Winchester Select Light 12 bore
By: Michael Yardley
The Winchester Select Light 12 bore, proves worthy of the name as Mike Yardley discovers
Winchester is part of the Browning empire these days and this month’s test gun is a Winchester Select Light 12 bore. It is an alloy actioned gun and weighs in at about 6lbs with 26” barrels – not at all heavy for an over and under. There are quite a range of Select models now – both with alloy and steel actions – they have evolved from what was the Supreme range which appeared officially about a decade back.
Both Supreme and Select were based on a new design of over and under, not a re-jig or makeover of an existing one. This is not an easy thing for any manufacturer to do. I have to say in all honesty that I was not especially fond of the Supreme initially, I thought the mechanical design good, especially the Beretta-like action with stud pins and conical locking bolts, but the stock dimensions and specifications left a little to be desired. The Select, a significantly better gun, has further developed over the last couple of years both aesthetically and in the general handling department, with improved styling and lighter barrels.
It is also good news that shotguns continue to be made in Belgium where so many great guns have come from. To be precise, most of the Select is made in Belgium. Some parts have been sourced elsewhere too (for example the stock come from Portugal where final assembly may also take place). The gun is proof tested in Belgium (for 76mm/3” cartridges) with Fleurs de Lys marks (Belgium is a member of CIP, so their marks are recognised here as well).
The Select range includes a lot of guns now with both alloy and steel auctions as noted. The line now includes the Select Light Gold available with 26 or 28” tubes and an aluminium action body, the Select English Field (26, 28, or 30), the Select Energy Trap adjustable (30, or 32”), the Select Energy Sporting adjustable (28 or 30”), the Select Sporting 2 Topcote (28 or 30”), the Select Sporting 2 (28 or 30”) and, last but not least, our test gun - the Select Light with 26” or 28” barrels (the 26” version being tested here).
The action looks very clean with woodcock on one side and pheasants on the other. The wood had a bit of figure and was finished quite light – but, it was of good quality and colour. The fit and finish of metal parts and the blacking were well up to standard. It’s a modern gun, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. ‘Dry’, it handled well although usually, my preference is for a bit more weight between the hands. Sometimes barrel heavy guns seem to work. This is one of them.
Bringing the Select up to face and shoulder the gun feels comfortable with pretty good comb and grip shapes – notably improved again. There is quite a lot of weight to the front as you would expect in an alloy actioned design – but the gun, though light for a 12, feels surprisingly solid. The stock has a quite a lot of drop, little cast and measures 14 ¾” for length with a plain black plastic butt plate. It is traditionally shaped with a full pistol grip and a Schnabel forend of classic Browning style. All things considered it was pretty good.
The barrels, chromed internally, are monobloc and well put together generally as well. Joins between tubes and monobloc are fine. Internal presentation is good with competent striking up externally. They are also back-bored at 18.7mm – which always gets a thumb’s up from me. The barrels are equipped with narrow 6mm ventilated sighting rib and Invector Plus steel shot friendly long chokes (five of which are supplied, improved cylinder, quarter, half, three-quarter and full. I wish more manufacturers would make their 12s with wider bores, it really does seem to reduce felt recoil (especially important in a lightweight design).
The action is trunnion hinged with studs pins near the knuckle as is so common now. There is a steel reinforcing strip running down the midline of the action face (which is usually seen on alloy actions for added strength). All the rest is familiar. The Select has a short top lever, a safety cum barrel selector on the top strap and a non-adjustable silver finished trigger with a sensible blade shape. The trigger pulls were adequate and everything worked as it should.
I did not much like the looks of the old Supreme when I first tested it, but it had two valuable qualities nevertheless – low perceived recoil and excellent pattern quality. This latest Select is a light-weight model, so the low recoil is not so apparent, but the thump is relatively light for a 6lb gun. The patterns again were good. I liked the way the gun handled and it is not unreasonably priced.
My thanks to Lyalvale (Express) for the HV 24 cartridges used in this test and to Southern Counties Shooting Ground and the Sportsman Gun Centre Dorset
|Model||Winchester Select Lighweight|
|Action type||Bifurcated lump over and under|
|Barrel length||26” on test (28” optional)|
|Multi-choke||Invector Plus supplied – Improve, ¼, ½, ¾ and full|
|Contact||BWM Arms Ltd tel. 01235 514550 http://www.browningint.com|
All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates