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This Grade 3 version of the popular Miroku MK-38 Sport certainly impresses, with its refined looks, pleasing dimensions and reliable mechanics, says Mike Yardley.
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This test looks at the latest version of a popular and much respected gun – the Miroku MK-38 sport. I have shot many of them over the years. The test gun, a Grade 3 model, is distinguished by being one of the best looking I’ve had in my hands in a long while.
So, first impressions are evidently good, but I’m jumping ahead of myself! Our Miroku has 30" barrels, Teague Invector Plus extended multi-chokes, 3" chambers proofed for steel shot, an 11mm ventilated rib and the usual Miroku/Browning single-selective trigger. It weighs in at quite a hefty 8½lb and comes with an adjustable trigger and comb and a longish (15") stock with a black pad.
It’s a smart looking gun by any standard. Its floral and scroll action decoration looks significantly better looking than a grade 1 and it has better wood too without being drastically more expensive. These guns have become quite refined over the years. What surprised me when I visited the Miroku factory a few years back was how much hand work still goes into production at all grades. The Miroku factory is distinctly different to many of the high-tech European concerns. They have their CNC machines, but you still see lots of old-fashioned craftsmen working at benches. This is particularly noticeable in the wood working, barrel making and engraving departments. I have to say, I wonder how long it will last – let’s hope for many years yet. Meantime, this gun impressed with excellent aesthetics and sound basic form.
I especially liked the engraving and the silver-finished, but not too brightly polished, action. The 68mm high and 40mm wide action body looks well proportioned. The MK-38 was a little heavy overall, but well balanced, almost on the pin (the weight of the adjustable comb helps in this). Hinge pin balance is not the be all and end of balance, but it suited this 30" clay buster (which, with its refined looks, wouldn’t look out of place on a driven shoot either). The finish of the gun was first class. The blacking was deep and lustrous. The wood nicely oiled and exceptionally well chequered. Barrel to action jointing was impeccable.
I also liked the monobloc barrels. The MK-38 has an 11mm vented sighting rib with a shallow centre channel. This presents the eye with a good picture. There is a centre bead. I used to say this wasn’t needed with a sporter, but I’ve had problems with eye dominance since the Covid-19 vaccination. So, it’s nice to be able to check one’s looking down the barrels with the right eye! As noted, the barrels are chambered for 76mm (3") loads. They are modestly back-bored at 18.7mm. Forcing cones are mid length as would suit fibre or plastic.
What of the wood? I am a fan of the basic stock shape on Miroku guns – one of the best in the business both in terms of looks and ergonomic function. It’s classic but efficient. The stock here has reasonable figure with a little bit of vertical ‘tiger striping’. The length at 15" is longer than some and better for it. A 1⅛" pad and thin spacer would take it to 16" without much gunsmithing bother. The full, but not too tightly radiused, pistol grip is excellent. The grip shape and chequering achieves good purchase without the latter being too sharp.
The grip shape on these guns has always suited me. There is relatively even depth throughout the length – it matches most hands and you don’t need a palm swell to secure the gun in the rear hand. The fore-end is a schnabel with the usual lip – this is easily removed (and I often do) for those who like to extend the front hand or just make the gun look a little more elegant. Personally, I prefer this pattern when modified as just mentioned to a beaver-tail because it brings the front hand closer to the barrel and enhances natural pointing.
Miroku have been copying the Browning B25 design for something like 60 years. The copies were so good that Browning eventually came to terms with the Japanese company which began making guns under the Browning brand name as well as their own in the 1970s. The B25 itself has been made for about 100 years. The Miroku gun shares similar basic mechanical form - including a full width hinge pin and full width locking bolt to the rear engaging a slot bite beneath the bottom chamber – but is slightly simplified with a removable fore-end. It is an evolved design. Some early guns had V springs rather than the helical springs used now to power the hammers. Early Miroku actions were also shorter. Both Miroku and Japanese-made Browning guns have, since the era of the 425, had monobloc rather than chopper lump barrels. These are very well made. I’ve watched them being assembled in the factory by what looked like a pit crew; it’s still a very hands-on deal. The joints between barrel and monobloc are almost invisible.
I shot the Miroku at Andy Castle’s West London Gun Club down the lane from the West London Shooting Grounds. It is a club which I have a very long association with and one of my favourite places to break a few clays and have a cuppa and a bacon butty with old friends.
How did the Miroku shoot? Predictably well. These guns are predictable in all senses. Both quality of engineering and performance are always excellent. The stock shapes are particularly good. I should have raised the comb a little; I know the guns so well I didn’t bother. I didn’t miss anything from the box of Lyalvale 24g 7½s I put through the MK-38. I was particularly pleased to consistently connect with a longer, lower, quartering bird, that was catching some out. The great grip shape allowed for complete control of the muzzles.
These aren’t the softest recoiling guns; the trigger pulls sometimes want a gunsmith to improve them. But, by any standard they are a great, reliable, gun and still good value.
Model: MK38 Sport
Chamber: 3" (76mm) fleur-de-lys steel proofed
Rib: 11mm vented
Chokes: Invector Plus multi (5 supplied)
Contact: 01491 681830 | www.miroku.eu
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