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Which gun is right for the job?

When it comes to buying a gun, for me the shopping bit is almost as fun as the shooting bit. Much like buying a car (also lots of fun if like me you enjoy motoring!) There are so many different makes and models on the market, both brand new and second hand. But as exciting as it is to get your shiny new toy, it's as important to ensure it's right for the job you want it to do.


I thought I would share a brief overview of which guns I use and what I use them for, as well as where I got them and the approximate cost, to help those who may be considering adding a new type of shooting to their repetoire, or who have never shot at all.



SEMI AUTOS



Currently I use a Hatsan Escort semi automatic shotgun for all of my bird pest control and bird hunting, with the exception of walked up shooting. Pigeons (both decoying and roost shooting), wildfowl and crows are all shot using this type of gun, along with either Eley Pigeon Select cartridges, Gamebore precision steel or Lyvale cartridges. My first Hatsan was gifted to me by an old friend around a decade ago, and I loved it - it was the camo version and we know how much I love camo!


However, after only a year it began to mis-fire and jam cartridges so I got rid of it. Lo and behold, another year later and the same friend decided to quit shooting altogether to focus on fishing, and another Hatsan semi auto came my way! This Hatsan lasted 10 years before it started jamming, and up until then it was perfect for what I needed. Lightweight so I could walk the mile from the car to the low tide area I was wildfowling on without dying of exhaustion, gas operated so barely any recoil for my little shoulder, and the synthetic material meant it was easy to clean after being splatted by mud, blood, dog drool, etc. It's also better for walking around with as it has the shoulder strap that you don't get with an over and under.


These usually cost around the £500 mark, and I believe you can get second hand for around £100 - £200.


I have recently used a Beretta A400 Upland on pigeon roosting and wildfowling, and I'm also now trying out a Benelli M2, both of which were on loan. The Beretta felt very familiar to me in shape and weight, as I started on a Beretta Silver Pigeon many years ago, plus its gas operated system was superior to the Hatsan - well, everything was superior! This retails for around £2,000. However, the Benelli M2 definitely wins for me hands down. It isn't gas operated but there is still a very minimal kick. It is leightweight, and the shape of the grip is such that my arthritic fingers can hold it no problem. It retails at around £1,600. I've definitely found my new semi auto in this gun...



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OVER & UNDER SHOTGUN


My Yildiz is a basic over and under shotgun that was bought as a gift a few years ago and cost around £500. Interestingly, although I enjoy using this gun I do believe it is not right for me personally. It's too short (28 inch barrel) and too light. I miss the slightly heavier feel of longer barrels, the smooth swing through and the lesser 'kick' in my shoulder...! As a 'starter' gun it's fantastic, however I'm definitely looking to replace it for next season - potentially with a side by side, which I've always wanted but I'm told I'll never go back to an over and under again if I swap!


I mainly use the Yildiz for clay shooting, driven game and walked up shooting. For those unfamiliar with 'walked up', this is when I walk across land where I have permission to shoot wild birds, usually with a dog that will flush out the birds for me, then shoot them - or try to shoot them - as they fly out of the crops and undergrowth. This could be wild partridge, pheasant, snipe, woodcock or pigeon. I have used it for pigeon decoying and roost shooting in the past, however I much prefer using a semi auto now - I feel that a semi auto is safer in the hide and when it comes to pigeons I am definitely grateful to have that 3rd shot that the semi auto offers! I use ELey Pigeon Select cartridges with the Yildiz, it can also take steel no problem.



RIFLES


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I have used 2 different rifles for the last couple of years. I started out on a Sako .22 rimfire rifle, which I use for rabbits. Initially I started on a farm, in the daytime/dusk, just sitting in a hide or in the car waiting for the rabbits to pop out of the treeline and onto the crops.


Earlier this year I picked up permission to control rabbits on a local golf course, and along with using the ATN X-Sight 4 day/night scope, I found this type of rabbit shooting much more suitable for me with the .22 rifle. It is not as 'flat' as a .17 HMR so not as reliable on shots over 60 yards, so being able to sneak in closer to the rabbits under cover of darkness to take a shot at 40 - 50 yards is much better for me personally.


It's an old gun - around 20 years old - but I love the look and feel of the real wood stock, which Sako are moving away from now with their newer models. Now you would be looking at between £800 - £1,300 for a new .22LR Sako rifle, depending on the model and stock material.

However - it isn't the lightest of rifles, so my upgrade will be to a synthetic model in future.



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And lastly we come to my .243 Tikka T3X Tactical synthetic rifle, with Kahles scope. This is my pride and joy! It is the first gun that I researched and went shopping for all on my own, and it has accompanied me on many a deer stalk over the past 12 months. Whether successful or unsuccessful, each stalk was an adventure in some way just like all shooting is to me, made all the more satisfactory by knowing that I made the right choice with this gun.


I managed to find this as a trade in, barely used, for £1,800 with moderator, scope and brand new rifle slip of my choice included. A Tikka TX 3 is around £1,700 brand new, this particular Khales scope is £495 brand new, and the moderator around £400. So I was satisfied that I had bagged a bargain!



This rifle is lightweight even for someone of my frame, which is great when trudging around fields and through woodland for 3 hours at a time! Its synthetic body means I don't have to panic about scratches, mud, water or blood; and it feels perfectly balanced when on sticks. I use Sako 100 grain bullets and have comfortably harvested Chinese Water Deer and Roe Deer with these, although friends of mine have also harvested Fallow with these no problem.


So there you have it - hopefully a bit more of an insight as to which guns you can use for which job based on my experience. I have recently added a .17HMR slot and 6.5 Creedmore slot to my FAC so I should have some more experiences/reviews to add in the future. Yes - shooting can be an expensive hobby, but I view it more as a lifestyle and a way to eat well for months at a time. Plus, if you get out and experience first hand the type of shooting you want to do, you'll come to understand what works for you, allowing you to choose wisely when you go shopping for that new shiny toy...



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Dec 17, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

As an owner of 3 semi auto, 1 O/U & 1 SBS, I too use a semi auto for most of my shooting, I personally find them easier to use in the field, they just swing so lovely, are easy to load in a confined space and the extra shot is great if your number of chances at coming across a bird are low. Of course my number one choice is Benelli, I have a SBE2 as a great all rounder and a Raffaello 50th Anniversary for a treat on dry days. 😁 The SBS is great fun as a field gun too, but the double trigger does not come naturally to me so often causes a delay between sho…

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I hope you're enjoying reading my blog! I'm not an expert, I only wish to share my personal experiences, of someone who did not grow up in the countryside nor enter the hunting world in the traditional way.

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