Attracting much interest within the gun trade, Blaser’s latest over-and-under looks and handles much like its more expensive stablemate, says Michael Yardley
The Blaser F16 Game is this gunmaker’s latest over-and-under and is attracting much interest within the trade. Michael Yardley finds that it gives plenty of bang for your buck.
For more gun reviews read Michael Yardley’s review of the Beretta 486 Parallelo EL, launched to replace the 470 series and now in 20-bore.
BLASER F16 GAME
The new Blaser F16 over-and-under has caused some significant interest and comment within the gun trade. The model we have put under the spotlight – there are two on offer – is the game version, intended for the field (there is also a “sporter”). The Blaser F16 Game has a very low profile action (there is only one that I know that is lower and that is a close-run thing). This plain but attractive gun is presented in a smart, unadorned, gun-metal grey nitrided finish. Modern teutonic functionalism scores over chiselled gothic bas-relief or Euro-gun laser scroll.
Although Blaser offers other shotgun models with more elaborate decoration, the F16 purposefully has limited adornment. All options are limited and so the price of what is still a quality product can be kept down. The mechanical specification, however, boasts a single selective trigger, flush-fit multichokes, an ejection mechanism that cocks on opening (and so makes closing easier), intercepting safety sears and a facility to balance the gun precisely built into the stock – tubular weights on a threaded stock bolt (the sporter model also allows for barrel weighting, too). The Blaser F16 Game weighs in just under 6¾lb (about a pound less than the sporter) and carries the surprisingly reasonable RRP of £2,550 (the sporter is £2,870).
Blaser is perhaps best known for its excellent and accurate straight-pull rifles but its F3 shotgun made quite a splash when it was launched at Dornsberg more than a decade back and has been a constant seller ever since. It was innovative in a number of respects: a modular design; a low-action profile; and an unusual in-line hammer action. Enter the new F16, a gun that, although selling at about half the price, still looks and handles like its more expensive, well-established stablemate. The main difference is that the new gun dispenses with the in-line hammer mechanism developed by gifted Russian designer Sergie Popikov and replaces it with more conventional mechanics. This will allow them to hit a different market. I would guess that pricing psychology for the US has had a great deal to do with the introduction of the new model.
Blaser is an impressive, commercially and technically savvy firm. I have visited the factory complex at Isny. I know the dynamic group CEO, Bernhard Knöbel, and the Blaser UK and international MD, Robert Sajitz. Both are at the top of their game. I have also done some work – stock design – for the company. It is a go-ahead, modern concern that impresses and makes innovative products by modern and traditional methods. Though retaining old-school craftsmen, the company is a master of CNC. My two lasting impressions on visiting the factory were of the constantly running rows of the latest multi-axis CNC machines and the number of teenage apprentices, male and female, who had been taken on. There was a modern, light feel to the place, too, all of it most impressive.
CLEAN AND MODERN
Back to the test gun. The form of the Blaser F16 Game seems to be right on the money. It doesn’t look too radical but it does look clean and modern. Stock shapes please, especially the fore-end, and the standard measurements are good. The length of pull is 14¾in with a drop of 1⅜in at the front of the comb and just over 2⅛in to the rear.
Apart from the features mentioned, the barrel selector is to the front of the trigger inside the bow of the trigger guard. This is less common than the safety-cum-selector now normally encountered but arguably more practical. Ejector springs, as noted, are cocked on opening the gun. Thus, the Blaser F16 Game requires little effort to close but it is not especially hard to open. The gun feels solid in the hands – a quality thing – and comes to the shoulder well. Even at 6¾lb – relatively light for a 12-bore over-and-under – it feels steady. Balanced on the pin, it feels willing, too.
The Blaser F16 Game is an evolved trigger-plate design. Barrel lumps are bifurcated. There is trunnion hinging (the usual studs at the knuckle) and a single central cocking bar. The hammers, powered by coil springs (positioned under rather than behind) are hinged in the normal manner rather different to the F3, which has less conventional sliding hammers. Fast lock times are retained in the new gun and the trigger pulls – factory set at 1.650g (3lb 10oz) – are crisp. The trigger is inertia operated and has a clever intercepting safety mechanism. The 3in chambered, monobloc barrels are steel-shot friendly and equipped with multichokes. Lock-up is achieved by hefty bolts emerging from the bottom of the action face and engaging bites either side of the bottom chamber mouth. The standing breech has a detachable action face made from steel, which probably enables easy machining of the action bar.
I liked the way the Blaser F16 Game looked and it handled just as well. The build quality was evident and general design outstanding, as one expects from Blaser. Trigger pulls were clean and crisp. Felt recoil was, however, quite noticeable in this lighter game model. The sporting version, which is heavier, is significantly softer to shoot. As I am recoil sensitive I would tend towards the sporter if I wanted a high-bird gun that could do double service on clays.
With the gun tested, I would probably stick to 28g loads (24g if I was breaking pitch disks). The F16 offers a lot of bang and engineering for the buck. The lightly back-bored barrels, long forcing cones and chokes all helped to produce especially good patterns from the Express HV24 and 28g cartridges used. I can’t see much disadvantage to the new action mechanism over the F3 (although it is less novel). Offering quality and value, the F16 will no doubt be in much demand.
BLASER F16 GAME
♦ Price: £2,550
♦ Blaser Sporting, 13-19 Pensbury Place, London SW8 4TP
♦ 020 7622 2116