Winchester Select Light Gold
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- Last updated: 14/12/2016
Working up a Sweat
Picture the scene. It’s a hot August afternoon and you’ve still got a good few miles to trek on your day’s walked – up grouse. Now unless there’s a quad to carry your kit you’ve become your own beast of burden. So the last thing you need is a shotgun that seemingly weighs a ton. One answer is to drop down to a 20 bore, or smaller, the other solution is Winchester’s new Select Light Gold. Combining the handling and lightness of a sub-gauge but still offering true 12 bore stopping power; it’s hardly surprising that those in the know are taking a close look at Winchester’s new, elegant Gold as a serious alternative to the current, often very expensive featherweight options.
Weighing in at 6lbs, externally the Gold looks exactly like its marginally less expensive sibling, the more basic Light, both of which echo their slightly heavier cousin the Select Field. Fitted with Grade 2 semi-oil finished walnut which a coat or two of Ballistol oil would enhance considerably, the sporter stock and Schnabel fore-end are nicely figured whilst the level of fit to the receiver is excellent. Likewise, laser cut chequering is both traditional in appearance and feels secure in the hand, all aspects of the Gold’s furniture being exactly as you expect.
Bit of a Looker
Where the only difference occurs is around the surfaces of the boxlock action. Although also available with 28” tubes, in this instance the Gold came complete with well blacked 26” barrels and a full set of flush fit Invector Plus multi-chokes with a solid mid rib jointing the two tubes together with a cross-cut and vented 6mm top rib and small brass bead rounding things off. Like all new Winchesters the Gold is chambered for 3” cartridges, the barrels steel proofed whilst the back boring adds to the Gold’s ability to tame even the most enthusiastic 36 gram loads.
As commented it’s the aluminium action surfaces that set the Gold apart from the other Selects. A brushed effect with light scroll work, the Gold takes its name from the flighting pheasants, woodcock and spaniel with partridge that are inlayed in gold to both sides and the base. Elsewhere, rose and scroll picking out the alloy trigger guard, hinges and top-lever pivot whilst removal of the monobloc barrels highlights the steel trunions and the almost imperceptible steel insert let into the action’s face, these two reinforcements giving the Gold its mechanical strength.
I elected to try the Gold with some 30g Express Pigeon Specials since a late afternoon’s pigeon and crow invitation had coincided with the Gold’s evaluation procedure. Fitted with ½ and ¼ chokes the Gold performed effortlessly with no hint whatsoever of excess recoil. Yes, you know you’ve pulled the trigger since the overall weight of 6lbs can only do so much when it comes to dissipating the effects of the discharge but no, it certainly wasn’t unpleasant.
Similarly, a load hike up to 36g generated nothing more dramatic than a good, concise thud. Reason being, if you’re a realistically average human being, the Gold should fit you, so emphasizing the point that Winchester has got stock head fit and the attendant angles spot on which means they’ve actually considered standard dimensions and produced a gun that fits straight out of the box. Confirming this is a length of pull at exactly 14½” with a drop at comb and heel of 1½” and 2½” offering an ideal view along the top rib. Add to the equation a balance point directly beneath the hinges and an average trigger weight of 6lbs 2oz on both barrels activated by an easily located trigger blade and broad, manual safety-catch, both units effortless to operate.
Around the shoot’s woodlands and then over eight stands of Bond & Bywater’s summer evening shoot, the Gold displayed crisp characteristics along with well timed efficient ejectors along with the familiar characteristics of all well balanced, short barrelled shotguns. Lightning fast to mount and get onto target, where the lightness of the Gold tends to show is in the physical need to drive the gun slightly harder than the more usual weighted 12 bores, the Gold’s muzzles coming to an abrupt halt as soon as the shooter stops moving. The negative effect is that you could become tempted to poke at the target instead of making yourself maintain the swing, the positive side being that if your reactions are fast enough the Gold is an outstanding at snap shots, the gun’s deft dynamics as quick to react as you are. As an aside and although the Gold wasn’t intended for this, this little 12 bore actually makes for a cracking skeet gun if only occasionally.
At £1,239 the Gold cost just over a hundred quid more than the slightly less decorous Select Light. As to whether you consider the extra investment worth while is completely down to you since apart from the gold inlays there’s no actual difference. OK given the current climate the variation in price is neither here nor there and we all like to own something nice especially when it’s connected with out hobby or interests. Would I opt for the Gold over the standard Light? Yes, for the reasons above and for the fact it’s an attractive gun and for what the Gold was designed for - it more than looks the part especially for those who require a lightweight shotgun without having to resort to one of the smaller gauges if they don’t particularly wish to.
Equally, where Winchester have succeeded with the Gold and the more basic Light is in not having placed a standard shotgun on a diet but to produce a modern, full sized 12 – bore that combines appealing qualities and an up to date European and American concept that in many ways is still new to the English shooting fraternities train of thought, and all at a price the average shooter can afford. Think on this, whilst the lighter weight 12 bore has been around for many years, their various price tags read like telephone numbers in comparison to this Select Light Gold.
PRICE: £1,239 srp (as tested)