Many shooters of more senior years may have fond memories of the .410 shotgun. I well recall buying my first proper shotgun, an El Faisan Spanish .410 folding double-barrel model, bought from a farmhand on a farm I used to shoot over as a very young teenager.
I had great fun knocking over bunnies as they scampered between the gorse bushes, but when it came to tackling the woodpigeons coming in to roost in the woods beyond it was a different story. They seldom came in close enough for a clear shot and any attempt to stretch the little .410s range met with little to show for it.
Therein lay the snag – the .410 was short on range, choice of ammunition types and expensive to feed. This did not go down well with a young lad who worked hard for his pocket money, then spent it mainly on ammunition. I needed things to go in the pot to reward the cost and effort involved and the .410 soon became, well, rather unsatisfactory – I preferred pigeon to rabbit and was getting nowhere fast. While trying to ensure I came home with something one evening, I discovered another weakness of the .410 of those days; the ammunition had some serious limitations of its own. A pigeon dropped onto a low branch about thirty yards away; in the dusk I had little chance of quietly getting much closer so, getting into the best position I could, I decided to have a go at this sitter. Such targets are notoriously difficult to connect with, especially with a .410, so it was more in hope than expectation that I fired; what joy, the pigeon dropped from the branch as though pole-axed.
I retrieved my next evening’s tea full of excitement. When I got home and started to dress the bird the reason for its instant demise became obvious; the top half of its head was totally missing. I had heard about shot balling, so had an idea what it was; now I had visible evidence. In fact I owe much to that shot, as it made me do my first pattern test and although not every shot balled (and I could not afford to ‘waste’ them on a plate) some did. On seeing these ‘clumps’ of shot that left severe dents in the sheet of metal I had found and painted, my little .410’s days were numbered and my days as someone who tested cartridges and patterns had begun.
The Khan Arthemis
This new Khan is an over-and-under, a type we could once only dream of, as only expensive game guns were so constructed in my youth: a gun such as this would have been truly mouth-wateringly desirable and, in fact, so nicely proportioned is the Khan Arthemis that it exudes similar attractiveness today.
The model K226 is suitable for ladies, youths or indeed most adult shooters as this particular model is of almost standard dimensions and not intended for smaller youths. Indeed Khan has very thoughtfully also made a youth version available just for them. This one is big enough and carries sufficient weight to fulfil a wider role and really feels the part.
Construction is based upon a design typical of guns from the Brescia region of Italy, featuring two large hardened steel trunnions set into the receiver’s front inner side walls upon which the barrels hinge for opening and closing. A full-width locking bolt is set into the bottom of the standing breech face and this engages with a locking wedge recess machined into the monobloc breech below the bottom barrel; a conventional top lever operates the bolt. This arrangement is well established as being sound, efficient and reliable and Turkish maker Khan has adopted the system well.
Barrels are built using the monobloc method, the breech block sides nicely jewel-finished, and chambers bored for 3-inch cartridges. The two tubes are joined by ventilated side ribs for lighter weight, improved balance and heat dispersion; they have been polished before being well blacked. A brass front sight is also fitted. It is a non-ejector, which is no drawback, and keeps the price down too; the empty cases are in any case raised for easy extraction upon opening.
Action internals are simple and unrefined with top-hinged sears controlling bottom-hinged tumblers (hammers). The tumblers are powered by twin coil springs. A sear lifter is connected to the trigger bar to raise the sears out of engagement with the holding bents in the tumblers’ top edges. A mechanical trigger reset device moves the lifter from one tumbler to the next upon firing, with the barrel firing first being selectable via the top strap mounted safety catch. This is moved left for the top barrel first and vice versa before pushing the safety catch into the off position. A mechanical re-set device is the more reliable for use with smaller calibre guns, where the recoil type may not operate reliably with lighter load cartridges.
Of particular interest to clay shooters is the manually operated safety catch; it stays in the off position when put there and will not re-set to on when the gun is opened for reloading: how infuriating it is to lose targets when using an auto safe gun; that won’t occur with the Khan. They will be further delighted with the 7mm wide raised top rib with nicely file-cut anti-glare top surface for excellent sight line.
The woodwork may be quite plain, but with a reddish-brown stain and light satin varnish finish it looks attractive enough. More importantly, the Khan woodwork is well suited to good, consistent handling: the semi-Schnabel type forend while slender, as befits a .410, is meaty enough for good control. The stock is based upon sound clay type principles with quite a tight radius pistol grip and thicker in the hand than some at 120mm around the grip’s girth. This aids good grip with easy trigger reach and a fairly upright hand position. The butt pad even has a rounded harder insert in the top of the rubber recoil pad for snag free mounting.
To cap it all off, not only is the Khan K226 of sensible weight to make recoil feel very comfortable, even with the 19-gram Eley Trap loads, the gun’s 28-inch barrels (which give the impression of being 30-inch due to being slender) are fitted with interchangeable chokes, a selection of five supplied in a neat plastic case along with a choke key: could an aspiring small gauge clay shooter wish for more?
In the end it’s how the gun performs that counts, and the Khan will not disappoint. Great fun was had smashing Sporting clays at a local club, including by others who tried it. The Khan comes to the shoulder well, points and swings swiftly and easily without being flighty and knocked down more clays than a .410 should. It shot about five inches high at 30 yards for me and proved ideal for clays.
An experienced Sporting shooter with a custom Browning tried it on a stand of tricky overhead doubles quartering in and falling from behind the shooter; with the Khan and Eley Trap cartridges he smashed every one convincingly. The smile on his face as he handed it back said a lot, but his words said more: “Awesome, just absolutely awesome!” These are not words you or I would expect to hear from a serious Sporting clay shooter trying out a .410. Things have definitely come a very long way since I was a lad, gun and ammunition wise.
When you see all these features thought will turn to price; surely we are looking at £650 plus here? No, this great little package comes with a retail price of around £499; now that is a bargain.