What’s a grey import? Your questions answered in the latest Ask the Experts

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What’s a grey import?

A grey import may be cheaper, but you might not get the same manufacturer’s warranty

Question: Some months ago I decided to buy a new shotgun, mainly for Trap shooting. I had a good look around in the UK but the one I really liked was outside my budget. I went online and found a very similar gun on the continent for much cheaper. A local RFD friend of mine, not a dealer for that particular manufacturer, helped me get it over to the UK and all went ok. Recently, however, a fellow shooter described it as ‘one of those dodgy grey imports’ and now I am left wondering whether I have done something illegal. Have I?

Stuart Farr says: A ‘Grey import’ is a loose term used to describe a product that is legally imported from another country, or sold through channels other than the manufacturer’s official distribution network. This can be done for a variety of reasons – perhaps the retailer hasn’t been able to obtain an official appointment from the manufacturer but still wishes to sell the product in order to meet a local demand. 

Grey imports take advantage of different pricing mechanisms that exist in different countries – which is why it was possible to buy a ‘grey’ product cheaper than from your local official dealer.

Provided you purchase a grey import from a UK trading business, you have the same consumer rights of fitness for purpose and satisfactory quality. However you won’t necessarily get the benefit of a valid manufacturer’s warranty on a grey market product. Warranties may be specific to a particular country or region.

It is not unknown for dealers in the UK to refuse to repair a product under warranty if it is a grey import. Check the warranty with your gun, and if you are unsure then investigate further to see what cover you have. Hopefully you won’t need to claim on the warranty, but if you do it’s best to know the situation in advance.

New gun syndrome

A good coach can help you iron out any niggles with your new gun

Question: I’ve been shooting a Browning B725 Hunter for a couple of years, and had reached a bit of a plateau in my clay shooting. I convinced myself that the gun was holding me back and, with a bit of encouragement from my shooting friends, bought a Miroku MK38. I must say that I loved the new gun from the start; it just feels ‘right’ – but my scores haven’t improved. Indeed sometimes I’ll miss a target and think ‘I’d have hit that with the Browning.’ It’s all a bit dispiriting, and I sometimes wonder if I made a mistake. Do you have any advice?

Becky McKenzie says: It sounds like you’re suffering from the infamous ‘new gun syndrome’. I’ve had it myself, where you start off with a new gun and it seems you can hit every target without really trying – then after a month you feel like you can’t hit a barn door!

My advice would be to book a lesson with a coach – such as myself! With every new client, however long they have had their gun, I will check gun fit and balance.

Your MK38 is a very different gun from your previous one, and there may be big differences in stock length, angle of cast, pitch and so on. The balance of these guns will be different too, and your muscle memory could still be with the Browning.

You as the shooter will struggle to see where things are going wrong, and this is where an experienced coach can help. I often cannot tell where I’ve gone wrong myself when I’m shooting, but standing behind a client I can clearly see what is going on. I can then suggest any change in style or technique that’s needed, a balance adjustment or even an adjustment to the stock dimensions if that’s what is required.

Misfire conundrum

No problem here, but misfires can be a problem with the gun, cartridge, or a combination of both

Question: I  read the recent Fiocchi Litespeed cartridge test in Clay Shooting and, as I fancied trying something really fast, I bought some to see if they suited me. I must say I got on really well with them and scored well. But on a couple of recent shoots I had one or two shells that failed to fire when I pulled the trigger. The primer was visibly struck each time, so it didn’t cost me any targets. My gun is a Browning Ultra that’s less than two years old. I had a misfire problem a few months ago and my lower firing pin was replaced, also increasing how far it protrudes slightly. A friend is trying the Litespeed too and so far he has experienced no misfires in his Blaser. Do you think this is a cartridge or a gun problem?

Richard Atkins says: This is a fairly common question, but it can be difficult to sort out whether the problem lies with the gun or cartridge, or perhaps a combination of both. The Browning is fundamentally a very sound, robust and reliable gun, but one of the few issues that’s cropped up over the past 40 years is with the firing of the bottom barrel.

The firing pin geometry in any over-and-under is a challenge to the designers, and in the Browning it means that the lower barrel firing pin transmits slightly less striking energy than the top. Over time the tip of the lower firing pin can also become eroded, and may need to be replaced after several thousand rounds.

Cartridges can play a role in misfires too of course. Primers must be sensitive enough to function, but not too sensitive. Striking the right balance is a fine art, and even with modern materials and manufacturing techniques there is still some variation between batches. Occasionally, a combination of a lighter strike and a slightly harder primer can add up to the occasional misfire. 

It is probably a good idea to have a gunsmith – not just a
‘gun shop’ – take a look and check a few things, particularly the firing pin length and tip profile.

You could have your springs checked at the same time, although they should be fine. I still have the original springs in both my 1975 Miroku and my 1980s Browning Citori. I shot that particular cartridge in both those guns with no issues.

More advice from Clay Shooting Magazine


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