Majestic Miroku - the grade 6 limited edition clay buster

by John McDougall
Australian Shooter July 2004

I recently had the pleasure of reviewing what I believe are the most innovative Miroku shotgun models since Miroku introduced ‘back-bored’ barrels more than ten years ago. The latest Grade 6 sideplated Mirokus are works of art. Now they are coupled with the Briley choke tube system, these guns represent the pinnacle in their class.

The liaison between Briley Australia and Miroku, through the Australian agent Highland Sports, is a significant achievement for Briley Australia and a great show of confidence in Highland Sports. The provision of the S-54 choke tubes, specifically for the new Mirokus, is a reservation that does not allow interchanging with other thin-walled series of choke tubes - they only fit the new series of Miroku shotguns.

The use of high-grade French walnut, along with uniquely styled 24 carat gold Japanese engraving on the sideplates, enhances the gun and places them well above other mass-produced boxlock shotgun brands in their price range. Provision of a sturdy aluminium gun case is another bonus that will be appreciated by prospective purchasers.

The barrels
These are based on the MK38 Ultra Light barrels offered by Miroku, with back-bored configuration at 0.740" and three-inch magnum chambers proofed for steel shot (a steel shot proof mark is not presented). This provides the Grade 6 guns with a great deal of versatility, to be used on clay targets and in the field.

The choke tubes are ‘thin-walled’ series S-54, featuring an 18-turn per-inch threading, VX vasco miraging steel construction (a special steel-tungsten alloy for superior strength and steel shot compatibility) and the benefits of superior patterning - as offered by all Briley products. An additional benefit is that the barrels are not swaged to accept the otherwise standard Invector Plus choke tube system. This enables the sleek lines of the barrels to be maintained. Three choke tubes and a Briley ‘speed wrench’ are supplied with the gun (additional chokes can be purchased at about $125 each).

The gun provided for review featured 30" barrels, blued in typical Miroku fashion - a deep lustrous blueing verging on black. A ventilated top rib was complemented with ventilated side ribs to ensure the barrels were perfectly balanced at 1.5kg. The top rib was of a competition-style design with a taper and fitted with two sights, one at the muzzle and another halfway down the barrels.

For those unfamiliar with the MK38 barrels, they are ‘back-bored’ to 0.740" whereas most standard barrel dimensions are about 0.728". The larger bore is accredited with an improvement in pattern performance, a marginal increase in projectile velocity and a perceivable reduction in recoil.

A view down the barrels showed hard chrome surfaces on both barrels. With regular cleaning and maintenance, there should never be concern for corrosion.

The stock and fore-end
Well-figured French walnut has been dedicated to the Grade 6 Miroku, to complement the sideplate engraving. The wood-to-metal fit was of high quality and the chequering well-executed - cut at 18 lines per inch - to provide a firm grip on the fore-end and pistol grip. The schnabel, or tulip-shaped fore-end, was well-shaped and offered a firm and positive grip, the hands well in line for fast and well-balanced shooting. As with the receiver, the fore-end metal catch was perfectly inletted into the fore-end wood. It snapped closed as the fore-end was eased gently onto the barrels while assembling the gun. The catch was easily lifted for fore-end removal.

The stock was well-designed and featured a slight palm swell, to facilitate gun control by offering a fuller grip. This style of grip has recently become popular, for it enables the shooter to comfortably grip the gun, hold firmly on recoil and control the position of the stock on the shoulder.

To complement the stock, an English-style rubber recoil pad was fitted - an ideal accessory for the sporting clays shooter or hunter - to prevent the gun from dismounting while taking overhead shots. The bevelled upper edge of the recoil pad is designed to prevent the recoil pad from catching on loose clothing.

Two nicely formed ‘tear drops’ were added to the stock on either side. These are generally considered a hallmark of a high-grade gun.

Configuration of the Miroku’s stock was ideal for me. The length of pull was 14 and a half inches; the drop at comb was one and a half inches and the drop at heel was two and an eighth inches. For those wishing to vary these I would recommend a variable comb piece, as seems standard practice these days. For those who prefer to keep the stock intact, some gentle persuasion from a stockmaker to professionally ‘bend’ the stock would be appropriate.

Miroku offer a 12-month warranty on the stock wood in its standard form, as supplied with the gun.

The receiver and action
The receiver had the addition of sideplates to complement the grade of the gun and to provide an extended metal surface to accommodate ornate engraving. The engraving was well-designed and, as with Japanese engraving, detailed and flat in appearance. The dogs and game birds featured were exquisitely completed and inlaid with 24-carat gold. Overall, the engraving is decorative without being overdone and complemented the gun well.

While sideplates are provided for additional surface engraving, the Grade 6 should not be confused as a sidelock gun (whereby the cocking and firing mechanisms are located on the sideplates). For all intents and purposes, the Grade 6 Miroku is a boxlock action, the firing mechanism is located to the rear of the standing breech and to this end the action is identical to other Mark 10 Miroku shotguns.

As with all other Miroku models, the triggerguard was generously proportioned and stylishly designed. Three interchangeable trigger feet are supplied with the gun and this enables the user to customise their preference, for there are also three pre-set positions. I found the trigger crisp and positive, befitting a well-made shotgun.

Design of the top lever was perfect. A slight hollow provided an additional purchase to make unlocking the barrels an easy chore. When closed, the top lever will be cocked slightly to the right. This is inherent in the design and allows for wear of the bottom locking slide. As many years of service pass it will eventually locate to centre.

In the field
While speaking with the principal of Briley Australia, I was informed the guns were test fired before and after the Briley choke installation. This exercise was deemed necessary to confirm the barrels were shooting at point-of-sight before the Briley tubes were installed. It has been the experience of Briley Australia that not all new guns from every manufacturer shoot perfectly to point-of-aim. Having completed this exercise, the guns were then fitted with the Briley S-54 choke tubes and further test fired (you will find these pattern tests included with the gun).

While point-of-aim is essential to retain with regard to patterns, during the years I have placed greater strength in the ability of any review guns to break targets rather than undertake exhaustive pattern testing. My reasons for this are that guns pattern differently with different loads and test patterns are only two-dimensional, whereas, clay targets and game are three-dimensional. I believe this provides me with greater feedback. I concede the gun must fit me well to make these judgements, but to date I will also state that my practical assessments have not altered my way of thinking.

On the clay target ground I was very impressed by the Miroku Grade 6. It moved quickly, pointed well and came to my shoulder effortlessly to place me right on target. During shooting, the hit targets were pulverised and not just cracked into one or two pieces. Great attributes of the Briley choke tube system. While I did not hit every target that I fired at, I can say most confidently that the gun performed to expectation. It performed so well that I would highly recommend a new Grade 6 Miroku to anyone who wanted to spoil themselves with a gun that not only performs well, but also looks great.

At about $5990 and supplied with three chokes, three trigger feet and packed into a sturdy aluminium gun case, I believe it would be hard to find a better value firearm.

A couple of reminders: do not forget to smear a coating of Briley grease over the choke tube threads before you install them, to effect superior gas sealing; also shoot your Grade 6 Miroku with steel shot, knowing that your gun is proofed to accept the magnum pressures of these loads and the chokes are safe from damage.

Good luck and safe shooting.

Captions
Image 1: The Miroku grade 6 limited edition clay buster - a striking gun well suited to either sporting clays or hunting.
Image 2: Note how the muzzle is not swaged to accept the thin-walled Briley S-57 series choke tubes. This maintains the sleek lines of the original barrels.
Image 3: The right-hand sideplates feature engravings of a dog and ducks.
Image 4: Three trigger feet were supplied with the gun and when coupled to the three pre-set trigger positions, these combinations gave the shooter ample choice for a comfortable trigger pull.
Image 5: In the field - the Miroku is well suited to either sporting clays or hunting.
Image 6: The gun and all accessories were easily accommodated within the sturdy aluminium case supplied with the gun.