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Mike Yardley finds very little at fault in his review of the Turkish-made Yildiz SPZ Steel Sporter Black – a great value shotgun at under £1,000.
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Well, spring is approaching and I would like to say the weather reflects it… but it's not in my part of the world at the moment! It’s bl**dy freezing. Nevertheless, a new clay shooting season beckons, not to mention spring drilling for the pigeons. I was looking for a good value all-rounder this month, a sporter that might be put to other uses should the need arise. I came up with the Yildiz SPZ Sporter – it’s a no frills product that looks not unlike a Perazzi at a distance with its black action.
I’ve been impressed with other Yildiz guns we’ve tested recently. First impressions here are good too. It’s quite a big gun, and apart from a smart matt black, flat-walled action, shows good quality finish and nicely figured Turkish walnut. I doubt anyone would guess the gun was coming in with an RRP under £1,000. I can only comment (again) that Turkish guns have come on leaps and bounds. I’ve tried hard to fault it here, but there is not very much to fault particularly when you factor in the price.
The gun is well presented with 30" barrels. The 10mm (never wrong), ventilated sighting rib is well laid. The fulsome adjustable stock has a quite tightly radiused pistol grip with palm swell. Without adjustment, the stock measures 2" for drop at heel and 1⅜" at comb. It’s higher in its stock measurements than many Turkish guns, and probably better for it, but as the comb is adjustable, I might have opted for 2⅛" or 2¼" to the rear. 2" is still an excellent standard measurement – better too high than too low.
The SPZ hits the scales at 8lb 5oz – so it’s no lightweight. But for clays you want something that will soak up the recoil and promote steadiness in a round of 100 birds. Weight is a subject about which one might long pontificate. Keeping it simple, I prefer my game guns (12 and 20) around 7lb and clay guns in the range of 8-8½lb. I base that on experience, however it’s not just about weight, but balance too. Barrel weight and distribution is particularly important.
Let’s look at the test gun’s spec in a little more detail. It comes with 5 multi-chokes and a hi-viz sight at the muzzles. The steel-proofed, fleurs-de-lys marked, 3" (76mm) chambered, 18.6mm bored monobloc barrels have good joints. (Very few makers seem to do this badly now. Beretta led the manufacturing way in this regard and Browning followed suit about halfway through their (Japanese-made) 425 range – before that Browning over-and-under shotguns were demi-bloc.)
The barrels are presented nicely. They are straight and both external and internal finishes are fine. The ribs don’t extend all the way back – they’re omitted under the fore-end area to save weight. The rear section of the SPZ with the adjustable comb feels quite heavy. It would be interesting to try, experimentally, the same spec gun with an alloy action (and Yildiz do make a well-priced game gun with an alloy action). Some weight could be taken from the receiver and butt potentially. A narrower sighting rib might also be used to reduce frontal weight (although there is absolutely nothing wrong with the 10mm rib on the test gun as noted).
I am, meantime, fascinated by the way Turkish gunmaking has developed. I have visited Turkish gunsmiths. I would say Turkish gunmaking is rather like Spanish gunmaking 40 years ago, save that more high-tech machine work is in evidence and less bench work. But they’re pitching at a similar market.
I asked a gunsmith friend what he made of this gun’s mechanics, and he said: “There’s elements of 70’s/80’s Spanish over-and-unders in the shape of ejector leg, and the trips look Beretta. The single cocking bar is certainly unlikely to break too easily. I don’t think any of it is revolutionary, but they’ve gone their own way and seem to have made a decent fist of it.”
There is nothing radical about the design of the SPZ, but what is there is well conceived and neatly engineered (by multi-axis CNC with minimum hand fitting). The bifurcated barrel lumps sit on stud pins, as in so many other guns now. This trunnion hinging allows for a slightly lower action profile (although the flat, undecorated, sides of the SPZ don’t accentuate this). A full width hinge pin as still seen in most Brownings makes the action a little higher. Some designs allow for further lowering of the profile by placing the rear locking higher (to the side of the chamber mouths in the case of a Beretta). Here, a slot bite is created as in a Browning, Rizzini or Guerini just below the bottom chamber mouth. It works fine. I also like the single central cocking bar (as seen in a Perazzi) and the simplicity of the ejector work as noted. Unusually, the single-selective trigger is a mechanical design – so, it is not recoil dependent (great). The pulls were not too heavy but could be a little crisper.
The SPZ Steel Sporter is a big gun and quite a heavy one at 8lb 5oz. It is well balanced, though. The adjustable comb makes it better balanced than might otherwise be the case because it adds a little weight to the rear. I shot the gun extensively. I didn’t get on so well with it the first time round. The grip is quite big, tightly radiused and I’m not a fan of palm swells. I also felt the schnabel fore-end wasn’t ideal. Anyway, cutting a long story short, I took the SPZ out a second time with a pal and didn’t miss anything! I discovered I needed to bring my front hand nearer the action to lift and push the barrels of this big gun efficiently through the swing. A rounded fore-end would suit the gun too. Nevertheless, I grew to like the SPZ once I understood it better. My friend shot it well too. The build quality is particularly good at the price. You get a little more than you pay for here.
■ The solid build quality
■ The adjustable comb
■ The finish and wood at the price point
■ The palm swell
■ The tulip fore-end was a bit narrow to the front
■ Make: Yildiz SPZ Steel Sporter Black
■ Model: SPZ Sport adjustable
■ Bore: 12-bore
■ Chamber: 3" (76mm) fleur-de-lys steel proofed
■ Rib: 10mm vented
■ Chokes: multi (5 supplied)
■ Weight: 8lb 4 oz
■ Price: £945 (£840 non-adjustable)
■ Contact: Raytrade | 01635 253344
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