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- Last updated: 26/01/2017
This test focuses on a gun made in Turkey – a country rapidly establishing itself as a major manufacturer of firearms. The Turks today appear to be in much the same position as the Spaniards and Italians were a generation ago, offering surprisingly well made guns at very competitive prices. But there are some interesting differences – whilst traditional artisan skills are still used in Turkey – not least by the manufacturer of the test gun, Huglu – yet the majority of Turkish manufacturers also make extensive use of the latest machining technology as developed in Italy over the last few decades. Indeed, the Italians sells the Turks much of their equipment (in much the same way that the Swiss used to sell the Italians cable car cables after they had been used in Switzerland).
A Gun From The Co-op…
So, let’s get cracking. The test gun is a 12 bore over and under by Huglu. I have had to shoot twenty or more guns made by this long established company and I have visited the factory too (a most intriguing place because it is a gunmaking co-operative in a town hidden in the hills devoted entirely to firearms manufacture). First impressions are of a soundly made, plain finished, gun that looks rather like an old silver actioned Beretta 682 - Huglu guns are available in all sorts of grades and styles, much in the same way as Birmingham guns used to be.
The test gun's action is sparsely decorated - but looks quite elegant – and matt silver polished. The wood is plain, although often Turkish guns boast stocks figured well above their grade as much of the walnut for the world’s gunmakers comes from this country. The103DE feels solid, as have all Huglu over and unders I have handled, and don’t read that as a negative, as I like solid guns. It comes to the shoulder steadily, even with the 28” barrels fitted (there is a 30” option). The machining and wood to metal fit are all competent. The stock design is sensible too. The mechanical design is traditional and essentially Browning inspired, rather than innovative in any notable respect.
There are, moreover, no nasty surprises once the Huglu is put under the microscope. The barrels are monobloc as they are on 99% of modern, mass-produced, over and under guns. Gough Thomas once noted that this was the strongest of all the methods of making barrels. It is certainly the best way to make a mid-price pair of barrels and debatably as strong as the chopper-lump method used by manufacturers of ‘best’ guns. It is good enough for both Beretta (who developed the process), Perazzi, and Browning - who changed to monobloc manufacture some while back as far as their mass produced, Japanese made guns were concerned. It is even good enough for Purdey on their new Sporter model (a Perazzi clone made in both England and Italy - though they stick to chopper lump tubes for their side by sides and top of the range Woodward pattern over and under).
The monobloc barrels of the Huglu are certainly competently constructed. The joint between barrels and monobloc is disguised by some engraving lines as is common practice (although I prefer a near invisible joint as some manufactures seem to achieve without great difficulty). The blacking is well done. Inside the bores are presented nicely – reasonably concentric (few modern shotguns are perfect in this respect), free from rivels and well polished.
The barrels have square-cut, vented, joining ribs and there is a vented, narrowish (8mm) sighting rib. The latter is true to the eye with a good top surface. There is a traditional, small brass bead at the muzzles; one of my favourite types because it is unobtrusive and not subject to breakage in the field as some modern plastic types can be. Forcing cones are not especially long, and the gun bears Birmingham proof marks for 3” cartridges (though I never use Roman Candle loads myself – even for wildfowling). Both top and bottom are marked up at 18.4mm (.724”). I usually prefer larger bore diameters because it is my experience that they have a positive effect on felt recoil, yet most of the mass producers of shotguns still opt for tighter dimensions for some reason. My ideal would be 18.6mm in a 12 bore game gun and 18.8 in a clay-buster.
The action has split hinge pins - as per Beretta or Perazzi - and a full width bolt under the bottom chamber mouth like a Browning. The nearest design equivalent would be a Rizzini. The hammers are powered by coil springs as one might expect. The safety is non-automatic. The single trigger mechanism is mechanical as I remember and all the controls such as top lever and safety are positive and well shaped.
The Huglu’s stock is well conceived and well made. The length of pull was a little short (but not unsuited to a female user). The stock comb was also a little low. There was some cast, and, one of the best features of the gun was a nicely shaped semi-pistol grip. This was first class – my favourite style. The radius was ideal. It was not too sharply angled (which can make one cock one’s wrist when holding the muzzles up in a ready position when game shooting). The forend was of classic schnabel pattern. The wood appeared to be oil finished and was well chequered too.
The Huglu shot just as steadily as its dry handling might have predicted. Weighing at about 7 ½ pounds it was more controllable than many 28” guns. The weight was about ideal for a multi-purpose shotgun in my opinion – I am no fan of excessively light or heavy guns. Muzzle control was good thanks to the excellent semi-pistol grip. The Huglu offers sensible, no nonsense design and value for money. It should give years of good service and could be used for both game or clays.
PRICE (RRP): £750 inc.
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