I’ve had some success hunting upland birds with a Blaser F16 Game model shotgun and Federal ammunition. In this review, I extend the application of the F16 Game, paired with Federal Target loads, for the killing of some clay pigeons.
All kidding aside, just as in upland hunting, the combination of the Blaser F16 and Federal ammunition were perfect for the clays courses I’ve shot. This may seem to belie the gun’s ‘Game’ moniker, but the fact that I found the F16 to be great for busting clays doesn’t at all diminish its wonderful performance in the field.
Before discussing how well the shotgun and ammunition performed during the clays shoot, I want to relate an anecdote. When I first went to collect the F16 from Tom McElwayne, he requested that I unpack the firearm and assemble it to make certain it hadn’t been damaged in shipment.
The shotgun was in perfect shape, but before I disassembled and placed the F16 back into its shipping case, I brought it to my shoulder. The thickness of the pistol grip fit my hand beautifully and the shotgun slipped effortlessly into the shooting position.
I had never held an F16 before, so the perfect fit was a bit of a surprise. I asked Tom to run the same test, and he gave a satisfied exclamation; the shotgun matched him perfectly as well.
I realize that this represents a sample size of two, but every time I had the opportunity, I asked others to mount the Blaser F16. To a person, they reported the same result. I’m not certain of all Blaser F16s, but this one provided a tailored-made fit for a wide range of body types.
As a lover of fine firearms, I hope that the accompanying photos provide a reasonable illustration of the beauty of the F16. The clean lines of the stock and metalwork, the crisp checkering and the high-grade wood from which the stock and forearm were constructed provided a wonderful complement to the smooth handling and fit.
This was a shotgun that I was proud to carry, even if it wasn’t mine to keep. The MSRP for the German-made F16 Game model (Blaser is pronouned blah-zer, not blay-zer) sent for review is priced at $4,289, so you’d expect beautiful wood and craftsmanship. That said, my personal shotgun isn’t nearly as beautiful, nor as smooth-handling as the F16, but crowds that price point.
The second aspect that made the F16 Game a wonderful companion for both field and clays applications is its relatively light weight. The loaded shotgun comes in at just under seven pounds. After carrying the F16 for several hours during an upland hunt, as well as on long sporting clays courses, I can testify that even as a 61-year-old, I didn’t come away fatigued. This added immeasurably to the enjoyment of both outings.
There’s usually a price to be paid for that light weight though. To test the effect on felt recoil from the fit and weight of the F16, in combination with the Federal Target loads (2¾ Dram Eq.; 11/8 ounces of shot), I wore no shoulder padding while shooting.
This probably won’t be the practice of most shooters, but it’s a good way to gauge the gun’s kick. It is noteworthy that as I progressed along skeet and sporting clays rounds, the F16’s felt recoil was minimal, and at the end of the day’s shooting there was no tenderness in the muscles of my shoulder, and no bruising the next day. The combination of the Federal Game loads and the F16 left no ‘imprint’ after my hunting trip, either.
Having used a number of different brands of both over/under 12-gauge shotguns and shotshells on clays courses — with and without padded shooting vests — I can state unequivocally that the shotgun and ammunition combination in this test was unique in not making me want to skip a day or two between shooting sessions.
Likewise, though my accuracy wasn’t 100%(!), my hit rate didn’t decline as the day wore on.
In short, all of the success afforded by the F16 Game shotgun and Federal ammunition for hunting, was duplicated in the clays arena.
As you will have gathered by now, I was incredibly impressed by the performance of the shotgun/ammunition pairing for stalking clay pigeons. The F16 Game model and the Federal Target loads were very forgiving of my lack of recent practice with a scattergun.
In that regard, I’m going to be begging my family to buy me one of these lovely, and lovely-handling, Blaser F16 shotguns in 12-gauge, along with a lifetime supply of Federal shotshells.
Specifications: Blaser F16 Game 12 Gauge Shotgun
Stock Length: 14.37″
Barrel Length: 30″
Weight: 6lb 13oz
Stock: Turkish Walnut, Grade 4
Front Sight: Bead
Ejectors: Yes (can be changed to extractor)
Ratings (out of five stars):
Style and Fit * * * * *
The F16 presents very clean lines and wonderful wood- and metal-work. It also possessed a thicker pistol grip and forend that provide not only beauty, but a wonderful, custom-esque fit. I mentioned this in the text of the review, but everyone who tried the F16, reflecting a wide array of body sizes and shapes, experienced an excellent fit with this shotgun.
Finish: * * * * *
As expected with a Blaser firearm, the wood and metal components are beautifully finished. The checkering was crisp and the bluing flawless across all metal parts.
Ergonomics * * * * *
This is where the F16 shown especially well. Great inherent ergonomics, of course, has quite a bit to do with the gun’s fit to the shooter. However, the F16 is also a relatively light for a 12 gauge over/under. This makes it perfect for long days pursuing game, or long sessions on the skeet and sporting clays course.
Reliability * * * * *
Perfect. No issues whatsoever.
Overall * * * * *
The F16 (and the Federal ammunition used for this review) performed flawlessly. The shotgun’s overall handling characteristics – stock shape and size, light weight, balance and smooth swing – led to an inherent accuracy even in the hands of someone who spends the greatest proportion of his time on the rifle range. This shotgun is also very, very attractive. People commented on it when they encountered me on the clays courses (and on an upland hunt). I would gladly purchase a Blaser F16 Game shotgun for myself.
Mike Arnold writes about firearms and hunting at his blog Mike Arnold, Outdoor Writer.
As usual, Yim Szeto of Blaser-USA was my contact for the Blaser firearm, this time the F16 Game Model in 12-gauge. The Federal Clay Target shotshells were provided by Jeff Williams of Vista Outdoor. Tom McElwayne owner of Shooters Den in Watkinsville, GA processed the FFL transfer. The detailed photography of the F16 would not have been possible without the Cherry Wood Presentation Stand provided by Ledbetter’s Gun Racks For Less. Finally, the photographs from the skeet field and sporting clays course were taken by my very talented photographer/wife, Frances.
All images by the author.