Turkey has a long history of firearms production, but its guns have a mixed reputation in America. The perception is that arms made there are cheap, only somewhat reliable, and typically blessed with the visual appeal of a dump truck.
Now, this reputation isn’t entirely fair. The shotguns made by Akus, for instance, are lovely pieces of work, but so few are produced that the name is unfamiliar to most. Sadly, at the other end of the spectrum, plenty of firearms have come to our shores through the Dardanelles that reinforce these low expectations.
Part of the blame lies with the American and European partners of these gunmakers who have been satisfied to market whatever rolls off the production lines in Istanbul or Duzce without taking an active role in tailoring these guns for American tastes. However, Weatherby is one company that has not bought into this business model, and in the process appears to have cracked the Turkish code.
For the last six years, Weatherby has been importing Turkish shotguns in a number of semi-auto and pump-action configurations. The newest of these is the SA-08 Deluxe 28-gauge.
The Deluxe 28 is an ideal example of why Weatherby is excelling where others have floundered. Weatherby worked with its partner in Istanbul for three years to refine the Deluxe before its unveiling–and it shows in the results.
The initial prototype–which had 6,000 test rounds put through it in Turkey and another 2,000 rounds in the U.S.–required significant modifications to improve its strength and durability.
Roger Whitchurch, Weatherby’s head of quality control and product development, was the point person for all this. By his own account, he’s logged more than 1,000,000 miles flying between California and Istanbul in the last six years, to develop, inspect, and sign off on the Turkish-made Weatherbys.
In the case of the new SA-08 Deluxe 28, the modifications Whitchurch sought after testing the prototype included strengthening the receiver, the bolt, the locking block, the action arm, the recoil spring, and the lifter. “After that we spent a lot of time working on the barrel ports and pistons to get them to effectively function with the large variety of American ammo,” Whitchurch says.
Despite these efforts to beef up the gun, it is still a dainty thing. It is trim, sleek, and long–just the way a 28-gauge ought to be. Though my sample weighed just a touch over 5 ½ pounds (credit the Deluxe’s aluminum receiver for its light weight), it is built for an adult shooter. My sample had 28-inch barrels, a generous 14 3/8-inch length of pull, and an overall length of 48 ½ inches.
With these proportions, it fit me like a glove and balanced beautifully in hand. The only downside in its operation was the too-heavy trigger pull, which tipped the scales squarely at 6 pounds. Overlook that hiccup, however, and you’re left with a nearly perfect gun for dove, grouse, and quail.
During my evaluation, the Deluxe 28 showed that it is not only easy to use–it loaded, carried, and operated without any fuss–but that it is also a solid shooter that is eager to break targets. It springs to the shoulder in a flash, and I found that the 28-inch barrel had just enough heft to keep my swing smooth.
The glossy finish on the metal and stock gives the gun a classic Weatherby look. And though I’d rather see a more subdued oil-rubbed finish on the wood, the aesthetics of the gun work well.
The long forend lets the shooter stretch out the lead hand, if desired, and has crisp, laser-cut panels of checkering on either side. While the checkering here and on the grip is adequate for hunting purposes, the gun’s looks would benefit from a pattern that gracefully curves around the bottom of the wood. However, this would cost more, as it is more difficult for a laser engraving machine to execute.
Speaking of cost, the Deluxe 28 lists for $849, a good price for a gun of its quality.
Overall, the Deluxe 28 doesn’t deliver any surprises. Its operation will be instantly familiar to anyone who has experience with a smoothbore semi-auto–but that in no way detracts from this tight shotgun, which handled very well in the field.
If Weatherby maintains this level of quality and function, American shooters are going see Turkish guns in a different light.
Gauge: 28 ga.
Weight: 5lb. 10oz.
Trigger Pull: 6lb.
Barrel Length: 28 in.
Overall Length: 48 1/2 in.
Suggested Retail: $849
Overall: *** ½
Verdict: This little 28-gauge is a well-designed shotgun that serves its purpose perfectly. It is a lovely bird gun, both with respect to how it performs in the field and how it looks._