Remington Premier Upland Special Over/Under 28 Gauge Shotgun

By the Guns and Shooting Online Staff

Remington Premier Upland Special Over/Under
Illustration courtesy of Remington Arms Co.

Back in 1932, Remington began manufacturing, in house, the Model 32 over and under shotgun. It was an ingenious design, but it never achieved the popularity of the Belgian made Browning Superposed O/U despite a retail price about 30% lower than the Superposed. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor sank more than warships; the Model 32 was discontinued in 1942 due to the unavailability of strategic materials. By the end of WW II the Model 32 had become too expensive to manufacture in the U.S. and Remington discontinued the gun, selling the rights to Krieghoff of Germany, who manufactures their improved version to this day. During its 10 year production life, Remington only manufactured about 600 Model 32's per year.

Over the intervening years Remington has attempted, on a couple of occasions, to bring back revised and modernized versions of the Model 32 (probably the best known of these being the Models 3200 and 332), but they never really caught on with hunters. By then the Browning Superposed had been priced out of the market, but Browning maintained their leading position in the O/U field by means of the Citori, a simplified version of the Superposed manufactured in Japan. The later Remington O/U's also faced stiff competition from a number of sleek Italian O/U guns, the best known of which were made by Beretta. These Italian guns had shallow receivers and monoblock barrels that swung open on trunions inside the receiver, concepts pioneered by Remington in the Model 32. The competition from the imported Citori and the Italian guns proved to be too much for the Model 32's successors and they were discontinued, leaving Remington without an entry in the prestigious O/U shotgun field.

In 2006, Remington again ventured into the upscale shotgun market, but this time they went the import route. There is an old saying, "If you can't beat 'em, join them." Having repeatedly failed to build and successfully market a domestic O/U gun, Remington took that old saying to heart and went to Italy for their new line of Premier O/U shotguns. Specifically, these new Premier guns are made for Remington by Sabatti s.p.a. of Brescia. This is in the famous Val Trompia region of Italy, where for centuries some of the world's best guns have been made. Members of the Sabatti family have been in the gun trade since before the invention of the flintlock. In fact, Lodovico Sabatti (1674-1745), was a noted designer of flintlock pistols and a well-known barrel-maker.

The present Sabatti Company was founded in 1946 by Antonio Sabatti and Giuseppe Tanfoglio to manufacture shotgun lockwork. In 1956 they branched out into the manufacture of pistols, which led to the division of the Company around 1960. Sabatti retained the shotgun business and Tanfoglio the pistol business, a split that worked out well for both parties. Today the Sabatti Company is owned and operated by three of Antonio's grandsons: Emanuele, Antonio and Marco.

We don't know how Remington selected Sabatti to manufacture their Premier O/U, but they appear to have chosen well. As far as we can tell from the Sabatti web site, the Remington Premier Upland grade is a slightly modified version of the Sabatti Model Artemide shotgun, that company's top of the line field gun. It is a boxlock O/U with a case colored receiver and polished and blued monoblock barrels. Like most Italian O/U guns, it has a rather shallow receiver and the barrels are hinged on internal, replaceable trunions mounted on each side of the frame. The trigger plate and other receiver parts are carefully fitted, although the internal parts lack the polished fit and finish typical of best grade guns. Of course, the Premier is built to a price point far lower than a best gun. Overall, it appears to be a well made gun.

One interesting feature of the Premier O/U is that there are no visible screws in the outside of the gun. Another is that the top tang is rather short and there is no bottom tang; the stock starts at the back of the trigger guard and is secured by a draw bolt rather than tang screws. Perhaps the best features of the Premier Upland we tested are its 6.75 pound weight and 28" barrels. These make the gun substantial without being burdensome. Many recent 28 gauge guns are too short and too light to swing smoothly or to ameliorate the recoil of even relatively mild 28 gauge shells. What is the point to a 28 that kicks as hard as a 20 gauge? With the Premier Upland Special you get the benefits of an adult size, 28 gauge field gun, not some ultra light toy.

The receiver is forged and milled from a block of nickel steel. There are shallow, tandem lumps integral with the mono-block and a wide, sliding under-bolt in the bottom of the receiver that engages them when the action is closed, rather like a Browning Citori. The Premier receiver is shallower than that of a Citori because the Premier's barrels pivot on trunions, which are located higher in the receiver than a Citori's full length hinge pin, and because the lumps extend only minimally below the bottom barrel. Some of the internal parts, including the cocking bars, appear to be made from steel castings, no doubt to hold down costs. This is a reasonable compromise in a gun in this price class.

The receiver is decorated with approximately 90% coverage, laser cut, scroll and game scene engraving and gold game bird accents on both sides (quail on the left, a woodcock on the right). The single trigger is gold plated.

Remington Premier Upland Special receiver
Receiver and monoblock. Illustration courtesy of Remington Arms Co.

The barrels are made from a solid bar of chromium-molybdenum solid steel. They are carefully drilled, bored, honed and then internally chrome plated. When finished and regulated the barrels are silver soldered into the monoblock at medium temperature. The ventilated rib is an attractive design with arched openings. The sides of the breeches are polished and engine turned. The Premier Upland is supplied with a cased set of five interchangeable ProBore choke tubes (Full, Modified, Light Modified, Improved Cylinder and Skeet) and a deluxe choke wrench.

The pistol grip stock is made of fancy grade, oil finished, thin-shell (probably Turkish) walnut and hand checkered in a generous point pattern at about 20 lpi. It terminates in a solid black rubber recoil pad. There is no pistol grip cap. The stock and forend of our test gun feature long, dark streaks of contrasting grain that is fairly typical of decent grade (about A to AA in this case) English and Turkish walnut.

The slender (for an O/U) forend features wrap around checkering and a pronounced Schnable tip. It is secured by a matte black sliding latch that appears to be a cast steel part; it would have been nice had the latch been polished and blued to match the barrels. The forend fits very closely to the barrels yet is easy to remove and attach.

The action is opened by a conventional top lever. The large, top tang mounted sliding safety is comfortable and works as advertised. Rearward is "safe" and forward is "fire." The barrel selector is a small button in the middle of the safety slider. Move the barrel selector to the left (one red dot shows) to fire the lower barrel and to the right (two red dots show) to fire the over barrel.

Our only serious complaint is the trigger pull, which measured 6.1 pounds. That may be acceptable to tort lawyers but is far too heavy for any firearm, even a shotgun. The trigger pull of any decent shotgun should not exceed 4 pounds. This should have been rectified at the factory.

The Premier Upland Special is a very handsome O/U shotgun. It is prettier, in our opinion, than the Ruger, Browning, Savage and Beretta O/U models that are its primary competition in the marketplace. It comes with an excellent, lined and padded, "Remington green" hard case. This durable locking case is approved for airline travel and is a very nice "extra" not usually supplied with a gun in this price class. In fact, we wish that these cases were offered separately.

Remington Premier Upland Special case
Premier case. Illustration courtesy of Remington Arms Co.

Here are some basic specifications and measurements for our Premier Upland Special O/U shotgun.

  • Order number - 89754
  • Gauge - 28, 2-3/4" chambers
  • Receiver finish - case colored
  • Barrel length - 28" with ventilated rib
  • Barrel finish - polished blue
  • Stock - oil finished European walnut, hand checkered
  • Sights - 7mm wide ventilated rib with steel middle and ivory front beads
  • Trigger - mechanical single selective, gold plated
  • Trigger pull - 6.1 pounds, both barrels
  • Safety - automatic, tang mounted slider
  • Barrel selector - incorporated in tang safety
  • Extraction/Ejection - automatic ejectors
  • Overall length - 45-1/8"
  • Length of pull - 14-1/4"
  • Drop at comb - 1-1/2"
  • Drop at heel - 2-3/8"
  • Weight - 6-3/4 pounds
  • 2007 MSRP - $2268

In use, the Premier Upland presented no surprises. Out of the box the action is quite stiff, but it will break-in with use. The automatic safety can be a hassle for those who shoot clay targets and such devices never fail to draw the ire of the Guns and Shooting Online staff, but it is less intrusive in the field, since hammerless guns are typically carried with the safety on, anyway.

Guns and Shooting Online staffers Rocky Hays, Bob Fleck, Gordon Landers and Chuck Hawks took the Premier O/U to the Cottage Grove/Eugene Sportsman's Club to break some clay targets on their trap range. Our friends at Remington were kind enough to provide us with a case of their superb Premier STS target loads. In 28 gauge, these extremely durable hulls are loaded with ounce of extra hard shot. The gun fit everyone but Rocky (who prefers a very high comb).

The response to this handsome 28 gauge gun was extremely positive. The Premier Upland Special attracted a lot of attention from other shooters. They wanted to know what it was, who made it and what it cost. Everyone who expressed an opinion said that it was an impressive gun. Most were surprised that it did not cost more. We had a good supply of shells, so we let some of the guys who were interested in the gun shoot a few clay pigeons with it. One fellow who tried it at International Trap (wobble trap) broke three out of five targets. International is a very difficult, long range game poorly suited to a 28 gauge gun, so we were impressed.

At the trap range, the automatic safety caused trouble for Rocky, Gordon and Bob, who are not used to such devices. Yanking the trigger with the safety on at least demonstrated that the safety works, since the gun did not fire!

The same three culprits also found the barrel selector too easy to change. At one time or another, all three managed to accidentally slide the barrel selector from the lower barrel to the upper barrel. Gordon suggested that, in his case, his habit of closing the top lever slowly (rather than letting it snap home when closing the gun) might have resulted in inadvertently brushing the barrel selector to the right, selecting the upper barrel, the chamber of which was empty. The gun went "click!" when he pulled the trigger, just as it should have. They would like to see a more positive detent in the barrel selector. Chuck had no trouble with the automatic safety or the barrel selector. We all agreed, however, that we preferred a manual (non-automatic) safety and a button behind the trigger (as per the Winchester Model 21) for a barrel selector.

The single trigger fired the barrel it was set for every time and the selective ejectors threw fired cases well clear of the gun and elevated unfired shells for easy hand removal, just as they were supposed to. There were no mechanical malfunctions to report.

This Remington O/U swings smoothly and points naturally. Using the full choke tube in the lower barrel, it broke (standard American) trap targets decisively when we did our part, even though our shells contained only ounce of #9 shot. Our trigger time with the Premier O/U again demonstrated that it is how well you shoot rather than what you shoot that really matters. Of course, the 28 gauge is famous for its effectiveness as well as its diminutive size.

Our gun balanced at the point the barrels join the monoblock, or about 1/4" ahead of the hinge pin, which is ideal for a lightweight shotgun as the slight weight forward balance helps to steady the swing. Recoil is not a problem because of the gun's adult size and weight. With all due respect to the legendary Model 32, we consider the Premier Upland Special to be the nicest O/U shotgun ever marketed by Remington.

The Premier Upland is an excellent field gun and we are sure that it would prove a capable performer at small bore skeet or 5-stand sporting clays. Its interchangeable choke system enhances its versatility. It is hard to imagine anything for which a 28 gauge gun is suitable that the Premier Upland could not handle with aplomb. There is no shortage of decent O/U shotguns these days, so in that sense the Remington Premier Upland Special is not unique. It is, however, an excellent gun and an O/U that you can be proud to own and to someday hand down to your children.

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