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- Last updated: 13/12/2016
This month we have a Lincoln Premier 12 bore over and under for testing. It is a 3” chambered workhorse, weighing something just over the 7 pound mark. It is not an expensivegun and this multi-choked version retails at only £595 including VAT; the fixed choke model in 12 or 20 bore is just £545.
I have certainly been impressed with the value of the Lincoln over and unders that have passed through my hands - they are the pick of the bunch of the budget guns in my experience. They are imported by David Nickerson of Tathwell Ltd., who are an old fashioned firm that offer sensibly priced products to appeal to a wide sporting market, and they back up what they sell with good guarantees.
The Premier 12 is fairly plain in style, the machine engraving on the silver polished action is a bit thin and the timber has only modest figure, but wood to metal fit is very good, blacking is excellent and the general quality of finish is well up to standard (significantly better than other guns at this price point). The gun has sensible, multipurpose, 29” monobloc barrels equipped with concealed multi-chokes of shorter type (three are supplied with this base grade gun).
I liked the blued steel trigger too (regular readers will know that I am no fan of gold plating). The gun opens and closes in a manner which inspires confidence in the jointing. The safety and combined barrel selector are of familiar style and positive in action. The thumb piece of the top lever is a bit small aesthetically speaking - but perfectly effective as far as function is concerned. This basic gun comes with only three chokes as noted - quarter, half and three-quarters.
Mounting the Premier 12, one is struck by its muzzle-heaviness (the balance point is about one inch forward of the hinge pin), but this is something that might be easily remedied with a little lead in the stock. The gun comes to face and shoulder well aided by good grip, comb and forend shapes. Here it is much better than some. I especially liked the purchase and control offered by the good pistol grip design. This had an excellent radius and depth to the body of the grip.
Many do not realise just how much recoil is taken through the hands. A gun well designed in this respect, ensures that the hands maintain good purchase through the recoil cycle. The amount of recoil transmitted to the shoulder is reduced and muzzle control is promoted - ensuring good second shot recovery. Grips should not be made too small (or large) nor should their depth change acutely from front to back - if they get progressively slimmer to the front, the hand will be encouraged to slip. This is a design flaw in many guns.
Overall, the Lincoln feels solid and appears well made, quality of finish and wood to metal fit are all good - better than one might normally expect under £600. The barrels are, as previously mentioned, monobloc. The joins are neat between monobloc and barrel tubes and disguised with a bit of engraving. The chambers, which are nicely formed and well rimmed, are designed for 3" (76mm) shells, but will, of course, happily digest 2 3/4 (70mm) or 2 1/2" (65/67.5mm) fodder. The test gun bears Italian proof marks.
The barrels on the Lincoln have solid joining ribs and a ventilated, flat, 6mm sighting rib with a traditional metal bead at the front. It is a good rib design,although my preference is always for a solid rib on a game gun (or hybrid game/sporter) because it is less easily dented in the field. Nevertheless, this rib presents a good picture to the eye. The top machined surface is well finished. One advantage of a narrow, ventilated, rib is that it helps to keep barrel weight down - an important quality in a budget priced game gun.
Internal and external finish of the barrels is especially good - better than I would have expected again. The ejector work was well put together too, and the engine turning on the sides of the monobloc is a smart touch. Holding the barrels up to the light there were no signs of rivelling. Overall, these barrels score well.
The Premier’s action has the usual split hinge pin arrangement. Coil springs power the hammers. The trigger is of the recoil activated type, and a selector is placed on top of the conventional thumb operated top strap safety. Both safety and selector were quite large, but well proportioned and positive in action – the sort of controls that can be operated with cold, wet, hands. The shape of the trigger blade was pretty good. The quality of the trigger pulls was adequate. They were not too heavy and there was less creep than in some cheaper guns.
The bolting system on the Lincoln Premier‘s action utilises a wide, Browning style, bolt that meets a slotted bite beneath the bottom chamber mouth. The only disadvantage with this arrangement is that the gun is made a little deeper in its walls than might otherwise be the case with a bifurcated lump design.
The stock on the Lincoln is competently finished. It measures 14 1/2" from the middle of the trigger to the middle of the thin black plastic butt plate. Measurements to heel and toe are plus 1/8” and plus ¼” respectively. I have already noted how much I liked the grip shape. The comb is well proportioned too with a pleasant taper. It suits the gun well. Drop measurements were quite low, a 1 5/8” at the front of the comb and nearly 2 ½” at the rear.
The field style forend was inoffensive (though the sliding latch fastener is not especially pretty). Chequering panels were well shaped and the chequering itself was neatly done and large enough. The stock has a pleasant, synthetic finish.
I shot the gun at the Braintree Shooting Ground as ever. I know this excellent ground very well and we put it through its paces on a variety of sporting and simulated game stands as well as the skeet layout. All GunMart tests, in fact, begin on station 2 low house at skeet - this creates a datum from which different guns can be compared. The gun handled well, felt recoil was a little above average, and the trigger pulls were not especially refined. But, everything worked well. The gun offers excellent value for money. It is, in fact, very similar to others with more ‘bells and whistles’ sold under other names but almost identical mechanics and much higher price tags. If we had a best buy section in GunMart this would be in it. It is an ideal starter gun that might be used for game or clays. It is also a good gun for anyone who does not want to spend a fortune, but wants to get a serviceable tool nevertheless.
PRICE: £595 (multi-choke on test) or £545 (fixed choke, available)