Whilst Blaser’s new over-and-under is no lightweight, Michael Yardley declares it to be well conceived, enjoyable to shoot and instinctive to use
Having shot a number of F16s, Michael Yardley is impressed to report that the Blaser F16 Game Heritage is the best yet. It’s no lightweight, but it moves wells, is enjoyable to shoot and instinctive to use.
For more gun reviews, read Michael Yardley’s review of the AYA Premium 20-bore.
BLASER F16 GAME HERITAGE
The F16 Game Heritage is something new out of the innovative Blaser stable. It is a side-plated version of the recently introduced F16. The gun does not replace the existing, radically engineered F3 but supplements it and comes in at a more attainable price point. It has simplified mechanics while keeping some features of the F16, including modernistic styling and a low-action profile. The Game Heritage is richly adorned and will appeal to those looking for a “deluxe” model. It is probably intended to attract those who might be considering an EELL Beretta or Browning Heritage. It has its own distinct character, however.
The game and scroll engraving is profuse with well-executed gamebirds and a mixture of very tight scroll and bolder acanthus work. It is achieved by laser technology, which Blaser is expert in using in various areas of its production. Coverage is extensive. I admired the finely executed birds, as did others who saw the gun. This sort of engraving succeeds or fails on the basic artistry and there is no failure in that department here (there is also a scroll-only version of the F16, which will be available soon).
The stock of the test gun is spectacularly figured, well finished and has a tightly radiused, full pistol stock with palm swell, which I thought an unnecessary addition for a field gun (it is more suited to trap shooting). Wood to metal fit is excellent, however. General finish is good, too, with a fairly glossy sheen to the oiled stock and a satin blacking that is practical in certain situations (notably in hides where shiny barrels could scare birds), if not quite as beautiful as a lustrous, traditional black.
This F16 is quite hefty in feel and form but attractive with it. It hits the scales at just under 8lb (a pound or so heavier than the first F16 we tested). This is substantial for a game gun, although modern guns do seem to be getting heavier. Some versions of the F16 offer the option of balancing, both the barrels – using screw-on weights (which are not supplied) – and the stock, by means of short cylinders that are threaded onto a bolt in the butt. The fore-end here is of a visually pleasing and ergonomically efficient rounded style with a semi-concealed Anson-style release button to the front. There is a mechanically operated single-trigger with a barrel-selector forward of trigger as with the F3 (an interesting alternative to the usual safety mounted variety).
The test gun came with 30in monobloc barrels. There is also a 28in option. The 30in barrels seemed to suit it well, though, and one suspects this will be the most popular choice. I especially liked the taper rib. The barrels are bored at 18.6mm, which is neither too tight nor open, and should accommodate the use of fibre wadded cartridges in cold conditions (I have a preference for “back-bored” barrels but they can create obturation problems when cold weather and fibre or felt wads are used). The barrels are multi-choked, which increases versatility but necessitates a little extra weight at the muzzles to accommodate them.
When the F16 Game Heritage is mounted it feels solid but there is also life in it. The stock shapes are generous with quite a thick comb and a fairly tight radiused grip with palm swell as noted. I am not especially fond of the latter feature on a game gun (although this one is well positioned). What did impress, however, were the standard measurements – higher than most in the comb and right on the money for my Mr Average 5ft 11in physique. It is always better, in my experience, for a gun to be a little too high than a little too low (a quick test for which is to see if you can still see the bead when a proven empty gun is raised to 45 degrees with normal cheek pressure – this one passes a quick personal test).
The inline, sliding hammer action Blaser used in the F3 is dispensed with in the F16 in favour of more conventional internals, with parallel-hinged hammers powered by helical springs attached to a triggerplate. Barrel hinging is by conventional studs on the inner action walls locating in recesses in the bifurcated barrel lumps. Locking is interesting: a bifurcated bolt emerges from the bottom of the action face to engage substantial bites either side of the bottom chamber. The low action profile is retained because the bolting is into recesses machined in the rear of the barrel monobloc without projection beneath. The engineering is tight. This is a secure design, with intercepting safety sears and an inertia block mechanism designed to prevent double discharge. Ejectors are only cocked on firing, when small pins protrude from the standing breech engaging with the face of the ejector extractor where they depress a ball bearing that activates the ejection mechanism in preparation for opening the gun (Blaser calls this “EBS” – Ejection Ball System).
I have shot a number of F16s and this was the best yet. I shot it extensively and was impressed not just with the handling and comfortable, fulsome stock shapes but with the soft felt recoil. It is quite a heavy field gun but it balanced and moved well. It was most enjoyable to shoot and instinctive in use. The 9mm-7mm sighting rib was excellent, though the palm swell on the full pistol grip was not my thing. What this well-built, well-conceived gun proved to me is that higher dimensions are a substantial positive, enabling instinctive shooting. The classic English shelf dimension is 1½in and 2in. The F16, as tested, at 38mm and 50mm is almost that (1.49in and 1.96in). I hope more makers follow the Blaser lead. Overall, I rate the F16 Game Heritage highly: it shot well and the aesthetics are boldly attractive. The price is not unreasonable for the engineering and finish.
Blaser F16 Game Heritage
♦ RRP: £7,400
♦ Blaser Sporting, Unit 12, The Pines Business Park, Broad Street, Guildford GU3 3BH.
♦ 01483 917412