Is the new Blaser F16 the gun that motivates a goodly number of Americans to buy their first pricey European shotgun? This latest creation is another in a string a forward-thinking designs from a company intent on making sure the term “German engineering” still means something special.
The gun’s mechanical guts—the parts most of us never see and hardly think about—are actually rather uncomplicated, an ingenious feat for an over/under with inertial locks and blocks, and a single mechanical trigger to fire two barrels. The internal geometry is calculated to stand up to the 100,000-round beatings dished out by sporting clays nuts, and like the lock parts on all Blasers, the hammers, firing pins, lugs, etc., are all finished to a fine polish.
But if not that, what prospective buyers will pay attention to is the same thing those savvy German engineers made their priority—natural pointability. By designing the F16 with the lowest 12-gauge over/under receiver—60 mm—on the market, with impeccable balance and weight distribution and with a slew of smart stock dimensions, this thing really does point, not aim.
Or at least that’s how it went for me, when five minutes out of the truck, our dogs bumped a bobwhite that flew low and behind a tree and then momentarily flashed into an opening in the fencerow, which coincided with me shooting. Surprisingly it fell dead. Pretty soon my average started dropping, but by the end of a busy morning tramping the Texas hill country with Blaser exec Bernard Knobel, I was still well over 50 percent. Not bad for a guy who’s a decent rifle shot. Bernard also knocked down plenty of the Joshua Creek Ranch’s feathered stock, which are among best put-and-take fliers I’ve ever encountered.
For Bernard, who also appears to be a pretty fair clays shooter, it was understandable since he’s been in on the F16’s development and bringing it to market. Picking up a strange shotgun is often humbling for me, but not so this time. Somehow it got pointed so that the results were markedly better than normal. Two things I noticed is that my head stayed down on the comb better than usual, and that the grip fit my hand almost perfectly thanks to an almost imperceptible swell just rear of the sliding safety latch. There’s also a palm swell in the normal place, but it was the other subtle bump that seemed to be a new wrinkle. I also tried paying attention to the F16’s trigger, which breaks like a quality rifle trigger at 3.8 pounds, but to be honest, it felt so natural, I didn’t notice. Another thing I didn’t notice was thinking about what I was doing. The birds flushed, I let rip, and it worked like it should.
If natural pointability means hitting more targets—and isn’t that what matters?—then this new Blaser just might be the gun that convinces upgrading shotgunners to invest a bit more. Who doesn’t want a gun that will help them hit more targets?
The F16 will run about half the price of Blaser’s F3 and other darlings of the sporting set, somewhere around $3,800 MSRP, probably less from a dealer. Set to arrive in the U.S. in May, there are two F16 variants—Sporting and Game, so whatever your sport or game, you’re covered. The two pretty similar save for barrel options, sight beads and a couple additional features found on the Sporting. One difference hunters should note is that the Game model weighs just 6.8 lbs., quite light for a 12-gauge over/under.
If any of this sounds good, my advice is to look around for an early adopter and persuade him or her to let you shoot a round of clays. I bet you’ll get the point.