Category Archives: Product Reviews

Winchester 12g O/U Select Sporter Shotgun

When you hear people talk about a Winchester gun you automatically think of the classic Winchester lever action rifle of the Old West and the cowboy jacking rounds into the chamber to ward off attacking Indians. Whilst these rifles are very fine guns indeed (I have fired an original Winchester Model 1873 whilst on holiday in Tombstone Arizona in 2008) Winchester also makes shotguns and I am a proud owner of one these guns.

Nowadays the Herstal Group own the Winchester brand along with Browning and FN. The Winchester I now own was made in the FN factory in Liege, Belgium but is still a very good gun indeed. When I went shopping for my first shotgun I was originally looking at some guns around £600-£700 mark but then I spotted a legendary name nestling amongst the Browning’s and Berretta’s. Winchester. Now as a former Old West re-enactor I do admit to having a soft spot for Winchester so I was immediately drawn to them. I asked if I could have a closer look at one so the gun shop owner unlocked one and handed it to me. Immediately I was struck by how nice it felt in my hand and at £1300 was within my budget for a shotgun. But, unusually for me, I held back as we were due to visit another gun shop the next day and I had the FEO coming round to check my security for my change of address on my certificate.

Picking up the new Winchester shotgun

The next day on a whim, we decided to visit another shop we’ve been recommended; Malmo Guns. They had only one O/U Winchester and I immediately fell in love with it. It had 30” barrels, adjustable chokes, adjustable stock, came in a abs case and with a combination trigger lock. But that is not what made this gun stand out from the rest. It was the furniture. The stock and fore grip were made from a grey laminate and it looked beautiful. The scroll work was just as nice but also subtle (I don’t like in your face engraving as to me a gun is there to used on the range rather than stuck in a cabinet to be admired). It was also £200 cheaper than the Winchesters I saw the previous day. I was cursing the FEO as he took my certificate away to be updated but the gun shop came to my rescue and said I could reserve the gun with a small deposit. The gun was mine. I paid for the gun in full and then waited for my certificate to be returned. A week later I had the certificate and the gun.

This particular gun is a Winchester Select Sporter 12 Gauge in Over/Under format. It comes in a red ABS case with the Winchester horse and rider logo emblazoned on it. When you open the case you are presented with the gun sitting in its foamed lined compartments with the tools, spare choke and trigger lock in a separate compartment. I found putting the gun together a bit tricky at first but that was probably due to my lack of experience and it has become easier as I have gotten used to it. The gun itself weighs a hefty 3.45 kilos (7.6 lbs) (hefty for me that is) but when you are shooting the gun it doesn’t feel like it is that heavy. The chokes supplied are Imp. Mod or ¾ choke, Mod or ½ choke and Skeet.

Winchester Select Sporter 12G

I first used the gun on a Shotgun and Chelsea Bun Club day just 8 days after I picked the gun up. The recoil wasn’t as hefty as I expected. In fact, I found I had to really pull the stock into my shoulder to make the second barrel fire. Pointing the gun and tracking the clays was really easy with the Winchester. I needed to adjust the comb to make the gun fit to me but once it was properly set up and fitted my target hit rate shot up.

Close up of scroll work on Winchester Select Sporter

The trigger action is just right for me straight out of the box and has a good solid feel plus plenty of room inside the trigger guard for gloved hands on a cold winters day.

Would I recommend this gun as a novice clay shooter. The simple answer is yes i would. it feels like a much more expensive gun and is well presented both as a package in the case and as a working gun. It handles well and is very comfortable to shoot. It deserves the Winchester name.

Review: Browning 525

Browning 525

My Browning 525 was the first gun I bought (followed swiftly by my Browning Maxus already reviewed)

Having a love and interest in Browning firearms I was naturally drawn towards this brand for choosing my first guns. There were two 525s in the shop, one brand new and one second hand. I decided to purchase the second hand gun as it was a significant difference in price and was practically new. It also seemed to fit me slightly better.

Browning 525

I was permitted to try it on the clay ground next to the shops premises and I smashed every bird(although I admit they were not super challenging.)

The gun itself balances very well on me and fits superbly. I have noticed it can have quite a hard kick if not mounted correctly especially when using 3” magnum cartridges, a friend of mine also found this out due to repeatedly going into a terrible stance.

It is a very attractive gun with excellent artwork featuring Pheasants on one side and a Duck scene on the other. The birds themselves are gold coloured against a black background and really adds to the look and stands out against the dark wood and metal.

I use this gun both for rough shooting and clay target shooting and it performs very well for both tasks. Although I do prefer using my Maxus this is just down to personal preference and not a slight on the 525.

The gun itself is very easy to maintain and strip. As seen below it breaks down into three main parts allowing access for cleaning and general maintenance. I generally clean out the barrel with a brush and then wipe it through with a light oil or WD40. I add a light oil to the ejectors and other moving parts or a touch of grease where oil is not suitable.

Stripped down Browning 525 shotgun

I would certainly recommend the Browning 525 to anyone as it is a very solid gun and has never let me down.

The Specifications

Cartridge sizes: 2 ¾” – 3”
Proofed for Steel: Yes
Barrel length: 30”
Ejectors: Yes
Safety: Manual
Chokes: Yes(Came with full selection of extended chokes)

The Mighty Mosin

As I have mentioned in a previous post there are various options for young shooters who wish to take up fullbore rifle shooting whilst working on a small budget. This is going to be the first of a series of posts relating to specific items and rifles, some of which I have mentioned previously other not.

Photo Credit: John Clark @ http://www.classic-firearms.co.uk/, picture of author using a M44 Carbine.

Photo Credit: John Clark @ http://www.classic-firearms.co.uk/, picture of author using a M44 Carbine.

Photo Credit: Brunel University Target Shooting Club, Courtesy of Chris Green

Photo Credit: Brunel University Target Shooting Club, Courtesy of Chris Green

The Russian Mosin Nagant is a minefield of history and variations, collecting them is in itself an extremely rewarding exercise with the number of variants available. Adopted in 1891 the Mosin Nagant or ‘3 line rifle’ became the work horse of the Imperial Russian Army, the Red Army, Finland and after the Second World War it proliferated around the newly formed Warsaw Pact and other Communist Nations. The Mosin’s cartridge, the 7.62x54R is still in use today by any nation that uses a variant of the Dragunov sniper rifle and PKM machine gun, among numerous other designs.

Throughout it’s service life the Mosin Nagant changed in appearance and numerous variants exist, for the purpose of this article we will be focusing on the Soviet-era rifles and carbines. Imperial Russian Army and Finnish are comparatively rare and as such hold a price premium, therefore, they will not be discussed except to provide context to the history of the design. It must be noted that despite their comparative scarcity to their Soviet counterparts, the aforementioned rifles are still a relatively cheap way of entering a collectors market, especially when compared to Lee Enfield rifles.

The overall design of the Mosin Nagant is somewhat unusual; however, it is not outside of what was normal in terms of firearms design at the time. The bolt has two locking lugs at the front and the handle acts as a third safety by bracing itself against the receiver wall. The magazine is of a five round integral single stack design as opposed to the more common integral double stack magazine found on Mauser rifles. Due to the design of the magazine and the large rim of the 7.62x54R cartridge the Mosin Nagant has a magazine cut-off which is used to make sure that the rim of the following cartridge goes not go in front of the round at the top of the magazine. This unique feature prevents jams associated with rimmed ammunition (known as rim lock). The sights are of the conventional no thrills tangent U notch and are marked out in 100m increments out to 2000 yards for 91/30 rifles and 1000 for M38 and M44 carbines. The sights are crude, but practical and if the shooter does their part the carbines can achieve 4MOA if not better, the rifles seem to range between 2 and 4 MOA at 100 yards. It must be noted that the 91/30 rifles and the M44 carbines were designed to be fired with the bayonet fixed, Russian and Soviet doctrine was for bayonet to always be mounted unless the rifle was in storage or transit. This means that the 91/30 and M44 are both zeroed with the bayonet fixed, some will shoot better without the bayonet, however, this may entail some work to alter the sights or practicing some ‘Kentucky windage.’

M44 Carbine, Dave Voisey

M44 Carbine, Dave Voisey[/caption

[caption id="attachment_108693" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Bolt of 91/30 ‘Sniper Rifle’ Dave Voisey Bolt of 91/30 ‘Sniper Rifle’ Dave Voisey

Now that we have briefly discussed the overall design of the Mosin Nagant we will look into the reasons as to why it is an ideal rifle for young shooters who are a budget. First of all there is value for money, Mosin Nagants vary in price from £120-250 for the basic models, the price will also often include a sling, ammunition pouch, an original cleaning kit, and if you purchase a 91/30 then more often than not a bayonet is also included. Many of these rifles are in very good condition despite being produced under war time conditions, like every other nation, after the Second World War the USSR refurbished the rifles in her inventory, and with their rapid replacement firstly by the SKS and then by the AK series, saw the Mosin Nagant place in store. As a result of the refurbishments and long term storage the vast majority of Mosin Nagants in the UK are in exceptionally good condition.

91/30 PU scope Dave Voisey

91/30 PU scope Dave Voisey

Not only are Mosin Nagant rifles cheap to purchase but so is the ammunition, surplus 7.62x54R is still readily available for around £30-35 per hundred and can often be bought for a good price in 440 round ‘spam cans.’ The vast majority of this ammunition is of surprisingly good quality for surplus rounds that are in the region of 40 to 50 years old. There is a large variety of surplus rounds, due to the large number of nations who manufactured, and still manufacture the 7.62x54R cartridge, obviously some are better than others but, for general plinking the standard Soviet ‘light ball’ is a very good cartridge. Be warned, the military surplus ammunition is highly corrosive and despite the rugged nature of the Mosin the barrel can only take so much punishment from corrosive ammunition if it is not cleaned properly. The cleaning process does not need any solvents, just boiled water and patches. There is also a selection of factory ammunition available should you choose to use it, there is a large variation in price. Prvi Partizan is obviously on the more expensive end of the scale retailing at around £60-70 per 100 rounds, on the other end of the scale is Barnaul’s ammunition which retails for £40-50 per 100.

M44 Mosin Muzzle Flash, Photo Courtesy of Ray Brown.

M44 Mosin Muzzle Flash, Photo Courtesy of Ray Brown.

Accessorising Mosing Nagants is also a fairly cheap exercise, I am not talking about hacking apart a piece of history (something as a Military Surplus Rifle collector I could never condone) but, instead making it an easier rifle to shoot. Scope mounts can be easily mounted in the ‘scout’ fashion with the rear sight simply being replaced with a scope mount, mounts can be found in the US for a reasonable amount of money. Specialist recoil pads designed specifically for Mosin can also be easily found along with a plethora of different modern style of stock. Magazine reloading can be achieved by the use of stripper clips, these are fairly plentiful and cheap, however, they vary greatly in ease of use and quality.

Ultimately the Mosin Nagant in various forms is an extremely versatile and economical firearm. The M38 and M44 carbines provide a lot of fun, especially for the recoil sadists (an issue that the aftermarket recoil pads adequately cater for) and they provide an excellent fun. There is also with the right ammo on a dull day a wonderful ball of flames that bursts from the muzzle. The 91/30 rifles are just as fun, however, they are certainly more accurate due to the longer barrel and sight radius. There are also 91/30 sniper rifles mounted with PU and PE/PEM scopes, these obviously hold a premium and there are many fakes. Despite this, you can still find unmatched scope and rifle combinations with PU scopes for £6-700, easily the most affordable Second World War sniper rifle, as such you can own an interesting piece of history without breaking the bank. They may not be as pretty as other rifles, nor as accurate or ergonomic they are, however, as stated affordable, reliable and a wonderful way to introduce yourself to fullbore shooting and if you are so inclined collecting pieces of history.

Discount Banner Printing – Window Stickers

Our first order from the Discount Banner Printing company was for our new line of static cling window stickers. We ordered 200 of the 3.8″ square static cling window stickers on Sunday evening and they arrived the following Tuesday. The ordering process was intuitive and very efficient. Enter your details on the right hand side of the website to calculate a quote, then simply add to the shopping basket and pay for the order. You can even pay with PayPal making ordering from Discount Banner Printing as flexible and efficient as possible.

Our stickers arrived in a sturdy box and where well protected en-route to us. The only downside was that they arrived on long sheets which were rolled up, consequently the corners of some of the stickers started to curl up. This was soon corrected by laying the sheets out and gently resting a weight on them. The stickers are static cling, meaning they have no adhesive and use static to hold them onto the window surface. They peel off the backing paper easily, hold firmly onto the window surface and can even be removed and placed back on the backing paper for later use.

Static Cling Window Stickers from Discount Banner Printing

Update

Our order of window stickers arrived with a double sided printed leaflet offering a series of offers. As a customer we were offered the chance to earn anyone offer or all of them collectively (as we did). These offers offered discounts on future orders or Amazon vouchers in exchange for a written review and various social network promotions of the company. Unfortunately despite multiple e-mails, both via their website and in reply to their own automated e-mails (asking us to complete the included offers), we are yet to receive any reply or confirmation of any offers being completed. A message on their Facebook page also failed to generate any response from the company, and our notice of lack of customer service was sadly not alone on the companies Facebook page.

The combination of the lack of customer service after having placed an order, the fact many of the stickers arrived with curled up edges and the disappointing level of contrast on the stickers, which were produced from a high definition and very clear image forces us to conclude that we will no longer use the Discount Banner Company for our merchandise or other product requirements in the future and can not recommend them as a company.

Introducing Custom Sporting Mats and Hides

It goes without saying that we at Firearms UK love firearms and shooting, so we are keen to bring to your attention any company or product we feel may be of interest to you as firearms owners and shooting sports enthusiasts. This times its the turn of Custom Sporting Mats and Hides a family run business based out of Essex, specializing in sporting goods for the shooting fraternity.

Products and Prices

The company have numerous product lines, offering something for everyone; including shooting mats, pellet pouches and gun bags. All products are made in house using top quality materials as shown by an array of stunning product photographs.

Custom Sporting Mats and HIdes 27th December Price List

Price List (27/12/13): All prices include delivery

The standard shooting mats have four sections so when folded the dirt and mud is inside away from your clothes, they measure 29″ x 68″ when out flat. Manufactured from hard-wearing 1000d Cordura fabric they are water-resistant and all seams, handles, etc are all double stitched using a very strong thread. The covers do not come off but are easy to clean with a damp cloth and have even been known to be cleaned with a jet washer!

The bean bag seats are also very popular and are made out of the same high quality materials. Two sizes are available, the HFT bean bag and the larger FT bean bag. They can be made with a pocket on the front or without, whichever is preferred. The HFT bean bag measures approx 18″ x 17″ and is £27 without pocket or £29 with pocket. The FT bean bag measures approx 20″ x 19″ and is £38 without pocket and £40 with pocket, they can also be made to customers own requirements.

A small selection of pellet pouches are available which can be made in any colour with a lanyard or belt loops. The single pouch costs £5.50, the small double pellet/mag pouch is £10 and was featured in Shooting Sports Magazine. The large pellet/mag pouch is priced at £15.

Man aiming an air rifle through a small camouflage hide

In addition to mats and pouches, they also offer hides!

Rifle bags and pistol cases were added to the product range in 2013 and are proving very popular. They are custom made to suit your own measurements and are available in a variety of designs and colours.

Customization

The standard shooting mats come with the company name and contact number embroidered on them, but a personalized embroidery service is available at an additional cost, and may be especially useful if you are purchasing as a club or to commemorate a special occasion. The mats measure 29″ x 68″ when laid out flat but can be custom made to your own size requirements.

Gun bags are priced on the requirements of the customer so they don’t have a set price, all bags are priced individually. If you require a gun bag please get in touch with Custom Sporting Mats and Hides for a quote.

Take a look at the gallery for some examples.

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Company History

The husband and wife team behind Custom Sporting Mats and Hides, being keen shooters themselves also run an airgun club and it was here where their business first began by making bean bags for their Essex shooting club. It went down so well they were soon asked if they make shooting mats. After a a lot of research in to different types of fabric and foam, they came up with the mats you see above.

They pride themselves on quality and only use high quality materials. The business has been going from 2010 and is run out of their family home in Essex. Now specializing in gun bags, they were the main supplier of leather bottle covers for Daystate, with the first one to be seen on the REDRANGER special edition rifle.

More Information

Custom Sporting Mats and Hides is run by a family of air rifle shooters, who also run their own gun club… so if their fabulous range of products isn’t enough to tempt you into getting out the credit card, perhaps knowing that you will be helping to support a family who loves the sport just as much as you do will!

More to their range… rugby tops and polo shirts can now be ordered with your name or club logo on, please get in touch for quote.

custom logos and embroidery on polo shirts and rugby tops

Based in Rayleigh, Essex you can reach them via their website contact page by e-mail or by phone on 01268 655179.

Custom Sporting Mats and Hides also have their own Facebook page please pay them a visit and invite your friends to take a look at their products.

The ABC of Rabbit Control, DVD Review

Erika was recently fortunate enough to win a DVD entitled ‘The ABC of Rabbit Control’, kindly donated to the Pest Control UK group on Facebook; in return for her good fortune she will provide a review of the DVD bellow.

My general thoughts are that the video is very clear, easy to understand and is professionally presented; so don’t be fooled by the debatable quality of the DVD sleeve insert :-). The subject is covered in detail and is divided into sub topics beginning with an introduction to the various tools available for rabbit control. The tools are then discussed in more detail and demonstrated so that you are familiar with how to use them and how to select the most appropriate tool for your own circumstances. The DVD finishes with an “in the field” demonstration showing traps being setup and baited ready for use and highlights some of the damage caused by the rabbits.

Particularly interesting for myself was the tunnel trap and the ferrets because I am less familiar with these methods in comparison to the live catch traps and other methods mentioned. Having an opportunity to see the traps deployed in the field with the intricacies of where to place the traps discussed is also a very valuable portion of the video which I found to be engaging. If you are new to traps they are covered in great detail, with the various types explained; how and where to set them is covered as well as some historical points.

I am informed the DVD is “a bit dated now”, though it is still available on their new ‘Discount Pest Control’ website, where it is currently available for only £5.99, a bargain for any budding pest controller or someone with their own rabbit problem. On their website you will also find a collection of “live catch” traps which they make themselves.

The ABC of Rabbit Control DVD

This DVD is available from Discount Pest Control

PSA: Sling Swivels

This is a public service announcement (PSA). When purchasing sling swivels please ensure you check the quality of manufacture, it is no use saving a few pounds on the cost of a more expensive version when they can break and trash your much more expensive firearm. When it comes to installing them, take care and ensure they are installed correctly and securely before you trust them to your rifle or shotgun.

We are making this PSA because we have just become aware of multiple cases of failures via Facebook.

Review: Browning Maxus

I have always had a love of Browning firearms. I’m not sure where this interest has come from perhaps just from the ergonomics and aesthetics of the firearms or perhaps it is the fantastic reputation and innovation that has been shown by John M Browning and the company over the centuries. Unfortunately due to the sad state of affairs of UK firearms law I have thus far never been able to own or fire many of the firearms from this legendary name. It was with my interest in Browning firearms that  I was drawn towards choosing Browning Shotguns for my first purchase.I had shot clays for a few years but only fairly recently did I apply for my SGC.

I can remember being in the shop looking at all the guns when I picked up a Browning 525 O/U(which I will talk about in another article). The length and balance of the gun was perfect for me so I decided to purchase it. However I was also very keen to purchase a semi automatic shotgun and that is when the Maxus caught my eye. It stood apart from the others in the shop due to the eye catching finish and of course the “quick release” fore end.

I picked it up and again was amazed at how well it seemed to fit my frame as well as how light it was.  I left that day £2,500 lighter with 1 almost new 525 and a brand new Maxus  and I will never look back.

My particular model is the Maxus Sporting Carbon Fiber (pictured) which features a synthetic stock and forearms, aluminium receiver and coated steel barrel with a ventilated rib. It is chambered for 2 3/4″ -3″ magnum and is proofed for steel shot. In all it weighs in around 7lbs

Maxus Sporting Carbon Fiber

Browning Maxus Sporting Carbon Fiber

This was a favourite when participating in my first rough shoot as I felt it would be more forgiving of the wet(although with good maintenance this shouldn’t be an issue). The Dura-Touch® coating on the stock and fore end is also designed to aid in stopping heat loss as well as improving grip in wet conditions. Very much appreciated I can tell you!

The Maxus has many excellent features such as the quick release fore end which I have already mentioned but also a speed loader and a magazine empty.

The quick release is quite an innovative feature that aids in stripping down the gun for cleaning and maintenance. It functions similarly to the fore end on a traditional over under. You simply push a small button in and flick a lever up and the fore end simply slides off. This allows the rest of the gun to be stripped down.

Quick release mechanism for Browning Maxus

Quick Release Mechanism

To remove stock press button

To remove fore end press button

Pull lever out and slide fore end off

Pull lever out and slide fore end off

The speed loader is simple in operation and an excellent feature.  It allows you to leave the gun and magazine empty whilst walking but allows you to be ready to fire almost immediately if quarry presents itself unexpectedly. The principle of operation is simple. You leave the breech locked open and the magazine empty, when you load the first shot into the magazine it is immediately feed into the chamber and the breech block closes over ready to fire thus saving vital seconds fumbling to load directly into the breech.

The only down side to this feature is you cannot have 2 rounds in the magazine with the breech left open as they automatically feed into the chamber. Some models do feature a magazine disconnect which allows you to leave the breech open and have cartridges in the magazine.

The magazine discharge is another handy little feature on the Maxus which saves a bit of time and messing about. Just inside the magazine feed there is a little spring tab sticking out. If you wish to empty your gun you simply push this tab in and the cartridges will automatically feed  out of the magazine into your hand.

Browning Maxus Magazine Discharge

Magazine discharge tab (arrowed)

The Maxus also features Browning’s Power Drive Gas System. According to Browning this system ” has been designed to be more reliable in all conditions, fire a wider selection of loads, reduce recoil and cycle shells faster. The new Power Drive gas piston features large exhaust ports that effectively dump gases faster on heavy loads, while the piston has an approximately 20% longer stroke for superior reliability with light loads.”

Maintenance

Maintenance of the Maxus is very easy. The entire gun can be stripped down in less than 20 seconds(Faster with practice) after removing the quick release fore end the barrel, piston,spring and breech block to be removed.  I lubricate all moving parts with a light oil. Grease has been recommended to me for the breech block but I am going to monitor the effectiveness of this as I am wary of any grease getting turned into grinding paste.

Disassembled Browning Maxus

Disassembled Maxus showing barrel, magazine tube, gas piston and forend. Breech block is still in receiver

Browning Maxus Breech Block

Breech Block. To remove, cocking handle must be pulled out and breech closing button must be pressed to let breech slide out

After a lot of shooting you may also wish to clean the inside of the magazine tube out and lubricate it. This is fairly simple to do but if unsure you should always go to a professional gunsmith. To open up the magazine tube there is a little spring pin that must be pressed in whilst applying torque to the end cap. Once the pin is pressed in the cap should screw off as normal. Be careful when nearing the end of the thread as there is a very long spring inside under tension. When doing this I place a rag over the end cap and wear a pair of safety glasses.

Re-assembly is simply the reverse process. When putting the spring and end cap back on you may need assistance. Also the spring pin will need to be pressed in to allow it to screw in correctly.

Although I am a relatively new shooter I can say I am very happy with my choice(s) for my first shotguns and can see many years of happy reliable use ahead of me. The Maxus is ideal for new and experienced shooters alike. It is light, low recoil, accurate, reliable, easy to look after and most of all FUN!