Winchester Select English Field
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- Last updated: 29/06/2018
I used to own an old Winchester 101 12-gauge a long while back and my friend John at Andersons taught me how to shoot with it. Sadly, John and the Winchester are no longer with us and it is with some great memories that I embark on testing the new Winchester Select English Field 12-gauge shotgun.
I like Winchester, they are old school and are just made to work well and be dependable and throw good patterns without any fuss. Winchester shotguns always, always handle superbly and this Select model was no exception. You have 12-gauge as the only option but a full set of chokes, flush fit, in a typical red plastic case and choice of 26- or 28-inch barrel lengths, as well as these 30-inchers.
The restrained classic English looks are to my liking, as are the engraving and walnut finish, £1156 buys a nice “just use it” shotgun.
Firstly, Winchester believe in preserving their guns after manufacture, as the test gun came caked in grease. With this removed, it revealed some really nice deep dark blue/black barrel finish. It really is good and right for this sort of shotgun. The barrels are marked ‘Made in Belgium’ and assembled in Portugal by Browning Viana.
I had the 30-inch length, and although I prefer a shorter barrel, the balance was excellent just in front of the action. They have a 6mm rib with serrated edges to reduce reflections and there is a single white bead at the muzzle. I like a single bead but my son likes a second half way down the rib, each to their own. There are 14 small vents in the top rib to aid cooling but the centre rib that joins the barrels is concave and solid for 22-inches of the barrels’ length.
Internally, the barrels are chrome-lined for longevity and these had a fine, mirror finish. These use the Back Bored technology, which translates into better speed and patterns. Instead of the usual 18.4mm bore internal diameter, you have 18.85mm diameter; you therefore have less friction, so you get a higher velocity and thus better penetration down range. You also get a more even pattern, as the shot column is not as restricted or deformed as it travels down the barrel. Also of concern to smaller shooters, or sustained fire shooter, is the 6% reduction in recoil, so therefore win-win. These barrels carry the fleur de lis proof marks and as such are steel shot proofed, so offering peace of mind.
You get five chokes and so, with the 3-inch chamber, steel proofed barrels on this Select you can shoot any game that is placed in front of you, legally. These are Invector Plus chokes, but you can get some Briley Signature extended chokes to fit if you like, as these come standard on the Winchester Select Energy model. These Selects are made by Browning in Belgium and carry a two-year warranty, so you know they are well-made and will shoot.
This is another area where the newer Select model is better than its predecessors, as it is more streamlined and lighter profiled for a better weight saving, as well as improved handling.
The walnut used is quite unusual and maybe just this one Select but it has a really nice, paler walnut background colour interposed with tiger striping and swirled figuring. It’s good and although plain in places really makes this Select look like an older English gun, hence the name I guess.
The forend is slim and has a Schnabel tip with large, well chequered panelling, which also adorns the slimmer pistol grip that has no palm swell. There is minimal cast and the comb height is quite low and with a length of pull of 14.25-inches, this Select stock is good for all sizes of shooters and even left hookers.
The only part I am not keen on is the slim plastic butt-plate, I like a slim pad but rubber with a plastic top to allow smooth shouldering. I do like the oiled finish that gradually improves with use and handling to enrich the walnut beneath and further aid in weather proofing. It was raining during the field test pigeon shooting and it just shrugged it off – perfect.
This Select model now fashions a slimmed down action too, to reduce weight and lower the profile. This looks very nice, as well as offering a quicker target acquisition coupled with weight reduction, faster game tracking and lighter recoil.
Typically, Winchester, is the silver-sided action faces and base. This is coin finished and enhanced by laser cut engraving of fine scroll work to the sides, base with Winchester cartouche, top and opening lever. It is small but the black fill in colour really makes it pop to define the scroll work, classy.
The action is a typical boxlock design but is very Beretta inspired in form. It has a steel action and the barrels open on a twin stub or trunnions and the barrels lock via the twin bolts that protrude from the action face into tapered rebuttments in the barrel monobloc. A large lug at the base of the monobloc locks into the action bottom so a good safe, tight lock up.
The Winchester Select has inertia type strikers and has a non-automatic safety that I really prefer. The opening lever has moulded in chequering and the barrel selector lever and safety have a raised pyramidal design. To the right and the lower barrel is fired first and to the left selects the top barrel first. The trigger is wide and smooth with a silvered finish and has a large trigger guard to accommodate a gloved hand. The trigger blade is nonadjustable but to me the length of pull and trigger were fine.
The Select model follows the older Supreme and is a better handling and lighter version of this model. This transfers into a better handling shotgun all-round and a shotgun that has a good pointability and natural swing. As such, you have a shotgun that will suits a shotgunner that just wants one gun to shoot game, clays and pigeon/ vermin – suits me!
Although you have a selection of chokes, I fitted the ¼ and ½ choke, as these and the 30-inch barrels would be a nice all-round mix. A set of 26-inches would also be really nice as a ‘get in the woods, fast swing option’, probably my preferred length. At 30-yards the patterns were shot using the ½ choke, top barrel in this case.
This has a plastic wadded 2¾- inch (70mm) case and has a payload of 30-grams of No. 6 shot in a red case. At 30-yards, I had 184 pellets hit, with a ratio of 63 pellets in the inner sector and 121 in the outer regions. A great pigeon load for wood or field, as well as game in season.
Clever Mirage Game
This is a fibre wadded game load with a 30-gram load of No. 6 shot inside a blue plastic 2.5-inch hull and high brass rim. At 30-yards, I had a total of 179 pellets hit the pattern boards, with 126 in the outer 30-inch and 51 in the inner 15-inch sector. A good, even pattern with few holes for game to fly through.
I had the 70mm fibre wadded case version, with see through blue plastic casing. Again, I was using No. 6 shot but this time a 29-gram load, which meant a very good 201 pellet strikes total. More than the larger 30- gram loads tested earlier, just shows you need to test each load. There were 144 pellets in the outer sectors and 57 within the inner 15-inch circle, this cartridge patterns very evenly and hits hard, a great load.
Jake and I were invited on a vermin day on a nearby shoot for pigeon and the black stuff and loaded with the Super Fast Pigeon we had a great day at some seriously fast and wary pigeons, the way they should be. The Winchester felt like my old 101 and shot as well and it was hard giving it back at the end of the test.
Yes, it might look like a run of the mill 12-gauge shotgun that you could pick up off the gunsmith’s rack, but the Winchester pedigree has ironed out any issues over the years to deliver a really smart and reliable shotgun that can turn itself to most shotgun disciplines.
She handles superbly, is great value and drops game. What more do you want in a shotgun?
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