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Retay Antalya SS Elegant Shotgun: Shotgun Review

The inertia-operated Retay Antalya Elegant SS is a stylish, hard-working semiauto shotgun loaded with premium features.

Retay Antalya SS Elegant Shotgun: Shotgun Review

Retay’s Turkish-made semiautos have made a splash in the shotgun market over recent years, and it’s easy to understand why. (Photo By: Brad Fitzpatrick)

With few shotguns that offer such rock-solid reliability and so many high-end features, Retay’s all-new Antalya SS Elegant provides refinement and durability with an added touch of style.

This upgraded styling begins with an oil/varnish finished Turkish walnut stock. The test gun’s wood featured plenty of figure, with contrasting dark and light patterns that enhanced the overall look. A dense, black microcell polyurethane recoil pad reduces felt recoil and the radiused heel eliminates snagging while mounting the gun. The included shim kit allows the shooter to adjust drop at heel by .59-inches, and cast can also be adjusted. Finger grooves run along the top of the trim, rounded forearm. Diamond checkering on the pistol grip and forearm are well executed and clean. Retay offers these guns with sling studs and quick-detach swivels are included, as well.

retay antalya ss elegant shotgun scroll detail
Floral engraving covers the rear portion of the Antalya’s anodized aluminum lower receiver. (Photo By: Brad Fitzpatrick)

The anodized upper receiver is black, which contrasts nicely with the silver color of the lower receiver. Antalya barrels are made from quality 4140 steel and feature a black chrome finish. Optional barrel lengths are listed in 24-, 26-, 28-, and 30-inches, and five flush-fit 7cm Marapro choke tubes (S, IC, M, IM, F) come standard. A fiber optic front sight is also mounted on the gun’s 8mm ventilated rib.


Better Built Barrels

Unlike most other shotgun barrels which are hammer forged, Retay deep bore drills their barrels. The process is costly, but it results in an extremely straight bore and, subsequently, improved performance.   

“It's well known that the best target guns in the world have used drilled barrels for many years because of the inherent performance advantages drilling offers over hammer forging,” says Chris Handy, CEO of Retay USA. “Drilling does not stress the material the way that hammer forging does, it's a slower and more methodical process that results in highly controllable bore tolerances.”

This process results in barrels that shoot straight. Many shooters blame missed shots on gun fit or a lack of practice, but I’ve encountered a handful of factory shotgun barrels that simply did not pattern well. I’ve also seen shotguns of the same model and gauge with varying points of impact. I can’t contribute every one of these cases to barrel inconsistencies, but as Handy says, it’s no secret that drilled barrels have an outstanding reputation for performance.  

“Drilling is far from being an efficient means of manufacturing a barrel, but it creates the best patterning and most accurate barrels modern machining techniques have thus far been able to consistently produce,” Handy says.

retay antalya ss elegant shotgun muzzle
In addition to straight bores, Retay shotguns also feature lengthened forcing cones. This helps reduce pellet deformation and helps to improve patterns. (Photo By: Brad Fitzpatrick)

Traditionally, shotguns with drilled barrels cost north of $6,000. How is it that Retay manages to produce guns with drilled barrels for less than half that price?  

“What makes Retay shotguns like the Antalya possible is that beginning in 2006, Retay made the decision to forego purchasing hammer forging equipment and instead invested in the means to manufacture deep bore drilled barrels on a scale never before seen,” Handy says. “16 years later, Retay has become a world leader in manufacturing this type of barrel in the high volumes necessary to allow us to offer them on hunting and sporting shotguns at a much more affordable price point.”

retay antalya ss elegant shotgun
Retay Antalya SS Elegant Shotgun (Photo courtesy of Retay)

Retay Antalya SS Elegant Shotgun Specifications

  • Action Type: Inertia-operated semiauto
  • Gauge: 12-gauge
  • Chamber: 3-in.
  • Barrel Length: 28-in. (tested) 24-, 26-, & 30-in. available
  • Weight: 6 lbs. 13 oz. (as tested)
  • Stock: Oil/varnish Turkish walnut
  • Trigger: Single selective
  • Reciever: Steel, Matte blue
  • Chokes: 5 Marapro flush-fit
  • Suggested Retail Price: $2,999
  • Website: retayarms.com


What’s Inside

At the heart of the Antalya SS Elegant is Retay’s Inertia Plus bolt. When the gun is fired, inertia generated by the recoil moves the bolt rearward, but the bolt head stays in position. During rearward motion, a pin rides inside a channel in the bolt and, when the pin reaches the end of the channel the bolt head unlocks and moves rearward with the bolt body. As the spent shell moves rearward it strikes a spring-mounted ejector. A tail on the rear of the bolt compresses the recoil spring in the stock, and that spring provides the energy required to drive the bolt forward after the shot. The carrier lifts a shell from the magazine, the bolt head drives the shell into the chamber and rotates into a locked position, and the gun is back in battery and ready to fire.

retay antalya ss elegant shotgun close up
The Inertia Plus bolt design on the Antalya SS Elegant virtually eliminates any failures to rotate into battery. (Photo By: Brad Fitzpatrick)(Photo courtesy of Retay)

The process is simple, so maintenance on these guns is minimal. In most cases, all that’s required to keep the Retay in working order is the occasional field stripping, wipe down, and application of a thin layer of lubricant to keep the internal machinery running smoothly. The brilliance of Bruno Civolani’s inertia-operated action design lies in its simplicity: a modicum of moving arts reduces the risk of breakage or malfunction and you don’t need a mechanical engineering degree to operate, maintain, and troubleshot problems with inertia guns.

One problem has plagued inertia guns in the past, however, is that the bolt head doesn’t always rotate into battery. If the bolt head isn’t in the locked position (usually the result of a bolt being released gingerly, such as when the hunter is in a duck blind or pre-dawn turkey setup and trying to avoid announcing their presence to every animal within earshot by slamming the bolt closed) then the gun won’t fire, but the Inertia Plus bolt design virtually eliminates this problem. No matter how lightly I closed the bolt on this gun it never failed to rotate into the locked position.

The Inertia Plus bolt isn’t the only class-leading feature you’ll find on the Antalya SS Elegant. While most of the controls on this gun (which include a crossbolt safety, bolt release button, and cartridge drop lever) are standard on most inertia guns, there’s a small button on the bottom right portion of the receiver between the crossbolt safety and the trigger that some shooters may not immediately recognize. By pressing this button, which is known as the trigger guard lock pin, the entire trigger assembly can be removed. Retay calls it the Removable Trigger System (RTS). It’s a fast and easy way to remove the trigger assembly for maintenance or cleaning, and no tools are required. This also allows you to quickly remove the trigger group for safe storage.

The 12-gauge Antalya SS Elegant tested weighed in at 6 pounds, 13 ounces, though density variations in wood may impact overall weight (listed weight is 6 pounds, 9 ounces). Still, this gun is manageable to carry all day. It’s chambered for 2¾- and 3-inch shells and has an unplugged capacity of 4+1 rounds and an overall length of 49.25-inches with a 28-inch barrel. The Antalya SS Elegant ships in a durable polymer case with locking points and the case offers internal storage for the gun, choke tubes, shim kit, and the easy-to-follow instruction manual. Retay backs these guns with a five-year warranty.

MSRP for the Antalya SS Elegant is $2,999, which may seem high for an inertia gun. However, when you consider that this gun comes with a long list of premium features including a drilled barrel and a gorgeous Turkish walnut stock, this price isn’t out of line.

retay antalya ss elegant shotgun with shooting jacket and clay targets
The Retay Antalya SS Elegant shotgun is equally equipped for any wingshooting or clay busting outing. (Photo By: Brad Fitzpatrick)

Range Evaluation

With a balance point located at the front of receiver, the Retay handles and swings nicely. Length of pull is 14.37-inches, and the aggressively radiused heel makes it almost impossible to snag the gun while mounting. I intentionally wear a loose-fitting shooting vest for range evaluations and shoot most of my test shots from a low gun position to mimic field conditions. Few guns are as forgiving of inconsistent mounts as the Retay.

The internal components are clean, and precision machined from metal. I tested a range of 12-gauge loads in this gun, everything from 1 1/8-ounce target loads at 1,200 feet per second to 3-inch Federal Prairie Storm loads that pushed 1 5/8-ounces of #5 shot at 1,350 fps, and there weren’t any malfunctions over the course of 150 rounds. Recoil is stiff with heavy loads to be sure, but it’s not unmanageable, and the Retay’s ability to function with different loads makes it a one-gun solution for the hunter who chases everything from dove and quail to public-land pheasants and ducks.

The Retay broke clays without issue, but I wanted to test the company’s claim that its drilled barrels are indeed more accurate than their hammer-forged counterparts. On the patterning board the Retay’s promise of a straighter-shooting gun proved true. It’s not uncommon for factory guns to consistently pattern to the right or left when shooting at 40 yards, and sometimes these shifts are substantial enough to result in misses or crippled birds. When I tested the Retay the patterns were more uniform, with an average 54/46 percent left-right split. That places the Retay among the most consistent shotguns I’ve tested and bears out the promise that drilled barrels do perform very well.

Does this boost in performance warrant a $3,000 price point? That depends on your tastes and budget. But there’s no mistaking that a straight-shooting gun will kill more birds and break more clays if the shooter does their part. When you’re hunting wild-flushing, late-season Dakota pheasants on public ground or chukars high in the hills, you may only have a few shot opportunities each day. It’s nice to know that your gun makes it easier to connect with birds.

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