Hatfield / CZ Bobwhite 28 Gauge Side-by-Side Shotgun
By Chuck Hawks and the Guns and Shooting Online Staff
Hatfield USA imports side-by-side shotguns. As I write these words in 2007, all Hatfield shotguns are built on 7-pin H&H style sidelocks and are available in 12 and 20 gauges only. They are made in Turkey, sourced from an unknown supplier.
At the time the shotgun that is the subject of this review was sold, Huglu Arms in Turkey manufactured Hatfield brand guns. Huglu Arms has since signed an exclusive North American distribution agreement with CZ-USA, so presumably Huglu is no longer the Hatfield supplier.
It is a discontinued, Huglu made, Hatfield brand gun that is the subject of this review. This gun appears to be very similar to the model that CZ-USA now calls the "Bobwhite." Note, however, that the particulars of the CZ Bobwhite differ from the gun reviewed here.
This Hatfield gun is built on a straightforward Anson & Deely action, although false side plates to simulate a sidelock gun were a Hatfield option. The Huglu 28 guage frame is specifically intended for 28 gauge barrels; it is proportionally smaller than the Huglu 20 gauge frame. Decorative engraving is confined to the screw heads of the Hatfield gun, but there is hand engraving on the receiver of the CZ Bobwhite. The barrels are of the mono-block type with a high, solid rib.
Double or single triggers were available on the Hatfield at the buyer's option, as were straight hand or pistol grip stocks. The CZ Bobwhite is supplied with double triggers and a straight hand stock, while the similar CZ Ringneck comes with a pistol grip stock and single trigger. Hatfield generally seemed to get very nice wood for their guns, better than most Turkish guns and better than the wood on the CZ Bobwhite guns that we have seen. Visually, these Huglu boxlock guns make a good first impression.
The finish of the 28 gauge Hatfield that is the subject of this review includes polished black barrels and case colors on the receiver. The wood finish is glossy and nicely shows off the wood's figure, which includes attractive dark streaks. The hand checkering is done in a conventional point pattern at 20 lines per inch. The tasteful Schnable splinter forend is retained by a mechanical catch.
Our Hatfield test gun came with a selective single trigger. The trigger selector is incorporated with the tang safety and works quite well, which is by no means always the case. Plain extractors elevate the shells for removal by hand when the action is opened.
Unfortunately, the barrel finish quickly began to wear off right in the cardboard shipping box. At that point Guns and Shooting Online's Rocky Hays, the owner of our test gun and an engraver and restorer of classic doubles, did a little investigating and discovered that the polished barrels were not blued, but painted. A little more investigative work revealed that the case colors on the receiver were achieved with a blowtorch. This sort of thing, of course, does nothing to enhance the gun's reputation!
Here are some specifications for our Hatfield test gun. (CZ Bobwhite in parenthesis where applicable.)
Guns and Shooting Online staff members Rocky Hays, Jim Fleck, Bob Fleck, Gordon Landers, and yours truly took turns shooting the little Hatfield double at the Cottage Grove - Eugene Sportsman's Club, our local trap range. The kind folks there reserved for us a practice trap range so that we could test guns (we brought 7 double guns!) and left us to our own devices, which we greatly appreciated.
In the course of shooting the Hatfield we discovered that the stock didn't fit anyone, despite our different sizes and shapes. No one could shoot this gun well, or even acceptably. I think that, collectively, we managed to break 3 or 4 targets out of 25 with the Hatfield, the poorest result of the day with any of the seven guns that we test fired. The stock has a great deal of cast off (1/4") and twist (3 degrees), and the comb places the eye so high that everyone saw too much barrel. The result being that it was all too easy to shoot over the top of targets.
The Hatfield is so light that it tends to be whippy and it is very easy to stop your swing and shoot behind the target. The short 25-1/2" barrels aggravate this problem; 28" barrels would definitely be an improvement. Being a 28 gauge gun shooting target loads with 3/4 ounce of shot, recoil was not much of a problem, although the Hatfield's excessive cast off amplifies the subjective effect of recoil against the face.
We never really figured out where the Hatfield was shooting. We desperately needed to pattern this gun, but unfortunately the Club's patterning board was temporarily unavailable and we were unable to do so.
In a sense this boxlock Hatfield version of the Bobwhite is the opposite of a "best gun." With a real best gun the more familiar you become with it the more pleased you are with the attention to detail evidenced in its manufacture and the features it incorporates. The Hatfield is visually attractive and makes a great first impression, but the more familiar you become with this gun the less desirable it seems.
The Hatfield Gun Company is now importing a sidelock gun of markedly higher quality, which they call their "London Sidelock." These cost considerably more than the boxlock gun that we reviewed, but have got to be worth the higher price. Hatfield London Sidelocks come with automatic ejectors and a non-selective single trigger. Barrels are now rust blued and the frame is bone charcoal case colored. Check out the new Hatfield London Sidelock gun at www.hatfield-usa.com
Copyright 2007 by ChuckHawks.com. All rights reserved.
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