Michael Yardley is pleased with a pair of MK60 Miroku 20-bores, hand-engraved over-and-unders on the market at less than £6,000
The MK60 Miroku 20-bores are quite the bargain in today’s market. Michael Yardley has positive first impressions of both the aesthetic and specification and, after a go on the skeet range, finds himself tempted to buy a pair.
MK60 MIROKU 20-BORES
This month’s test guns, eagerly anticipated by 20-bore aficionados, are the latest, English-specification, 32in-barrelled MK60 Miroku 20-bores. In 2014 the 12-bore versions imported by Browning International were well received in both the 30in and 32in forms offered. Hand-finished and -engraved, they came in around the £5,000 mark.
That reasonable RRP is maintained in the test pair of MK60 Miroku 20-bores, listed at £5,800, gold numbered “I” and “II” and presented in a smart, leather motor case (single guns are available at £2,695). It is fair to say that in today’s market this appears to be quite a bargain when few hand-engraved guns are available much under the £10,000 mark. Not dissimilar Belgian-made Brownings from the firm’s Custom Shop, for example, begin at about £12,000 (more handwork is lavished upon them and action and barrel design are somewhat different).
First impressions of the MK60 Miroku 20-bores are positive regarding both aesthetics and specification. At 7lb 1oz and 7lb 3oz, weights that most would consider near ideal for long-barrelled 20-bores, they look as good as their 12-bore siblings. The guns appear most elegant with their long-but-light barrels, well-figured wood and scroll-engraved, bright-polished, B25-inspired actions. They have recoil-activated single triggers, 3in chambers, chromed bores, ventilated 6mm sighting ribs, fixed chokes (three-quarters and full) and automatic safety catches. The stocks boast fairly open, quite slim pistol grips. The fore-ends are of classic Browning/Miroku Schnabel-beaked pattern.
Wood-to-metal fit is tight and barrel finish excellent with near-invisible monobloc joints and deep, lustrous blacking. Chequering, generally good, is hand cut though some oil has been left in the borders during the finishing process and some of the border lines are not as sharp as one might like.
The slim fore-ends are nicely proportioned, the forward beaks not too extreme. The butt profiles are good although I found the nose of the stock combs a little too prominent. Grip shape, while attractive and ergonomically adequate, did not suit my hand as well as the semi-pistol shape seen on the recent UK Game 32in Browning 725 20-bore (part inspiration for these guns).
David Stapley, UK Country manager for Browning International, told me, “All the recent top-selling Browning models have been conceived over a curry and a pint of beer in Oxfordshire. The first was the Black Edition 12-bore sporter, then followed the 20-bore 725 32in UK Game with a semi-pistol stock and rounded fore-end, then the MK60 12s. Now the MK60 Miroku 20-bores have arrived. We would like to get more, too, but production is limited because of the handwork. Our market clearly wanted longer-barrelled guns with higher-grade wood, hand engraving, tight chokes that might be adjusted, and higher stock dimensions – more like Brownings than traditional Mirokus. We also specified snag-free ‘Bakelite’ butt plates on the MK60s and gold numbering in three places on the pairs.”
The stocks on the test guns measure 143⁄4in for length of pull with a drop of 11⁄2in at the front of the comb and 21⁄8in to the rear . One of the test guns had a little more cast at face than the other and slight cast for right-handers is evident although the guns may be ordered for southpaws. The stock wood did not quite match either; the No 2 gun had lighter, less richly figured wood. Such small criticisms must, however, be considered in parallel with the remarkable price point.
MK60 MIROKU 20-BORES: TECHNICAL DATA
The MK60 Miroku 20-bores are, in essence, simplified B25-style guns with detachable fore-ends and consequently more cost-effective machining. The actions retain full-width hinge pins and lock-up similar to a B25. Helical springs power the hammers. Under-barrel lumps are retained. The original Browning design was brought to production in the Twenties. The Miroku variants were perfected in the Sixties and Seventies. Legend has it that a team from Browning went to Japan circa 1970 to complain that Miroku was copying its guns. This, however, resulted in an association being formed and the Japanese company producing most Browning double shotguns.
MK60 MIROKU 20-BORES: SHOOTING IMPRESSIONS
I shot the guns, supplied via Essex Gun, at the Fennes shooting ground near Braintree. Proceedings began on the skeet range with the Station 2 “low-house” bird, which provides a datum for every field gun test. The No 1 gun dusted the first bird and the following 10 as I moved round the field. I missed a couple of the longer high-house clays on Station 5; the wind was behind them and so was I. The tight chokes seemed to necessitate more precision and deliberate “driving”. Recoil was a little higher than expected with the usual 20-bore test load (Lyalvale 24g 7 shot). “Kills” continued to impress, however. Handling qualities were good with weight and balance near ideal. The MK60 Miroku 20-bores were especially pointable with 32in barrels and 6mm sighting ribs. My only real gripe concerns the grip; it did not offer as much purchase as it might. Aesthetically, I doubt if the guns could be improved upon at the price. If I bought a pair (I’m tempted) I would open the chokes a bit and convert the grips. Overall, they still must rate as one of the best buys available.
MK60 MIROKU 20-BORE PAIR