Winchester Select English Field
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- Last updated: 14/12/2016
When Winchester launched their Select range of 12 bores, little did anyone know how significant or affordable these new shotguns would become. Combining the latest technology whilst assimilating the bare essentials of what makes a shotgun handle, be it as a clay breaker or a pheasant buster, Winchester’s new Select smoothbores are a gun to be reckoned with. The variety of Selects means there’s a shotgun for all needs, pockets and tastes.
In the Red
Tickling your wallet for just £1,106 when you open the familiar bright red Winchester travelling case you definitely feel your money’s been well spent when you open the lid on the Select English Field. Reasonable looking oiled woodwork with simple, effective panels of chequering adorns both stock and forend whilst a full set of Invector Plus flush-fit chokes, trigger lock and can of Liege oil round off the package. Assembling the English is a relatively simple operation; all you have to ensure is that you ‘roll’ the Schnabel forend up and over the long cocking levers.
Winchester have employed the now familiar and well proven steel action that has become central to the Select range, incorporating the now recognisable double – lug locking system whereby on closing the gun two substantial rods project from the action face and locate either side of the top 3” chamber, the anodised, steel-proofed, back - bored barrels (in this case 26” long) pivoting on small trunions.
But it’s the engraving itself that gives this particular Select Field game gun its name. Apart from the matte, shimmer eliminating fences and the Winchester name appearing on the bottom of the action, there are fine panels of scroll work embellishing the action, tangs, trigger guard and top lever. Winchester’s take on the traditional game rib consists of a constant 5mm with a stippled finish, with narrow unobtrusive vents elevating the strip from the top barrel without detriment to the looks whilst a white bead crowns the slightly flaring muzzles. The end look is modern yet with a relatively time – honoured game gun format that should look at home whatever the circumstances.
Ergonomically, everything about the English is exactly what you’d look for, the 26” barrel version as tested more or less ideally suited to my style. Flat shooting, one of my own main criteria, the gun weighs in at 7lbs 1oz with drops and comb and heel of 1 5/8” and 2¾” with a 14 5/8” length of pull. If I had concerns it’s that the weight is rather heavy at 7lbs 3oz and seems to suffer from a hint of creep during take up. Similarly, given the compact nature of the Select design, the positioning of the top lever and manual safety catch can cause you to flick the safety when opening the English, these controls being just millimetres apart. The positive side is that you’ll only ever inadvertently engage the safety, never disengage it.
Taking in fifty of Rishton SG’s sporting targets, two aspects of the English were quickly realised. Firstly, the gun looked exactly where I did, the first four stands straightened with ease. The second and slightly less positive feature was that I was the recoil reducer, the 28g Express Supremes making their presence felt. All lightweight shotguns have an obvious trade-off and it’s that they absorb less recoil, the English being no exception. Where it works is that the energy is directed straight back into the shoulder without any sign of muzzle flip. Three variations on reducing the effect of recoil is to slip one of the various preparatory pads into the vest shoulder pocket, load up with lighter loads, opt for the longer barrels or as in my case, put up with it as an acceptable downside to a gun that was decimating clays.
The upside of the English is that like most short barrelled 12 – bores, the handling is wonderful, target acquisition fast and controlled whilst the slim radiused pistol grip and tapering forend promoted a fluid malleability between birds. The ejectors are well timed and efficient whilst as a whole the gun is well balanced and responsive. To emphasise this, the English went on to provide me with a more than entertaining evening on crows whilst a change to 30g Express Pigeon Specials confirmed that although a full set of chokes are supplied, nothing other than ¼ and ½ should be required even for non – toxics.
No Cost Option
For those who’d prefer longer barrels, Winchester very kindly offer the no cost option of 28” or 30” tubes. The benefit of course is that the additional weight will dial out a modicum of perceived recoil although the extra inches will in my opinion detract from the 26” version’s entertaining qualities. That said, it’s each to their own, Winchester more than able to cater for each shooter’s personal preferences.
Barrel lengths apart, as a first gun for a game shooter, a 12 bore to carry on early season grouse, the perfect tool on a ‘walk one, stand one’ game shoot or even as an occasional clay breaker, the Select English is a serious contender. Nicely built and finished this Winchester provides the shooter with a sensibly priced and well built option from a manufacturer who has a more than able grasp of how to build a lightweight shotgun.
PRICE: £1,106 srp