- 41 Comments
- Last updated: 19/01/2017
Before we go any further let me say this from the off. At £635 all in, get down to your nearest Armsan dealer and get one bought and if you insist on more chokes their only a tenner apiece. Actually that’s all I theoretically need to say about the A612S since this shotgun more or less speaks for itself. The other probably less interesting fact is that I first flagged up Armsan’s collection of semi-autos when I looked at them at IWA back in 2009. I was instantly impressed by their quality, feel, handling and presentation and I was surprised that no UK importer had actually approached them until Viking Arms recently took them onboard. Strange to say then that since I was the first to sing the Armsan praises I’m the last to pass comment. Well maybe not since Armsan also produce one of the new Webley & Scott semis and that was a little gasser that was more than up to the mark.
At what it costs the A612S competition gun doesn’t overwhelm its new owner with a whole host of included extras… in fact there aren’t any, even the plastic travelling case is optional. In the case of this particular clay specific model what you actually get is a gas powered semi that looks one hundred percent like it’s been produced by another, far more wildly known manufacturer. The shiny red alloy receiver coupled with a 29 3/8” gloss black 3” chambered barrel, stylised vented 8mm high rib, black soft-touch stock and forend and an extended silver multi-choke and yes, Armsan’s A612S is an unashamed look-alike for Winchester’s record breaking Flanigan.
The reason the A612S is sold as a 30” barrelled shotgun is that the supplied ½ choke’s knurled protrusion makes up the last 7/8” of the tube’s overall length. Interestingly, whilst a full set of chokes are an extra, buyers can opt for the solid style as supplied or opt for fully ported examples which once again cost no more than a tenner each.
Grips and Pieces
Before assembling the A612S its worth taking a moment to study the componentry. Everything about this gun is solidly built, the gas valve that sits inside the barrel ring machined from one piece, the exhaust ports uniformly and symmetrically machined whilst the barrel extension is a good sturdy thickness along with a generous magazine cap, a small but important item often seemingly overlooked by other budget makers. The return spring and carriage are nicely finished and substantial, as is the quality of the single extractor claw bolt.
The receiver’s finish is uniform whilst the fit of the rubberised and stipple panelled stock and forend is more than up to the mark. Its also Armsan’s attention to detail that impresses such as the fit and quality of the honeycombed recoil pad, the well radiused grip and the degree of cast will suit most hands and shooter’s physical and visual requirements. Likewise, a small lip on the rear of the forend ensures it always locates both fully and in the exact same position time after time. Small points they may be but still facets that set the A612S apart from both its immediate and more distant rivals.
The gun comes with sling swivels but you don’t need them on a competition shotgun, so if that’s to be your gun’s main purpose, leave them in the box. I find them irritating on any shotgun that’s only function is around the layouts, and very few Brit shooters would ever use the A612S as anything other than a clay breaker, probably choosing a more conventional version of the Armsan A612 if they needed an all-rounder.
Like many semi-autos of this type the assembly process is the now familiar system of offering up the chamber extension to the receiver with the bolt forward. Once the extension has located within the receiver, pull the bolt out of battery whilst pushing the barrel firmly home before sliding the forend over the magazine tube and screwing the mag cap into place. From there all the controls sit in the usual places, the bolt release located just below the ejection port, the cross-bolt safety to the rear of the trigger guard whilst the bolt locks bad out of battery once the last round has been discharged or the shooter pulls it firmly rearwards. That’s it, no tricks or vices to catch you out, just a plain and simple gas powered semi.
Crank ‘em up
The A612S is one of those rare beasts that feels right the moment you pick it up. Similarly, the initial impression is that it’ll shoot flat, a quick session with the Arrow Laser Shot confirming this and that the distribution of the 7lbs 8oz weight is more or less exactly as it should be. For a synthetic stocked semi the stock dimensions should suit more or less anyone who hefts the gun, drops at comb and heel of 1 1/2” and 2 3/8” producing an uninterrupted view along the rib with both beads lined up perfectly. Similarly, a generous 14 3/8” length of pull produces a comfortable holding position and easy, relaxed reach to the non-adjustable trigger blade that breaks at a constant 6lbs 1oz.
Shot at Bond & Bywater’s evening fifty-birder, loaded up with 28g Express World Cup fibre and Supreme competition cartridges, I’ll admit that it took a stand or so to get used to this Armsan’s extremely flat shooting characteristics and the fact that it tends not to react as expected. Shooting even infinitesimally below the target resulted in a miss on all but dropping birds and even then the distance below had to be increased. However, once adjusted to where the A612 threw its well distributed pattern all came good.
Even with the notoriously lively World Cups chambered there were times when it became almost indiscernible as to whether the shot had been discharged, the A612’s system and deep rubber butt pad eliminating all but the last dregs of perceived recoil, only the broken clay and rapidly ejected empty case confirmation that the shooting process had actually taken place. Balancing just below the chamber, the Armsan mounts swings and generally handles with well tempered, shooter-friendly poise whilst the soft stippled rubber coating of the stock, grip and forend gives the gun a feeling of malleability between the hands.
Another round of fifty and the A612 took on the persona of an old, familiar friend. No vices, a seemingly inherent urge to perform all combined with an inbuilt efficiency normally associated with semi-autos costing two or three times the price of this Turkish gasser. In other words it does everything it’s meant to do with not the slightest hint of drama all the while requiring the minimum of operator input. Providing you’re on target the A612 does the rest even when target speed and distance was cranked up way beyond the norm.
Armsan’s A612S, like the rest of the range, is one of those shotguns that you just can’t criticise. The build and quality are great, the handling everything it needs to be and then some, the gas system efficiency works and works well, no cheap components have been used and it more or less fits everyone who picks it up; first timer kill rates more than testament to the fact. And, unlike most of the competition the A612 doesn’t rely on gimmicks, fancy fitments that ramp up the price or any other supposed trickery or latest ‘must have’ instead good honest design and functionality ensuring this semi does exactly what it’s meant to.
Where the A612S scores most heavily is in the fact it’s currently the most expensive model within the Armsan range. If the all-round entry model suits you the best or you want a more conventional looking version for both clays and live quarry, or camo for duck shooting, expect to pay even less by about a hundred pounds, the only downside being that there’s currently no 3½” chambered version available.
Whilst others charge over twice the amount for a similar shotgun, a lump of your hard earned going towards the marketing effort, Armsan are letting their semi-autos speak for themselves. Let’s face it a few years ago Turkish shotguns were looked upon as nigh on disposable to a degree they became a bit of a joke. But after having tried an A612S for myself, I have to ask - who’s having the last laugh now?
With thanks to:
• Lyalvale Express; www.lyavaleexpress.com
• Bond & Bywater; 01772 258980
• Optilabs – Zeiss; www.optilabs.com
• CENS Digital; www.censdigital.com
• Ballistol UK; www.ballistol.co.uk
• Sinn – Chronomaster; www.chronomaster.co.uk
PRICE: £635 srp
Viking Arms Ltd
01423 - 780810