The CVA Optima Pro Rifle
The CVA Optima Pro 209 camo synthetic .45 caliber weighs 9-1/2 pounds and is surprisingly well balanced. This break open hammer gun has a trigger that breaks at about 4.5 lbs. on the Lyman electronic trigger gauge, with very little take-up and no grit. The already good balance turned out to be even better after adding Warne QR rings and a Nikon Monarch 2 x 7 x 32 scope.
The Optima exhibits no blowback at all. Cleaning is a cinch, as you back out the breech plug with the supplied tool (or a common socket set), stick the muzzle in a pail of water, and you are done in a few minutes.
This gun is in no way related to the Encore. The action is virtually identical to the Harrington and Richardson "Topper" shotgun, and is better described as an H&R "Huntsman" with an Encore style stock. Take the forearm off, and the barrel falls to the ground. Even the telescoping ramrod is "borrowed" from the H &R Huntsman.
Aesthetically, the Optima's cheap looking roll engraving is a small distraction, as is the unappealing (but perfectly functional) trigger guard mounted barrel release (the Topper / Huntsman is an upper tang lever barrel break). I was impressed with the solid synthetic stock of the Winchester X-150, and am equally impressed with the job they have done with the Optima.
I have no trouble saying that this is the most user friendly gun CVA has produced to date, and the combination of bargain pricing, easy maintenance, decent trigger, no blowback, and one of the best synthetic break action stock sets I have seen gives this gun great appeal to the price conscious buyer. It comes with CVA's limited lifetime warranty. With the formidable sales skills of BPI, the only problem CVA is going to have with this gun is keeping them in stock.
The dangers of "one incident, one gun" testing have crept in. The first test gun sent to me for testing was a super-heavy triggered model, with a dancing trigger from 10 - 14 lbs. break. I was assured that this was the "exception" by CVA, not the rule. The second gun supplied had a far better trigger, as detailed above. Later, in comparing notes with other reviewers, I discovered that my initial heavy-triggered monster was the rule, not the exception. Though I believe it has since been corrected, several thousand heavy triggered CVA Optimas are rumored to have been sold.
There appears to have been widespread initial CVA Optima quality control problems that the savvy shopper should guard against. Due to continuing quality control and safety issues with current "CVA" branded imported product, this rifle absolutely cannot be recommended.
Note: A complete review of the Optima Pro rifle can be found on the Product Review Page.
Copyright 2003, 2006 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.