F16 Sporting Shotgun
- 11 Comments
- Last updated: 21/03/2022
Blaser has been manufacturing shotguns for a while now and it has been a few years since I last used one. So, with that in mind, I thought it was about time I took a closer look at their F16.
For those of us who require a shotgun that can be carried around in the field all day, the F16 Game is the obvious choice. As standard, it comes with a bare steel receiver in grey, silver F16 logo, nickel silver front bead and grade 3 walnut wood, which can be upgraded to grade 4. Just like the F16 Sporting (on test), if you want more, then you can move up to the Grand Luxe, which shows significant engraving on the receiver and selected grade 6 wood that can be upgraded to grade 8. However, the most opulent choice is the Heritage. Here, the engraving extends past the receiver and onto some long side plates, plus the furniture is selected grade 8 walnut, of course.
If you have a go with the Blaser F16 configurator online, there are lots of options available. As well as the standard Game and Sporting stock layouts, you can also opt for an adjustable comb on either one. There is even a dedicated Monte Carlo stock design for women called ‘Intuition’ and it shows a higher comb, reduced pitch angle, extra soft recoil pad, reduced stock length and an ergonomically optimized pistol grip – nice!
Anyway, time to have a closer look at the Sporting version on test.
So, at the heart of the shotgun is the same bare steel receiver as the Game version, with the only visible difference being the red F16 logo. The low profile design keeps the centre of gravity low, which not only benefits recoil characteristics but also positively impacts the way the shotgun handles. The application as well as the quality of the grey nitride finish covering the action is superb and I would expect nothing less from this German brand. I have been let down by finishes on some guns, so I don’t take a quality finish for granted!
The ‘ejection ball system’ensures that the ejectors cock when the gun has been fired and is then opened, ensuring that the system maintains its strength over time. As they are not cocked on closing, the amount of effort required to close the gun is reduced and the idea is that the whole process is smoother and more natural. In use, I found the resistance remained consistent when opening and closing the gun and that the ejectors were enthusiastic when it came to flinging out the empties. Also, any unfired cartridges were well presented for retrieval, even while wearing gloves.
With the gun open, the action face shows a removable plate that is secured via two Torx screws, which allows easy access to the firing pins for servicing.
The trigger sits in a generously sized guard and is pitched as one of the F16’s primary strengths - it doesn’t disappoint. The system is mechanical rather than inertia, which means it operates independent of recoil and is therefore utterly dependable. The trigger breaks at around 3.5 lbs (1,650-grams) and resets nicely for the second shot. The blade itself is fitted to a short section of dovetail, meaning that it can be moved forwards or backwards to help optimise the position of the fingertip in relation to the blade. Just loosen a small Allen screw, make your adjustments and tighten it back up – it’s all in the details!
The barrel selector is positioned just in front of the trigger blade and is easy to use. Simply push the side of the lever marked with ‘U’ to ensure that the bottom barrel fires first or ‘O’ for the top barrel.
Sitting on the top strap, behind the well-presented top lever, is the manual safety catch. It shows a grooved surface for grip and markings underneath that display the shotgun’s status. Forward for FIRE and Rear for SAFE.
The F16 Sporting comes in 12-gauge only, is chambered for 3” (76mm) cartridges and is available with either 32 or 30” (on test) barrels. As well as being manufactured from high-quality, heat-treated steel, these are also cold-forged and chrome-plated, making them highly durable and resistant to corrosion. The quality barrels show a solid mid-rib and a tapered, ventilated toprib that goes from 9 to 7.5mm in width. This then terminates with an illuminated red bead, which is ideal for clay shooting.
The shotgun comes with five flush-fitting chokes that are proofed up to half for steel. However, if you fancy some extended types, then you can opt for a set of Briley Spectrum chokes that can be swapped out by hand or with the supplied choke key.
With the forend removed, the Sporting’s barrel balancing system is exposed. This looks like an independent section of mid-rib with a series of tapped holes on either side, and using a series of weights and screws, the user can fit up to four weights to help achieve the handling that they prefer. Nice!
Taking a close look at the F16, the wood to metal fit throughout is superb. The forend fits particularly snugly, with no movement whatsoever and is released via a push-button located at the tip. Incidentally, this offers ample resistance to prevent accidental manipulation. There is some basic diamond-style chequering that wraps around the underside of the forend for grip and it shows an attractive layout.
The semi-pistol grip shows a right-hand palm swell and an individual panel of the same chequering on either side. I found the dimensions very comfortable and was able to achieve a consistent, repeatable grip when shooting.
The gun comes fitted with a removable, rubber butt pad and this conceals Blaser’s stock balancer. This system consists of a threaded rod you can spin weights onto to further customise the balance of the shotgun, depending on your requirements. Obviously, this works in conjunction with the barrel balancing system.
Including the butt pad, the Sporter’s standard length of pull (LOP) is 14 3⁄4”, but using the configurator, you can select 15”, 15 1⁄8” or 15 3⁄8”. Being 6ft 6, I found the standard LOP a bit short and therefore I would opt for some extra stock length. However, this option does not come cheap, adding £640 to the price of the gun. Alternatively, there is a stock extension kit (3 x 10mm) that fits both the Blaser R8 and F16. It costs £102.
For those shooters who know their measurements, the dimensions for the standard sporting stock show a drop of 1 1⁄2” at the front of the comb and 2” at the heel. Cast measurements at the comb, face and heel come in at 1⁄8”, 1⁄4” and 3⁄8”. The pitch is advertised at 84º.
As standard, the Sporter comes with grade 3 wood and there’s the option to upgrade to 4 for an additional £295. To me, it looks like the test gun is fitted with grade 4, and this would be my choice as shows a combination of dark and light colours that are more befitting of a gun at this price point.
Before heading to the clay ground, I spent a fair amount of time mounting the Blaser and soon added an extension piece to the stock to achieve the fit I was after. For the test, I fitted a ¼ and ½ choke and I used up some Lyalvale Express Power Blue 28-gram #8s, before moving onto some Gamebore Velocity +, 28-gram #8s with a fibre wad.
I tackled a wide variety of targets, starting with a few low and slow incomers and some rabbits but found myself quickly moving through the stands with some solid shooting from the F16. I always shoot from the high-ready position, no matter what target I am shooting at, and my biggest takeaway from the morning was that the Blaser brings a level of effortlessness to this style. This is then reinforced when taking the gun out of your shoulder, breaking it, reloading, then closing it again – it’s smooth, predictable, consistent and enjoyable. On top of this, felt recoil was minimal and this probably goes some way to explaining why I just kept on shooting the gun and didn’t seem at all fatigued at the end of the session.
The only downside for me was that I could see a bit more rib than I would like, but this is down to gun fit and completely depends on the individual. I later got the opportunity to do a pattern test at 30 yards and this showed that the gun favoured high in my hands. This possibly goes some way to explaining some of the targets that I missed!
As a shotgun, the F16 handled and manoeuvred exceptionally well, making it a pleasure to use and very capable. Being a Blaser, the overall build quality and finish are obviously excellent but the plain styling won’t be to everyone’s taste. Plus, opting for the Grand Luxe or Heritage will have a significant impact on your wallet. Overall, it’s a shotgun that is well worth looking at and one that offers natural ease of use. Watch out clays!