Winchester Select Sporting Topcote II
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- Last updated: 14/12/2016
When it comes to long – winded titles you’ll go a long way to better the Winchester Select Sporting II Topcote. This is competition variant of their now well established Select range of shotguns. The new Sporting II once again perpetuates one of shootings most famous names combined with a pricing structure that suits even the most budget-orientated participant. That said don’t let the £1,160 suggested retail fool you, once you and the gun are up and running you’re more than capable of going head-to-head with the best.
The Topcote part of the Sporting II name comes from the woodwork. Delivered in Winchester’s now trademark, bright red, plastic travelling case, both the Schnable- style forend and sporter stock are manufactured from low grade timber before being visually transformed into a deep lustrous walnut by the application of a plasticized transfer. The end rather shiny result whilst initially pleasing to the eye looks exactly what it is, false. The up side is that apart from the lower resistance to dents, you have all the resilient benefits of synthetic furniture. The chequering is precise and nicely machined, the fit and finish exactly what you’d expect whilst the narrow spacer and soft rubber recoil pad is complimented by a hard rubber insert that reduces drag when mounting the gun.
Neatly dovetailed into the stock is a polished steel, inertia-driven boxlock action. Decorated with small panels of scroll work and the Select and Winchester names plus anodised fences that reduce heat shimmer, this relatively new yet simple design has already proven itself for durability and reliability. Two large locking lugs project from the face into corresponding recesses located just above the monobloc’s 3” chamber ejectors. Opened with the now familiar short throw, stubby top lever that sits just above the broad safety catch and barrel selector, each physical aspect of the Select’s action has the air of quality you’d expect.
Employing Browning’s internal overbore ‘Back-Bored’ recoil reducing technology the 28” barrels are finished with a rich black anodised coating. Joined by vented mid and 10mm top ribs plus twin white beads, only a slight flare towards the muzzles disturbs their even lines. Fitted with Briley-manufactured, Winchester Signature Invector Plus extended multi – chokes of which you only get three namely ½, Skeet and Improved Cylinder, extras are readily available albeit a bit steep at £46 each.
So to performance. We passed the gun over to an experienced shotgunner and this is what he said: ‘It wasn’t long ago I took one of Winchester’s cousins to an event and blitzed my way to success. Well its seems its not just brand new, straight out of the box Brownings I can do it with. The first of 50-birder shoot falling effortlessly to the Select II. Apart from a few dry mounts with the Arrow Laser Shot that confirmed it shot good and flat the - way I like them. Apart from ‘one away’ on the first four pairs that was entirely my own fault, 30- minutes later I’d only missed another three. What a gun, as it just fits me so well and I’d imagine will suit you too!’
Winchester having settled on a combination of general dimensions that accommodate the bulk of average shooters. Drop at comb and heel are 1 13/32” and 2 3/16” with a 14 5/8” length of pull all of which give you a superb view out along the 10mm vented rib and twin white beads and away over the muzzles. Throw into the mix the 7lbs 4oz overall weight with a point of balance a fraction in front of the trunions and you have a shotgun that is ready to move whenever and wherever you want aided in no small way by the layout of the pistol grip.
Returning to their more slender ways, the angle and radius of the grip allows the gun to move freely within the hand that enhances the instant response fluidity looked for in a sporter. The rationale being; if you shoot ‘gun down’ and tend to dismount if only by an inch on all but fast and close simultaneous pairs, it means you should be looking for a shotgun that works with you.
Shooting the gun is equally pleasant even with heavy hitting Express Supreme # 6½’s. From the user’s perspective the reaction of the Select II is of a firm tap in the shoulder pocket that confirms the shot has been discharged. Likewise the choking; the ½ and IC tubes made short work of even the most long distance clays, the resultant patterns excellent. The adjustable broad trigger blade although heavy at 7lbs 5oz break weight allows the entire finger pad to apply gentle, even and predictive pressure whilst the ejectors are evenly timed and powerful.
Normally when summing up a shotgun it tends to be damning by faint praise, but in the case of the Select II there really isn’t a downside. The Topcote effect might not be to every one’s taste, but apart from that we can’t think of a single reason not to buy a Select II! The asking price is a good few hundred pounds less than the competition. Though we think Winchester are a bit penny pinching not to add a couple more multi chokes into the outfit they have at least made the 30” version a no cost option for those who prefer longer barrels.
Whilst additional extended chokes can be bought another option would be to purchase a pair of flush fit ½’s, the internal Signature tubes a perfect fit. Screw in these and you’d have a more than acceptable and extremely capable, hard hitting game gun that wouldn’t look at all out of place. So whether you’re looking for a low cost, new 12-bore or a capable all – rounder, give Winchester’s new Select II Topcote some serious consideration; we don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
• A winner straight out of the box
• An clay breaker for the masses
• Great name, great gun, great price
PRICES: £1,160 srp