June 12, 2017
Looking for a quality upland shotgun that offers high-end features at an affordable price? TriStar's Setter S/T lineup has become one of our favorite over/unders, namely because these Turkish imports are affordable and have all the function of a high-end double. Offered in 12, 20, 28, and .410, I've shot the 28 (2.") and diminutive .410 (3").
The steel receiver is one-piece, making it a box-lock action. Like many monoblock guns, the union of the barrels and block is cleverly camouflaged by some faint engraving. The barrels pivot on trunnions, making for a slimmer action.
TriStar calls the locking bolt "self-adjusting," which means as it wears, it moves a little further into the recess, and maintains a tight lock-up. The sides of the mono-block that go inside the receiver have nicely done Damascus engine turning.
The tang safety is manual, and contains the barrel selector button. The single trigger has gold-colored plating and is mechanical; it doesn't require the recoil of the first shot to "set" the trigger for the second. You don't have to open the action or flip the safety on and off. Just pull the trigger, and the second barrel fires.
The average trigger pull weights were fine, but varied widely, though weren't much of a problem when shooting. On the 28, the lower barrel averaged 6 pounds, 9.8 ounces, and varied by 2 pounds, 6.4 ounces. The upper barrel's broke at 6 pounds, 7.5 ounces, and varied by 2 pounds, 1.5 ounces. All Setter S/Ts have 28-inch barrels except for the 20-gauge model, which has 26-inch barrels.
The S/T bores and chambers are chrome plated, and a set of five Beretta-style chokes (S, IC, M, IM and F) are provided.
These guns have a one-piece extractor that elevates shells — fired or not — for easy removal. This is a big plus for those of us who reload — and that includes many of us 28-gauge fans, what with the price of factory loads.
The barrels have a nice ventilated rib with a red fiber-optic front sight that is small enough not to be obstructive but large enough to be seen in low-light situations.
The Turkish walnut buttstock and forend are close-grained and have enough dark streaks and figure swirls near the butt to make them attractive. The .-inch recoil pad has a hard plastic cap on the heel that helps when mounting the gun in a hurry.
A Deeley-type latch secures the forend.
As with most over/unders, the balance is about perfect, and the stock dimensions fit me to a "T." With a weight of 6 pounds, 13 ounces (28), and 6 pounds for the .410, either would be a perfect companion for a day afield.
I shot the 28 and .410 on some skeet at the Ozark Shooting Complex near Branson, Missouri. I used the skeet and improved cylinder tubes for both guns, and they seemed to be about right. At skeet, I shot Federal Premium target loads with .-ounce 8Ã³ shot. In the .410, I used Federal Estate .5-ounce 9s.
The 28 was a totally different story. It seemed I could hardly miss with it. In fact, this is one of the best shooting 28s I have fired.
I have fired thousands of rounds at skeet targets, but that was back when the world was flat and I had hair. So I didn't shoot any 25 straights. In fact, I stridently take the 5th on my scores with the .410. All I will report is that the gun shot fine (even if I didn't), never malfunctioned and (occasionally) I convincingly crushed a target with it.
The 28 was a totally different story. It seemed I could hardly miss with it. In fact, this is one of the best shooting 28s I have fired. The lithe gun seemed to hit exactly where I looked; the balance was excellent and the slight weight forward helped me keep the gun in a smooth follow-through.
But these are hunting guns so I took the 28 to Flying Feathers shooting preserve near Golden City, Missouri, run by Marsha and Bruce Lilienkamp. The services were first rate, dog work exemplary, birds fast and furious and the food sumptuous. (Tip: When you make your hunt reservation at Flying Feathers, be sure and ask if Marsha is going to have her fabulous strudel cake.)
The quarry for the Setter 28 was chukar. My few rounds of skeet practice paid off, and miracle of miracles, I managed five birds with five rounds. I have long been a huge fan of the 28, and this foray was no disappointment. Just about everybody loves the 28, and of course, if a fella just had to have a .410, the Setter is a good one.
Hunters in need of a good gun to get into the shotgun sports have a lot of options with expensive O/Us and pump and semi-autos, but many of these are priced much higher than Setters. No one is going to confuse the S/Ts with a high-dollar Italian O/U, but they are nicely finished, well-made doubles that shoot very well, and don't cost a year's pay.