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The Hatsan Optima B12 shotgun may not win any beauty contests, but it makes up for it in mechanics, shoot-ability and incredible value, writes Mike Yardley
WE LIKE: The general form and specification; The higher than usual stock measurements; The absence of unnecessary decoration
WE DON’T LIKE: The trigger pulls; The decoration between muzzles and monobloc
IN DEPTH REVIEW OF THE HATSAN B12
This month’s test gun is more of a no-nonsense tool than a cabinet queen. It’s a very plain Hatsan B12 all-rounder with an RRP just over £500. A plain Jane over-and-under with a single selective trigger and a matt-finished black action, it’s not going to win any beauty contests, although that said, the absence of bling may appeal to some on what is evidently intended as a workhorse gun rather than an objet d’art to impress your friends with.
The basic form of the Hatsan – which is a little heavy at something just over 8lb with 30” barrels – seems good and the finish is surprisingly well done considering the price. Even when you look at it closely, it does not disappoint. The barrels and monobloc are nicely brought into the action. The barrels themselves are hard-chromed internally and (unusually) externally, the action is matt black hard chrome finished too (and completely without decoration save for ‘Made in Turkey’ on the belly).
Stock shapes are good – a Browning-style butt with a nice but not too acute pistol grip and a schnabel fore-end. The Turkish walnut is competently finished and neatly chequered (no doubt by laser) with ideal diamonds and neat borders as high-tech production now seems to easily provide. Although this is a budget gun, it impresses with regard to its basic design and form. The mechanics owe something to both Browning and Beretta (discussed in more detail in the technical section). There is a single selective trigger which, being inertia operated, is not dependent on recoil energy to re-cock itself. The trigger pulls are a bit graunchy and quite heavy (a gunsmith could improve them with a little polishing). The Hatsan is quite stiff to open as well, but one expects that this would quickly easy with use. And, we must keep in mind that the price does not allow for much refinement.
Looking at the barrels – always the heart of a gun – in a little more depth, they are made from nickel-chromium-molybdenum steel. They are well presented externally and subtly ‘tromboned’ at the muzzles to accommodate the interchangeable chokes (which are of the shorter pattern – about the same length as Beretta ‘Mobil’ chokes). Indeed, this widening was so subtle that it was barely noticeable and a good example to other manufacturers who sometimes overdo it.
General quality of construction of the barrels and monobloc into which they are inserted is sound, though the decoration, to disguise the barrel-to-monobloc joints, was a little too bold and had the opposite effect of the one intended by drawing attention to the joints themselves rather than camouflaging them. Apart from that, the barrels are nicely put together with solid (full-length) joining ribs and a well-chosen 6mm ventilated top rib that’s well laid and true save for a slight imperfection near the breech end. The barrels show slight internal distortion (as many guns do; perfectly straight barrels are the exception rather than the norm).
The Optima has 76mm (3”) chambers and bears British fleurs-de-lys proof marks. The gun is steel shot-friendly and comes with five multichokes and a simple key. Forcing cones are relatively short. The top barrel has a bore diameter of 18.4, the bottom, 18.5 – so they are near the traditional industry standard.
The Optima’s stock impressed as noted too. It is finished with a relatively thin but inoffensive black ‘rubber’ pad. The length of pull will suit most at 14½” (with the easy possibility of a deeper pad on the flat cut butt to add an extra half inch or more). The drop was surprisingly high at 21/16” at heel and just under 13/8” at the nose of the comb. I thought these excellent dimensions, much better than the lower stocked field guns that typically come from Turkey and the continent.
The action of the B12 was genuinely interesting because it combined elements of both Beretta and Browning (and some others). The front of it probably owes something to Beretta (or Woodward) regarding its trunnion hinging system. On the other hand, to rear, there is Browning-style bolting with a full-width bite below the bottom chamber mouth.
The action, powered by helical springs, is relatively shallow thanks to bifurcated lumps and hinging studs (rather than a full width pin), but not quite as low as a Beretta which has no under lumps. Here, the rear lump is relatively shallow to accommodate the action bolt.
Twin cocking bars are present, reminding me of a Rizzini and the ejector owes more to Rizzini than Beretta or Browning.
As a recipe,the action design has many merits, not least it’s relative simplicity. It is also interesting to see the way these various features have been combined here.
TECH SPECS - HATSAN Optima B12
Importer: Edgar Brothers
Mutli-choked: yes, 5 supplied
Weight: 8 pounds approx.
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