Hatsan Escort Fieldhunter
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- Last updated: 06/12/2023
Everyone should have a .410 shotgun. Most shooters go for a single shot or fancy double, but the most practical for the calibre in my eyes is the pump action design, as it lends itself to the mini calibre’s credentials better when used for vermin.
Enter the primary candidate - the new Hatsan Escort Field Hunter .410 pump. It is imported by the Sportsman Gun Centre and is available in an array of barrel lengths and stock finishes. There is an FAC version, and the gun is available in left or right-handed configurations, with prices starting from £286!
We have a right-handed Escort Field Hunter MOOB model for review that shows a 28” barrel, Mossy Oak Obsession camo coating, and 2+1 capacity. As well as being a pump-action, the gun sports a 3”/76mm magnum chamber, a polymer stock, multi-choke capabilities, and an 11mm groove on the receiver for scope mounts, which really opens up possibilities. It’s also great value at £361.99.
Let’s look at the stock first, which does come in an array of finishes, from standard black to various camo-dipped patterns, as well as a nice walnut-stocked version. It is a moulded design, so lightweight and not too hollow sounding either. The gun weighs only 6.1 lbs and features a good length of pull at 14.4” (365mm). The drop at the comb measures 1.45” (37mm) and the drop at the heel is 2.2” (57mm), but the shotgun does come with four stock shims to adjust stock drop and cast to suit your needs, which is a nice touch for a small .410 gun.
You have moulded in chequering to the pistol grip section of the stock and the forend. With the forend being a pump, it is quite short but nicely contoured, having deeper grooves underneath and profiled side panels for a very firm hold, even in the wet. You also have a thick, soft, black butt pad for grip and recoil reduction. So, overall, a practical and comfortable stock design for real usage out in the field.
I like the MOOB camo option, as it really does break up the outline of the little Hatsan, although, from experience, I know the walnut version probably balances better because wood is denser, plus you do get a set of sling swivels. These are very handy, as I often sling my shotguns whilst hiking the hills.
Barrel-wise, you do have a choice between 24” and 28”, but I only see the 28” listed at present, so quite long but efficient for the little cartridge. I do like the choke system as it makes a massive difference to the .410 calibre, and this Hatsan is supplied with a set of five extended multi-chokes (F, IM, M, IC, CYL), allowing you to choose the best choke for your patterning needs. So often 410s only have a full choke, when a more open choke is sometimes more beneficial or appropriate.
The steel barrel is very well finished for a ‘cheap’ gun, being oxidation-proof, chrome-plated, and made of chromium, nickel, and molybdenum. The tube is proofed for steel shot, and this camo-finished model is capable of firing both 3” (76mm) and 2 ¾” (70mm) cartridges.
Up top is a nicely chequered and ventilated anti-glare rib that is 6mm wide, ensuring that it does not cover too much of the game when sighting. You also have a single small brass bead sight, which is more than good enough.
Action-wise, you have a black or camo anodized aircraft alloy receiver for lightness, and I love the fact that you have an 11mm dovetail rail for scope fitment. I will definitely be fitting a red dot sight to this gun for some fast-fire action, and maybe some slugs!
Internally, the bolt has a hard, black chromed finish to reduce glare and wear. Extraction is facilitated via a single claw sited on a non-rotating head, and ejection is taken care of by a small spur inset into the barrel wall. It ran very smoothly and locked up tightly too, so no complaints here.
The loading port is slim, and the bolt holds open on the last round. There is a side-mounted release lever in front of the trigger guard, and if this is pushed up, the bolt is free to move again. You also have a manual cross-button trigger safety system that blocks the trigger blade. The trigger itself broke at 6 lbs and 5 oz, so a tad heavy, but fine on a shotgun. At least it’s safe!
Despite the slightly longer than normal 28” barrel on the test gun, it made no difference to the overall handling of the Escort, as it was so light and portable, meaning you could carry more shells to compensate for the weight loss. The length of pull was a tad short but there was no need for me to change the cast or drop, as the Hatsan shouldered well, allowing my eye to see straight down the rib, as it should. The safety was very stiff but did ease up after use, and loading was a bit fiddly, but .410 pumps are always like that. For the money, I was impressed so far, but reliability is key for me, as are good patterns down range.
Regarding reliability, we loaded some 2”, 2.5”, and 3” shells to cover all the likely .410-sized ammo that the Hatsan would consume, and we had no hang-ups at all cycling these. However, some of the Fiocchi 3” cartridges caused a bit of binding/fiddling, as the star-shaped end closures were quite irregular and would just catch before easing into the chamber.
With the full choke fitted, the first up on the pattern boards were the Fiocchi. These are 3” shells that shoot a heavy load of 19-grams of No. 6 shot. They always shoot tight patterns and that was true on test, with a well-centred spread of 99 inner hits and 54 outer strikes, giving a total of 153 impacts. I love this .410 load, so was glad it shot so well. I just need to sort out the odd feed problem.
Next were the Lyalvale Express Supreme Game, which are normally very good 3” shells that spit out 17-grams of the bigger No. 5 shot size. We counted a total of 132 pellet hits, which is good. However, there were 56 inner strikes and 76 outer hits that were a bit sparse in some areas, so not fantastic in this Hatsan.
The Eley Extra Long were better. They sport a 3” case and hold 18-grams of No. 5 shot. Overall, a really nice loading that produced tight and even patterns, and there were 149 pellet strikes with the full choke at 30 yards! Distribution showed 87 inner strikes and the remaining 62 pellets in the outer 30”. Being a slightly bigger shot size, the pellets penetrate and hit harder too, and we use these for troublesome and fast squirrels.
Finally, we used some rather expensive Winchester Super X, which is another hard-hitting 3” load (11/16th oz / No.6) that boasts a velocity of 1135 fps. Here, at 30 yards, we had a near-even spread of inner and outer hits, so 69 and 62 pellets respectively, with a slight right bias. These, like the Remington Express loads, always shoot hard, but also bite the wallet! I still really like them though.
We also set up some life-sized rabbit targets at 20-40 yards and engaged as you would when rough shooting, to check the patterns with the Fiocchi 3 inchers, my first choice. We achieved a good central pattern when aimed at the body (20 yards), so I next aimed at the head from a walked-down position at 30 yards and got a great spread and definitely a dead rabbit! However, at 40 yards the spread of shot was sparse, so that’s your limit with this load.
Truthfully, what’s not to like? It’s peanuts to buy, it shoots great patterns, and it is reliable (depending on the cartridge chosen). I really liked the ability to change chokes, and it handles well, plus I even liked the MOOB finish. It would be good to convert one for sound moderator use also.