Duck hunters ask quite a bit from their shotguns. Give them a bang stick that can take on cold, rainy days, knee-deep mud, and cycle heavy loads when skeins of ducks show, and they're happy.
The new 3½-inch 612 Wildfowl Magnum from CZ-USA comes decked out in a spiffy camo finish, and it will cycle just about any 12-gauge ammo out there for the game at hand, whether it be ducks or spring toms.
The 612 receiver is aluminum. This, of course, does not affect the strength, since the action follows the typical pattern of the lug rising up into the barrel extension, making for solid lockup. The dual action bars operate slick without binding, and a push-button non-automatic safety is located in the guard just behind the trigger.
A 26-inch barrel comes with a ventilated rib and two chokes — extra-full and modified (for optimum results with non-toxic shot). Of course, if you need additional tubes with constrictions for other loads, they are available.
The synthetic stock and forend are finished in a camouflage pattern that blends well in the marsh.
And with a weight just under seven pounds, you'll be glad the Wildfowl has a squishy ¾-inch recoil pad. The magazine holds plenty of shells, and a plug is provided to cut it to two rounds. It is a snap to unload shells from the magazine, too. Just thumb the carrier up, push the interceptor latch to the side, and the shell pops right out into your hand; an excellent safety feature.
A sling on a duck gun is like an extra set of hands while you're wading out to the blind with a sack of decoys, and the 612 comes equipped with a set of sling swivels fore and aft.
The 612 is made in Istanbul, Turkey, by the well-respected firm of Akkar, which also makes various other guns for CZ. The line is actually rather well rounded. In addition to the Wildfowl Magnum, other 12-gauge guns include the extremely economical Field model, the Home Defense Combo, and the M-612 HC-P (that stands for "Horde Control — Pump." I am not making this up).
In 20-gauge, there is the youth version, sized for smaller shooters regardless of age, and a big game slug gun with a Weaver-style rail on the receiver for optics and a 22-inch smoothbore barrel with a rifled choke tube for traditional Forster-type "rifled" slugs.
The Wildfowl Magnum weighs in at 6 pounds, 12 ounces, and slipped out of the factory with a 26-inch barrel. The trigger is just about right for a field gun, averaging 6 pounds, 10 ounces on my Lyman gauge, and was rather crisp.
The drop at the comb is 1½ inches, 2½ inches at the heel, and a length of pull at 14½ inches. Unless it was really cold, and I had on all the clothes I own, I think these dimensions would do just fine for me in the field.
I first tested the 612 on my steel "pattern plate," and I'd say that it is about a 50-50 gun. The patterns were very evenly distributed, not "clumped up" in the middle.
Next I ran a couple of my favorite field loads over the chronograph. Winchester's new 3-inch Long Beard turkey carries 1¾ ounces of shot in a special wad and buffer system. It clocked 1,123 fps, and made an extremely dense splash on the plate. My late-season pheasant load is 30.5 grains of Hodgdon Longshot and 13/16 ounces of Magnum No. 6s, and velocity was 1,348 fps.
Since all the waterfowl seasons were closed, I tried it on some clay pigeons thrown from my spare tire-mounted trap. The lively little gun busted these birds just fine, and the point of impact seemed about right for flushing or passing gamebirds. I tried mixing shells of various lengths, and the lissome little pump gun shucked them in and the empties out lickety-split. There were no malfunctions of any kind.
With careful ammo and choke selection, it can handle just about any situation that may confront the field shooter. From close to far, small birds to large, the 612 is a versatile performer.
Model: CZ 612 Waterfowl Magnum
Action: Pump (2¾-, 3-, and 3½-inch shells)
Capacity: 5 + 1 (2¾-inch shells); magazine plug supplied
Trigger pull: 6 pounds, 10 ounces
Barrel: 26 inches, raised ventilated rib
Chokes: Mod and Extra-Full; additional tubes available
Overall length: 46 5/8 inches
Weight: 6 pounds, 12 ounces
Safety: Cross-bolt behind trigger
Stock: Synthetic forend and buttstock, sling swivel studs
Length of pull: 14½ inches
Drop at comb: 1½ inches
Drop at heel: 2½ inches, no cast-off