Remington SPR 220
Mark Stone gets his hands on another Remington-badged Baikal shotgun, though this time it’s at a price that’s actually well worth considering
If ever there was a farcical state of affairs it was when Remington tried to pass off their range of budget shotguns as being all-American. Absurd because US law states that if a product is made overseas it must bear the name of the original manufacturer. So no matter how you slice it the legend ‘Baikal’ on the base of the action kinda’ gave the game away.
Likewise, your average UK buyer is more than savvy enough to know how much Baikal’s cost, so an extra £400 on the usual price for nothing more than a name didn’t exactly do a lot for sales. However, in the case of the SPR 220 side-by-side 12-bore, UK importers Edgar Brothers are more than delighted to announce that this time the price is in keeping. As £476 buys you what is actually a more than competent piece of all-round kit.
Belt & braces
If there’s one thing you can’t accuse Remington’s SPR range of shotguns of its flummery. Apart from the small polythene bag that contains the additional pair of short multi-chokes and flat metal key, your only other accessory is a sachet of their gun grease and the cardboard box.
The chopper lump barrels are reasonably well finished although the bead on the tester was somewhat oddly shaped and the 3” chamber joint rather obvious. Finished in plain black, the box lock action’s surface is interrupted only by the embossed SPR220 logo and Remington and Baikal script. Woodwork-wise, the fit, finish and checkering of both butt and forend are no better or worse than might be expected. Whilst the honeycombed rubber recoil pad adds that essential degree of cushioning given the 220’s rather snapping firing characteristics…
It’s definitely worth pointing out that whilst the SPR220 is a double-triggered 12 – bore with extractors, the 210 version offers slightly more. Apart from the common auto safety, the 210 boast a single selective trigger and ejectors. To my way of thinking though, this is all rather silk purses and sow’s ears, the 220’s features and lack of them are more in keeping with what this gun’s all about.
I’ve shot some flat shooting shotguns in my time but the 220 has to be the ultimate. I’ll confess to missing my first four skeet birds over at Coniston SG, even the slightest visibility on a going away target ensuring you’d be underneath it. That said, once you’ve got back into the ‘blot it out’ method of shooting, birds will tumble.
I’ve never shot badly with a Baikal and this Ruski Remington wasn’t about to break that tradition. Equally, when the 220 was in the hands it inspired a feeling that you were going to hit the target irrespective of how difficult. Two further rounds of skeet rendered 20+ scores whilst two rounds of 25-bird sporting resulted in some serious kills plus an ever growing admiration of this budget priced side-by-side irrespective of its rudimentary design and execution.
What soon became apparent was that you needn’t choke particularly tight unless you’re using the 220 on wildfowl then keep it wide. Surprisingly effective for what appear to be nothing more than short parallel section tubes, you can happily blat 3” magnum steel and non-toxic loads through all but the Full.
Similarly with 28½” barrels and a well distributed weight t of 7lb 4oz, the 220 sits comfortably between the hands. The 7-11mm live pigeon style engineer finished concaved rib permits a decent view too. Drop at comb and heel of 1 5/8th and 2 ½ with a length of pull of 14¼”. Plus a reasonably pronounced degree of cast and an average trigger pull of 8½ lbs means you’ve got to both hold onto the 220 emphasising the gun’s slightly abbreviated stock dimensions.
What all this does allow for is snap shooting, this Remington being perfectly suited to unexpected shots and a gun down position. If I had to criticise it would be the wide, American-style beaver tail forend. I’ve never been a fan of these on side-by-sides, far preferring the traditional splinter design. But since the 220 has been built for the US market, it’s something I’d learn to live with if this gun were mine.
Normally about this time I’d be telling you to seek out the Baikal badged equivalent. But since there’s only sixty quid or so difference to my mind it’s hardly worth bothering about since a minute or so haggling will bring the 220’s asking price down somewhat. In the same vein would I have a 200? The answer is an emphatic yes, this bog standard, old fashioned and honest 12-bore making no particular pretences about being something it isn’t.
Although I had little option to use it on clays, something the 220’s extremely capable of taking on, the 220 is the sort of shotgun you’d reach for when walking the boundaries, an evening impromptu duck or goose flighting or to nail down some unsuspecting troublesome corvids. My advice is to go and get a 220 and remind yourself what basic hunting was and is all about.
• Treat it like a Baikal and you won’t go far wrong
• No matter what you do, you’ll never wear this gun out
• If you can’t hit the target with this 12-bore, forget it
|Calibre||12 – bore|
|Action||Box lock break – barrel|
|Chokes||Multi – choke|
All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates