Michael Yardley tests the Japanese made Miroku MK70, and finds a first class all-rounder
The Japanese firm of BC Miroku are well known in the UK for their clay and game guns, they also make a lot of guns in the Browning range (such as the 525). Many have begun their serious shooting careers with a Miroku, I certainly did (see below).
The MK 70 gun examined here is ostensibly a game gun, but might also be used for sporting clays or skeet. It weighs in at about 7 pounds. A useful weight - not too light or heavy - which means it could be put to just about any shooting use. This gun is made even more versatile by its multi-choked 30" barrels (there is a 28" option, not to mention the similar, but fixed-choke, MK 60 also available in 28 and 30" guises).
Miroku guns are renowned for their consistent quality and value. They are not 'second-class' Brownings (though they began as flagrant copies - copies so good that Browning came to an arrangement with Miroku to make guns for them a generation ago). Mirokus have their own character and following. The MK38 32" for example is one of the best competition guns on the market regardless of cost and has been chosen by many top competitors.
I began my serious shooting life with a 28" double trigger Miroku over and under - it cost me a Victorian and Edwardian stamp collection, now worth tens of thousands, but it also introduced me to a sport that has been my life long passion. I also bought Miroku trap and skeet guns soon after. My first go at a DTL was with a Miroku - I scored 16 out of 25 at the Detling gun club at the age of fifteen.
The test gun looks smart with its neatly engraved silver action, although the engraving is a little thinner than my preference - and I am not quite sure about the US style game scenes with pointers. The details of finish are excellent, though. Good wood to metal fit, neat machining, solid build quality - just my sort of shooting iron.
Bringing the gun to the shoulder does not dispel the positive first impressions. The balance is a little front heavy, but the 6mm rib is well finished and presents a good picture to the eye. The gun feels good in the hands. The stock shapes are excellent with a first class pistol grip and a classic schnabel forend. This gun may not be expensive, but it is very well designed. Moreover, it is an evolved design where nearly all the details are right.
O.K., this is a good, well made gun, and it is offered at a reasonable price, but how does it compare with the opposition? I would say that the MK70, frankly, would stand in any company with regard to both its mechanical specification and its stocking. The engraving lets it down marginally on the aesthetic front - my preference would have been for a plain black action or a bit of scroll, but the market may not share that opinion.
The MK70 cuts the mustard in all departments, though. There are quite a few guns in this price bracket today, some of them strike me as rather poor value for money when compared to such a solid, well finished, and well proven product like this. Let's get the magnifying glass out and focus on some its components in more detail.
The barrels bear Belgian proof marks for 2 3/4" (70mm) and 3" (76mm) shells. Forcing cones are short as Browning and Miroku have always preferred. The bores are quite tight too at 18.4mm top and bottom. If I was making guns, 18.6 would be my standard size because I find the wider bored guns seem to kick less. The interchangeable chokes are of the older, shorter style and if I bought the gun I would replace them with extended chokes with knurled extensions for convenience - they are so much easier when it comes to routine cleaning.
The barrels on the test gun are built on the monobloc system - as are all modern Miroku and Japanese made Brownings - but the jointing is invisible. This is most impressive. They are also quite light for length - a useful quality in a game gun or hybrid game-clay gun. They are equipped with solid side ribs. The sighting rib is ventilated. At the risk of sounding like a cracked record, let me note once again my preference for a solid rib on a game gun. Solid ribs just do not get as dented as easily in the field - this is especially true of narrow ribs. You can just about guarantee a 6mm rib will get dented eventually (although this one, notably, has bridges that are quite closely spaced).
Workmanship on the barrels is generally good. Internal and external presentation is impressive as one expects from Miroku. My only criticism barrel-wise, and it is a rare one for this brand, concerns the cutting of the recesses for the cartridge rims. It is not quite up to the usual standard, with evidence of some tool 'chatter' at the chamber mouths. Otherwise the barrels are very well put together. They are well polished and deeply blacked.
The action of MK70 is the usual John Moses inspired Japanese version of the Superposed. The Miroku is a modification of the B25 without the attached forend of the latter gun and there are certain subtle mechanical differences too (the trigger for example has changed significantly over the years). Like the B25, there is a full width hinge pin and a wide, flat, bolt that comes out at the bottom of the breech face to mate with the equally wide slot bite beneath the bottom chamber mouth. Coil springs are employed to power the tumblers (early Mirokus, like early Beretta, used leaf springs).
The well shaped, plain steel trigger is inertia operated. One of the great strengths of the Miroku design is this mechanism's reliability - one of the best in the business. I am also very fond of the Miroku Browning style combined safety and barrel selector - one of the most practical to use. [That said, I still prefer double triggers on a game gun for instant, fumble-free, choke selection - not that double triggers are available on many mass made over & unders these days.]
The stock design on this gun is first class. The grip and comb shape are near ideal. It has taken Italian makers decades to move towards the sort of excellent shapes that Miroku have been making for years. The grip is excellent, offering plenty of purchase enhanced by quite coarse but well executed chequering. The great thing about it is that is locates the hand comfortably and positively. The depth of the grip is fairly even and there is no tendency for the hand to move forward in recoil. The forend is neither slim nor thick. Of its type, it is classic.
The stock is 14 3/4" long - ideal as a standard measurement - with a smidgen of right-handed cast (Miroku, like Browning, rarely put much cast on their guns). The drop measurements are 1 7/16" and 2 3/16". All this is very mainstream and sensible. The stock has a concave butt plate - which I prefer to a flat design - and there is a quite prominent toe which may be a little sharp for some users; any ladies buying an MK 70 would be well advised to round it off.
The MK 70 shot well with quarter and full choke fitted. The latter constriction was a bit more than required, but I forgot to bring the other chokes to Braintree for the testing session!
You can rely on Miroku guns to shoot consistently and to keep on doing so for years to come. Felt recoil was a bit higher than average (and might have been improved with wider bores in my opinion). Muzzle control, however, was very good thanks to the excellent grip shapes. By any standard, this is an excellent gun offering especially good value for money and the prospect of many years of reliable service. I look at these Mirokus and compare them to some other guns which offer higher margins but which may not, in fact, offer any real-world advantage. You would not be disappointed if you bought one. It is the ideal gun for the person who does a bit (or, indeed, a lot) of game and pigeon shooting, but also enjoys a day or two at clays. This is a tough, well-made, gun. You could use it for just about anything.
My thanks to Andy Norris of BWM Ltd for his help with this test, and to Lyalvale (Express) and Braintree Shooting Ground.
|Barrels||30" on test (28" is also an option)|
|Action type||B25 derivative|
|Weight||7 pounds approx.|
|RRP||just under £1,000|
All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates