then again that’s not the sort of ammo this gun is about! Recoil was better than expected, even with the snottier loads, though 12-gauge slug was as ever barky. 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, something like AimPoint’s Micro would suit the MP-A very well.
I think Hatsan missed a trick on the controls though! The extended cocking handle is excellent as most sporting semis usually show a small hook, but that big, straight design is easy to get on to and operate. The Remy 1100-style bolt release is good too, but the cross-bolt safety is way too small and could do with having ‘big head’ buttons on it for easier operation. After all, in a fire & movement discipline such as this, you will be moving between targets with a loaded and ready gun, so fast and efficient safety catch operation is essential!
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||7-8 +1 depending on COL|
|Prices||(Inc VAT) £569 (either version)|
|Contact||Edgar Brothers Ltd, 01625 613177|
All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates