Weatherby SA-08 12 Gauge Deluxe Autoloader

By Randy Wakeman

Weatherby SA-08 12 gauge Deluxe Shotgun
SA-08 12 gauge Deluxe. Photo by Randy Wakeman.

The Weatherby SA-08 12 gauge 26 inch gas-operated autoloader is the big brother to the previously covered SA-08 20 gauge. At six and one half pounds, a quarter pound lighter than advertised, it is one of the lighter 12 gauge autoloaders on the market, weighing in at just half of a pound more than the slim SA-08 20 gauge.

While the SA-08 20 uses Mobilchoke type choke tubes, this 12 gauge uses the standard Invector (Winchoke) style. The tested gun is the walnut version; it comes supplied with stock shims and three factory choke tubes. As with the 20, there are two gas pistons supplied, one for light loads and one for heavier hunting loads.

The hard-chrome plated bore of the SA-08 measures .723 inches via Skeets bore gage. The supplied chokes measured .694 inch (Full), .711 (Modified), and .720 inch (Improved Cylinder) exit diameters. Though designated as “Full,” the full choke is closer to a improved modified or light full with its .029 in constriction. The “Improved Cylinder” choke tube throws skeet patterns, consistent with its three thousandths of one inch actual constriction. The short, stubby Invector chokes have not been good performers for me, as a class, so Trulock Precision Hunter extended tubes will be added in the future.

The trigger on the SA-08 breaks at five pounds on the nose, better than many current autoloader offerings. While not spectacular, it is a usable hunting trigger right out of the box.

The gloss-finished walnut is standard straight grain, but the forearm and buttstock are well-matched in color and tone. The cut checkering is cleanly done. The recoil pad is well-finished and better than most OEM style pads.

Overall, the build quality is good. The SA-08 synthetic models are priced at $599 per 2013 MSRP and the Deluxe is $799. The Weatherby published specifications are as follows.

Weatherby SA-08 12 gauge shotgun specs

At the range, the SA-08 handled Federal Top Gun 1 oz. 1180 fps loads perfectly with no break-in. The were no failures to feed or eject in the first shooting session consisting of 250 rounds.

Despite the SA-08's light 6.5 weight, recoil was mild. This gun is substantially more pleasurable to shoot with 1 oz. and 1-1/8 oz. loads than several 6.5 - 7 pound guns to which it was compared.

According to industry sources other than Weatherby, Weatherby has spent a great deal of time focusing on quality control with OEM maker ATA and it shows in the SA-08 Deluxe. An attractive autoloader with an authentic walnut stock, it has no problems. The trigger is average, ditto the recoil pad and this is a shotgun that works well with no gunsmithing required. My only quibble would be the mis-marked flush choke tubes that do not perform as notched.

It is one of the lightest gas-operated 12 gauge guns on the market, making it appropriate for shooting dove, pheasant and casual clays. For a dedicated clays gun, you may well wish to consider a heavier model. As an easy to carry gun it is hard to beat, gaining just one-half pound over its six pound little brother, the previously reviewed SA-08 Deluxe 20 gauge.

It's a good half pound lighter than the Franchi Affinity 12 gauge, Browning Maxus, Beretta A300 Outlander wood model and even a clean quarter pound lighter than the Winchester SX3 Black Field. The Weatherby SA-08 Deluxe walnut is both better-looking and less costly than all of them, with the synthetic version selling for less money. I was impressed with the SA-08 in 20 gauge and the same holds true for this 12 gauge version. For an attractive, well-finished, lightweight autoloader that won't break the bank, the Weatherby SA-08 Deluxe is hard to beat.

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Copyright 2013, 2016 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.