- 4 Comments
- Last updated: 14/12/2016
The F3 is a most interesting and unusual gun, the progress of which I have watched with some interest since its appearance some half a dozen years back. I was kindly invited by Blaser Jagdwaffen to the original launch at the Dornsberg shooting ground by CEO Bernhard Knobel and, much to my own surprise at the time, was credited with some small part in the stock design. Bernhard had read my book on gunfitting (Gunfitting: The Quest for Perfection) and noted, most generously, in his address speech, that he had applied the principles laid out in it to the new Blaser shotgun!
The marque is now imported into the UK by Open Seasons and still made in Southern Germany at the Isny Allgau plant. Blaser are perhaps best known for their popular straight-pull rifles which are increasingly popular with UK stalkers as well as continental hunters. In fact, they make a very wide range of shotguns and rifled weapons including double and single break-action rifles and combination guns (for which, Germany and Austria have always been famous). Blaser are part of a group that now includes SIG (SAN), Sauer, and Mauser, amongst other famous firms.
Back to the business in hand - our F3 Sporter ‘Professional,’ has a plain black action (although grey plasma nitriding is another option). I like the simple elegance of its look – just my sort of thing. The action is of very low profile too, which adds to the svelte lines. The metal work is impeccably presented, and the stock wood is well figured and nicely finished. The colour-coded extended chokes provide a degree of contrast to the barrels and are functional as well. Attention to line and detail means that is not just functionally teutonic piece of kit, but elegant as well. An F3, it might be added, has been used by John Bidwell to win no less than 5 FITASC sporting world championships.
The gun has some really intriguing features that set it apart from the pack. Apart from the very low action, the mechanics are most interesting. It is a bifurcated lump design, hinging on the usual stud pins like a Beretta, Rizzini or Perazzi (who all got the idea from Woodward, of course), but, there are some very unusual features – especially in its ‘boiler room’. The action lock time is exceptionally quick thanks to a radical, in-line, hammers. The single trigger is of new design with four-pulls (although only two are perceptible when you fire the gun). It is, essentially, a mechanical mechanism - no need for recoil to cock the works - but a horizontal inertia block and a pendulum are part of it. The barrel selector, a small catch that flaps to right or left, is forward of the trigger blade inside the bow of the guard (I still prefer the Beretta or Browning arrangement, frankly).
The engineering of the inline hammer and firing pin system is worth a few more words. Perfected by Russian designer, Sergie Popikov (a very amiable and talented guy who once worked for Baikel in Poland), it makes most efficient use of kinetic energy and offers, the makers claim, significant advantage over ordinary designs. The gun is innovative on the safety front too with twin safety mechanisms that include an intercepting sear as well as the usual trigger block.
As You Like It
The F3 is a veritable Meccano kit of a gun, as just about everything is modular design and interchangeable (though the trigger group is fixed), including the sighting rib. And, not only does the gun have a most unusual action as discussed, the ejection system is most singular. Notably, the ejector springs are only put under pressure and cocked once the gun is fired and the gun opened, so the F3 closes with minimum effort. It is all very neatly done and admirable for its originality - this is not just another ‘euro-gun’.
You can order or build an F3 to your liking starting with 28, 30 and 32” barrels. They all, most unusually, weigh the same (the idea being that you can alter barrel length without changing balance). There are various stock options, though the test gun came with an almost Etchen style tight pistol grip and pleasant and practical rounded forend. The sporting butt has a subtle palm swell too. Trap guns have monte-carlo stocks and beaver-tail fore-ends. All competition models also include a ‘balancer’ mechanism (cylindrical weights threaded on an extension of the stock bolt – their position is adjustable so they can be used to alter the point of balance to individual preference).
The monobloc barrels are back-bored, forcing cones are long, as are the chokes (tubes supplied included cylinder, skeet, modified, improved modified and full). The test F3 is 3” (76mm) magnum proofed and suitable for use with the dreaded steel shot (though one hopes, perhaps vainly, that it will not be inflicted on us generally in the near future). Barrel tubes are lined with hard chrome and bored at 18.65mm (.735”) – which is about my ideal dimension. The bases for the interchangeable rib are laser welded to the top barrel. This caused some rivelling problems in early guns, but this has now been overcome. The barrel finish is not conventional blacking but plasma nitrating - like the action - which is longer lasting.
This gun gives a very good impression overall – in the way it looks, in the way it is put together, and in the way it handles. I noted of an early model: “it reminds me of the Rottweil Paragon in some respects”. That remains true, but the test gun has evolved well beyond that, and, consequently, become a much greater success. The F3 is not only radical. It is innovative and increasingly well sorted as discussed. There were some niggling problems with early guns – for example in the way the barrels were put together as already alluded to – but these seem to have been dealt with now.
This Blaser shot well, better than some earlier F3s that I have tried. So, again, there is a notable improvement. It felt good in the hands and did the biz very neatly on the skeet range where I put it through its paces. As Biddy notes, it has ‘shootability.’ Mashing everything mundane, I got increasingly confident with it, and found that it was shooting to where I was looking – one of the great qualities I look for in a gun (and again something Biddy has noted). Felt recoil was reasonable. Trigger pulls fine. I still think there may be as little work do on the barrel weight and stock shapes yet, but this gun is now a real contender. It is amazing that Blaser have brought an entirely new shotgun to the market and developed it into a championship winning piece of kit so quickly. All their hard work has paid off.