Richard Atkins goes in search of a serious competition gun for under a grand and discovers the Lanber Sporting Deluxe is a very competent Sporter
With current economic conditions seeing some big name brands introduce ‘economy’ models to keep brand-flags flying, we thought we would check what among the well-established brands with a proven track record was still available new for under £1,000. Choice is not huge but an obvious and very suitable candidate for clay shooters is the latest Lanber.
The Sporting Deluxe is a competent package. It begins well by really looking the part having surprisingly good wood with excellent fit and finish, especially for its price class: it’s nicely engraved with a new, light floral scroll on the receiver side bolsters as well as underneath and on the trigger guard; it’s not overdone and sets off the silver-grey plasma nitride hardened finish well to endorse its quality look.
However, it’s the handling that really sets it apart from some guns of its type where excess weight, particularly in the barrels, can produce a weight distribution and balance that result in a less than lively feeling gun. Newcomers may not readily realise this initially and it’s possible for an unwieldy gun to hinder their progress, the handling not helping when they need it most, as when learning how to mount the gun, pick up the target and swing through the target’s line.
The review gun balanced 16mm ahead of the hinge pins despite its 30” barrels. That’s about ideal for most shooters; not so forward heavy as to be ponderous or so far back that the muzzles become too lively and difficult to control. These attributes, combined with sensible stock dimensions that place the patterns a shade above the sight line (about 60/40% for me) should suit most average build newcomers very well.
The receiver with bolstered walls (similar to modern Beretta actions) and neatly scalloped fences, is strong and looks modern and attractive whilst having the weight to keep balance between the hands and soak up recoil.
The stock length is a shade on the short side for some but not markedly so, and the butt pad fixing screws are sufficiently long that up to half an inch of packing could easily be added, if required.
The stock is comfortable and the Schnabel forend has a long section of consistent profile allowing the easy adoption of handhold position to suit the shooter and the target (for example; hold closer to the receiver for fast overhead shots and farther out for long, low crossers etc). The pistol grip has a fairly open radius while the grip itself is quite slim and allowed this reviewer’s thumb and first finger to easily overlap: those with large hands may prefer to pad the grip area out a little.
The top rib, though slightly narrower and lighter than on the earlier version, is of true competition style being 10mm wide with cross filed sides and a super-clear narrow ‘runway’ up the centre with machined longitudinal lines. Combined with the bright but not too large LPA fibre-optic front bead it’s as good a set up as found on some expensive guns.
One important area where less expensive guns can also fall down is in the trigger pulls and I have to be fair here and point out that the pulls on the review gun left a bit to be desired. They are better than similar guns of a few years ago but are still a shade heavy with fairly long release and were not quite as well matched as they might be. Such refinements cost gunsmithing time and hence money and for the price they aren’t that bad; I’d recommend spending a few extra pounds having a gunsmith breathe on them at some stage – don’t expect them to match those of a Beretta O/U though.
I managed two brief outings with the Lanber and on a 50-bird club morning shot a tidy 40ex-50 with a 10 straight on the first stand and 9ex-10 on the last; I found the handling characteristics match that of some more expensive guns and well worth having the pulls fettled.
The choke tubes fit internally and are quite tight, so require the use of the choke key for removal and insertion; extended types are faster to swap and may be available as an after-market option.
I know shooters with Lanber O/Us, one has two and never felt the need to spend more to enjoy his clay shooting; that’s a good endorsement, especially as it’s his choice not to buy a more expensive option. Sure, if moving on to more serious competition is your desire then the choice of specialised and refined clay target shotguns is better now than it’s ever been; but if the Lanber does what you want of it, why spend more? The most significant thing is in providing an entry-level gun able to give newcomers a fine start without being put off by expense, also retaining a decent second-hand value when trading up: that’s an extremely important role and this new Sporter-Lux is capable of fulfilling it rather well.