Remington SP10 Magnum shotgun
By: Mark Stone
Mark Stone gets to grips with one of the rarest of all semi-automatics - Remington’s SP10, one of the few 10 bores still in production
When I was a kid the 10 bore was still a relatively common sight, there was no serious wildfowler or foreshore hunter without at least one in their collection.
However, as the years have passed by and 12 bores have got a whole lot better, it’s been in theory to the detriment of the 10. The idea is that with the evolution of the 3½” magnum chambered 12 gauge, the shooter would have a shotgun that literally was capable of turning its muzzle towards any target, no matter how demanding, whilst the synthetic stocks and protective coatings would protect the gun against every hostile environment it was likely to encounter.
And yes, the designers have succeeded; many of the big 12 bores and the development of corresponding 3½” magnum buffered ammunition means that for most shooters they don’t need to contemplate buying a 10 bore, their big 12 more than enough gun. The other 12 bore advantage is weight, at over 11 lbs the SP10 is a bumping weight to carry over extended distances, a durable leather slip or padded sling an absolute necessity unless your shooting within a few yards of your 4x4.
The other problem the 10 bore suffers from is unless you home load, factory ammo is dif? cult to come by and seriously expensive to a degree that there’s only really Remington and their UK importers Edgar Brothers able to supply in any if alarmingly expensive quantity although they were more than kind enough to supply the ammunition for this review. Try this for size, a thousand of the 10 gauge 3½” Remington Nitro Steel cartridges will set you back £1,660 per thousand or a minimum of £1.66p per bang, more if you buy them in small quantities.
Phone a friend
The interesting aspect of the SP10 on test is that it’s currently for sale with my friends at Bond & Bywater awaiting its second owner. Reason being is that the ? rst chap who owned it never actually ? red it, so I was the ? rst to chamber up a round and pull the trigger, an opportunity I gratefully accepted. The fact its now had twenty or so rounds through it also means the gun will now attract a decent discount over new, so if after reading on you feel you must own this Mossy Oak Obsession ? nished Remington, get in touch with Bond & Bywater via their website and save yourself a good few of your hard earned pounds.
Interestingly Remington’s SP10 didn’t start out as one of their own in-house designs. Instead they acquired the rights to Ithaca’s Mag 10, made a few improvements and modi? cations and renamed it the SP10. One of the other main alterations has been that the 5 shot has now been dropped from production, meaning the 3 shot as tested is all that remains… although if you need more than three shots at anything with an SP10 its time to give up.
The four models still in production are the Magnum Satin, the Waterfowl, the Thumbhole and the Magnum Camo as seen here. Irrespective of the type, what you get for your £2,840 is one of the biggest gas powered semi-autos on the market. A 26” barrel with 3½” chamber complete with a 9mm vented rib with a white muzzle bead and bright steel mid bead feeds into a solid steel receiver, muzzle restrictions taken care of by a set of three ? ush-? t Rem Chokes.
Business is taken care of by a good old single claw bolt that, on depression of the extended release that sits just below the ejection port clangs into battery like a huge iron gate. You also have to keep the release depress to load the second and third rounds, the long black shell lifter only hinging when the release is activated.
A slightly oversized black synthetic guard houses what is a remarkably small trigger blade, the size of it looking a little at odds with the rest of the SP10. To the rear of the guard sits the usual cross-bolt safety that with the key provided, be locked into position should you feel it necessary.
Unlike most gas systems the two-piece valve is securely bolted with a large nut to the barrel ring whilst what is normally the moving inner section is, on the SP10, located around the outside of the main valve body. In turn this thick steel ring moves fore and aft to both operate and regulate the gas system along with playing an important part in partially dampening the recoil. The other factor is that the system is remarkably resistant to the light surface corrosion that often occurs within a short period of time when shotguns are being shot around salty environments such as marshes and estuaries, the natural home of the SP10.
Heft, heft and away
Regrettably, with all forms of waterfowl out of season the testing of the SP10 was restricted to clays that simply vaporised along with a few long distance crows and a squirrel at thirty yards. Problem with the squirrel was that after 1¾ oz of 2’s ? red through an X – Full choke had passed around and most de? nitely through the grey rodent, there wasn’t a tremendous amount left to inspect. It did however highlight just how effective a 10 bore is in the hands of an experienced exponent. Likewise the crows, the effect was akin to them ? ying into an invisible sheet of plate glass, the stopping effect being of a very impressive nature. Pleasure aside, the venture did start to rate as one of the most expensive vermin control outings I’d ever undertaken, the whole process requiring one and a half cartons of shells.
Size wise, the SP10 has an overall length of just 47”, balances directly beneath the ejection port and weighs a muscle building 11lbs 4oz. Drops at comb and heel are 1½” and 2½” respectively along with a 14¼” length of pull whilst inkeeping with the rest of the SP10 and almost seemingly designed to stop you discharging those very expensive cartridges, the trigger weight is a creep free 7lbs 3oz. In terms of balance and handling once you’ve made the conscious effort and hefted the SP10 up to your shoulder apart from the fact you’re more than aware of the weight - especially in your leading hand - the gun swings rather nicely in a controlled, unhurried fashion. The slim, well radiused grip adds an unanticipated level of initial malleability into the ? rst second or so of the gun’s initial movement, the trigger hand able to make ? ne adjustments whilst the leading hand hauls and steadies the main body of the Remington.
However, once you’ve chosen your direction of swing that’s it, the SP10 doesn’t dart about to an extent that if your ? rst shot connects and a second target appears you more or less have to start again, if only to allow your arms a second or two to recover - the SP10 not a shotgun you wish to hold mounted for any extended period of time. Likewise, there’s no getting round the fact that even with all the weight, the thick recoil pad and the fact the stock’s well conceived dimensions and angle, you will feel a healthy degree of recoil. Not uncomfortable by any standard and not of the short, sharp shock variety, but its most de? nitely there, your shoulder and upper body undergoing an unstoppable rocking sensation akin to being pushed backwards in an almost slow motion manner, allowing you more than enough time to watch the muzzle ? ip up and then sink slowly back down. Surprisingly it isn’t particularly unpleasant; the gun’s combined gas system and bulk decelerating the effects of the shot, the shooter the last link in the process. Strange thing is, once you’ve become accustomed to the SP10 and its mannerisms, you’ll want to go again and again, ? ring these huge cartridges is almost addictive.
A word of advice and something that all existing SP10 users will tell you, is that at the end of each and every outing you must be meticulous in keeping it clean. Most semis tend only to be stripped and cleaned on an ad hoc basis but due to the slightly different way in which the gas system works residue build up has a negative effect. Apart from that, treat it well and your SP10 will deliver the goods time and time again.
Last in line
It’s probably a safe bet to say that Remington’s SP10 could well be the last in the line. The 5 shot version has already been discontinued, a fate I can see befalling the 3 shot as tested. By comparison to what you might refer to as the equivalent 12 bores, the sheer specialisation of the SP10 means sales are by the very nature of the gun somewhat limited.
In a peculiar way the SP10 denotes the pending 10 bore’s swansong, testament in its own perverse way as to why the popularity of this gauge of shotgun has shrunk and as to why it’s now only sought after by a dwindling number of diehard devotees. Conversely, what the SP10 does do is demonstrate why the 3½” 12 bore will never truly replace it when it comes to delivery of the shot charge, size of charge, quality of the pattern and sheer power, although I dare say comments such as these were levelled at the 10 as they were at the 8, 4, 2 bores and of course the punt guns which slipped quietly away into shooting folklore.
Once you’ve held and shot an SP10 you become subconsciously hooked on both the gun and the gauge. Problem is that unless you load your own or know of a decent supply of cheaper cartridges, feeding the SP10 with ammo is pro rata nearly as expensive as spending £2,840 when you purchased the gun. Equally, you have to put pleasure of ownership near the top of your list of reasons since, unless you’re a 110% dedicated wildfowler, the SP10 is guaranteed to spend nearly all of it’s life in your cabinet so infrequent will be the outings.
But if you can justify the outlay and need to discharge some well de? ned patterns of non-toxic into a passing skein of geese, nothing does it like an SP10, a semi-auto that’s as hardcore as the gauge and as tough and resilient as any true, salt encrusted wildfowler. If the foreshore or marsh is in your blood then Remington’s SP10 will be there as well! GM
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