Pedersoli La Bohémienne shotgun
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- Last updated: 19/12/2016
Pedersoli is a name that shooters mostly associate with high quality replicas of old classics and what I have here is their take on the 1878 Colt hammer action 12 gauge shotgun which they call La Bohémienne. As one would expect with a gun from that time period it is basic in looks but solid and elegant in build. The wood is walnut and although not of such quality grain that I have seen on some of their other guns is well finished.
The butt offers a 14” length of pull with a rounded, Prince of Wales type pistol grip, the forend is broad and comfortable. The usual diamond cut chequering to both can be found with a positive grip provided without feeling too sharp to the touch. The stock has a very well shaped steel butt plate which is comfortable in the shoulder and although this gun is too short for me as I have long arms it came up very well! Even more so after I added a rubber, slip-on butt pad which took the length to 15 ½”; making it about perfect for me!
The action is lightly colour, case-hardened with small engraving on the borders as one would expect. The external hammers cock crisply into place with no discernible wobble to them, they are of the rebound type meaning once they hit the firing pin they bounce back. Though copying an older design Pedersoli saw fit to include a tang-mounted safety catch, which is probably sensible. It’s unobtrusive and pushes forward to FIRE and reverses for SAFE and is of the auto return type on opening.
One well thought out safety feature is that the hammers cannot be de-cocked while the safety is in the fire position, although one can never put absolute faith in safety catches this certainly eliminates some of the chance of an negligent discharge (ND) whilst de-cocking. The top lever is firm and does its job, there is no play when moving it and the gun opens smoothly. The triggers both broke evenly and without any undue play.
The 28” barrels are finished in traditional Damascus type brown as shotguns of that era often were. Strangely but most welcome is the full set of five, flush-fit chokes from Cylinder to Full that come with this gun, they certainly give the shooter more options when combined with the 76mm (3”) chambers. Pedersoli have certainly given this reproduction a modern twist with the choke/ chamber combination and made a shotgun that can be used for many different types of shooting. The La Bohémienne weighs in at 7.71lbs, is well balanced and handles smoothly despite not looking like an elegant best English game gun.
For the test I used 28, 30 32 and 36 gram loads in various shot sizes. As one would expect the 28-32 grams felt pleasant to shoot and did not kick at all. The 36 gram were somewhat more noticeable in the shoulder but unless shooting an extreme high bird day at pheasants it would be unusual to fire enough heavy cartridges in a day that one would feel the effects of the extra recoil. As mentioned earlier the gun handles well and was a joy to shoot, for me using a side by side is something of a change from the norm and going back to a hammer gun felt more than a little strange. This is something I have not done since my first shots with a shotgun using a .410 single barrel with my father when I was nine years old.
On to the test. At this time of year pigeons have the ability to cause us a great deal of damage to Oil Seed Rape which is very vulnerable, some of the flocks in my area have to be seen to be believed -estimating numbers is just not possible it is easier to estimate size. The biggest flocks are around quarter of a mile wide over a mile long and heaven only knows how deep, as you can imagine flocks this size can devastate crops in minutes so consequently we are constantly on guard against attack.
One way to achieve crop protection is to split up the flocks, shooting is the best way that we have found to do this. With a bag full of cartridges and the Pedersoli under my arm I was one of 24 shooters I had out trying to keep the pigeons on the move one windy Saturday in February. To start with all went well a high crow flew over and fell to my first shot, this was followed by a fast passing pigeon again to a single shot.
The birds were picked up and I was feeling pretty confident of my skill, then the inevitable occurred and I fell well and truly off the pedestal. The pigeons kept coming and I kept missing, with my first barrel things went well, but every time I went for the second shot with the left barrel I only managed to miss.
For the life of me I could not work out what I was doing wrong so really started to concentrate and shot even more badly. After a lot more shots I worked out the problem but unfortunately could not rectify it, with the hammers cocked they do not get in the way of my eye line, but when the right side was fired this seemed to draw my eye and disturbed my sight picture. Although I feel this was mostly subconscious it was enough to upset my shooting, or rather my ability to shoot straight. This is a problem that with plenty of practice and some coaching I feel could be ironed out, but it highlights the difference in shooting styles when one is used to shooting hammerless guns and normally over & under or semi auto so effectively only one barrel in the sight picture
Having said that there is something very nostalgic and strangely pleasing in shooting this Pedersoli and I thoroughly enjoyed using it, for me the challenge of being able to overcome the lack of accuracy is very appealing. For anyone who wants to go a bit old school with what they use for their shooting whilst still having the advantages of using a modern shotgun then they could do a lot worse than the La Bohémienne.
CONTACT: Henry Krank & Co Ltd, 01325 613 177 www.davidepedersoli