Andy Powell looks at the influence of German gunmakers on clay shooting gun design.
Shooting out on the clay circuits and working in one of the busiest gun rooms and shooting grounds in the UK, I can’t help noticing the massive German presence around the clay world.
It started a few years ago when Blaser, a highly accomplished rifle maker, entered the increasingly competitive shotgun market for the first time. They had more than a little help designing the flagship model F3 from none other than ten-times FITASC Sporting, World, European & British Champion John Bidwell.
The F3 hit the UK market in 2004, and it’s fair to say that like any new gun they had a few teething issues. To their credit, Blaser got to work immediately and sorted the problems with very little fuss, and the brand started to gain momentum. Even today, both Blaser and Mulliners provide a fantastic level of service.
It wasn’t long before the F3 MkII came along in November 2010 with its simple plain black action and the F3 logo tastefully tucked into the corner on each side of the low-profile action.
On first look from the outside, nothing much had changed apart from the colour of the action from matt silver-grey to matt black. The big change, however, was that the problems with trigger pulls and a few other niggling issues were all sorted in true German engineering fashion.
The gun was very different to anything else on the market at the time, with its weight balancing system as well as a completely modular design, including fully interchangeable stocks, barrels and fore-ends with no need for a gunsmith.
Many have tried to copy this modular system since, with varying degrees of success, but in my opinion none have made it work like Blaser. Between them, John and Blaser came up with a low action profile, well balanced competition gun for a very reasonable price, that is still loved and used by many today.
Since that first model we have seen plenty more from Blaser. The entry
level F16 has been another success for them, and they have added more variants to the well-established F3 range. If you have never shot one, then I recommend you give it a try; I think you will be more than impressed.
The other very popular German brand is of course the Krieghoff. Like Blaser, Krieghoff were makers of fine hunting guns until they decided to enter the competition shotgun world in the 1960s.
The brand has grown hugely since the early days and I have to say with total justification. The K80 range is rapidly becoming the number one choice for a lot of shooters on the circuit.
The company is family owned, and Dieter and Phil Krieghoff are the fourth and fifth generation respectively of the family to keep the 130-year-old brand going, along with a worldwide staff.
The gun itself can trace its history back to the Remington 32, the long-lost American cousin. After the Remington 32 ceased production, a couple of Americans took the action to Krieghoff in Germany and the rest is history.
The gun has some unique features and the first that anyone notices is the shroud that retracts when the top lever is used, allowing the gun to open. The reason why is still a mystery, but my theory is that most guns are locked shut by using the bottom of the action.
This is perfectly fine and adequate, but the clever Germans thought that this would be enhanced even more by holding the top of the action firm, as when any gun fires the top barrel, what is actually happening is the gun is trying to open itself as the pressure is all at the top and the locking mechanism is below the bottom barrel.
This could be why the K80 range have such reduced muzzle flip compared with a lot of guns in the market place today. The floating barrels also really help with the cooling of the gun.
Another benefit is the unique way the triggers work and the crispness of clean trigger pulls that are second to none. Things like tapered ribs and adjustable combs are all personal to different shooters, but it’s safe to say that most things are possible with the “K gun” – the only limiting factor will be your wallet.
The K80 Parcours is the entry level into the range and a very capable gun. It is somewhat lighter than the K80 Sporter, something that is liked by some but not all. My personal view is the heavier guns tend to be more popular amongst the world elite.
The K gun is certainly a gun to try if you have never done so. Try as many different examples as you can before you take the plunge but, trust me, you won’t be disappointed.
The rise in popularity of both of these brands is no coincidence. The Germans are world renowned for their engineering prowess in whatever they do, so why not in competition guns?
The sheer quality of materials and the hours spent on design and testing, coupled with the highest level of customer service and warranty cover, must make both of these brands top of any serious shooter’s try list.
There is always a period of pain for anyone to go through as they get used
to any new gun. It varies from one person to the next, but once you have got to grips with either of these guns you won’t want to change any day soon.
My advice is you must try any gun of any brand you are looking to buy, so make sure you do your homework and try before you buy. But these two brands are used by a lot of the world elite – and they can’t all be wrong!