Hatsan Escort Magnum
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- Last updated: 19/01/2017
A while ago as some of you may remember, I took a close look at one of Hatsan’s Escort pump-action 12 bores. To say it had an air of individuality would be an understatement, as a friend likening it to shooting with a vending machine. Maybe a little unfair, what the pump and the semi-auto you see here emphasised was the fact that with their Escort range, Hatsan have more or less mastered the manufacturing of no frills, working shotguns at a quality and price hardly anyone else could hope to compete with.
Although you can buy yourself one with Magic Wood, a faux walnut finish, it’s more than likely those potential owners will opt for one of the three Mossy Oak camo versions, or the all-black synthetic job seen here. Let’s face it, if you’re looking for a semi-auto, 12-bore of this ilk, it’s probably not for use as a sporting weapon, the foreshore or pest and vermin control being its most likely purposes. That said, there is definitely a place for shotguns such as the Escort Magnum, an honest single barrel that purports to be nothing more than it is - a tough as old boots workhorse. Plus it would also make a good choice for those looking for a cheap yet reliable Practical Shotgun.
Like the pump, the Magnum arrives in a large, colourful cardboard box eagerly displaying all the possible variations of the Magnum you can acquire in 12 or 20-bore along with the capacity variations. For most, the 2+1 gun will be the preferred model although with Section 1 paperwork, a magazine extension is available to give the Magnum a 7+1 capability, ideal for most practical and working situations.
Weighing in at a fraction less than 8lbs, the first thing that strikes you about the Magnum is that it’s all barrel and action. If further proof were needed, a quick measure of the length of pull revealed an extremely short 13 7/8”, one of the shortest I’ve encountered for quite a while especially when coupled with 1 11/16” drop and comb and 2½” drop at heel. If nothing else this diminutive dimension and overtly short synthetic stock emphasized the Magnum’s workman like intentions. Though the thick soft recoil pad promised a deal of comfort when using the heavier loads, which is no bad thing!
Moving forward, the black anodised receiver is crafted from aircraft grade aluminium with the gun’s name discreetly embossed into each side, the only bright work being the inside of the action when the bolt is drawn rearwards. Apart from the now familiar cross-bolt safety that’s situated to the rear of the visually, rough hued trigger guard, the bolt release is situated on the left of the receiver, with a magazine cut off lever on the right, just below the bolt handle. This allows you to single load a cartridge and literally switch off the magazine feed as required.
The well proportioned and vented forend slides neatly over the Magnum’s self-regulating gas system which in turn locates the 3” chambered, 28” fully anodised, nickel-chromium-molybdenum, chrome-lined barrel. Finished off with a simple brass bead sat on top of the high, vented 7mm rib, the gun comes with a full set of short interchangeable multi-chokes and a basic ‘T’ shaped key to fit them.
Assembly is achieved by first ensuring the bolt is ‘in battery’ before sliding the barrel into place. Once located, lock the bolt into its open position and the barrel will then slide fully home. Once in position, you then need to ensure that the forend locates within the fixed shim on the lower part of the front of the receiver. All that remains is to spin the mag cap on and, as the saying goes; you’re ready to rock and roll.
Loading up is reminiscent of that all time classic, the Browning A5. Once you’ve chambered the first round, you must then keep the bolt release fully depressed to unlock the loading gate, something you must do for each additional round. Alternatively, if you want to keep the Magnum single shot only, depressing the cut off means just one round at a time, ideal if the Escort is being used by a first timer or in situations where you want to keep the gun perfectly safe after you’ve just taken your shot.
Quick Reaction Force
What the overall lack of size does do is to improve the Magnum’s speed of use and handling abilities in the confines of a pigeon hide, or out of a 4x4 or if shooting ‘gun down’. It also rather emphasizes that the Escort is at heart a tactical weapon with a design structure angled towards situations slightly more intense than a Sunday morning’s Skeet layout. The 7lbs 8oz total weight is centred three inches forward of the receiver.
Complete with a 3” magnum chamber that’s more than capable of handling both lightweight competition loads and sizable cartridges that fall firmly into the FAC category, the Magnum proved itself to be extremely versatile; 50g BB’s or 24g sub – sonic shells all cycled with equal alacrity. This ability to work with lighter loads also means that given the Magnum’s dimensions it will also serve as an ideal shotgun for someone starting out, as it will function reliably yet not beat the hell out of the novice shooter and put them off.
About the time I was ready to test the Magnum, my friends at Bond & Bywater commented that they just acquired themselves the magazine extension for their own example and wouldn’t it be a good idea to try the gun in 7-shot guise. Couldn’t have agreed more since in my opinion seven shots beat three any day of the week. Similarly, if you’ve got the chit, all it costs is around £15 for Escort’s mag extension.
Tackling the first round of 30 birds ESP, the first and most lasting impression was how high the Magnum shot, to a degree even easy birds were passing by unscathed whilst the average trigger pull weight of 7lbs 6oz wasn’t helping when it came to smoothness of operation. With the choke changed to Cylinder soon improved mine and the Magnum’s combined performance, something that also reinforced the Escort’s true purpose in life.
With a wider choke and Express Supreme 9’s starting in a gun-down stance, the short butt allowed for an extremely quick mount and shoot, with close range birds absolutely decimated. Equally, with Full choke, long distance crossers or high overhead birds such as those a duck or goose shooter would encounter were despatched with ease. The Magnum’s high shooting characteristics seemed to automatically add the additional lead long range targets require. Likewise, when tried with Express Max Game 50g BB’s, 1’s and 2’s, the Magnum was surprisingly soft to shoot, the thick recoil pad and gas system combining to take the sting out of these high performance cartridges.
What you’ve to be careful of is the shortness of the stock. With the Magnum mounted, there’s a definite feeling of being cramped up around the gun, with the back of your thumb nudging against your nose, which is not ideal for the correct sight picture, or when using magnum loads. This aspect also seems to be compounded by the Escort’s weight distribution. The feeling of needing to pull the gun further back into your shoulder negated by the fact that there’s nothing more to pull back, whilst the low comb does tend to leave your cheek searching for somewhere to rest against unless you push your entire head forward, which brings us once again back to the short stock.
Yes at times it does seem to clank during cycling and no, the Magnum isn’t one of the most refined semis you’ll ever use. But for £412 when equated to what the Escort Magnum’s capable of, the whole parcel has got to add up to one of the best practical and working package on the market. OK so it’s no ‘looker’ and wouldn’t prove to be exactly at home around the clay layouts. That said, once you’ve got yourself into how this Escort works, it’ll more than hold its own. It may not be a true ‘Turkish delight’ but if you’re on a budget or want one of the most resilient 12-bores out there, Escort’s Magnum takes a lot of beating.
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