Whether the quarry is game birds or clays, Blaser has a new over/under shotgun model designed specifically for the occasion. It is called the F16 and is introduced this year in both game gun and target (sporting clays) configurations.
The new Blaser likely will not be mistaken for a fighter jet of the same designation, although both the gun and plane share a propensity to blast flying objects out of the sky.
Blaser has been expanding its presence in the shotgun field for a little over a decade now, since the introduction of the F3 over/under that also has been offered in both game gun and target models.
The F3 and F16 are decidedly two different guns, and there are no plans to phase out the F3. This is a market expansion rather than an evolution.
Without going into über detail, suffice it to say that the F3 will continue to be the higher end ($6,000 to $16,000 or more, depending on embellishments like hand engraving, fancy wood, etc.) offering and the F16 is aimed at a market where $3,000 to $5,000 shotguns thrive (MSRP for the game gun is $3,795, and for the sporting is $4,195.
Regardless the model or price point, Blaser makes great shotguns, and the F16 merely echoes this reality.
To celebrate the introduction of the F16, Blaser representatives and a bevy of gun scribes (including Nick Sisley, Marty Fischer, John Taylor, John Snow, Irwin Greenstein, Terry Wieland, Johnny Cantu, John Zent and Tom Turpin) converged on Joshua Creek Ranch in Texas’ Hill Country to discuss the new gun, shoot some clays and engage quail, chukar, pheasant and ducks.
The guns worked great, targets were broken and birds hit the ground. Nice when things work out so well.
Blaser CEO Bernhard Knöbel enthusiastically explained the major points, as well as nuances of the new model. His enthusiasm is infectious and the guns lived up to his praise.
In true Knöbel fashion, after detailing a laundry list of technical dimensions and other minutia, he summed up what the total package had to be: “It has to be sexy.”
That it is, but in an understated way. Various contours of the receiver marry to other contours of the barrels in a way that separates this over/under from others. There is a fluidity of design that is comforting to the eye.
In describing this phenomenon, Blaser uses the term “monocoque.” Essentially that is a design factor in which the “skin,” or outer shell also serves as a structural part of the design.
“Only through the restless pursuit of perfection is it possible to create a perfectly balanced over and under shotgun with the lowest profile receiver on the market,” Blaser reports. “The exceptionally low center of gravity makes the new F16 extraordinarily pointable and dynamic. Innovative development processes were used in the monocoque (skin is part of the structure) construction providing the ability to give the borders of the receiver a softened appearance much like a round body game gun and further benefits the shooter with a seamless transition between barrel and receiver.
“Aside from the intuitive pointability a newly developed tapered rib supports better peripheral vision and results in faster target acquisition. The Triplex bore design and the proven ejection ball system (EBS) borrowed from the championship winning F3 allows the shooter to focus on what is really important; Hitting the next target!
“The mechanical trigger mechanism of the F16 is the direct interface between shooter and shotgun. With a crisp trigger pull of (1,650 grams/3 lbs. 6 oz.) there is no delay between thought impulse and action. The Inertia Block System (IBS) adds to shooter safety and comfort by preventing the ability for the shotgun to fan fire or double.”
When Blaser talks about triggers, listen-up. They have perfected the ability to deliver triggers with just the right amount of pull weight in a mechanism that affords the cleanest release (break) imaginable. Or, put another way, the gun won’t go off prematurely because of too light of a pull, nor will it adversely affect a shot by causing the gun to be pulled off-target or off-line.
That characteristic of the F16 was abundantly evident whether I was using the game model, or the sporting model. Very nice.
The several dozen guns we used on the trip were all brand new, and to a gun, they also all opened and closed effortlessly – no tightness that is encountered sometimes in new break-open guns. This speaks to the precision with which these guns are made and fitted.
Standard stock length of pull is 14 ¾ inches, which is a bit long for some folks (the idea being that it is easier for the ultimate user to whack a little off than it is to add a spacer, etc.). That dimension was great for me, because that’s the length of stock that I use normally.
When it comes to figuring out any given shotgun, the dynamics of both pointing and swinging take center stage. It is more than simply a matter of being balance neutral at some spot. Some use the term “moment of inertia,” (also referred to as rotational inertia). But since that term is not universally understood, I’ll put it a bit differently.
For example, in some of the small gauge guns, it is not uncommon for the gun to be “barrel light.” Nothing wrong with that for pointing, but for swinging, it inevitably means that the shooter will swing through and past the target or the barrels might tend to porpoise along the path of the swing.
A “barrel heavy” gun may swing fairly smoothly, but also can be akin to pointing a boat anchor at a target. Ideally for a game gun, the inertia dynamics are midway between those extremes so that the gun points quickly, yet swings smoothly.
These are the dynamics that are addressed fairly easily on guns that are custom fit to the shooter. However, they can be quite challenging when it comes to production guns.
One of the reasons for this is that the rotational mass of the same gun model changes with stock length, barrel length, etc., and can be affected at least a little by the way an individual shooter holds the gun. Since tiny differences in this dynamic can make significant differences in overall performance, they are things the purists focus on keenly, while others tend to adapt themselves more to the gun.
The F16 game gun I used had 28-inch barrels (the game gun is also available with 30-inch barrels), and that was exactly the right combination for both upland birds and waterfowl. The gun was quick for close shots, yet performed flawlessly when there were some long pokes presented. During the expedition, I was able to engage and drop birds from very close, all the way to the far edge of the effectiveness of the shot itself, whether it was lead or steel. That’s nice.
When it came time to shoot some sporting clays, I used sporting guns with both 30 and 32-inch barrels. I preferred the 32-inchers, because that’s the length I usually use for clays. Both lengths worked fine, however. Yet there was a noticeable difference in the swing dynamics with the slightly longer barrels. Targets were hit more squarely with the longer tubes (when I could keep from flinching – which I do routinely when shooting clays without a release trigger).
It was a pleasure to shoot the sporting course with pro clays/national champion shooter Cory Cruse. In addition to his offering an ongoing series of handy tips, it was simply a joy to watch a master at his game. Top shooters have a fluidity of movement that is like ballet with a shotgun – mesmerizing. It was nice to see Cory again later in the year at a major sporting clays tournament where he was competing.
Bud Fini also was on the expedition, which is always nice. I’ve known Bud, who is usually identified these days with Blaser sister company SIG, for decades. Sir Budly is one serious shotgun shooter.
Stock combs on the game and sporting models have different amounts of drop. Drop for the game gun is 38/56mm and 38/50mm for the sporting stock. Cast on both stocks is the same: 3/6/8mm (0.12-inch, 0.24-inch and 0.32-inch). Pitch is 84 degrees on both.
Standard wood grade on both models is Blaser’s 2. Upgrades to 3 and 4 are available. Checkering on both pistol grip and forend is both appealing and functional – affords a comfortable hold when shooting. Both models have 3-inch (76mm) chambers and bores on all barrels are chrome lined.
A stock balancer is standard in the sporting model and optional in the game gun. The barrels of the sporting model are setup for Blaser’s barrel balancer, but the barrel weights themselves are not included in the basic gun.
Since wood density varies, nominal weights for the two models are: from 6.8 pounds for the game gun and 7.5 to 8.4 pounds for the sporting model. Both models feature a barrel selector.
Sights on the game gun are comprised of 3mm (0.12-inch) nickel silver front bead/tapered rib from 9.0mm to 7.5mm (0.35 to 0.30-inch). Sights on the sporting model are comprised of 3mm (0.12-inch) illuminated red bead and tapered rib from 9.0mm to 7.5mm (0.35 to 0.30-inch). Trigger length is adjustable on the sporting model.
Both models feature the Blaser Comfort recoil pad and “gun metal gray” action. The F16 logo is red on the sporting model and silver on the game gun. A gun case is standard with both models.
Wear points on the F16 are laser hardened for a long life of high volume shooting.
All of that is nice, but the most memorable thing about the F16 is that it is a fun gun to shoot. The game gun carries nicely in the field and is extremely responsive. It’s the kind of gun that allows the hunter merely to think about hitting the bird, and then the bird drops from the sky.
Although the game gun worked great for both bobwhites and chukar partridge, I have to admit to a personal preference for it when it comes to pheasants. One can dream of it during the late season in the Dakotas. Delicious. And it was no slouch when it was time to engage mallards. The gun was right at home in the duck blind. Truly, it is a “game” gun.
The sporting model comes standard with everything needed to shoot sporting clays seriously. Fact is that one could switch roles for the two models and still come out on top in the field, on the range or in the blind. Heck, I wouldn’t hesitate to do wild turkeys with either model, for that matter.
Looks like Blaser has a winner in the F16. This year Safari Club International’s Record Book program recognizes Game Birds of the World. Certainly, the Blaser game gun fits right in there – able to be used for virtually any kind of game bird hunting anywhere on the planet.–Steve Comus