Weatherby Orion 1 Over/Under 12 gauge Shotgun
The current, 2016 Weatherby Orion 1 O/U shotgun is available in 12 gauge only. It is made in Turkey by ATA. To get to the crux of the biscuit, the new Weatherby Orion is a version of the ATA Arms SP O&U shotgun in a Weatherby box.
UPS was not kind to my test gun, for although there was no external damage to the box, the forearm took a good whack somewhere along the route and is well dinged on the left side and also has a crack in it where it meets the action. This is not Weatherby's fault, as these things sometimes happen during shipment.
The Orion 1 is an entry level O/U with a 2016 MSRP of $1099 and discount retail price in the area of $850 in the United States. It is generally good looking and well finished, particularly for such a modest price. Weatherby provides a superior level of external fit and finish on their guns.
Weatherby considers the Orion 1 an upland field gun. The tested version has 28 inch, chrome-lined barrels, three inch chambers and weighed 7.5 pounds on my scale.
It is built on a boxlock action with a forged steel receiver. The action of the Weatherby Orion is essentially similar to the Beretta 686 and the features include a single selective trigger and automatic selective ejectors. A top lever opens the barrels.
The monoblock barrels have a ventilated rib with a brass bead front sight. The barrel set seems a bit heavy, which is typical of inexpensive double-barreled guns. (Thin wall tubes of very high quality steel to reduce weight are expensive.) The Weatherby Orion 1 uses standard Browning Invector type choke tubes and three tubes are supplied with the gun (Improved Cylinder, Modified and Full).
The single mechanical trigger releases in the 6-1/4 to 6-1/2 pound range. There is excessive take-up and the trigger is substantially heavier than desirable in any shotgun. Yet, I have tested worse and comments about this gun have to be tethered to its low price point. (Things like engraving and embellishment, definitely, but basic function should be correct regardless of selling price and that includes the trigger pull. -Editor)
One thing that is actually better than the Beretta 686 is the Weatherby's top tang safety, which has a raised profile and gives better purchase. The safety is also used to select the barrel to be fired first. It is a bit stiff, but operates in what you might call the Browning style, Y-gated, left/right selector. The safety, thankfully, is not automatic, meaning it does not re-set to the safe position when you open the action.
The standard grade (Weatherby "A" grade) Turkish walnut stock has a nice Prince of Wales type pistol grip, fluted comb and four panel cut checkering. It comes with a generous recoil pad that has a hard insert on the heel to help prevent snagging on clothing when mounting.
The beavertail forend is large and pregnant-looking, but probably feels good in the hand if you are used to shooting repeaters, rather than fine double guns. A skilled wood worker could probably slenderize and refinish the forend to improve the overall look and feel of the gun.
As you can probably tell from my tone, it is difficult for me to get enthusiastic about entry level O/U shotguns. Nevertheless, there is a large market for them and at $1099 list and about $850 discount retail, you will be hard pressed to do better for the dollar.
Unlike so many economy O/Us, the selective single trigger works and the automatic ejectors reliably eject fired shells, as they should. Unfired shells are raised for manual removal.
The barrels generally shoot where they are aimed at 40 yards and the chokes pattern about as expected for factory supplied choke tubes. Aftermarket choke tubes from Trulock Chokes will improve the pattern uniformity and density.
ATA is the best of the economy Turkish makers and Weatherby has a very good track record for standing behind their product. Sure, I think the Beretta 686 Silver Pigeon models are far more desirable shotguns, but they sell in the $2000 price range.
Within the envelope of price intensive product, I think most folks will be satisfied with this gun. If $850 is all someone can afford to pay for a shotgun, the Weatherby Orion 1 is a good choice. It is by no means a brilliant O/U, but at its very low price point it is better than expected. The Weatherby Orion 1 provides good bang for its comparatively few bucks.
Copyright 2016 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.